We were packed up early and ready to hit the road by 9:30am Friday morning. This was good timing – late enough to miss the Washington, DC rush hour traffic from Cherry Hill Park, but early enough to get a head start on the day’s travel.
We followed the I-495 Beltway west and south until we crossed into Virginia and came to I-66. The traffic wasn’t bad, but drivers made idiotic moves like changing lanes at the last instant for an exit or trying to weave their way through traffic at ridiculous speeds. We stayed out of trouble and eventually, westbound I-66 led us to a more rural setting with fewer cars.
Our next junction put us on a southwesterly course on I-81. This is a nice road with good pavement and beautiful scenery as you traverse the Shenandoah Valley. We had the Blue Ridge Mountains to our east and the Appalachians to the west. I thoroughly enjoyed driving this stretch of road.
Our original plan was to stop for the day in Buena Vista, Virginia at a Passport America RV park. After fueling up at the Pilot/Flying J in Raphine at exit 205, we decided to push on. The fuel cost was a very reasonable $2.43/gallon. We drove through Roanoke and thought we would stop at the Walmart in Dublin for the night. But the Walmart in Dublin is posted “No Overnight Parking.” Local ordinance strikes again.
Our Rand-McNally GPS shows RV parking along the route. Usually it won’t show Walmarts that aren’t okay to park in. Of course, local ordinances are always subject to change. We pushed on to Wytheville where there’s another Walmart. Donna phoned ahead and she was told the Walmart store doesn’t own the parking lot – the town owns it and they may issue a ticket for overnight parking. Having said that, she added that we would probably be okay if we parked by their lawn and garden center.
We stopped at the Walmart in Wytheville and it didn’t look good. It was posted and the lot wasn’t all that big. There was a large lot at Lowes next to Walmart but they were obviously not RV friendly. Every entrance to their lot had a steel bar on posts 12 feet high to prevent any vehicle over 12 feet (RVs and trucks) from entering. Their lot was less than half full, but they didn’t want us in there. I made a decision today that I won’t be shopping at Lowes any more.
We parked in an empty lot by Walmart and went in to buy a few things. After looking at our options, we decided to try a U.S. National Forest campground that Donna that found in the Escapees Day’s End Directory.
We drove about 9 miles to Stony Fork Campground (map). This campground has 53 paved sites arranged around a paved loop. The paved loop is narrow. Getting our trailer backed into a site was going to be tricky. We drove around the loop and all of the easily accessible sites were either taken or reserved. We finally decided to give it a shot at site 43. Donna got out to direct me on our Cobra 38 WX ST handheld CB and I saw a neighbor come out to watch the show. I’m sure we disappointed him when we backed into the site in one shot!
We covered about 350 miles today and I was tired. The site we’re in isn’t level – it’s low in the rear. Too low to really get the coach level. I got it as close as I dared and called it good. Raising the rear too high risks having the rear tires off the ground. The parking brake works on the rear wheels – if the rear tires aren’t in contact with the ground, there isn’t a parking brake. Once we settled in (I didn’t hook up – we’re dry camping), we walked back to the entrance to fill out a pay envelope and pay the fee for the night. There was an interesting sign at the pay station.
We had dinner for lunch yesterday (leftover asiago chicken sausage with roasted pepper, black rice with mango and black-eyed peas, and green beans with sliced almonds), so we decided to have lunch for dinner last night. Donna made a salad with the last of the baby field greens she got at the farmers’ market in Bolton Landing, NY and topped it with cherry tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, feta cheese, black-eyed peas, deli turkey meat, kalamata olives and dolmas (grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice).
We’re at an elevation of about 2,600 feet above sea level. The temperature is cooler than we’ve had in a while. We slept with the windows open and it’s a cool, but comfortable 66 degrees in the coach as I type this at 7am. Meanwhile, Donna is out hiking the Seven Sisters Trail. When she returns in a couple of hours, we’ll pack up and hit the road.
Today we plan to drive to Crossville, Tennessee. Donna found a Shoney’s restaurant there that offers free overnight RV parking in a gravel lot adjacent to the restaurant. This will set us up close to Nashville where we want to spend a few days.