Driving across the boroughs of New York in an RV with truck in tow, cross-town thanks to the ‘no commercial vehicles on parkways’ rule which somehow manages to include RVs, is definitely not for the faint of heart. Lucky for us, with Dan at the wheel and Jesse helpfully navigating while I took photos and exclaimed over random points of possible interest, we made it out of the big city and to our next stop at Elk Neck SP, MD.
Beautiful lighthouse, reminding me of Santa Cruz and our wedding day, though not-so-romantically named ‘Turkey Neck” – who looked out over the vastness of Chesapeake Bay, the historic landscape, and thought, yep, there’s a name for a lighthouse, sure does look like a turkey neck to me.” Between the turkey neck and overpopulation of Maryland’s state bird, the stinkbug, I really didn’t feel like we gave this park a fair shake. But if you’ve ever had to do hand-to-hand combat with two stinkbugs in a shower, you may forgive my lukewarm review.
We packed up and headed to Virginia to meet up with our friend Joe (Dan’s good friend since elementary school, and co-adventurer in DC, Santa Cruz and Hawaii) for the grand tour of Charlottesville and area. Hello, US history! We stayed in a little campsite on the James River, near Scottsville, where a levee was created to deal with regular flooding of the river – up to 40 feet some years! That levee was also the local dog-walking hangout, and I met lots of local folk, two and four-legged, who gave me the run-down on the area, pointed me to the local farmer’s market and to a day spa where I got my first massage in months – heavenly. The oldest church I saw was built in 1745 and the newest was 1850. We spent lots of evenings dining out with Joe, met up with and old California friend, Melanie, did a bit of wine tasting (who knew that Charlottesville has so many good vineyards?), and toured Monticello and the Madison estate (where we had a partial tour by Joe’s dad, who is a docent there) as well as a visit into the mountains to the Walton museum (my idea ;). We crammed a lot of sightseeing into a week, and managed to get a good bit of work done, as well. One of the joys of our travel is meeting old friends in new places, and Joe is a master tour guide.
We continued to chase the fall foliage as we headed to Claytor Lake, VA, where we spent some lovely hiking time, but with weather in the mid-fifties and overcast, I wasn’t too interested in getting out paddling and taking advantage of the lake. As I hiked through the forest, I started two new photo projects – I’ve been waiting a while for inspiration to hit, so am excited to get my mind and eye focused. We then spent the weekend at Grayson Highlands SP, well in the Blue Ridge mountains (is it the highest peak in VA?). We were expecting a huge colorful array of foliage, but instead found bare trees – it turns out that cold and wind make for early winter. Despite the lack of vibrant color, we had a great time doing some challenging hikes, including getting on the Appalachian trail (OK, only for a couple of miles, but they were tough miles!), and following a creek to its source, skirting several waterfalls.
Today, I get on a plane in Charlotte, NC for a brief work visit back to CA. While the plane heads west, my thoughts are in the East.