It's impossible for me to forget my first camping trip.  I mean, it's literally impossible...I still have the scar on my left ankle where I embedded my father's hatchet when I was 8 years old!  Yeah...irresponsible, eight-year-old, me missed the log my dad told I could practice on and gave my ankle a pretty good whack.  I waited almost two hours until my mother went up the the bathhouse to tell my dad out of concern that both he, and I, would get in trouble!  As much as I like to tease my dad about that incident...I have a lot of memories of those first camping trips to Rocky Gap State Park, which include a lot of firsts:  my first time sleeping in a tent, my first mountain pie, my first canoe ride, my first evening campfires...and yes, my first "hatchet incident."

One of our first camping trips to Rocky Gap State Park.  My father enjoying some dinner with my brother, Jacob, and I in the background. -- 1981

Taking a canoe ride on Lake Habeeb with my dad, Uncle, and cousins.  Ed, Josh and Lucas Rendulic with David (me) and Dave (Dad) Raymond. -- 1984

My dad checking on us while fishing of the dock at Rocky Gap. -- David and Jacob Raymond with Beau Henderson. -- 1983

Evening campfire at Rocky Gap.  Reese Smith and David Raymond. -- August 1986

It's these amazing memories are the reason why I return to Rocky Gap State Park each Memorial Day weekend for a camping trip with my wife, Robin...and I try as much as I can, to share the experience with others as much as I can.  In 2012, Robin and I took Alex there for the first time.  Each year since then, my dad and Mary Jane, make the thirty mile drive across the Mason/Dixon Line to spend time with us and have dinner.  Four years ago, Robin and I invited our friend, Lynn (a recent cancer survivor) to come visit and take a hike with us.  Two years ago, my cousin, Mariaelena, and her family, spent a memorable weekend camping with us.  

David, Alex, and Robin Raymond camping at Rocky Gap. -- July 21, 2012

David, Robin, Dave (dad) and Mary Jane Raymond at Rocky Gap. -- May 26, 2013

Lynn Nichols and Robin Raymond crossing the Mason Dixon Line while hiking at Rocky Gap State Park. -- May 24, 2014

Enjoying an evening campfire with my cousin Mariaelena and her family along with my dad and Mary Jane. -- May 28, 2017

This year was no different.  Robin and  I always look forward to our annual trip to Rocky Gap, but this year we were especially excited because my brother, and his family, came with us for the weekend.  We were eager to spend time camping, and share our love of the outdoors, with our nieces, Jackie, Sophie, and Shalice, and our nephew, Isaac.  Aunt Robin and Uncle Dave made campground dinner and breakfast for the kids and provided all the fixings for smores and mountain pies...trying to give them the same experience that my mother and father gave me.

Robin and David Raymond relaxing at Rocky Gap State Park. -- May 25, 2019

Site 150 in the Fur Loop at Rocky Gap State Park -- May 25, 2019

Dinner time! -- May 25, 2019

Breakfast around the campfire. -- May 26, 2019

Evening campfire.  Shalice Gull, Robin, Jackie, and David Raymond.  -- May 26, 2019

A weekend of camping at Rocky Gap wouldn't be complete without at least one Robin, Jackie, Shalice, and I set out Sunday afternoon for a hike along the Lakeside Loop.  Along the way, teaching the girls how to skip rocks, and pointing out different aspects of the landscape around us.  Jackie proved to be like her cousin, Alex, wanting to climb on just about everything.  This was one of the first hikes Shalice ever went on...and she did extremely well.  The four of us made it to the dam at the far end of Lake Habeeb before turning back to the campground.  After returning from our hike, Robin and I took the girls down to the beach area and gathered up Sophie and Isaac so we could treat them to some ice cream.  Shalice was amazed that "All Trails Lead to Ice Cream" was an actual real thing!

Shalice Gull and Jackie Raymond getting ready for a hike. -- May 26, 2019

Hiking with my niece, Jackie. -- May 26, 2019

Jackie Raymond at Rocky Gap State Park. -- May 26, 2019

Hiking the Lakeside Loop at Rocky Gap State Park. David Raymond, Jackie Raymond, Shalice Gull, and Robin Raymond -- May 26, 2019

The bridge above the Lake Habeed at Rocky Gap State Park.  David, Robin, and Jackie Raymond and Shalice Gull. -- May 26, 2019

The trail above the dam at Lake Habeeb in Rocky Gap State Park. -- May 26, 2019

A great day of hiking.  Shalice Gull, David, Robin, and Jackie Raymond -- May 26, 2019

A tree on the trail?  Uncle Dave to the rescue! -- May 26, 2019

  I'm not sure if my parents realized, at the time, that they were sparking, inside of me, a serious love for the outdoors inside of me...but they did.  When we went camping as a kid, family was often Aunts, Uncle, cousins, and even my grandmother would come along with us.  Mom and Dad also allowed Jake and I to bring friends along.  I'm glad I can continue this tradition of family, friends, and Rocky Gap.

Supervising my wonderful wife and making sure that she doesn't have her own "hatchet incident." -- May 25, 2019

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- June 5, 2019

Celebrating our hike with a chocolate milkshake from the snack bar near the camp store at Rocky Gap State Park.  David and Jackie Raymond -- May 26, 2019

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Here are the GARMIN map and data from our hike in Rocky Gap State Park.  #OptOutside

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