Adventures

We finally had a free weekend–with no rain in the immediate forecast–so we decided to go camping at beautiful James River State Park.  We’ve been to this park several times over the years on day trips, and we were excited about camping there.  Realizing that the campground might fill up on a Saturday, we finally took the plunge and made reservations for Saturday, September 17th.

It seemed to take forever on Saturday morning to get all of our stuff organized and packed into the car and/or trailer: our cooler with homemade soup, cheese, butter, cream cheese, dip, eggs, etc.; our propane camp stove; folding chairs; cooking and eating utensils; clothes; extension cords; flashlights and more–but we were finally ready to leave the house.

And leave we did!  It always makes me happy to see our tiny house tagging along behind us.  🙂

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Smooth sailing as we drove on Rt. 250 West to Rt. 151, and then we turned left on Rt. 6.

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As we were approaching the intersection of Rt. 29 South, however, Wayne said there was something wrong because the battery light had just come on!  Ugh, not good!

I remembered that there was a gas station and convenience store about 1/4 mile down Rt. 29, and we pulled in, thankful that we had a safe place to stop.  But what could be wrong?  Was the battery on the trailer somehow draining the 4Runner’s battery?  (The Scamp battery is set up to “trickle charge” from the vehicle’s battery.)

We unplugged the electrical connection between the car and trailer, and then Wayne opened the hood of the 4Runner to see if there was anything obviously wrong.  And–unfortunately–yes, there was something obviously wrong: The serpentine belt had broken and it was tangled up in the engine.  Seriously not good. 🙁

As frustrating as this was, we were still very thankful that the 4Runner had at least gotten us to “Shady’s Place” instead of stopping dead in its tracks on some narrow stretch of rural Rt. 6….

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We went in the store and asked the woman at the counter if she could recommend a garage that might be open (on a Saturday–after noon…) She gave us the name and number of a garage in Lovingston.  We thanked her, went outside and called.  The man who answered said they only worked on tractor trailers. Darn….

I next called our insurance company’s “roadside assistance” number, and the woman I spoke with gave me numbers for other garages in the area that could provide towing. There was no answer at Garage #2, and the woman who answered at Garage #3 said she’d get in touch with her part-time driver and call me back.  Fair enough.  While waiting, I quickly called the campground to cancel our reservation. (Thankful again, this time for cell phones!)

In the meantime, we realized that we had more than just a problem with our vehicle, because we also had our trailer with us.  The woman at Shady’s had said they couldn’t guarantee that it would be safe if we left it on their lot, so we knew it had to go somewhere, too.  Well, darn.

After some discussion about what to do, Wayne called our friend Mark to see if he could possibly help us out–and he could!  He said he’d meet us there with his truck in about 30 minutes, and that he’d tow the trailer back to our house. Excellent!

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A few minutes later, the woman from Garage #3 called me back, apologized profusely, and said that their driver was unavailable.  She gave me the number of Garage #4 in Nellysford.  I dialed the number, and the man who answered at Stoney Creek Auto Center said that he could meet us in about half an hour. Yay!  “Fourth time’s the charm”, eh?!

While we waited for our rescuers, we picnicked in the parking lot on fried chicken and mac & cheese from Shady’s and washed it down with green tea that we had in the cooler. Fine dining in the hot September sunshine. 😉

The tow truck driver arrived first, and he quickly and efficiently got the 4Runner loaded onto the rollback wrecker.

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At first we weren’t sure where we’d have it towed, but then decided it would make sense to have it taken to one of our local garages.  I got in the cab of the tow truck with the driver, and Wayne stayed with the trailer to wait for Mark.  And so back up the road we went–back to Rt. 6, to Rt. 151, to Rt. 250 East and on to the garage.

About 30 minutes and $100 later, the 4Runner and I were safely deposited at the shop where All Will Be Made Okay….

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…and before too long, Mark, Wayne, and the Scamp arrived to pick me up.

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After Mark got the trailer backed into the driveway (not an easy task) and headed home with our thanks, Wayne and I drove over to the garage to get everything out of the 4Runner.

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Back at home, it took a while to get everything put away: our cooler with homemade soup, cheese, butter, cream cheese, dip, eggs, etc.; our propane camp stove; folding chairs; cooking and eating utensils; clothes; extension cords; flashlights and more. (Remember?)

Since we’d planned to be gone overnight, we’d left tons of wet and dry food out for our four cats.  Since we were now not gone, Kai let us know that this arrangement was totally unacceptable. 😉

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As to our food, we heated up the soup from our cooler (a delicious chicken chili), and ate dinner at the kitchen table.  Would it have tasted better outside on a picnic table at James River State Park?  Yes, maybe–but it was still wonderful!

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And would we have enjoyed sitting by a campfire on this Saturday night at James River State Park?  Yes, of course!

But you know what?  We’ve got a sweet trailer sitting just outside under a rising, almost-full moon.

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We can still go camping this weekend; it will just be driveway camping. 🙂

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July was a challenging month. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we weren’t able to get anything done on the trailer, didn’t go camping, and didn’t even go on any day trips.

Things improved by August, and we were able to do a one-night camping trip on August 7-8.  After a quick stop at the grocery store to get some ice and snacks, we were on our way!

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Our destination was Sherando Lake in the George Washington National Forest near Lyndhurst, VA.   We didn’t have reservations, so we knew it might be iffy getting a campsite because the campground is very nice–and also very popular.   Fortunately, we were able to get the next-to-the-last open site in the section with water and electric, and a trailer right behind us got the last site!

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Our site was wide and level, and it didn’t take us too long to get set up.
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When we checked in, the ranger at the gate told us that they’d had trouble with bears recently, and when the camp host came to greet us, he also warned us to make sure that all our food was securely stored.  They have big, steel bear-proof storage containers on each site in this part of the campground.

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After getting settled, we drove down to the lake and enjoyed some time in the sun and the water.  SUCH a pretty place!

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When we got back to the campground, we stopped to admire our sweet little trailer sitting exactly where little trailers are supposed to be–in a campground and not just in a driveway! 🙂

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We explored a trail along the creek that borders the campground, and checked out the amphitheater.

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Wayne always seems to run into someone he knows when we’re out and about! 😉

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We’d brought soup from home, so we heated it up on the camp stove and also got a fire going in the fire pit.

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Even though the temperature was quite pleasant–especially for a night in August!–there’s just something so relaxing about sipping coffee while sitting by a campfire….

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Once the crescent moon set, we could see so many stars!

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As clear as it had been that night, however, we were surprised to wake up to rain….

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Without an awning or canopy, our plans for cooking breakfast outside weren’t going to happen.  At least we had coffee!

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After a while, we hitched up and rolled on home, thankful that we’d been able to enjoy beautiful Sherando lake and campground the previous day and evening!

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Now that we’re both back in school, the work weeks are super busy and we don’t have a lot of time for all of our trailer projects.  To be better prepared for rain while camping, however, we recently purchased a 10 x 10 canopy that was on sale Labor Day weekend.

And despite our crazy schedules, we’ve managed to do a bit more work on the trailer:  Wayne installed the recessed base for the pedestal table in the front dinette (no pictures yet), and I finally completed the cushions that will allow the dinette to convert to another comfortable bed!

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We really hope to get in at least a couple more camping adventures before winter!

In early October 2015, we were finally ready to head out for our first camping adventure!  We’d originally planned a trip for the weekend of October 3-4 but had to abandon the idea when we learned that heavy rains were in the forecast.   Due to our work schedules, our next free weekend wasn’t until October 24-25, but when I started calling around to various campgrounds, I was surprised to discover that most were already full, or they required a 2-night minimum stay!

A woman in a Virginia “Glampers” group posted that she and a friend or two were planning to stay at a KOA in Natural Bridge, Virginia that weekend. I called the campground, and when they said they still had sites available, I quickly made reservations. It was so exciting to start getting ready for the trip!

On Saturday, October 24th we loaded up the car, hitched up the trailer and headed west on I-64.  Although the day was overcast, the fall colors were beautiful!  Fall in Virginia is often pretty spectacular, and this year was no exception.  These were the sights that greeted us as we crossed Afton Mountain.

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When we reached Staunton, we opted to get off the Interstate and drive south on Rt. 11 so that we could enjoy all of the scenery at a slower pace.  By doing so, however, we totally missed the entrance to the campground!   Apparently the sign is angled toward travelers on I-81/64 and not Rt. 11, and so we wound up going way south of our destination.  We finally turned around, backtracked about 10-15 miles, and then we saw the (big, yellow, hard-to-miss…) sign for the KOA at Natural Bridge.

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We knew there would be a variety of Halloween activities for children, and the office and campground were nicely decorated.

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After checking in, one of the owners escorted us to our pull-through campsite (which was, conveniently, at the end of a row), and we started setting up.

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After getting the basics taken care of, we stopped for a moment when we realized that we were literally “living a dream” that had started a couple of years ago when we first began looking for a trailer.  We were so thankful to have this opportunity; you can see it in our smiles!

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Even though the inside of the trailer isn’t finished, it’s totally usable.  With a pot of coffee brewing, and with lights (and bats) strung on the trailer for Halloween, it really did feel like a tiny house on wheels. 🙂

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After a while we decided to walk around the campground and explore a bit.  Very pretty place!

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We visited the pavilion where a caramel apple-making activity was happening and joined in:

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Soon it was time to start dinner, so we got the camp stove going and heated up the homemade soup we’d brought with us in a cooler.  Very simple meal, but delicious–and it was fun to eat outside on the picnic table.

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Right as we finished cleaning up, the trick or treaters started coming.  Wow–there were so many cute kids and so many parents who’d dressed up with their kids.  We’d brought candy with us–and bought more at the KOA store when we realized how many kids were likely to come by–and we had more trick or treaters that night than I’ve had at my house in all the years I’ve lived here–combined!

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The real “camping magic” happened as it started to get dark….   I thought of all the times I’d camped as a kid with my parents in our small Scotty and Shasta trailers, and I thanked my mom and dad for the wonderful childhood memories that had led to our having this experience.

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When our campfire started to die down, we walked up the hill to visit the “Glamper” women at their campsites.   It was fun to sit around their fire and talk for a while.  We were really quite impressed with all of the people we met in this pleasant and temporary “intentional community.”

Before going back to our campsite, we stopped by the bathrooms.  Like the rest of the campground, the bathrooms were clean, very well-maintained, and quite large.

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The “bathroom” in our Scamp is a porta-potty behind a pinned-up curtain….  While not nearly as large, fancy or well-equipped as the bathrooms at the campground, it proved to be a very convenient feature at 1:30 in the morning! 😉

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After dark it was a little chilly in the trailer, and a small ceramic heater warmed it up nicely.  We both slept well, again so thankful to finally be able to use the trailer that we’d bought–as an empty shell!–almost a year before on November 2, 2014!  Looking back, you can really see our progress:

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The next morning we got the camp stove going again and Wayne cooked toast and scrambled eggs.

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Our Glamper friends stopped by as we were getting ready to leave, and we thanked them for their hospitality the previous night.

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We had such a wonderful time on our first outing, and can’t wait to go “Scamping” again!

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