ParkQuest Diary

Hey Quest Families....We would like to thank everyone for sending in their photos and stories, they are wonderful. We are working on your submissions, and hope to get all the photos and stories posted soon. If you don't see a submission you had sent in, please contact DNR's Web Team. We generally update the page on Tuesday so check back each week.

If you have not written in about your adventures please visit our diary submission page and we will add your info to the page. Photos can be sent to aburrows@dnr.state.md.us.

Past Diary Submissions

Diary Home (current postings)  |  Week 1 & 2  |  Week 3  |  Week 4  |  Week 5  |  Week 6  |  Week 7 | Week 8 |  
                                                       |  Week 9Week 10 |
 

 


The Crab Catchers
Tuckahoe State Park

The paddle quest was a real adventure. We saw many turtles, a Canada Goose and a huge snake on a log. This quest was a whole lot of fun and relaxing in places.


The Mighty Eco-Rovers
Gambrill State Park

We were surprised at how close this park is to Frederick yet it seems so secluded. It was overcast and drippy while we were there. Another good example of a CCC built camp (we have seen several in WV). Kids say ""We liked the overlooks a lot. There was a turtle roaming around the Nature Center that was very cute." Kids advise not to let the snake out at the Nature Center!

Washington Monument State Park
Another great park close to Frederick but hidden away. We arrived here to find a Radio Club taking down some strange equipment -- apparently the ridge is good for reception. Most of the questions were easy and we could answer them without the signs. The monument was huge and rocky and the views were incredible. The bird signs at the top were handy; might be a nice place to visit in the Fall. Pretty amazing that a small group of townspeople got together to build this thing. Very unique location with all the white rock around.

Elk Neck State Park
This was quite a drive up route 95 -- short quest but a long haul. The site has incredible views of the River/Bay and is a nice picnic spot. Saw some interesting Zebra-type butterflies and grabbed some yummy ice cream back in North East. Kids loved the lighthouse (one did not like the steep steps and stayed below). Interesting to visit the top of the Bay after having seen its start at Point Lookout (near Calvert Cliffs).


The Barracudas
Assateague State Park

What a beautiful day at the beach. We saw horses, deer, dragonflies and played in the ocean. Lots of fun.

Pocomoke River State Park
We really loved the pond exploration. The dragonflies and damselflies were plenty. We saw a turtle and a fish that jumped out of the water to catch a bug.


The Batchelders's
Seneca Creek State Park

We saw several birds even a robin in the bathroom there. We saw several birds and walked around the park and enjoyed the piece and quiet.

Patapsco State Park
We played 9 holes of golf and had lots of fun. We found out the clue was FirstPark.

Greenwell State Park
We walked along the path and we were able to get all the clues maybe but 1 at first but when we finished we realized what we did.


Lallygaggers
Assateague State Park

This was our second quest of the day. The kids had a great time making their field guides and then finishing the day playing in the surf.

Pocomoke State Park
What a fun quest. The kids really enjoyed being scientists, learning about all the different kinds of pond life and treking through a swamp. Even the mosquitoes didn't dampen thier spirits.

Tuckahoe State Park
We loved this quest so much so we had to do it twice! Although on the second time we were given a map which helped us finish. We must have counted at least 100 turtles. I don't know which was more of a highlight - turtles or beavers.

Calvert Cliffs State Park
We had never been to southern Maryland before. What an introduction. The hike through the woods and marsh was just long enough and then to exit onto the beach. What fun. The kids cooled off in the bay and then were fortunate enough to each find a shark tooth. I know this was my son's favorite quest.

Greenwell State Park
What a beautiful park and hike. We loved the carved signs and solving the puzzles. We ended the quest with a little r and r in the rose garden!

Patapsco State Park
I wasn't sure what to expect with a 6 and 9 year old but it was a great time. The kids really enjoyed playing and my 9 year old really got the hang of it by the 4th hole. They have asked if we can play again sometime. I can't thank the developers of Park Quest enough. We have seen beautiful parks and spent great family time together!

Seneca Creek State Park
This was our second quest of the day so we got there late in the day. We decided to just look for the ""placed"" birds. After station 2 there was a brief rain shower which brought out the birds and we ended up spotting quite a few. Another terrific quest that we all loved.

Elk Neck State Park
Wow did I underestimate the drive time to this quest. I didn't factor in construction or slow moving farm equipment on narrow roads. Fortunately we finished the quest with 5 minutes to spare. Turkey Point was truly beautiful. We weren't quite ready for the long drive home after out hike so we found several letterboxes, had some ice cream then made our journey. Another fun day.


The Seeker's
Elk Neck State Park

This is our fourth quest. We never been there before and did not know there was a lighthouse on the bay. This quest is really hilling because where we live we do not have that much hills. It was a pretty area.

Patapsco State Park
This is the fifth quest. We never play Disc Golf before so it was a challenge including the gnats that we had to fight with. My husband and I did pretty good but the kids were having a hard time with it.

Gambrill State Park
This was our last quest of the day. I have been to Gambrill Park in the past but it has been awhile. The history of this park was interesting because I did not know it was run by the CCC in the past. Solving the puzzle was not easy, we had alittle trouble doing it. The kids like the turtle that was roaming around in the High Knob Nature Center.


Team Brinkley
Janes Island State Park

It was a beautiful day and we were ready for our 8th and final quest. We have been up and down the state of Maryland which involved driving as much as 3 1/2 to 4 hours to do a two hour adventure. This challenge was difficult for us because we had never used a two man kayak. My daughter, 10 years old and I were in one kayak and my husband and my son, 7 years old were in the other one. The ride up was the longest 1 1/2 miles on water! The wind was fighting us but we pushed our way to the island. It was quiet and serene with only the crashing of the waves. The ride back became an adventure when we saw another canoe flipped over and the occupants struggling to get back in their canoe. We tried to assist them but with no luck. We got their paddles and their stuff and help them push the canoe to a small piece of land where they could safe get into the craft. It was a great lesson to show our children. We need to try and aid others in trouble in the nature as well as in life. Thank you for this opportunity to teach life lessons to our children.


The Hills Are Alive
Seneca Creek State Park

We had a great day for this birdwatching quest. After a quick picnic, we started out on the path. Although we paused at a couple of the markers for a long time, we were only able to find and identify one real bird and one ""planted"" bird. It was a nice walk, though, and gave the kids a chance to learn to use binoculars and the bird reference book.

Washington Monument State Park
This quest taught us a lot about the history of this Park Quest site, as well as the life of George Washington. The three-part quiz (answering questions, finding those answers on the word find, then organizing the intersecting letters into a final answer) was the toughest written work we've done so far. It felt great to get to the final answer!

We took along three additional children with us on this quest and all the kids had a great time. The museum at the bottom of the hill so much interesting historic items to look at that we had to coax the kids out of the museum to get on with the quest. The walk to the top of the hill and up to the monument was an easy hike, (except that the kids kept stopping at the berry bushes and signposts along the way) and everyone enjoyed it.

The monument itself was also so much fun for everyone: climbing the spiral stone stairways, looking out over miles and miles of beautiful countryside, and getting photographs taken at each angle of the monument. Our only regret was not getting there earlier ... we couldn't stay as long as we would have liked because we needed to rush down and finish our quest by 5:00.


The Hardesty Family
Calvert Cliffs State Park

Whew! What a long walk! We started strong but really faded before even making it to the beach. We did see some turtles, snakes, frogs, and beavers, which was really exciting. Everyone had fun skipping stones and shells in the water, looking for sharks' teeth, and getting wet. The walk back was described as ""torture"" by my 5 year old, and I had to carry my 2 year old the entire way. Not much fun, but great exercise!

Tuckahoe State Park
Hooray! This was our 8th park, and it was lovely. The morning was warm and beautiful, so kayaking around was really peaceful. We saw so many turtles! The worksheet was fun even though we didn't answer all the riddles correctly. Had a great time!


Three Jimmies and a Sook
Swallow Falls State Park

Twas a cool and damp day to start, then the rain came. Yuck. Luckily, the Swallow Falls trails have lots of overhead cover. I think our 15 year old son is noticing the western Maryland parks have the cute attendants.

Deep Creek Lake State Park
Finally, Challenge #8 is done! We'd never been to Deep Creek Lake SP before. The Discovery Center is way cool. We'd also never worked a GPS unit before, but we figured it out. It would've helped to "read the directions", but Dad's an engineer, and engineers don't do that. :-)

We learned a lesson about integrating common sense with technology - never forget to just look around! We made it to Stop #5 (NEAT!), but the GPS unit went screwy and we didn't get to #6, but we could guess what it was. On to Tuckahoe on the 8th!


Falcinelli Family
Assateague State Park

We spend lots of time at Assateague each summer, but enjoyed studying the different ""zones"" in more detail on this Quest. One of the things that fascinated our girls was finding the remains of a seagull carcass in Zone #1, which allowed them to examine the flight feathers and unique skeletal structure that enables these birds to fly. We spent the entire day here, starting and ending at the beach. Our girls loved the abundant mini clams at the shoreline-- really fun to watch!

Pocomoke River State Park
We spend a lot of time at Pocomoke, but have not explored these trails before this Quest. The girls loved finding a baby praying mantis in the woods. Unfortunately, a misinterpretation of the map by the navigator lead us off the trail a bit, causing us to miss the second number marker. When we were unable to open the wooden box at the pond, we had to retrace our steps to find that missing clue! We also spent time in the Nature Center, and were fortunate to be present for snake feeding time (only once a week). We were fascinated to watch a snake eat 2 mice -whole! On our way out of the Nature Center, at the completion of our Quest, we had the added bonus of participating in a very creative program by a 4H representative that demonstrates the advantageous effects of wetland areas and trees in combating environmental pollutants. The demonstrator had an enormous map of the area painted on several tarps, which took up a large portion of the parking lot(including Pocomoke River, extending to the Atlantic Ocean beyond Ocean City and Assateague.) Participants were allowed to assist by ""walking"" down the various waterways distributing pollutants (poker chips), first in the undeveloped 1800's and then now, to show the devistating effects of development and of tree and wetland destruction. It was a really fun day!

Janes Island State Park
The Jane's Island Quest was the most physically challenging Quest because we had to paddle out to the beach against strong winds and current. We should have realized what we'd be in for when the staff told us that we'd have to use kayaks because it was too windy for canoes! It seemed to take forever to reach our goal- but, took no time at all to get back with the wind at our backs. The work was well worth the effort, as our destination was a fabulous, pristine, and deserted beach. We had a great time exploring what was washed up on the shoreline there-- which included shells, crab claws, and enormous trees deposited after storms. Back at the dock, we also enjoyed the opportunity to enjoy an up close visit with a beautiful great blue heron.

Calvert Cliffs State Park
We made the Calvert Cliffs and Greenwell Quests in to a weekend camping trip with our new pop-up camper. We have intended to get to Calvert Cliffs for years, but this Quest finally got us to actually do it. The walk to the beach through the wetland and swamp areas was really interesting. The real fun for our kids was at the beach, searching for sharks teeth and fossils. We were pleased to find many!

Greenwell State Park
Greenwell is a very beautiful park! In addition to following the designated Quest trail, we explored the trails all around the water's edge and encountered several large Maryland blue crabs. We also explored the grounds around the mansion, and enjoyed the views from the hill. We were most fascinated to see the contrast between this very wide portion of the Patuxent River and the very narrow portion of this same river, many many miles away, where we live.

Patapsco State Park
This was our first family attempt at Frisbee Golf. Clearly age did not have any advantages here, as we arrived at the last hole, with just one stroke separating each of our 4 players' scores. Dad barely won, with the 2 girls taking 2nd and 3rd, and Mom finishing in last place. Although Frisbee Golf was fun, equally fun for our team was exploring the Patapsco River and seeing the rapids. It was amazing to see geese perched on rocks resting, and some even sleeping, in the middle of the rapids, finding this to be a relaxing spot for a rest! We did not realize that there is such a beautiful spot is so close to home, and we'll be sure to return here in the future!

Seneca Creek State Park
This was our team's least favorite Quest. Although we saw many, many birds, they were difficult to identify, as they were moving so fast. Nevertheless, we were surprised at how many different kinds we found.

The trail through the woods was very nice, and our youngest team member was fascinated by the abundant ferns everywhere. We also found a bathtub in a dry creek bed, while in the woods, and had an amusing converstion discussing how it ended up there! The hike was made difficult that day, first by rain, and then by heat and extreme humidity. It would be fun to return to this park, not far from where we live, to explore Clopper Lake by boat! "

Washington Monument State Park
We completed this Quest on the same day as the Seneca Quest and were surprised at how different the climate was in the South Mountain area! It was pleasant and breezy, which made our trek to and from the Washington Monument quite enjoyable. We thought that the questions about George Washington, the word search, and the riddle at the end were fun- and we enjoyed completing these while sitting in a stone shelter along the trail. Only our oldest daughter had been to the Monument before, on a school trip, but this Quest got the rest of our family there to see this (another trip we had on our list)! One of the favorite parts for the girls, was Dad's lesson in aerodynamics-- demonstrating how paper helicopters fly from the top of the Monument! ... And yes, we did follow the appropriate ""No Trace"" ethics and took all our paper helicopters with us when we left. At the end of our Quest, we explored the museum and learned a great deal from our conversation with a very knowledgable park staff member working there. We had a great time here!


Hill Power of 5
Pocomoke River State Park

Great adventure at this park. We enjoyed learning about the dragonflys and identifying trees by their leaves. This is one of our favorite parks.


Krazy Kin
Tuckahoe State Park

Wow!!!!Grandma had quite an experience with her first canoe trip.....they all had a great laugh, she says she own't go again. At least they didn't tip the canoe before they got back out! The ranger was nice. We went to Tuckahoe last year, and still enjoyed it.

Assateague State Park
We picked a somewhat overcast, rain-threatened day to head to Asateague. The quest was fun; not difficult and actually let the kids be creative. We enjoy claming in the bay, but the best part of our day washanging out on the beach. The waves were just right & the kids had alot of fun buggy-boarding. Thank goodness~~~no skeeters!


Poor Bunnies
Calvert Cliffs State Park

Our 2nd quest... Calvert Cliffs. Didn't quit realize just how far south this park was but have always wanted to visit. After a late morning start, we found ourselves first spending some time exploring the tire playground. After extracting the youngest Bunny, we began our march down the trail... 1.8mi, shouldn't be bad at all. Well, the first 0.1mi weren't bad. From there on Kyra was 'tired of walking'. Continuing with her wither on my hip or shoulders we trudged on. Along the way we discovered several squirrels, a black snake, 2 beavers, 3 turtles (probably terrapins). ...Ah the beach, beautiful! The cliffs were amazing! Kyra immediately went to work with her shovel & pale while my wife & I strolled along scooping handfuls of sand searching for the obvious... found 2!

Time to shoulder the youngest Bunny & began the trek out & on to out next stop... Greenwell.

Tuckahoe State Park
The Poor Bunnies were at it again! We rushed out the door in the morning to beat the traffic across the Bridge & signed in at Tuckahoe. We got to the boat house to find all of the canoes & kayaks already on the water. Fortunately, 3 boats floated in. We donned our PFDs & after a minute or two of discussing our seating positions (never leave such decisions up to a 3 yerar old) we shoved off. Wow, these flat bottom river boats were quite a contrast to our sea kayaks. Apparently tracking was not part of their design. We began our paddle up the river & soon heard a rather non-urgent call for help!?!? We rounded a bend & found two young boys (11 & 12 yrs) in the river, the river in their canoe, & their shoes & paddles floating nearby. A classic case of boys being boys. A bit of horseplay had resulted with them in the drink! Poor Bunnies to the rescue! I quickly spied a muddy shore where we they could land & dump their canoe. They were able to get it about half way out before the stern had become too heavy for them. I pulled aside them & carefully exited the S.S. Bunny, careful not to dunk my Bunnies.

After regaining my balance from sinking a couple of inches in the mud, we managed to heave the water filled canoe & empty her out. The grateful boys paddled off swearing to not goof off in a boat again. Eager to continue our Quest, we paddled on. We found our first clue on sign post #2. Hmmm, must have missed the first one! No worries, we'll catch it on the return trip. We sauntered up the river eyeing plenty of sun basking painted turtles while keeping an eye out for our next clue. One by one we ticked them off, despite a wrong turn down a short tributary. We found our final clue & began the race back to the dock. Literally, Kyra, the youngest Bunny cheered mom & dad on to catch up to all of the other boats on the river. Apparently there was a summer camp with a couple of dozen kids about the park, which explains the lack of boats upon our arrival. We passed a boat or two only to have them pass us as we mistakenly followed another pair of paddlers down a dead end. We regain our lead & made for the boat house. After making land, we returned our gear, left my wife & daughter to play about in the water & the playground while I returned to the office to turn in our answers & claim our stamp. Don't worry, I went back & picked up the wife & kid!

Gambrill State Park
Gambrill was an easy quest. We were happy top befriend a local chipmunk & delighted to assist the Nature Center curator in walking the resident eastern box turtle! The views were majestic! I often forget that Maryland has mountains!

Washington Monument State Park
Having passed the highway signs for the Monument on several occasions, we were excited to finally visit the park. After a few setbacks from missing our exit & solemnly realizing that the I-70 exits are drastically different depending on the direction of travel! Alas we made it to the park & began our Quest. We were humbly impressed with ourselves in being able to answer all but one of our Quest questions before embarking on the short walk to the monument itself. Upon arrival at the tower, Kyra quickly claimed it as her princess castle! After a few snapshots we descended & enjoyed some of the fresh mountain spring water & even help an AT hiker re-fill. We got our passport stamped & scurried off to our third & final quest for the day... WMRT.

Western Maryland Rail Trail
Having already succeeded in the Gambrill & Washington Monument quests of the day, time was quickly running. We checked in with the bike shop, which had doubts we would be able to finish in time... sounds like a challenge for the Poor Bunnnies! We saddled up & rolled out. We were able to move quickly with the little Bunny strapped in the trailer! One by one we answered our challenges all the while enjoying the beautiful scenery. We reached the end with just enough time to make it back & claim our stamp in the Poor Bunnies passport. We hung out a little longer so Kyra could do a little peddling herself on her tricycle.


BoxSkippers
Calvert Cliffs State Park

We had a great time finding fossils on the beach and swimming in the waves. We did not find any sharks teeth, but we found many interesting shells and shell fossils.


Park Chasers
Seneca Creek State Park

Kids started out not wanting to look at birds but as we walked the trail it was quiet we saw a bird.

Patapsco State Park
Needs more direction arrows. Took long time to find #3. It was fun.

Elk Neck State Park
What a view. Hard to imagine climbing those steps everyday. We are now finished. Just under the wire.


Party of Eight
Gambrill State Park

This was Quest fourteen for us. We decided early on that we would try to complete all of the quests to take full advantage of all that the great participating parks had to offer. We made an appointment to visit the park on Friday morning and of course the staff was friendly and accommodating. The ranger met us at the nature center and hung around while the kids explored and we answered the beginning questions. We brought a picnic lunch and enjoyed it under the shade of the fine handiwork of the CCC boys at pavilion #2. We forgot bug spray so the gnats attacked us but we enjoyed the hike and the great views at the overlooks. All of the buildings and other structures built by the CCC boys were neat to discover and it is impressive how much of the structures are just the way they were built over 60 years ago. This was a neat history lesson at a beautiful and scenic park. See ya' at Tuckahoe!


The Chessies
Assateague State Park

Since we didn't have much time left to finish our quests, we decided to make a weekend of it and camp at Jane's Island to get them done. We did Assateague first and it was alot of fun. Dad(Dan) had to push Grandpa Bob in one of the beach wheelchairs and Megan had so much fun just watching them. We learned quite a bit about the habitats of some of the island animals, unfortunately for Meg, the horses just weren't out that day. We left Assateague with plenty of time to spare and headed for Pocomoke.

Pocomoke River State Park
After we left Assateague, we went to Pocomoke. Unfortunately, by this point, Dan has poison ivy all(and I mean ALL over him). And now we get to walk through the woods. We got a little bit backwards on this one and couldn't find the trail right away, so, we actually did this one backwards, starting at the pond. I know we were supposed to get numbers to unlock the lock, but, we were actually able to do the pond part without the stuff in the box. Then we found the trail and hit the woods. We found the spot that we were to do our worksheet on and then promptly got lost again on our way back to the nature center. All in all, though it was a very fun day for us all and Meg learned quite a bit about bugs and trees. We called it a day then and went back to jane's Island to relax, fish and crab.

Janes Island State Park
On Saturday, our last day of camping, we did Jane's Island first so we could pack up and head to Tuckahoe on our way home. We got into our canoes and headed across the river trail to Tangier Sound. The wind and current were working against us the way out, but, we made it there only to find out that we had lost our crayon to make the rubbing with somewhere along the way...lol We improvised with a stick and some rust off of a post someone had left on the beach. The guys helped me and Meg back into our canoe only to tip themselves over as Bob was trying to sit down. Too bad the batteries in the camera had chosen that moment to die on me. Meg and I started back a little bit ahead because the guys could paddle a little bit faster and harder than we could(and of course they had to dump the water out of their canoe first...lol). We thought since the wind and current were against on the way out, that it would help us a little bit on the way back in. No such luck. While we were on the island for all of about 15 minutes, the wind and current had shifted and worked against us again.

We made it back with only about 15 minutes to spare. We had alot of fun, though and the guys got to cool off before heading back. Time to pack up camp.

Tuckahoe State Park
We packed up camp and checked out of Jane's Island and headed to Tuckahoe. Another canoe trip...Yeah!!! maybe me and Meg would get to cool off this time. Nope, didn't happen. Dan knew all of the answers to all the questions on the worksheet and the final answer to it before we even found any letters. The wind was picking up big time by this point(what else is knew...haha)so we decided to head back in pretty quick because we still had a 3 hour drive home. We can't wait to come to Tuckahoe again for the finale. I forgot to mention in all my other posts how helpful, nice and friendly all the rangers and park staff were that we came in contact with at ALL of the parks hat we visited while doing Park Quest this year. See you at the Finale.


Williams
Gambrill State Park

The views were fantastic!

Washington Monument State Park
Had a blast completing this with friends!


Higdon Family
Pocomoke River State Park

The kids loved this quest. The pond was the best part with exploring in the pond through the view finders.

Assateague State Park
This one was loved by the whole family! We had a perfect day for the hike around Assateague, the horse's were great and my son loved being so close to the deer. Everyone enjoyed the beach which is were we ended up spending extra time.


Team Scharch
Western Maryland Rail Trail

One comment about this one, Make sure your bike seat is comfortable ;-)


Flock of Shepards
Washington Monument State Park

What a awesome site to visit! And the scenery into Boonsboro equally breathtaking. We even took a small hike on the A.T.

Gambrill State Park
Our last quest was bitter sweet. Knowing that we've completed 8 ParkQuests to qualify for the finale was exciting, but we didn't want our fun to end. Looking forward to the finale on the 8th and even bigger plans for ParkQuest 2010!


The Adventures
Elk Neck State Park

At Elk Neck State Park we were able to visit the Turkey Point lighthouse. It was very neat to walk up the stairs to the top of the lighthouse and look out over the point. It is amazing to see how high you are above sea level when looking over the cliffs. What a beautiful sight!

Calvert Cliffs State Park
After a 1.8 mile hike along a very nice trail we finally reached the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay, and the awesome Calvert Cliffs. We were amazed by the layers of fossils embedded in the soil of the cliffs. We were able to collect some shells and were hoping to find a sharks tooth. It is hard to believe that the shells we were collecting were from marine animals that lived over 15 million years ago. Isn't that incredible? We had a totally awesome adventure!

Seneca Creek State Park
We didn't know how little we knew about identifying birds until we embarked on the quest at Senneca Creek State Park. We used all of our rescources to help us to identify our feathered friends, but they had their own ideas. We could hear birds all around us but it was hard for us to locate them. They kept darting from tree to tree. Although, we did have a nice sighting of a red-headed woodpecker. We now have a greater awareness of what is flying around above us.