“Wild horses couldn’t drag me away”—Mick Jagger
As we mentioned in last week’s blog, we recently completed one year of traveling and living in our Airstream. So it’s an appropriate time to summarize what we have been “livin’ in a trailer down by” for the first 365 days of our adventure. Here are the types of places we stayed and the number of visits for each:
- Lake (man-made) – 17
- River – 14
- Forest – 7
- Driveway – 5
- Ocean – 4
- Prairie – 3
- Bayou – 3
- Mountain – 2
- Swamp – 2
- Spring – 2
- Creek – 2
- Gorge – 2
- Lake (natural) – 1
That is a total of 64 locations where we parked our Airstream for an average stay of 5.7 days. On the glass half-full side, that was 64 different places where we were able to hike, bike, kayak, sightsee, listen to music, or visit friends and relatives. On the glass half-empty side, that was 64 times we hooked up our temporary home, emptied the wastewater tanks, hauled it a few hundred miles, and unhooked and set it up again. Just writing this makes us tired but, all in all, it has been a great experience that we don’t regret. The next few months until our house is completed may be more of a challenge—sort of like the last few miles of a marathon—but we are determined to continue our blog until we are in our new home.
Last week we camped at Grayson Highlands State Park in the mountains of southwest Virginia, one of our favorite parks.
Patty starting on the trail
How can you not enjoy a hike when this is the view from the trail? Most of the Appalachian Mountains are heavily wooded so scenes like this are not common while hiking, but Grayson Highlands has many open areas.
One of the many wild ponies of Grayson Highlands along the trail
Mother and child
Ed looks to the future
Patty climbing to the top—her primary complaint was that she had to look down most of the hike to avoid tripping on rocks.
We were surprised how high up the mountains the ponies roamed to graze.
The ponies are supposed to be wild but some seemed to expect to be fed. This guy sniffed around Patty while she tried to post a photo on Facebook and attempted to eat Ed’s map while he was trying to read it.
On the A.T.—the white blaze on the rock indicates that a portion of our hike was on the Appalachian Trail. We hiked about one mile of the trail so along with the 2 miles we hiked last year, we now have about 2178 miles to go. At this rate we should complete the entire trail in about 1088 years. [Editor’s Note: The length of the A.T. varies depending on what source you read but, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, it is 2181 miles].
Flora and fauna along the trail
Ed on the forest trail–notice the black socks. You would think he was a Scandinavian tourist.
The fungus among us—we’re not sure what this was but it was very colorful.
Patty among the ferns
While at Grayson Highlands, we visited friends, Karen and Jim, who are campground hosts during the summer at Raccoon Branch Campground in Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. When Karen and Jim first retired they planned to travel in their trailer for a year but ended up traveling for more than four years. We are always impressed with their love of the outdoors and we also appreciate the great books we have received from Jim’s collection—several have been discussed in our previous blogs.
After Grayson Highlands we traveled to Shenandoah River State Park near Front Royal, Virginia, our base camp for visiting friends and relatives in the Washington, DC area. We had a great visit with our friends, Tim, Liliana, Brint, and Pat in Herndon. As we mentioned before, the hospitality we have received on our trip has been unbelievable—we will do our best to return this hospitality once we settle in Asheville.
We also visited Ed’s mother in Gaithersburg, MD and it turned into a mini-reunion when Ed’s brother Dave and his wife Kary happened to be in town at the same time. Along with Ed’s sisters Karen and Nancy and Nancy’s husband Craig, we had an enjoyable Sunday brunch. We all agreed that it was nice to get together on a less stressful non-holiday for a change.
Bear guidance update: In previous blogs we have discussed the somewhat contradictory advice from state and federal parks for avoiding problems with black bears (Into the Wild). However, Grayson Highlands State Park provided some additional guidance that makes perfect sense: “While camping, don’t store food in a convertible.”