Thursday, August 26, 2010

Entering Virginia (the state)

    After downing my pile o’ grease, I aired up my tires.  There were lots of people wandering around the Cherokee Reservation tourist vacuum (complete with giant Harrah’s casino and stands set up that allow you to interact with Native Americans in every way you could possibly imagine – well maybe except one, as far as advertised stands go anyway).  I felt different as I looked at people walking by.  I had gained new perspective on fear.  No matter how tough a gang of motorcyclists looked when they walked by, I knew that last night they were sleeping on cushy beds in a motel room and I was sleeping on the ground in the middle of bear country alone.  “If I can handle that, I can handle a lot”, I thought.
    I drove north on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It was quite foggy, and the “overlooks” that weren’t fronted by brush that hadn’t been trimmed in decades were covered in a stew of gray mist.  Despite my new sense of invulnerability (slightly exaggerated), I decided to take a break from camping and headed for an inn which I had stayed February of this year in the small town of Little Switzerland.  The owner is very accommodating and offered (to have his son) whip up a burger for me when I declined the $20 steak dinner he was cooking for some of the other guests.  I met a man in the parking lot who was spraying down his motorcycle and talked with him some.  He had hiked the AT from Springer Mountain to the Smokies when he was younger and said he always wanted to hike the whole thing, but that his body couldn’t handle it now even though he had the time.  He pointed to his motorcycle and said, “This is by backpack now.”
    In the morning, I hopped back on the Blue Ridge Parkway and it was a little less foggy.  I was originally going to take it quite a ways, but had to hop off at a random highway (there are very few places to hop off the parkway and no commercial zones along it) to hunt for a gas station.  I had a club sandwich at a local diner and ended up going so long down 421 that I decided to reroute my day’s journey.  It worked out well though because, after passing through many small towns with a whole lot of nothing in them, I ended up at Hanging Rock State Park (still in North Carolina).
    Another thing that was changed by my backwoods camping experience was my perspective on frontwoods camping.  When I rolled into the park, set up my tent and looked around, I felt like I was in civilization.  There were other campers, running water, sinks, showers, my car.  I didn’t feel like I was roughing it.  I felt like being in my tent was my nominal state of living which is a huge plus.  It’s sort of what I was hoping when I set out for seven days of camping in a row.  The backwoods really finished it off though.  I think I will be able to make it only two or so nights in a motel per month (at least until the cold arrives).  My current view on showers when I’m camping is: “Why would I need to shower today – I showered yesterday.”
    As part of my new view of car camping, I decided there was no reason to deprive myself of decent food.  I cooked my first realish meal of the trip: pasta and tomato sauce seasoned with Italian herbs.  It was quite good.  I plan on doing more cooking while car camping later on.  I started reading On The Road by Jack Kerouac.  I cleaned all my wet, filthy gear that was really stinking up my car and hung it up only to have it pour down rain all night.  When I woke, it was still raining pretty hard.  So much for my morning hike.  I took down the tent as quick as I could and tossed all my wet gear in my car.
    I was still in a pretty rural area, but was quite hungry and stopped to eat at the first place I could find.  It was a gas station that had a local restaurant inside.  I ordered eggs and toast.  The “eggs” were probably the most disgusting thing that has been labeled eggs I’ve ever eaten.  I don’t even know how they got them that way.  They had the appearance of hash browns, but were very dry.  I managed to down them and then got back on the road.  As I was approaching Virginia, I almost felt like I was about to go into a new country (my brain even tried to remember where my passport was).  I think it’s because I’ve only been to Virginia once and it was when I was less than one year of age.  I was hoping for an entirely new culture and environment.  There were some new brands of gas stations and restaurants, but after a little while, it pretty much felt the same.  I drove through downtown Danville (wouldn’t recommend) to find a library and then headed to Lynchburg, Virginia to meet my Grandfather’s sister and explore the area where they grew up.


artistaggie said...

Sounds like you've been having quite a time of it -- hillbillies and mad ducks and bears, oh my! ;-) Keep on truckin'!

Molly said...

Fuller! I am going to be in DC on September 4th! Maybe perfect timing? If so, I will have a hot shower for you to use amigo...and of course some Everclear...or whatever you prefer these days!

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