Camping Trip – July 26-27, 2017

With summer winding down, we’re scrambling to finish various projects AND to get in more camping trips! With a little window of opportunity on Wednesday and Thursday, we decided to do another quick trip, this time to Sherando Lake Recreation Area.

Even though it’s called Sherando “Lake,” this recreation area and campground in the Blue Ridge Mountains actually has two lakes.  The larger, lower lake has a beach area for swimming, and the upper lake is for fishing.  There are hiking trails around both.

  

Since we were too close to the date to be able to reserve a site online, we decided to try the “first come, first served” option.  We drove over (without the trailer) on Wednesday morning, and the young park ranger who greeted us at the gate told us that a site in “B” loop (River Bend) had just opened up.  We paid for one night, and when he suggested that we put something on the site as a visual notice to mark that it was reserved, we asked if our camp chairs would be enough.  When he said yes, we drove into the campground to claim site “B1.”

In the previous post, I mentioned that our car (a Kia Sorento) did great as a tow vehicle.  This trek–though only 25 miles–offered the new challenge of crossing Afton Mountain, westbound on I-64.  While it’s not especially steep (about a 1200 ft climb over 5 miles), and we know we have more than enough towing power with the Kia given the weight of our trailer, it seemed like the car struggled a bit trying to find the right gear.  We were in “sport mode,” as before, but according to some feedback on a Kia forum, I probably should have also used the “manual” gear options.  I’ll try that next time…

In case you’re not familiar with “The Mountain,” this video show eastbound and then westbound travel over Afton Mountain on I-64. It’s definitely a pretty drive. 🙂

Once we were over the mountain, the car pulled the trailer with absolutely no problem, and soon we were backing into our site.   It didn’t take us long to get set up; I think we’re getting better at this….

  

You meet the nicest people at campgrounds!  In fact, sometimes you meet your cousin!  My cousin, Mary, was camping at Sherando, too. 🙂

After a short visit with her, Wayne and I went back to the trailer, changed into swim suits, and went to the lake.

  

We spent an hour or so enjoying the water and scenery, then drove back to River Bend Loop.  We both still smile when we see our trailer sitting at a campsite; given what we started with, it’s awesome that we’re now able to use it. 🙂

 

Time for dinner!  We brought homemade Chicken, Cannalinni Bean & Mushroom soup from home and heated it up on the camp stove.  Another delicious, quick meal….

  

Just before dark we started a campfire, and Mary and her husband, David, came over to our campsite.  I tried to take a picture with “natural” light (which didn’t work), so I blinded us all for a moment with the flash. 😉

After Mary and David went back to their campsite, we continued to sit out by the fire.  SO nice and relaxing!

  

Later, when we walked up to the bathhouse, we paused for a while to enjoy the night sky in an area with fewer trees.  Just in the 5 minutes or so that we were standing there, we saw a couple of meteorites and a large, bright satellite.  (The “shooting stars” were probably part of the Perseid meteor shower which will peak around August 12th.)  Last August when we were camping at Sherando, I took this picture of the stars:

It was starting to get cool (which was actually very nice in late July after all the heat and humidity we’ve had!), and the sweatshirts we’d brought with us felt good when we put them on.  Ah, a campfire and katydids; yep, we were happy campers. 🙂

By the time we came inside, it was close to midnight and the fire had burned down to embers.  With the windows open in the trailer, it was definitely “good sleeping weather,” as the old folks say, but at some point during the night,  I realized I was cold!  No worries–I shut the large back window behind the bed, pulled an afghan over me, and drifted back to sleep.

The next morning was clear and beautiful, and we talked (some more) about the feasibility of staying another night.  But with cats to feed and with other “outside world” obligations (there’s no cell service or wif-fi at the campground), we knew we needed to come home.

Before starting to pack up, we walked over to Mary’s campsite (David had left for work earlier in the morning), and enjoyed another chance to visit.  Their trailer is just a bit bigger than our trailer, wouldn’t you say?   But it still wasn’t anywhere close to the size of some of the absolutely enormous trailers and motor homes in the campground!

  

  

Mary and I agreed that we’d have to plan a multi-day camping trip together next year at Sherando, but we were glad that we’d wound up there at the same time this year! With goodbyes said, we walked back to our site to get ready to leave.

We’re getting better and faster about getting everything travel ready, too, and we left the campground with a minute or two to spare before the 11:00 a.m. checkout time.

  

Homeward bound once more, with our little house on wheels following behind. 🙂

Impromptu Camping Trip – April 8-9, 2017

Saturday, April 8th was gorgeous–really the quintessential Springtime-in-Virginia type of day.  We had a slow, lazy start to the morning, and then thought about working in the trailer.   We also thought about “driveway camping” that night since the weather was so nice, but then Wayne said we should actually go somewhere with the trailer.  Hmmmm…. I knew that a couple of relatively close campgrounds were already full (I’d checked earlier in the week, just in case), but then he suggested Misty Mountain, which is literally right up the road from us.  It was 12:30 in the afternoon, and I wasn’t too optimistic since it’s a very popular campground.   When I called, however, they said they had a few open sites, so I quickly made a reservation for that evening, and said we’d be there within an hour.  Things didn’t quite work out that way!

Once we took the tarp off, we could see that the trailer was really dirty, plus I noticed that the tires looked low.  Wayne tried to inflate the first one with a manual pump, but it actually let air out of the tire. Not good….  Ultimately, he had to go buy an electric pump, and while he was gone, I cleaned off the outside of the trailer as best I could to make it a bit more presentable.  The next challenge involved getting a car close enough TO the trailer to be able to connect the pump to the cigarette lighter in the car and still reach the passenger side tire.   Anyhow, a couple of hours later, we were hitched up and pulling out of the driveway. 🙂

  

Our site was #49, and since there was a little pop-up trailer in #50 (and no vehicle at the site when we got there), we were able to pull through instead of backing in.  This is always a good thing!

By not planning ahead for this trip–and knowing we were close to home–we brought very little “stuff.”  The advantage to this is that we were set up–and relaxing–in no time. 🙂  With few leaves on the trees, we could see the Blue Ridge Mountains from our site.

  

The trailer looked so pretty inside with the late afternoon sun shining in.  Yes, we’ve still got a lot more we want/need to do with the trailer, but we’re so glad that we can use it! After a lot of hard work, it’s become a comfortable little home on wheels.

  

The disadvantage of bringing “very little ‘stuff’,” however, meant that we didn’t have our camp stove or cooler with us, and we didn’t have anything for dinner.  No worries–Wayne went out foraging (to a place a couple of miles away),  and came back with fried chicken, macaroni salad, potato wedges, and some drinks, which we ate while sitting at the picnic table.

Misty Mountain has lot of scheduled activities (and LOTS of things for kids), so we decided to go down the hill to the community building at 7:00 pm to check out the live music.  We were in the upper camping area, and there are two lower camping areas (past the little pond).   There were two other fiberglass “eggs” in the lower campground Saturday night–a Casita and a 13-ft. Scamp.

Before going in to listen to the music, we decided to make a quick trip to the house to get our cell phone chargers (which we’d forgotten), and some yogurt for breakfast (that we put in an insulated backpack).  After giving the kitties a little more food, we drove back to the campground community building.

Yay!  Live music!  Pool tables!

  

  

We played four games of pool while listening to a couple of sets of music by the groups, and drove back up the hill to our campsite a little after 9:00 pm.  We’d left our Scamp’s “porch” light on, and an almost-full moon was rising above it.

The crystal clear skies brought falling temperatures, so Wayne started a fire and got out his guitar.  When I took this picture, I didn’t expect the flash to go off; I thought I would get his silhouette.   As a result, the picture is too bright, and the video clip is too dark. Reality was somewhere in the middle.   🙂

We turned on our little ceramic heater to let the trailer warm up, and we continued to sit outside by the fire, moving closer and closer to it as the night got colder.

When I started getting shivery–and the fire had burned down to embers–we went inside, where it was quite cozy.  I always sleep incredibly well in the trailer (we have a full size memory foam mattress that we cut to fit the curves of the trailer), and this night was no exception. Even though the temperature dropped to the low/mid 30s outside, we were warm and comfortable in the Scamp.

When we woke up on Sunday morning, we fixed coffee (always a priority) and ate breakfast in the trailer (yogurt, plus peanut butter on bread).  The dinette was a huge project last summer, and this was the first time that we’d had a chance to use it.  🙂

We were blessed with another beautiful Spring day, and it warmed up quickly.

  

  

Can you see me through all the reflections in the window?

  

I finally ventured out, and we enjoyed a few more peaceful, relaxed hours at Misty Mountain before heading home.

Yes, indeed, happy campers.  Very happy campers. 🙂