First week…

So I arrived at the northern entrance to Shenandoah National Park around 7am…I was really, really tired 😉 Only having stopped for breakfast at Dennys.  So I finally arrived only to find out they had closed the northernmost camp, Matthews Arm Campground, til September while they redid the plumbing.  SO I had to drive 50 more miles to Big Meadows campground…  So I got a camp spot and luckily the tent was very easy to put up 🙂  It was a Thursday so the camp grounds weren’t very busy…

Thursday night a bad storm came through…found out the tent protected against rain and good speed winds 🙂  I made up for lost sleep and slept the entire night.  Friday I set up my electronics to charge up in my car…everything charged up except for the mobile hot spot.  I finally got through to the Verizon store only to get told that they needed an address to mail the new one to…I ended up driving like 60 miles to Harrisonburg.  They hook it up to their recharger and lo and behold the thing started working!  But it started as if it was being turned on for the first time.  I explained that I didn’t want to be burnt two times and wanted to get a different one, so we figured out if I paid some they could speed ship it to the store and I could pick it up on Tuesday.  Needless to say not what I really wanted to hear but I went with it.   Also learned that eating while driving in traffic on a highway wasn’t good either 😉  Luckily no accident just a small scare 😉  OH and on the way back I was at a 7-11 and saw a guy with the back of his t-shirt said “Southern Heritage since 1861” Made me laugh…

So of course because it was Friday now all the weekend camper types started showing up.  Five of the surrounding campsites are one big group that are loud, drinkers with dogs…  Then on the other side of me is this couple where the girl just won’t shut up…til late into the night!  She likes telling the guy how she just KNOWS everything about camping…and can’t figure out why she can’t get their campfire going this time.

I took a walk down a trail while trying to get my laptop to play LOTRO.  This just doesn’t feel like the kind of National park I’m used to…just shows how limited my experience has been.  I remember large valleys of tall pine trees…it has a very unique smell and feel.  Though it didn’t help that this weekend the weather went to shit here…it was funny yesterday I was freezing up here in the camp ground but when I drove down to Harrisonburg I was burning up!  It’s pretty much been raining, foggy and cold here in the campgrounds.

I’m not sure how this will make me sound, but I’m going to try to describe how I feel around these people.  There are several types of people I see here, the ones like my loud neighbors who come up here to get drunk and feel all outdoorsie without really being out in the outdoors.  There are the ones who are retired and travel around in huge campers and RVs, there are those who seem to want to push themselves physically doing hard and long hikes.  I’m sure they all get what they are looking for out of it… I’m sure the partiers get a kick out of partying with friends and “experiencing” the great outdoors.  I’m sure the hard core hikers get the endorphin rush from pushing their bodies to their limits.  And I’m sure the retired folks see themselves as exploring the world and sending home pictures to their kids and grandkids.  So they all are getting what they want out of it so who am I to judge them in any way.

I don’t really judge them as I think it’s a good thing if they are feeling fulfilled from their experiences.  I just don’t feel it.  I came on this journey to see and feel things…find something to make this all worthwhile.  I had this vision from a long time ago when I was a kid and we’d go camping up in the Sierra Nevadas…I think the place I remember is Mammoth Lake.  I was sitting on a big rock over looking a large valley of pine trees.  The sun was shining and I remember sitting there feeling the sun, hearing and feeling the breeze as it rushed through the trees.  I felt at peace.  I thought perhaps it is the difference between being a child and an adult, but I remember when I was a kid I was never really happy unless I was alone somewhere.

And yes, I know my journey has just started, but my two experiences so far have been Washington DC and Shenandoah National Park, and I can’t shake the feeling that it’s almost fake.  Nothing is real…just a statue or building that you are allowed to visit as long as you do not step off the tour line or a park where everything is so controlled…you can walk or hike but only assigned paths.  Why?  My answer is that people are destructive assholes.  If you don’t control every access point then people will destroy what they are there to enjoy.

So anyway I learned a valuable lesson…what is easy to go up (the tent) is not so easy taking apart 😉  I had watched a video they had of a 9 year old girl easily taking it apart…so it was embarrassing when I had so many problems doing it 😉  Took awhile and I finally gave up and asked one of the campers near me to help me out.  We still had trouble but eventually got it!

So here I am in Harrisonburg Virginia, getting ready to pick up my mobile hotspot and then I’m heading to Asheville North Carolina and from there Deep Creek Campground at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  If I can only remember what Chris Thornton said was good to see in Asheville 😉