It’s been a social week here in Virginia. I committed several weeks ago to step out of my comfort zone and attend Camp Unite, a nationwide weekend event for women campers, which grew out of a Facebook group I’m in. I didn’t know any of the women in the VA/WV, but it seemed like a fun idea and a way to spend some time with women who camp and the group was planning fun activities, so I signed up. And that’s how I found myself last Wednesday driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Roanoke. It was a perfect day for it, blue skies, little to no traffic (one reason I love the BRP), and I had fun taking some shots of all the literally “making hay while the sun shines” opportunities.
Last week’s 52 Frames challenge was black and white, and while this one didn’t make the final cut, I still like it so I’m putting it here. My friend Dave in Aptos always loves a good tractor, so maybe he’s the only one besides me who will think this is a cool shot.
In Roanoke, I hit up my favorite Holiday Inn Express (unlimited hot showers, laundry, free breakfast!) and went out to dinner with two friends from the area (who also have an Alto, which is how we met). Good food and good conversation beat out the thunderstorm that chased us all evening.
The next morning, it was back on the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Stuarts Draft, VA. The BRP is a beautiful road to drive, 45 mph and no traffic lights, no commercial traffic, and not a lot of traffic at all during the week. It has plenty of overlooks where you can pull over and enjoy the views of the valleys and mountains. The cover photo this week is from one such overlook. And this time of year, it’s way cooler temperature-wise, so I enjoyed low 70s while the valleys below me were well into the 80s.
The road down from the BRP was steep and twisty enough that I moved my car to manual and went down in second gear. Only the second time in a year I’ve felt the need to do that! Soon enough, though, I found the campground and made my little campsite home for the weekend.
The women I met were amazing – a diverse group of people, RVs, and backgrounds, but all of us had a sense of humor and a sense of adventure, so we mixed together pretty well. A buffet dinner, some rock painting (I enjoyed watching that), and learning how to make dreamcatchers (that’s mine below, thanks to Denise making it better about three times in the process), along with a lot of casual talk and nighttime fires and singalongs made it a really fun weekend.
The RV park we camped at might have been one of the largest places I’ve ever stayed: several hundred RVs, most of them seasonal campers (local people that leave the RV there year-round and come out on the weekends). Saturday night they had a DJ and an outdoor dance floor with neon lights. All the golf carts circled round like it was a drive-in movie. Kind of crazy but it was fun to watch! The days were quieter and in my search for a good B&W photo, I had fun with this campsite.
Monday, I said goodbye to my new friends (miss you all!), promised to keep in touch, and headed south, back down the Blue Ridge Parkway. Again with the wrong turns and a few unplanned roads, but eventually I made it to Smith Mountain Lake State Park, where I settled in for a quiet night and did some binge-watching of The Orville, my new fave TV show (thanks, Brandon!).
Tuesday was another travel day down twisty roads, through small towns, and one last section on the Blue Ridge Parkway, heading to my friends’ spread in southern Virginia. I’m now parked in their garage, which doesn’t actually do justice to the place. It’s a huge piece of land, and from here, I can see some old outbuildings but not their cabin (yes, it’s an actual log cabin, which is way cool to someone who grew up with stucco tract houses in LA). The view is pretty nice out my front door, too.
It’s June now, and, yes, I’m still in the South, for one more month. I’m still trying to find words and images to explain all I’ve experienced here, but I’m finding I need to let some time pass and think more deeply before writing, so it’s been slow going. Hang on, more pieces about the Southern Tour will come out eventually.
Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.