October 2015 – Bristol, Tennessee

The trip from Wytheville, Virginia to Bristol, Tennessee was only about 1.5 hours long with most of it along I-81, so it was an easy travel day.  After driving by the Bristol Motor Speedway (which is HUGE) we arrived at Lakeview RV Park outside Bristol, in Bluff City, on the shores of Boone Lake.  It is obvious from the multiple flags and proximity to the speedway that their main business is during the spring and summer with the NASCAR events, however, in October, they are not very busy and the campground was only about 1/4 full and many of those were seasonal campers with nobody in residence.  Their other draw is fishing and boating on Boone Lake (hence the name for the park), however, they have drained Boone Lake by some 30 feet over a year ago in order to do some repairs on the dam and all the docks are sitting way above the current surface of the lake.  It made for a strange sight, but is hurting the RV Park.  It is also far enough from the Interstate that the snowbirds do not use it as a stopover in the fall, which meant the traffic in and out of the park was minimal, which was fine by us!!  The park is not designed to attract family camping during the summer which means there are not a lot of amenities such as playgrounds, etc.  Instead they have designed the park to make it easy for big rigs so there are not a lot of trees, the roads are wide enough for a three lane highway, and the sites are spacious.  Unfortunately, the sties are all back-in instead of pull through, but with the wide road it was easy to back the RV into our site. In fact, we had enough room and all afternoon, so I practiced a bit with the RV trying to move it over a few feet and angling it up so it exactly fit the angle of the site.   It was good practice and I was able to get it where I wanted it after three attempts.  I am getting better at this, but I still get very nervous when the site is tight.

Campsite

On Tuesday we just stayed in the campground enjoying the cool fall weather.  I worked on this blog and Kal was able to watch a few old movies on TCM since we had extended cable at the park.

Wednesday was our daughter’s birthday and they were closing on a new house they bought in Asheville, North Carolina, so we loaded up in the truck and went to visit.  We also planned on spending the night in their new house so we took our air mattress and sleeping bags with us since we would be spending the night on the floor while they stayed in their condo in town.  Since they closed on the house in the morning, we did not arrive until after lunch, meeting them at the new Hi-Wire brewery in Asheville.  Back in the spring we saw their new location while still in the process of converting the building and installing equipment.  Since they opened the brewery over the summer, this was our chance to see it in full operation.  Chris took us ona tour of the facility and the level of automation was impressive, especially in comparison to the much smaller operation at their old location, which is still brewing their specialty and seasonal brews.  From this new facility they will be expanding distribution throughout North and South Carolina, with plans to expand into eastern Tennessee and eventually into Georgia and Alabama.

HiWireTastingRoom HiWireLab HiWireBrewing

After going out to a late lunch, Kal and I went with Nikki to H.H. Gregg to buy a number of big ticket items for the new house.  Since they are keeping their condo in downtown Asheville with plans to rent it as a B&B, they need all new furniture and furnishings for their new home, which makes it real easy to move since all the big furniture will be delivered.  This ended up taking a lot longer then we thought it would leaving us just enough time for Nikki to change for her weekly Kickball game.  You probably played Kickball yourself in your youth, I know I did, but it becomes a completely different game when played by highly competitive adults.  It was fun to watch, especially when the opposing team went ahead in the final inning to win the game.  We then got a late dinner since it was now after 9:00 and Kal and I got ready to sleep on the floor.  Chris and Nikki were kind enough to leave us their dog, Lucky, for the night, who promptly stacked out his place on the air mattress.  Thankfully, Lucky is a small dog so he did not take up much room and allowed us to join him in bed.  After getting settled he decided to get cozy and after blowing in my face waking me up, he promptly laid down across my stomach.  While I thought this was awfully nice, it was not the most comfortable way to sleep, which I guess Lucky agreed with because he moved off the bed to the corner we had made up for him for the rest of the night.

LuckyAirMattress

On Thursday we got more serious about getting them moved in and assisted them with putting IKEA chairs together for the porch, a standing shelf for the bathroom, and getting some pieces they had purchased previously and stored in their storage unit until the close.  In the afternoon, they delivered their new couch and we put together their king sized bed, which totally filled up the master bedroom. Their friend, Robert, was also helping out doing a number of odd jobs around the house, such as installing light fixtures and handles on the cabinets.  Their new bed gave us some problems figuring out how to put it together only to find out the slats were too long for the bed.  Robert and I took off a window screen so I could hand them out to him to be cut off and when we got to the last set of slats he decided to check their length.  Thank goodness he noticed they were 2 inches shorter then the others, a fact I know I would have missed, and after checking their length found that if he had cut them they would have been too short for the frame.  An amazing good catch, that from experience, I know I would have missed.  All of this kept us busy most of the day until around 5:00 when we left to head back to the campground in time to watch Auburn football on TV as they beat Kentucky in a close game that came down to the last quarter.

HomeOnVirginia

Friday was spent in the campground doing a whole lot of nothing all day. While we were gone, they delivered the mattress, washer and dryer, and outdoor grill to their new home.

Saturday was back to Asheville to give Nikki and Chris some more help with their house.  They had decided to “divide and conquer”, so after a quick lunch, Chris and I took off for Lowe’s and Nikki and Kal went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  We both had long lists of items to purchase ranging from shelving, paint, and light bulbs for us to bath mats and baskets for the women.  We then spent the afternoon installing wine racks, glazing the bathroom window, and other odds and ends until around 5:00 when it was time to break in their new outdoor grill.  Robert and his wife, along with a coworker with Nikki came by for dinner and we had a great steak dinner with all the fixings before having to say goodbye and leave for the day.  Once we got back to the RV it was time to unhook the water as we had the first freezing temperatures for the season the next two nights.

Kitchen ChrisAndBryna

Sunday was another day taking it easy around the campground in preparation for leaving on Monday to take to the RV to Tri-Am RV Center for it’s one year checkup.

October 2015 – Wytheville, Virginia

Our trip to Wytheville, Virginia was delayed by a day due to a problem with the RV.  I noticed when we set up the RV at Appamatox that the left rear landing pad was acting up, not wanting to extend properly.  I was able to get it down, but I had lifted the corner of the RV enough that the front door was difficult to close.  So on Thursday, I attempted to retract it a bit only to find out that the switch was not working at all.  This was the same problem we had with the left front landing pad back In New Jersey in the spring, so we knew what to do.  Kal ordered a new switch from the manufacturer, only this time she ordered two so we would have a spare!  We paid for overnight shipping hoping that it would be delivered before we had to leave on Monday.  I don’t know if the heavy rain we had on Friday and Saturday had anything to do with it, but it turned out this was a waste of money.  By Monday morning we were still waiting on the delivery although the webpage stated it was on the truck at 5:00 in the morning for delivery.  By noon, we decided we would just have to stay another day and called Fort Chiswell RV Park that we would be delayed.  The switch was not delivered until after 2 in the afternoon, so this was a good decision.  Replacing the switch took less than half and hour and everything was good to go.  So we left by 10:00 on Tuesday morning, instead of Monday as originally planned, but except for missing a couple of beautiful days on the Blue Ridge, it was not a major problem.  Fort Chiswell RV Park is once again on the “Snowbird Express” filling up every night with RVs that leave by noon the next day on their way to Florida.  Especially since it is located within half a mile of where Interstate 81 and 77 come together in Virginia.  However, with a herd of sheep on one side and a herd of cows on the other with no noise from the Interstate, it was a nice place to spend the week.  It gave us easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is what we were looking for.

Campsite

We had already lost two beautiful days getting here from Appamattox, which was a nice change after the rain we saw all last week (the same system that caused the terrific floods in South Carolina along with the threat of the hurricane).  With rain again forecasted for the coming weekend, we were anxious to get back to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Since the weather limited us to a single day on the Blue Ridge last week, and it was foggy and wet for the most part, we had to travel over two hours north to the James River to continue our drive.  So we got an early start on Wednesday morning and got back to the Parkway by 10:00.  Mostly because it was a week later, but also because we could not see much the previous week, our immediate impression was the dramatic increase in the fall colors along the drive.  In fact, the further we traveled south over the next three days, the better the conditions got, although I suspect this was just the progression with time and not location.  Coming south from the James River, which is the low point of the Parkway at 649 feet, you immediately ascend to the highest point on the Parkway in Virginia at 3950 feet, so the changes along the drive and at the overlooks is dramatic.

GregAtOverlook

For lunch we stopped at the parking lot of the Fallingwater Cascades Trail at mile marker 83.  Although most of the overlooks and parking lots have picnic tables, this one did not so we ate lunch in the truck.  After lunch it was time to stretch our legs for the first time in nearly a week and we headed off on the 1.6 mile loop down to the Fallingwater Cascades.  We were advised to go counter-clockwise on the loop by hikers finishing the trail and it was good advice.  The trail descends a total of 260 feet, much of which is along the stream before you have to climb back up to the parking lot.  The hike down was steep with numerous steps, especially along the stream.  With all the rain we had last week, the stream was running pretty full and the series of cascades were beautiful.  This along with the fall colors in display from many of the trees made for a nice walk.  However, once we crossed the stream at the bottom of the cascades, trying not to step in the stream as we crossed the rocks, we had the long climb back.  While years ago a climb of 260 feet would not have seemed much of a challenge, nowadays it can be strenuous, especially with my left knee and hip complaining the whole way.  It was also a challenge for Kal, who just about decided to make the cutoff to another parking lot 200 feet away at the fork and have me pick her up, instead of hiking the last quarter mile to the parking lot.  We both made it, however, and convinced ourselves that the cascades were worth the effort.

GregUnderTree FallingwaterCascade1

After our hike we continued south on the Parkway to the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center.  This is a nice, small Visitor Center located at the base of the three hills that make up the Peaks of Otter.  Nobody seems to know why they are called this although it could be from the Indian word that means peaks, which would mean they are really the Peaks of Peaks.  From this point, the Parkway descends down to the Blue Ridge, which from this point south appears to be valley rather than a ridge as it becomes wide enough, for the most part, for farms and pastures along both sides of the road, except for the parts that are within the Jefferson National Forest.  Since you are traveling along a broad ridge, the overlooks become fewer and we made much better time.   At mile marker 115 you come to the Roanoke River gorge, where the river crosses the Blue Ridge.  The bridge over the River gives a great view of the gorge with a parking lot on the south side.  From here there is a trail down to an overlook, however, we decided against it after the previous hike.  By this point it was after 3 and we were both tired.  Although we pulled into the Virginia’s Explore Park Visitor Center where we watched their video about the Parkway and looked at their exhibits about life and history along the Parkway, we decided to wait until the next day to explore the area further.

RuralScene

Thursday was another beautiful day and we headed back to where we left off on the Parkway, although now it was just an hour drive back north to Roanoke.  At 10:00 in the morning we were the only visitors to the Explore Park and had the facilities to ourselves.  Although this meant that none of the buildings in the park were open, from their condition I am not sure any of them are open anymore.  It was obvious that budget cuts over the past decade has let this Explore Park fall into disrepair.  Many of the fences were falling down and the buildings did not look they would be far behind.  They were all locked and boarded up, so all you could see was the outside where they had posted a few signs about them. The only interesting feature was a recreation of a frontier fort with palisade walls, which again were falling over in many places.  After exploring what we could around the buildings we enjoyed a nice walk along the stream back to the parking lot.  There area also a number of other hiking trails in the Explore Park that look interesting, but we decided to head on as we had miles to travel yet.

KalAtExplorePark

A couple of miles south of the Explore Park is a 4 mile, paved, one-way loop road to the summit of Roanoke Mountain.  Although the road is very narrow, it is paved and you don’t have to worry about oncoming traffic.  The road is steep as it climbs quickly to the summit of the mountain that overlooks Roanoke.  From two different overlooks you can get great views of the Roanoke Valley, as well as, the cities of Roanoke and Salem.  Especially since the Parkway at this point is along a broad ridge, these are the only overlooks that provide this kind of view.  We ate lunch at the overlook while enjoying the view.

GregOnRoanokeMt RoanokeValley2

From here it was another 40 miles of country road travel through rural farms, pastures, and wooded areas.  There were only a few overlooks when the road came close to the edge of the ridge, especially on the east side, that were worth stopping at, but unless they decide to cut some of the trees, there is little reason to stop at most of them.  However, the drive itself as it winds through the rural environment with little traffic, advertisements, or trucks, makes the trip very enjoyable.  Of course the increasing colors of fall added a lot as well.  As we approached Mabry Mill it was getting late enough in the afternoon they we decided to wait on exploring it until the next day, especially since we still had to go to the store on the way back.

FallColors

On Friday the clouds were beginning to increase with the possibility of rain by the afternoon, so we got an early start and headed back to Mabry Mill, which was now less than an hour away.  I was surprised to see the number of visitors that early in the morning, but it is one of the more popular places on the Parkway.  It is a nice setting with the grist mill in operation and two mill races full of water pouring over the waterwheel.  It has been over 40 years since we were here while I was in graduate school at Virginia Tech and I don’t believe very much has changed.  I was interested to find out that the grist mill was more than just a grist mill.  In addition, to grinding corn the water wheel also powered a small sawmill and wood working shop with lathe and jigsaw.  Along with the blacksmith shop and house they have moved to the site, it is a nice place to visit.  We were lucky that the blacksmith was there along with a volunteers spinning wool and operating a very large loom in the house.  We enjoyed  couple of hours visiting with them.

MabryMill2

From Mabry Mill it is only a couple of miles to where the Parkway crosses over Round Meadow Creek where there was a 0.6 mile loop trail that descends to the creek, travels upstream along the creek and circles back to the parking lot.  The descent is just over 100 feet, so the trail was not too strenuous and the creek was very nice.  We got some good pictures of the water and bridge where the vines climbing up the supports were all turning red with fall.  Very pretty!!

GregOnTrail

At mile marker 189 is the Groundhog Mountain picnic area, where we stopped for lunch in a very nice picnic area.  Since it was still early for lunch we had the place to ourselves and had a nice quiet lunch.  From there we continued south to the Puckett Cabin where Mrs Puckett lived until she was over 100 years old providing mid-wife services to the local residents overseeing the birth of over 1000 children.  Her story was amazing, especially since she had over 20 of her own children, none living past infancy.  How she could bring so much joy into the world while suffering so much of her own personal tragedy is a great story. The drive continued traveling through a very rural scene along the Parkway.

RuralScene2

After stopping at a couple of overlooks attempting to see Mt Airy through the trees blocking the view and gathering clouds, we made it to the Blue Ridge Music Center.  Since we were lucky enough that it was Friday, they had live music being performed by local musicians.  It was quite a large group of musicians (somewhere around 20) and an equal number of spectators, so it was quite an experience watching them perform and enjoying some mountain music and blue grass.  The Visitor Center is worth the stop by itself as it contains an amazing number of exhibits about the history of mountain music, the instruments, and artists.  They have hours of music you can listen to that highlight different instruments, styles or artists along with a series of videos you can watch of performances, documentaries, and demonstrations.   We spent over an hour in the Visitor Center and sampled just a small fraction of what they had available.  I learned a lot about the history of mountain music, as well as, the birth of country and bluegrass music.  A lot of this was due to the advent and popularity of radio broadcasts.  The most interesting fact for me was learning about the Mexico radio stations in the 1930s that were not regulated like the US stations.  They broadcasted at 500,000 watts which could reach into Canada and South America!!  Country groups, such as the Carter family, became household names from these weekly broadcasts.

GreatFallColors LiveEntertainment

By Saturday, the weather was once again wet with light rain nearly all day.  Therefore, we just stayed in the campgrounds doing laundry, cleaning, and other worthwhile activities like watching college football on cable.  Unfortunately, Auburn was off this week and Texas A&M was not broadcast where we could see, but we saw some good games anyway.

On Sunday we spent the day attempting to get the mud from the previous week out of the rug and I worked on the this blog.  Around 4:00 in the evening we headed to Blacksburg, to visit where we lived for 5 years while I was in Graduate School at Virginia Tech.  After visiting some familiar and some not so familiar after 40 years, we ate dinner downtown.  Through Facebook, Kal had found out earlier in the week that the Southern Biometrician’s meeting was at Blacksburg next week, with a social Sunday evening.  So we decided to “crash” the social with the hopes of seeing some old colleagues, which worked out fairly well.  We were the first to arrive so we got to speak with Dr. Burkhart and Ralph Amateis before anyone else showed up.  I did see some of my old colleagues that I attended graduate school with and had gotten to know over the years.  Among these were Drs. Quang Van Cao, Tom Lynch, and Dave Hyink (and his wife Steff).   I spent some time with Quang presenting him with a new form for a taper equation that I had developed before I retired, but never published.  He seemed interested, so I may be busy in the future working on a publication with him.  I had also brought along a copy of my data from Eglin AFB, so I contributed it to Virginia Tech’s efforts to create a comprehensive database for all southern pines.  It was a very enjoyable evening seeing old friends and filling them in on our adventures for the past year.

September 2015 – Appamattox, Virginia

Come Monday we were ready to get away from the Interstate, even though the weather did not improve and the forecast was more rain later all week.  The trip down Interstate 82 to Interstate 64 was no problem and we stopped at the rest stop on I 81 before taking on Rockfish Gap on I 64 in the fog.  As expected it was foggy as we neared the gap and by the time we exited the Interstate where the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway came together at the gap, the visibility was only a few feet.  From this point we were on US 250 in heavy fog heading down a steep hill.  Kal took it slow and we wound down with no problem until we came back out of the clouds near the valley floor.  Then it was Virginia highway 6 to US highway 29 that was a windy two lane road.  US 29 is a four lane road all the way into Lynchburg where we got on US 460 towards Appamattox and our next campground, Paradise Lake Family Campground.  With the weather conditions it took nearly 3 hours to make the trip, but without incident.  Paradise Lake Family Campground is a medium sized campgrounds about a half mile off of US 460.  This gave us easy access to stores, etc, without any of the noise of the highway.  The campgrounds is nice with pull-through sites and full hookups.  The sites are only wide enough for a picnic table between them, but with only a couple of other RVs in the campgrounds, we had plenty of room.  We were also very close to the restrooms which was a blessing with the weather we would have during the week.

Campsite

Tuesday was our first day of the week with nearly constant rain, although it was never very hard.  The ground outside the RV turned into a mud puddle, which I managed to track into the RV before we started leaving our muddy shoes at the door and wearing slippers.  I was concerned with the weather since it was so warm and muggy throughout the day, but all we saw was a constant light to moderate rain all day.  We knew there was flooding on the Roanoke and Dan River to the south, so we were hoping we would be able to visit the Blue Ridge during the week.

According to the weather forecasts, Wednesday was going to be our best day of the week with only a 30% chance of rain.  Since we had seen much of the Blue Ridge Parkway over the years, our primary focus was Appamattox Court House National Historical Park which was only about 10 miles away.  We were surprised to find out that this Park is primarily the small town of Appamattox Court House on the post road between Lynchburg and Richmond.  Historically its primary reason for existing was to provide a court house for the small farmers in Appamattox County in the late 1700s up to the time of the Civil War.  If not for the surrender of General Lee in 1865 at this location, it would not exist.  In fact, when the court house burnt down in 1869, the town was abandoned in favor of the present town of Appamattox a few miles to the west along the railroad.  Thus the National Historical Park is outside the present town of Appamattox and after reconstructing most of the houses, shops, and court house to the conditions during the Civil War, it can be completely protected.  It’s place in history is due to Lee’s abandonment of Richmond and Petersburg in April of 1865 following General Grant’s successfully cut all the railroads, roads, and shipping into Petersburg which completely cut off Richmond from much needed supplies.  The Confederates left Richmond and Petersburg by fleeing to the west with plans to gain supplies along the railroads before heading south to join up with General Johnston in North Carolina.  However, Grant was not going to allow this and quickly went in pursuit of Lee cutting him off from turning south.  The Confederates continued to the west with a couple of significant battles at Sailor’s Creek and High Bridge.  By the time they approached the railroad station at Appamattox where supplies were waiting, General Custer’s cavalry managed to beat them there capturing the supplies and blocking the post road.  On April 9, General Lee attempted to break through Custer’s cavalry to continue to the west, however, Grant had sent two Union corps of infantry on an overnight march to trap the Confederates.  With General Meade at their rear and now Grant to the south and west, General Lee was trapped south of the James River with no where left to go.  Rather than dissolving his army into bands of guerrilla fighters as urged by his staff and President Jefferson, he contacted General Grant asking for terms of surrender.  Thankfully, General Grant had recently met with President Lincoln at City Point outside of Petersburg and was only wanting an end to the fighting.  They met at the McLean’s house in Appamattox Court House (notice the court house itself never had a part in the story) to agree to terms.  This had to be done informally, because any formal document would have recognize the Confederacy as a sovereign nation, so it was done as letters between the Generals.  The Confederates only had to promise to never take up arms again against the government and were allowed to return home keeping all the personal possessions, including their horses and side-arms, which was critical if they were going to be able to return to farming.  The passes that were printed up in the tavern for the Confederates also provided them access to transportation and rations at any federal installation on their way home.  It was very generous and could have had a huge impact on the reconstruction if President Lincoln was not shot less than a week later.  These terms, in essence, pardoned all the officers and soldiers and thus General Lee was never tried for treason.  We had the pleasure of joining in on the Ranger talk about the town and surrender which was very interesting.  You always learn a lot more details about these sites by taking advantage of the ranger talks when you can.

KalAtMcLeanHouse RangerTalk

After lunch we drove a few miles to Lee’s headquarters which is a short walk off the highway into the woods.  Since they were there for less than a week, there was nothing to see except a spot on the ground in the woods.  However, there was also a nature trail at this location maintained by the local chapter of the SAF.  They had put up signs on many of the trees along the trail with information about the trees along with a red paint spot on the tree itself, which was a big help in picking out the tree they were referring to.  The trail is only about a mile from which you can loop back around to the parking lot, so it made a nice walk in the Virginia woods on a warm fall afternoon.  We also drove the other direction to “Grant’s Headquarters”, which made even less sense than Lee’s Headquarters, since Grant came from Farmville on April 9 to meet with Lee at McLean’s house and left the following day for Washington D.C.  So, except for spending one night, this was never really a headquarters for the General.  I also suspect that the staff moved into the small town after the surrender for the following week as they processed the parole and passes for the Confederate officers and men.

KalOnTrail

Although Thursday was once again foggy and wet, we decided it was going to be our only opportunity to see any of the Blue Ridge Parkway, so we headed back the way we had come to Rockfish Gap where we turned onto the Parkway.  Within a couple of miles you come to the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center where we got a map of the Parkway and looked at their few exhibits about life in the Blue Ridge.  We also found out that the Parkway was closed around Roanoke, but since we were only going to Lynchburg that day, we should be fine.  We did not spend much time at the Visitor Center since it was rainy and I have seen small Appalachian farms before.  We did stop at all the overlooks along the Parkway, however, in the fog you can’t see much.  When we came to Greenstone Trail at mile marker 8, we decided that since there was a ranger talk to a bunch of school kids at the overlook, that we could brave the weather ourselves and take the short 0.2 mile Greenstone Trail that winds around the rocks with interpretive signs about the geology.  It wasn’t very enjoyable since there was a light rain and most of the signs were not readable or were missing altogether.  In any case it was a chance to stretch our legs and get out of the truck for a while.  We continued on south on the Parkway stopping at each of the overlooks and as we got to lower elevations on the Parkway through a number of gaps, we descended out of the fog and started to get some nice views of the Shenandoah Valley.

KalOnGreenstoneTrail

By lunch time, the rain had stopped and the fog had lifted and even though it stayed cloudy all day, the weather was a definite improvement.  We stopped for lunch at the Wigwam Falls, which are within sight of the Parkway.  There is a short loop trail that takes you up to the base of the falls, which were quite nice with all the rain in the past week.  At this location they have also reconstructed a short section of the narrow gauge railroad system that was over 50 miles long used to harvest the trees back in the early 20th century.  Nearly all of the Blue Ridge is second growth forests since it was extensively logged a hundred years ago and any flat terrain was farmed.

GregOnTracks

After enjoying lunch listening to the falls, we continued south along the Parkway enjoying the many overlooks and waystops along Otter Creek, which was again running fairly full dancing over the different rock formations.  Around 2:00 in the afternoon we came to the James River Visitor Center where the James River crosses through the Blue Ridge.  This was also the location of the James River Canal that used a series of locks to transport people and cargo to the west in the mid 1800s.  From the Visitor Center you can walk across the James River on a concrete footbridge under the Parkway to explore a reconstructed lock along the canal.  I was surprised that there was not more of the canal itself visible along the river, until I learned that most of the towpath had been converted to a railroad bed after the Civil War and the canal was filled in along most of its length.  We also took a hike of about a mile along the James River known as the Trail of Trees.  There a number of interpretive signs about the trees and bushes along the trail, although they seriously need to update their signs.  Although most of the trees are still there, except for the hemlock which was dead, most of the shrubs and herbaceous plants were missing.  At least I could not locate them based on the drawings they gave for identification.  It was still a nice walk and was a good end to the day.  By this point it was getting near 4:00 and time to return to the campground.

JamesRiver

Unfortunately the rest of the week has very little to write about as it rained all day Friday, Saturday, and off and on Sunday.  We were caught in a freakish weather pattern with a high to our north and low to the southwest that were both pulling in moisture off the Atlantic and producing high easterly winds.  In addition, Hurricane Joaquin was projected to turn to the north and head towards Chesapeake Bay by Saturday.  As it tuned out, we all dodged a bullet as the projections for the hurricane continued to move it further east until it would not even make landfall at all.  In addition, southern Virginia dodged the bullet and got only half of the rain that was forecasted, which on top of the rain the previous week, would have made major flooding.  However, this meant that South and North Carolina got hit much harder with record breaking rainfall and flooding!!!!  We came through the weather in fine shape, except for the mud tracked into the RV and a problem, unrelated to the weather, that we discovered on Friday.  We noticed that the front door was difficult to close and I was pretty sure that the minor problem I had with the back hydraulic pads when we set up was the cause.  Most likely I had twisted the frame a little causing the door to be difficult to close.  However, when I went out to adjust the left rear pad, I found out that the switch was not working, which was the reason I had trouble setting up on Monday.  Since this is the second switch to go out, we know how to fix it, as long as we can get the part in time.  We did order a new switch (actually we got smarter and ordered two switches), but it won’t be delivered until Monday, even though we paid a lot extra for overnight delivery.  It may be due to the weather, but I sure hope it gets here by Monday so we can leave.

On Monday, the part did not arrive in time for us to leave, so we booked another night at Paradise Lake.  The part finally came around 2 in the afternoon and within a half hour I had replaced the switch and we were good to leave the next day.  I suppose we must learn to accept these kinds of problems with the RV, but it seems that either the RV or the truck is needing maintenance every month or two!!