Day 8

Thursday, June 2, 2005Shenandoah National Park
Miles: 1140Health: Grouchy From Lack of Sleep
The morning of the inaugural camping trip was not so successful. I didn’t sleep so well because I was cold. We had zipped the sleeping bags together, but that just left a giant, gaping hole for cold air to get in.

West Virginia is my least favorite State, at least the particular bit we drove through. The roads were windy and steep, as well as excessively narrow and completely devoid of shoulders. This probably would have been ok, even fun in a car, but it was annoying in the van, especially since it was raining and there was nothing terribly interesting to look at.

Our plan was to get to Shenandoah NP and begin our way down Skyline Drive, which runs right through the park. Once in Front Royal, VA, the north end of the park, we decided to stop and check out Skyline Caverns. The tour was about an hour, and our tour guide was very funny and blessedly northern. This meant that we didn’t get bored waiting for her to finish her spiels, though she did use the phrase “Don’t worry…” a little more often than was strictly necessary. (Her name was Jessica, unless you didn’t enjoy yourself, in which case her name was Danielle.) It was fun to see the caves and some crystals that are only in three places in the world. The crystals are protected by VA state law and the punishment for breaking them is 2 years in prison, yet the temptation to touch them was still strong. Good thing they had netting all around them to protect us from ourselves.

We got onto Skyline Drive and rose quickly into a heavy fog. We stopped at the first scenic pull off, and saw a few hundred feet into the valley. At the next stop, all we saw was fog. At the next, we couldn’t see the sign indicating what was scenic, and at the next we couldn’t see the pull off itself. A dotted line marked the edge of impenetrable fog and that was it. Not only was this not scenic, it wasn’t safe. Rather than driving on to the middle campground, we decided to stop at the first campground.

During the planning stages of this trip, we had briefly discussed making the journey in our Mystique and simply camping. When we pulled into the campground and saw people setting up tents in the pouring rain, we immediately felt happy to have our little Vantom. We crawled in the back and set up our bed. Keath managed to get a fire going in the rain (because he’s a Boy Scout – and brought cheat-lint along) and we cooked some soup and then played cards while the rain pounded on our sturdy roof. Ah, the comfortable dryness of Detroit steel.