It’s been what seems like a fairly typical summer week: hot and humid, afternoon or evening thunderstorms, and a daily workout for the trailer’s air conditioner. It wasn’t till Monday that the heat wave broke and I could enjoy sitting outside without creating my own little puddle of sweat. Yep, southern summers are indeed different from the dry heat I grew up with in Southern California!
I finished out my time at Gettysburg with an evening drive along the Union line and the light was definitely with me this time.
I am already planning a return trip next summer, when I’ll be in the area for a gathering of friends. I still have much to learn about the Civil War and would like to explore more of the area, camera in hand.
My next destination was further south, into Virginia. My route was something like this:
Pennsylvania -> Maryland -> West Virginia -> Virginia – West Virginia -> Virginia.
I love that in 155 miles I touched on four different states. In California, you can drive 700 miles and still be in California!
When selecting my stop in Virginia, I was looking for something halfway to Bristol Tennessee, where I’ll be vacationing this coming weekend. My first pick was Shenandoah, but then the heat wave intervened so I decided to go with electric hookups over a National Park site with no power. Thanks to the power of AllStays, I found Natural Chimneys County Park. Way off the beaten path, it’s in the middle of farmland, but with its own little river and yes, natural chimneys! You can click on the link above to read more about them.
The weekend campers were all locals, and it appears Virginians know a good thing when they see it. Big sites, nice showers in the bathhouse, and quiet enough you can hear birdsong all day long.
I put up both Clam shelter and awning in an attempt to dry them out from the last few weeks of deluges. It worked, I managed to get them both thoroughly dried out and then packed away before the Monday version of afternoon thunder, lightning, and drenching rain showed up. I guess this is the weather pattern: sunny mornings, clouding up after noon, and then boom, the skies open and drop a lot of water, followed by a nice little sunset with white clouds. Weird, but it seems predictable enough I can work with it.
Saturday was “act like a tourist” day and so I drove part of Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park. It was pretty hazy out (still with the heat and humidity) but I managed to get a good shot despite the weather.
Then it was off to Shenandoah Caverns for a look underground. This area is riddled with caverns, and last year I visited the nearby Luray Caverns and enjoyed it so much I wanted to see another. This one wasn’t quite as spectacular, but still interesting enough to make the entry fee worthwhile.
Tuesday I made my way to a one-night stand in Roanoke, at a Holiday Inn Express. I have their credit card and once a a year, I get a free room certificate as a birthday gift, so I cashed it in for this stop. Bella and Breeze know this place as I stopped here last year on my way north, hand in cast. We’re all relieved this year has gone better in terms of not breaking things (no fingers, windshields, tires, or phones so far this year).
As of Tuesday afternoon, when I hit Roanoke, I’m officially on vacation and staying in hotels for the next five nights, whee! I even packed a suitcase, although Breeze is right outside in the parking lot. It’s a luxury to have a big bathroom, fluffy towels, and that massive flat-screen TV at my disposal. But that’s not why I’m here…
It’s Bristol, baby! NASCAR night races on Friday and Saturday, celebrating my brother’s retirement earlier this year and mine two years ago Sunday. We’ll both be carrying my dad in our hearts, the guy that got us into NASCAR and who we took to Sonoma, Phoenix, Vegas, and Fontana to see the show.
See ya next week!
Summer in the deep South is not only a season, a climate, it’s a dimension. Floating in it, one must either be proud or submerged.
Eugene F. Walter, The Untidy Pilgrim