It’s not our plan, it’s His

You’ve heard me talk about…and poke fun at…the plan we operate by.

The Prime Directive for us is to move only a short distance and take our time doing it. Under the What’s next tab we list a few dates and destinations, and these give us some very general guidance for planning a route. A further part of our Prime Directive is to use the smallest roads that will suit our rig, and to explore the environment through which we pass.

You know how dire circumstances have rewritten our route (when the generator belt broke and kept us from using AC during a period of breathtaking heat and humidity, which caused us to be introduced to a new friend, who introduced us to a new shop to do work on our coach, which has become a great source of good work and comfort to us).

You know from this week how readily we change our plan over something as trivial as rain in the morning.

Today, we planned to drive only about 60 miles, because it was Sabbath and we wanted to catch a park along the route to spend the day. We figured to make Ashland and its Wally Park (you do know that’s RVer talk for Wal*Mart, right?).

We found Yatesville Lake State Park just 4 miles off our route, and headed there. Arrived to find it really had only a marina and a campground, no day park area. On a whim, we asked if the campground had any suitable spots available for the night. No, we’re full, they said.

But just then the camp host arrived on his golf cart. He came over to admire the Taxi, and as we talked he saw Robyn and the boys get out for a walk. He was nearly overcome with emotion. Turns out he’s a man of God, a casual preacher whose father was a Baptist minister for 54 years. He was deeply affected by Ross and Ryan, and by how we’re living with them. We didn’t know it, but the day’s plan had just changed.

He said to climb in his golf cart and let’s see about some spots. Turned out there were two vacant spaces that could fit our coach. Found the one was reserved for tonight. Found the other had been occupied, and was scheduled for that family through tonight, but they had left early. We could have the space, and it would be free because they had already paid for it!

It was the best space in the campground!

It’s been a lovely Sabbath. We truly have stopped to smell the roses (or whatever these flowers are); only made 45 miles today.

By the way, the best I could do to capture Kentucky coal country for you was the slogan in the pickup’s back window, sorry.

HA, new plan!

Woke up this morning to the sound of rain pouring down and campers pouring in. Breaks campground gets busy on weekends, and we were about to experience it.

Oh no we won’t….change the plan….we’re moving.

Decided to come off the mountain, move on down the road, and head in a more northerly direction toward Dayton.

Roads on the western side of Breaks were more gentle, and much shorter to reach what passes for flatland in eastern Kentucky. Made good time, without much effort, and found ourselves right alongside Jenny Wiley State Resort Park. Decided to stay for the night.

Hardly got out of the coach today, so no photos.

Tomorrow, maybe we can do something to capture the flavor of Kentucky coal country and share it with you.

Oh my, the goodness!

Things improved today.

Oh? you say, thought they were superlative yesterday.

Indeed.

But you take away the morning rain, drop the temperature a bit and the humidity a bunch, and keep the sun shining nicely, and voila! Everything is just that much better.

We rented the golf cart again (“the Little Taxi”), because it’s so perfect for our needs, and it gives a nice breeze as you roll along. We visited the same places today. Took some of the same photos. But it was all different….earlier light and changed shadows, clearer vistas, more patience because we weren’t suffering from heat and humidity, shafts of light punching through the canopy way up there to highlight some point of interest.

Ross and Ryan can be so hard to read, because they don’t talk and don’t really react to circumstances. But even they seemed to enjoy today more than yesterday. Check out the photo of Ross walking down the rocky path holding onto the railing: he would ordinarily have little patience to navigate that by himself, but he was quite intent about following it today.

Decided to extend our stay another day.

Oh baby, NOW we’re having fun!

It wasn’t just us who were challenged by the up-down-and-around-roads to get here….they sell t-shirts here at the park that say “I survived the road…to Breaks Interstate Park.”

The effort was sure worth it!

Today we rented a golf cart so we could really cover some ground (felt like Tiny Elvis on a monitor: “Man, this thing is HUGE”). Still worked up a sweat.

The high humidity also interferes with crystal clarity in the photos of distant vistas. What a place! No path is straight, and around every turn is a grand new scene. Lush. Interesting mix of hard woods and soft woods; plenty of shrubbery, ground cover, moss, and lichens. Although the craggy rocks poke out everywhere, they’re covered or spotted with something growing over them or out of them.

Wonderful park staff! We’re having a great time, and enjoying the peace. Plenty of people in the park, but it’s so big and spread out, we often feel like we have it all to ourselves.

More of it tomorrow, if we can handle the pressure!

Them thar hills……

Whoeee, now I understand why so many Virginians have one leg shorter than the other….nothing’s level in the western part of the state!

I thought we were doing hills yesterday. Our average speed of about 35 mph yesterday was racing compared to today. Took 3 hours to go 60 miles! A couple times I almost could reach out the window and touch the tail of the coach as we wound around some hairpins.

The pictures below were taken at the beginning of today’s route. Divided four lane ended after 10 miles. Still, it was slower than usual because of the lonnggg hills. Banging on 35 at the top of many uphills. Long downhills aren’t worth much, because we just cannot go over 65 because of braking needs and tire limitations

Speaking of tires, we found another limitation today. When we visited Heartwood, “southwest Virginia’s artisan gateway”, the parking lot was fairly tight for the Taxi. After we parked, I found our front tires had ground off an inch of fresh asphalt where we turned tightly! Whoops. Each front tire supports about twice the total weight of a normal car.

Ended up in Breaks Interstate Park, huge place located at Breaks Gorge, the deepest gorge east of the Mississippi. It’s called “interstate park” because it includes land in Virginia and Kentucky. Also called “Grand Canyon with clothes on” because of its size and lush vegetation.

We called ahead to verify availability of a suitable spot to park. Arrived to find the staff had specifically gone out to the campground and paced off some spaces to be certain of size! We have a lovely site with all the hookups. Will do a photo tomorrow when there’s daylight.

Can almost touch branches out our windows, surrounded by hills and lush vegetation. And all the comforts of home….can luxuriate in long, hot showers, without thought to drain the water tank nor fill the holding tank. AC just hums along without the usual cacaphony of the diesel generator.

Took so long to get here, we’re gonna stay!

From superlative to superlative

Often it seems we leave one scene of superlative beauty, and turn the corner for another!

It helps to pick a path through the Blue Ridge Mountains on successive sunny days.

As you can see from our locator (under the Here we are! tab), we’re deep in the midst of Virginia. We spent the day “swimming against the tide” by traveling nearly due west from Galax to Abingdon. Since the mountains mostly run southwest to northeast, it meant there are no big roads.

In fact, midway along our route, we were met with large signs at an intersection that warned the next section of roadway was not recommended for trucks over 30 feet long. Oops, at 45 feet we couldn’t hope to just go slowly and make it through.

No problem, took the other route. HA, it was tighter than what we’d already been driving, so I’d hate to see what the section was like with the warning.

But glorious, all of it!

Too tight to stop and shoot photos. Every time there was some kind of pull-out, it was near some dreadful scene. Woeful poverty and decay in so many places. Interesting highlight: mile after mile of carefully cultivated evergreen trees that rolled up and over hill after hill, all neatly arrayed in rows that were grouped by cross-paths for machinery access. Christmas tree farms!

Took about 6 hours to travel about 85 miles, due to interruptions for lunch, grocery shopping, and refueling the coach….and the typical 35 mile per hour pace on mountainous roads.

We’re here in Abingdon, VA to see a brand new facility that highlights the many, many artisans of southwest Virginia. Heartwood just opened two weeks ago, and this coming weekend is its grand opening celebration. Get it? The state slogan is “Virginia is for lovers”.

Will spend tomorrow exploring it. Tonight, we’ve simply pulled into a large parking lot beside the main taxiway of the Virginia Highlands Airport. The runway is at eye-level as we look out the coach windows.

We sure settled in quickly…..

We found an opportunity to stop for a few days in a settlement off I-77 near the Virginia & North Carolina border called Deer Creek Motorcoach Resort.

A motorcoach resort is where you buy a lot with a concrete pad for your coach, with the necessary utilities, but also with some extras that can make it almost feel like a house: small building for a more elaborate kitchen, or full-size bath, or fully furnished office, or just storage for your motorcycle. And grass, bushes, lawn furniture!

Why, you ask, would you buy land to park your coach? Good question. Most of the people here actually still own houses, too.

I suppose this is pretty much like having a vacation cottage somewhere, and you bring the primary living quarters with you. It’s just a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, and one couple leaves their motorcycle here most of the year so they can drop in with the coach, and take off on the bike.

The weather here is certainly more mild than much farther south or north. And it’s sure quiet and lovely.

The biggest attraction may be the fine community of people. With 28 of the 70 lots sold, there is some variety but mostly a convivial spirit. Nearly everyone is out during the day, walking little dogs and talking to neighbors. Some walk to the clubhouse for clothes washing or the nearby dumpster. Cars are in and out for the restaurants and stores a couple miles away.

Everyone has been so kind and welcoming to us. We’ve told them we’re new to full-time RVing, and this concept doesn’t fit within the picture for our lives. Several said that had been true for them, too, but here they are all settled and happy.

We’re certainly happy here.

But watch our Google locator tomorrow afternoon…..it should show us all unsettled, somewhere north of Wytheville, VA.