Monday, October 11, 2010

Sweet Virginia and cotton fields, North Carolina

We left Stanardsville under sunny skies and forecasts for temperatures in the mid to high 80’s. After setting up camp, we took the short drive to historic, and hip, Charlottesville. We walked the downtown area which is graced with a lot of red brick, white pillared buildings. The main street, which is blocked to vehicular traffic for about eight blocks, is chock full of ethnic restaurants and unique, funky and upscale shops. It was the middle of the day and pretty hot downtown though so we decided to head for Monticello.

Pictured is the main street at Charlottesville.

Right before Monticello is a place called Carver’s Apple Orchard where you drive to the mountaintop that affords views in all directions. There you can pick your own apples or you can buy just about anything that has any relation to apples. We sampled the cider and a warm apple donut before departing with a couple of different varieties of apples and some hot apple salsa.

Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, is both beautiful and fascinating, but a little over-priced, and overrun. It costs $22 per head and a tour leaves every ten minutes. Janice quickly deduced that they’re taking in $440 every ten minutes. Not bad.

Jefferson first became the US Envoy to France before becoming Vice President and then the third President of the United States, where he served two terms. Besides holding those lofty positions he was also the main author of the Declaration of Independence, a lawyer, an architect, a musician, a farmer and an inventor. One has to remember that this was all way back in the 1700’s so he would have, as the US envoy to France, been sailing back and forth to Europe on some kind of clipper ship and, to get to Washington, would have had to cross three major rivers, all on horseback. He also penned, and copied,(with his own invention) over 90,000 letters in his lifetime.

The home itself is a brilliant design but we weren’t allowed into the upstairs/the dome, which was his main working and thinking space. Nor were we shown the basement, which housed the kitchen, wine cellar, etc. We found out later that we could have toured the basement ourselves, but our tour guide never mentioned that to us. We did tour the enormous grounds and his gravesite on the way back to the parking lot.

Pictured is Jefferson's house at Monticello as well as one tree hugging another at Monticello.

Later, camping at the KOA, there were four couples from California who had known each other since high school. When they saw our BC plates they stopped by to compare notes. All four couples had been married for 40-or-so years and were blogging their 66-day travels together as The Class of ‘68. The most gregarious of them kept showing up at our campsite, with a refilled glass of wine, because he couldn’t believe we were on the road for, “A Year!”

Pictured is the pond behind our campsite at the KOA outside Charlottesville.

The next day we drove The Parkway through the Blue Ridge Mountains, detouring through Lexington for an oil change. It turned out to be a long day driving because there were no campsites at our original target, Roanoke, Virginia. We also took a long hot hike along Otter Creek.

Pictured is us, kind of, reflected in Otter Creek as well as a view of some farms, from The Parkway in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

At about 7:00pm we ended up in the hills near Sydnersville,VA. The most memorable there thing was this dog that made an immediate impression because, although he looked full grown and his muzzle was greyish, he kept running around and playing like a puppy, all on his own. He was about the happiest and most friendly mutt we’d ever met. He even slept under our trailer and I got him to wake janice with his furry face in the morning. It turned out his name was Maybe, as in maybe we’ll keep him and maybe we won’t. We thought maybe we’d steal him, but we didn’t.

Pictured is Maybe. I never said he was cute, or photogenic. To be fair, the goofy expression could be due to a scratch behind the ear.

The day was already hot when we pulled out, headed for North Carolina, just an inch or so away on the map. When we got to the Tourist Info Booth across the border, there was a BBQ Festival going on just down the road, so we stopped in and split a BBQ pork sandwich and a half dozen Hush Puppies,(deep fried corn bread).

The first thing we noticed were the cotton fields stretching toward the horizon in all directions. We drove as far as Elizabeth City where we set up in the 85 degree heat. We went looking for somewhere to swim but couldn't find one so went back to the RV park and washed the truck and trailer.

Pictured is a cotton field in North Carolina.

It was hot again when we set out for Shilo, NC. We took nice scenic back roads before ending up at the North River RV Park. We were headed back into town for some supplies when Janice realized she'd forgotten her list. We went back to find smoke coming from under the trailer. I was foolishly playing with the wires where the smoke was coming from when Janice jumped into action, grabbing the fire extinguisher that I had forgotten we even had, and put the fire out.

The next morning I disconnected the wires and we drove to Kitty Hawk, about an hour away, where we met the RV fixer guy who put it all back together properly. He only charged us $80, under the table.

Kitty Hawk is on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The Outer Banks are basically a series of long skinny islands that run parallel to, and just about the entire length of the state's coastline. It's a little disconcerting because they're flanked by the open Atlantic Ocean on one side and, in spots, they're no more than a couple of hundred yards wide and three feet high. Yes, Kitty Hawk is so named because it's where the Wright Brothers did their thing.

We drove further south to Hatteras Island where we set up before going swimming in the ocean. There we were entertained for a few hours by people trying to learn the very difficult sport of Kite Surfing.

Pictured is the beach at our campsite. We were swimmming on the other side of the island where the water is much more calm. Also pictured: There are very serious fishers around Hatterus Island. They carry their poles around like ornaments on the front of their trucks. Some even have bumper mounted cleaning stations and coolers.

1 comment:

  1. My favourite picture today is the pond behind your campsite. What beautiful reflections. Your travel angel is certainly with you....forgetting the shopping list, returning, wires on fire and remembering the extinguisher....yup, you have an travel angel and it found the right repair man too. hugs ljc