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Nerd Trips Teaser: Where is the “Brown House?”

Nerd Trips Teaser: Where is the “Brown House?”

By on Aug 6, 2012 in Presidents | 2 comments

Outside the “Brown House”

We all know that the President of the United States lives in the White House, but do you know which president built the “Brown House?”

This cabin/weekend retreat within 100 miles of the nation’s capital provided an escape for a 20th century commander-in-chief who was “lured” to the area for fishing and relaxation.

Our recent visit was a Nerd Trips first – we had to hike to get there, a “walk” that included rocks, steep inclines and three stream crossings! (You can actually take a shuttle, but my friends brought their dog who could not ride in the van).

We hiked just over two miles downhill to get there and then the same two miles (+) back up, which was actually a little easier because I was much less worried about falling or spraining an ankle on the way up.

The first snake to cross our path on a Nerd Trip. We weren’t super-close, but I may want to invest in a camera with a longer zoom.

The hike came with a warning that we might see snakes. Great. We did see one, but apparently he’s a “regular” at this presidential site. The park volunteer assured me that the snake wouldn’t hurt us, and the snake seemed more bored than concerned about our presence.

However, I was concerned that we needed a briefing in the car on “bear precautions,” since black bears are common in this national park. Just FYI: Avoid eye contact with a bear and never try to run away since a black bear can run up to 35 miles an hour and you can’t. (The same advice goes for tree climbing).

Camp Rapidan, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

My favorite suggestion was to “let the bear know that you are human.” How exactly does one do that?  “Pardon me Mr. Bear, but I am a human being, an omnivore who walks upright on two legs. I have opposable thumbs, I use language to communicate and I would sincerely appreciate it if you could just walk away.” (You can tell I am not a hiker).

But I am a history nerd, and we learned a lot on our excursion! In the coming weeks, look for a full report on our trip to Camp Rapidan, aka Camp Hoover.  And, despite my misgivings about an “outdoorsy” Nerd Trip, the views were spectacular! Take a look at this sunset from Shenandoah National Park

And just in case we attempt hiking again, let me know if you have any suggestions to let a bear know that we are humans!


  1. I’d never heard of Camp Rapidan. I love the Shennandoahs, so definitely will put it on my weekend schedule. Looking forward to your report.

  2. I had never heard of Camp Rapidan either. My friends knew about it because their nephew was working there this summer. It was a good excursion: the mountains are beautiful and we learned a lot! However, during the hike, I was mostly looking at my feet to make sure I didn’t fall.

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