Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

Getting Through the WV-VA Mountains

Ahhhh so the madness of the first two weeks has abated, thank God. As I sit here on the Florida Keys beach catching up with my writing, I have a hard time believing that the first dubious weeks are already behind me. It literally went by in a blur of rain, driving, setting up, tearing down, and more driving.

This was my view most of the first few days:


2014-12-06 11.52.19 driving in rain-sm
Rain, rain, go away. Come back when I’m not here anymore.


I created a truly ridiculous schedule that clearly indicated much lack of thought at the time of inception, not paying attention at all to what it would really be like to be in a different place every day. Of course I thought it would be exciting! I thought I would feel free! I thought it would be liberating! Oh! Um… no. In my haste to get out of the cold and down to Florida, I did not think about what the misery reality of what traveling every day would be like, even if only for a few hours. I have hardly seen anything of the places I’ve been! Instead of experiencing the freedom of the open road, I have been locked in a travel prison of my own making. Argh.

However, forget that for now. After the first dreary mess of a day, it got better. And, it’s been slowing getting better over the last two weeks, with a few setbacks in between. However, on my second day, which I spent in Douthat State Park in the mountains of Virginia, even though I arrived in the rain, I woke up to this view outside my window:


2014-12-06-07.35.02 douthat-sm
I couldn’t help but wonder how many little furry-framed eyeballs were peeping at me, I admit.


Ahhhhhh… makes you feel relaxed just looking at it. Not a bad way to start a new day, or a new life.

The day before (my second day on the road), I arrived earlier this time and not in the dark. Praise Jebus! Made all the difference in the world to be setting up in daylight. In fact, I was even able to take a decent shot of Gorgeous Beast!


That bathmat swingin’ in the breeze? GONE.


Look, there’s George! He’s been having the time of his life. And if you look reeeeeeeeeaaaallllly closely, you might be able to see a couple more bodies in the doorway.

It was still wet there in the mountains, but the location was stunning. Completely empty. I mean… I was the ONLY person there. At first I was thrilled – whoo hoo! No people! No one bugging me! No one for me to judge evilly because they were locked inside their moving houses away from all this beauty, watching Real Housewives of Orange County (never mind that I was often locked inside my moving house watching Sex and the City)! I was blissfully alone.

But as night fell, my thoughts wandered down a more pernicious route. Holy shitballs. I was utterly alone. What if some weird mountain man came into the park, noticed me there all by myself and decided to draw and quarter me? What if some wild group of uncouth youths drove along in their open Jeeps with devil music blaring and moonshine in their flasks, ready to violate me in ten different ways? What if a bear came along and decided small dogs and cats were as good a dinner as any rabid raccoon?

Sigh. The mind will destroy you faster than any drug, I tell ya. Eventually, after much self-talking to, I was able to rationalize that why would a weird mountain man want to come down here anyway, on this particular night? Doesn’t he have better things to do? Or, why would a group of uncouth youths want to storm an empty state park on a rainy Friday night? Wouldn’t the local Dairy Queen have more chicks? I admit, I couldn’t rationalize away the bear, but I was so tired I figured I’d let him have the cat litter if it came to that.

And so I slept.

The next few days were a barrage of angrily throwing things out, driving, throwing more things out, getting some work done, driving some more, and finally landing on Virginia Beach for a couple of days. One really does find out how the stuff we have means very little and has zero need or use in the greater scheme of things, especially when the price of keeping it is finding a place to put the bloody thing. Something that had great value when I had a place to store it is reduced to zero – no, negative – value when I don’t. Aaauggggh!!!! I was so tired of stepping over that stupid blasted Rubbermaid tub full of gum, defunct Bic pens, black lights, paper clips, cough lozenges, locks that had no keys, keys that didn’t go to anything that I could remember, old birthday cards, extension cords, notepads, expired pet medicine, and hundreds of address labels for an address I no longer had, among other things. What in HELL was I thinking bringing all that shit?!!? Out, out, OUT!!!

At least my foray through the mountains was over. My Gorgeous made it with only a few wheezes and a couple of lengths of 35 miles an hour speed racing, but we made it through. I will admit there were a few moments when the blood in my veins ran pretty cold and nearly froze to a halt as the chugging became a little too newsworthy, but then we’d crest the hill and she’d smooth out again as always. Whew! Rest at last!

Virginia Beach was lovely. It was cold as murder, but I was at the beach. YEAH! Finally I could breathe.


There’s nothing more romantic than a couple of trash cans at the bottom of your snapshot.


In fact, I’ve got a little video here of George enjoying some much longed-for exercise. However, be warned, there is a lot of wind and that is annoying. In future, I will employ more interesting commentary in my videos, so bear with me for the first few. I’m new at this. 😉

Still didn’t have any water in the RV, but no problem. I could manage. In fact, the showers at these places are magnificent. Blazing hot water, muscle-shattering pressure, and plenty of room to move around. Not to mention: hooks! One doesn’t realize how critically important hooks are to a person’s well-being until they are in absentia. Praise. Piling everything up in a watery corner is no substitute for the heaven that is having an individual celebratory spot for each towel, washcloth, washbag, pouffy scrubby thing, and carryall that one naturally takes with them to bathe. These shower rooms are better than anything I had at home, fo sho. One even had a temperature gauge! How many of you can say that about your bathrooms??

Virginia Beach seemed to fly by in a nanosecond. I remember it being cold, a little wet, and then frustrating when I woke up on a Monday morning to hear… chainsaws. What? I’m camping. Why am I hearing any motorized piece of machinery of any kind? I’m supposed to be in mother nature bliss. Mmmm… well… I was. Sort of. Except for the guys cutting down trees. And the super cool guy with the I-think-I’m-boss-but-everyone-else-thinks-you’re-an-asshole, brain-shudderingly loud motorcycle. Where do these people come from, and why are they always in the site next to me? I’m camping. Respect, people.

I think at this point I still hadn’t attempted to extend my slideout. For those not in the know, a slideout is a section of the RV that by magic, a button, and some electrical wiring, will float out and provide about twelve extra square feet of space in your interior. It’s heaven on campground when your living quarters are only eight feet wide, and can change your life, particularly when you are eyeballing your cats and calculating just how much new space you could acquire by putting them on the roof. But up until now I had been too scared to attempt such a feat of electrical engineering, for fear that if the damn thing worked itself out and then decided to break – then what? My luck so far with my brand new 2015-so-I-wouldn’t-have-any-problems RV had yet to make me proud in that department.

I decided now was the time to be brave. I mean, I made it through the WV-VA mountains in the dark and the rain, right? I could handle a slideout. I closed my eyes, and pressed the button. A comforting motor sound greeted me and an entire section of my RV started to move. Whoo hoo! I relaxed. And then… it…. stopped. It cranked and whined, but… no more moving out. Oh God.

In this case, I stopped pressing the button immediately. I didn’t want to risk blowing out the motor as a result of the instant desire to force the shit out of it, even though, admittedly, that desire was very strong. However, upon further investigation, I learned that one of my many rubber tubs full of vastly crucial high-heeled sandals was being squashed in the wake of the slideout wall, and was therefore hindering its otherwise successful progress. Sigh. The quest for fashion excellence leads down a blocked path once again. Once I flung them out the door moved them out of the way, all continued on without issue.

VA Beach was fun, but very quick. I did meet a woman who had lived full-time in an RV with her husband for the last eight years, and while I did not get to talk to her as much as I would have liked, she did leave me with this great nugget of wisdom:

“Don’t forget to cover your wheels when you are staying in one place for a while. Stops the rubber from rotting and critters from gittin’ in and bitin’ yer ass.”

Words to live by.

NC/SC is next!


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