6/21/2014 a rest stop in Virginia
I haven’t written anything since leaving North Carolina! I just ended up doing a lot of car camping, and not taking the time to sit anywhere, and when I would have had the time, circumstances blocked me. But now I have the time. It’s 1pm, I don’t know where I’ll be tonight but I’m near Washington DC. Well near being within a couple hours drive. I need to make calls and get in contact with people. I need to readjust my sense of space. Florida really messed up the way I consider distances.
So. Last day in North Carolina:
I slept in. I set an alarm but I hit snooze many many times. But the epic sausage, beans, bacon, toast, and scrambled eggs breakfast Stephen made was still warm! I swear I’ve never eaten so well. I should be their nanny. Seems like it’d be a good gig. Ha. I packed up. Showered. I also signed up for Couch Surfer. I set up my profile, I haven’t really used it yet, but I like that now I have it as an established option. I did shoot out a message when I thought I’d be going to Charleston WV, but it was too short notice for them (she seemed really nice) and I ended up not going there anyway.
We hugged goodbye and when I got- oh! My car tire. It had lost air, but not much. I’ve been keeping an eye on it and it is losing air slowly. I’ve just been filling it up every other day. Dunno what’s up with it, but I’ll keep an eye on it.
Anyway. I headed west towards Asheville, North Carolina. I got there during sunset and put change in a meter thinking it was 6pm (the time my watch is set at) and not well past the time you need to put change in the meter. I didn’t put too much change in before someone clued me in. Ha. I went to Dobra Tea, at Erin & Stephen’s suggestion. I got a pot of a gentle green tea. Well a daiwan thingy. So a pot of hot water which made about 6 little cups of tea. Mmm. It was tasty. I sat and drank and read Lost for Words. It’s a very funny book thus far. Lots of literary and writer jokes within. I walked around downtown for a bit. Asheville reminded me of Santa Cruz a bit in terms of age of residents, but also the Pearl District of Portland in terms of posh boutiques.
I drove North and stopped just across the Tennessee border (what a long state!) and spent the night at a rest stop. It was a very quiet rest stop. This wasn’t the most busy of interstates. The mountains were full on misty in the morning. A nice site. This day I knocked off two states. I’m still hovering at 22, but soon I’ll get to the halfway point and then it’s go go go!
Hold on a second, my tarp is dry so I need to flip it over. It’s all drying much faster than I expected it to! There is a nice breeze coming through and it’s not insufferably humid. Once it’s all dry, I’ll make myself a sandwich. Still trying to think about what to do today.
Where was I? Oh yes! Virginia! Oh shit. It started to rain so I had to hustle to relocate under a covered picnic table. I got it all under just in time but damn this sucks. Now I’m trapped waiting for the rain to stop. My tent is dry enough. I know that I’ve packed it up wetter, but I don’t want it to get rained on while I’m folding it up. Argh. Come on Virginia, give me a break!
Okay my computer is getting moist, I’m packing it away.
AHHHH!!!! I don’t usually swear here but come the FUCK ON! Are you fucking kidding me! The weather went full on rain storm. And it was going sideways. I got my bags into my car and the important stuff is dry. But my tent got wet! Not saturated like it was but I’ll still need to dry it out. And properly roll it up as I couldn’t do that in time. It’s just shoved in a garbage bag right now. Argghhh come on. But at least now the rain has stopped. I’ll give it a bit (and change my clothes, as just getting to my car and back soaked me).
My attitude right now is one big “fuck this”.
So Virginia. Uhhh. I keep getting waylayed in writing this blog post. I cruised right through Virginia to West Virginia. I went to the New River Gorge National River. I did a little loop walk in the forest. It was nice. Humid but nice. Not a National Park, but they did had stamps. Generally anything National has a stamp. Which is why I went way out of my way to the National Observatory Something Something. Which wasn’t park of the park service as it turns out and doing a tour cost money and I didn’t feel like doing that. It was a nice scenic drive up. Very Olympic Peninsula. But just annoying to drive so far but not have it be what was expected, but still. It ate up time. I got back into Virginia and got food provisions at a Walmart. And then drove to the “sleeping in their car” section of the parking lot, finished the last episode of Orange is the New Black, and went to sleep. I just put on my shoes and left in the morning, and changed clothes at a rest stop.
I cruised on up to Shenandoah National Park. Nice to get an early start on a park, and even better when camping is only $15! Shenandoah is highlighted by Skyline Drive, which winds along the ridge. Very high up and scenic with overlooks aplenty. After I got my stamps at the visitors center, I went down to Lewis Mountain and set up tent, not noticing my flat wasn’t closed all the way. The door was, just not the flat which blocks the elements from getting through the mesh.
Looking over the map I made my choices for the day: check out the visitor’s center once again, drive up to the center on the far north part of the road, come back down, take a hike, then go see a ranger program. Driving up north took a considerable amount of time, what with the winding road making for slow going. Still, beautiful. Probably even moreso in the fall when the colors change. I got a guide to tree identification, but I’m still figuring it out. The terminology mostly. What is a “leaflet” and all that. I did identify a Dogwood though, so go me!
I went for the Rose Creek Loop, which is 3ish miles and it goes to the Dark Hollow Falls. I like loops, because it’s all new terrain through the whole thing, but dang once you get past the half way point and you are tired and you don’t know if it’ll be rough uphill or easy downhill…yeah. But the hard part was getting to the falls. Lots of rocks and inclines and uphill uphill uphill. The river was nice. I had three little PB&J sandwiches (little because the bread I bought was little) and an apple and some carrots. The falls were nice, though not as big as I was expecting considering they are called Dark Hollow. The rest of the trail was a fire road, so gentle and easy. There was a cemetery too, with some old graves. Shenandoah used to be populated by settlers who had to booshdonku when the government made it a park.
The ranger talk was at Skyland. There were these twin boys at the talk who were just so precocious. When the ranger said she was from Buffalo New York when they were from New York New York, they said “same state same pride!” and they were so confident in their talking. They’ll be a pain in the ass in 10 years, I can tell. It started to rain at the end of the talk. The fog was heavy on the ride south to the campground, so I took it very slow. Some parts it would open up to just mist trickling across in a very “here there be werewolves” sort of way. It rained moderately on the way back.
And when I got back to my tent, I opened up the door and stepped in a puddle of water. The flap I neglected the shut had leaked. The corner that had the most water lacked any objects in it, and thankfully the only containers of stuff in the tent were plastic. But my mattress pad was still wet. As was my hula girls comforter. And my sleeping bag. My yellow bunny blanket was safe, but my tent was utterly waterlogged and no amount of towels could have mopped it dry (well maybe 100 towels, but I only have four on this trip). So I pulled the half wet stuff out and rearranged my car to accommodate the wet tent in the morning. Everything would have it’s little wet section, and I went to sleep in my car frustrated and upset and pissed off. I like sleeping in my tent! I could sleep in my car anywhere! But at least a campground is quieter.
A camping neighbor, Ray, helped me fold up my tent, and he even gave me a trash bag to put the wet stuff in. I drove out of the park on 33 (thankfully there are a few cross sections on Skyline Drive, it isn’t just North or South entrance). I found a laundromat in Charloteville (or some such place) and got to work. My pillows and sleeping bag dried quick, and my comforter soon followed. The towels I used to mop up a bit of the water took a while, but they in turn got dry. I also did my regular clothes, because why not, I was at a laundromat. It took less time that expected, but I still had the matter of the tent, but then it came to me: I’ll just set it out to dry at a rest stop and boom! Dry!
With a full tank and full tires, I got to a rest stop and it was warm and there was a breeze and it all dried much faster than expected… then at 95% dry…it started to rain. And I think you know how that worked out. So I guess I’ll just try to find somewhere else that is dry…or just roll up the tent as is, and let it dry fully at my next spot. Or I dunno. It’s all up in the air. I’m going to change clothes now. Fish out my umbrella first. Then change.
Washington DC plans are proving difficult. Person #1 is unable to host me, trying to get in contact with some others. Meanwhile I might go hang out with Anita and Dan in Delaware. Only 4 hours away! That’ll give me some time to rendezvous. And I can just cut back into Maryland. There is backtracking like driving the length of New Mexico to get to Texas after Colorado, and there is driving two hours west to get to DC from Maryland.
So now I’m in a McDonalds trying to coordinate. And eating a burger. And a mocha frappe. Just wanted a regular mocha but I think I ordered it wrong. No biggie.