As crazy as it might sound for a full-time vagabond, I really needed a vacation by mid-August. I’m sure we can all agree that 2020 has been a hella weird year. From my own personal drama of the sway accident and aftermath to the worldwide pandemic, it’s been an unpredictable year and a stressful one. I had been aiming for Grayson Highlands State Park all summer, longing for the cooler temperatures and the remoteness of the place. Finally, I had arrived for 14 glorious nights. Yay!
I did some photography while I was here (of course) and decided I’d put this image first because it was my favorite from the time here. The forest here is quite dense, with a lot of underbrush. In this photo, I was trying to capture that density but show it also lets the light in quite well.
After two nights in a smaller spot, I arranged to move to this longer one when the current resident moved out. GH is one of the few remaining VA campgrounds that has non-specific reservations: you reserve a water/electric site and it’s one of a group of 10-12 sites. When you arrive at the campground, you can take any of the available sites in that group. Which meant I moved after two days to a better site. Worth it, both because there was no one on one side and it had the best ATT reception in the park. I could actually do phone calls from here, whee!
I also did campfires and watched the sunlight fade through the trees. And listened to the chorus of cicadas of high in the trees, the nightly lullaby of a Southern summer.
If you look closely in that clearing down the hill, there’s a power pole and I’m pretty sure it has an ATT something on it because the ATT reception is all at this end of the campground.
I did a lot of short hikes and returned over and over to one trail that had so much to look at with camera in hand. The last day, though, I went out to see the ponies and the views from the top of this short hill. You can scramble over those rocks to get some really good panoramas. The cover photo for this post was taken from there, looking east.
The park has wild ponies, originally part of the herd from Chincoteague. There are signs that say “enjoy the ponies from a safe distance.” In the top photo, everyone is doing well with distancing themselves from the ponies. Good job, hikers!
In the bottom photo (directly above), people are NOT doing good. These two groups were literally chasing the ponies, petting them, and posing for photo ops. It seemed indicative of 2020 that it was all about THEIR photos and THEIR need to pet the ponies, rather than what was good for the ponies and colts. I walked away, shaking my head and wondering why people can’t just do the right thing.
After fourteen quiet and relaxing nights, it was time to move on to the next spot. But before I go, I have to feature one of my favorite trees in the whole of Virginia.
Yes, the tree has grown up around a huge rock. It used to be one solid rock but over time, the tree has split it into four different sections. There’s something about that tree: the persistence of growing exactly where it wants to and doing its level best to ignore that rock.
Go, tree! You might be just the symbol we need for 2020.
Grayson Highlands State Park (VA State Parks)
- Site 63 for 2 nights then site 29 for 12 nights. Reserve through reserveamerica.com website.
- Services: electric/water, one dump station, two bath houses with showers and toilets. No recycling 🙁
- Cell service: Verizon (none), ATT (decent signal around sites 25-29.
- Groceries: 15 minutes to the local general store. It has a decent selection of food and drink, including some fresh produce in season. 45 minutes to Walmart or other stores in West Jefferson (south, in NC) or Abington (north, in VA).
Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, “I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.”
Lisa St. Aubin de Teran