Monday, May 28, 2012

Crabtree Falls & Loft Mountain

One of the great things about RVing is that if you don’t like where you are you can just leave!  And that’s exactly what we did this morning! Yokum’s Vacationland, despite being a character building experience, just wasn’t cutting it for us, so we left!

Last night we decided we would drive to Crabtree Falls, which is in the George Washington Forest in Virginia.  But 1st we had to get out of West Virginia!  We went out 33 to Harrisonburg, which meant that we had to go over 3 mountain passes!  Dad and I had a brief discussion about driving in the mountains and I learned a few things – namely it’s ok for the RPMS to go higher either going up or down.  Between figuring out how to get the van to downshift while I’m going up, (and go faster than 40 mph!) and learning how the transmission works when I downshift going down, driving the mountains was actually fun!  I didn’t feel like I was fighting the van!

Going up the last mountain I got behind a pick-up truck that was moving really slow!  I got stuck back there the whole way down!  When we were finally at the bottom I had an opportunity to pass him (on a 2 lane highway, so I had to go in the lane for the opposing traffic) and I decided go for it.  I floored the accelerator and the RV just took off!  I was amazed!  Usually it does 0-60 in about 20 minutes. 

I had another opportunity today to test the van’s ability to move quickly under pressure.  When we were heading up the mountain to get to Crabtree Falls we came to a train crossing.  There was a train coming, but it was moving really slow and it was partially hidden by a parked train on the tracks in front.  The lights weren’t flashing and the barriers weren’t down.  Dad went through.  Then I looked up and the lights were flashing, maybe…the lights weren’t facing me so I wasn’t sure if they were for me or something else.  I decided to go for it and started across the tracks.  At the same instant the barriers started coming down!  The train was picking up speed! And blowing it’s horn at me! OH SH*******t!!!  I gunned it and shot across the tracks faster than I though possible.  I think the barrier may have clipped the back of my RV, but we couldn’t really see any damage.   I almost had to change my pants after that. 

Of course Crabtree Falls wasn’t an original idea on Memorial Day weekend.  The parking lot was full and there was no place for me to park!  Just as we were wondering what to do a truck pulled out of a spot that I could back into!  Dad ran up there and started directing me in.  It was hard because I really didn’t know where I was heading, just following his directions.  He directed me right and for the 1st time I backed the RV into a spot between 2 parked cars!  He quickly found an illegal place to park and after lunch in the back of Roxy we headed up to the falls. 

Mom went to the base of the falls and Dad and I made the trek all the way to the top – 1.7 up hill!  We figure it was at least 1,000 feet of elevation gain (and loss).  Took us about 2 hours to get up and back and it was hot!  We hadn’t brought water with us so we were very thirsty when we got back to the parking lot!

We decided to go up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and find an overlook to enjoy some birthday cake! The Blue Ridge Parkway is very nice!  Less populated than Shenandoah and the mountains seem bigger and wilder! 

I’d decided I’d try and see if I could get a site at Loft Mountain in Shenandoah – if I couldn’t I’d drive home.   We pulled into the entrance station at Rockfish Gap at 5:20 and the sign said that Loft Mountain had vacancy – it was the only lodging option in the park that did! The ranger told me there were about 30 sites and that he didn’t think they’d all fill up (I agreed, I figured most folks got reservations for the whole weekend and not many people would be looking for something Sun night).  We drove up Skyline Drive 25 miles to the campground and when we got here there were 5 sites left.  All but one in the “generator free” area.  I drove around trying to locate the open sites and while I was doing that at least 2 of the campsites were snatched up.  I pulled into the one available one that was empty.  It’s a nice pull through with a HUGE tent/picnic table area, but it’s not level. 

Dad and I were trying to level it and the leaders of the Boy Scout Troop at the campsites across the way saw us and all came over to help!  We finally attempted to use the root that was growing under the pavement to bring the tire up but it didn’t work.  The leveling blocks aren’t high enough.  I ended up just turning off the fridge. 

By the time I went to pay for the site there was a sign up that said “campground full”! 

Mom and Dad stayed for dinner – we ate cold stuff since we couldn’t run the generator – and then the headed home.  They decided that it was easier to just go home, even though it was a 3 hour drive that they started at 8:00 pm. 

I took a lovely walk through the campground, found about 6 other empty sites.  As well as several reserved sites that looked empty – like the people never came! 

Loft Mountain is a lovely campground!  Great big sites, many more level than the one I’m in! There’s a nice a breeze blowing! The Boy Scouts across the way are settling in – the leaders are all really nice and I think they’ve adopted a thru-hiker to hang with them and eat their leftovers!  I can even get intermittent cell phone/data coverage!  After I walked through the campground I went and stood where I’d had signal and every time the signal would drop off I’d walk to a new spot a few feet away to try again.   I was mostly successful!

I’m looking forward to a nice night in my kind of campground!  :-)

Crabtree Falls 5.27.12
Loft Mt Summit 5.28.12

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