Stories from eight years of living on the road in America
by Michael Boyink / email@example.com
A rinse-cycle start.
That’s how a friend described our first month on the road.
Driving in rain.
Setting up camp in rain.
Fighting a leaky RV roof in the rain.
Sightseeing in the rain.
Spending all day in a library because of the rain.
Around the one-month mark, three things happened.
First, the weather broke. We finally got to see the sun light up the fall colors that draped the Appalachian Mountains.
Second, it finally sunk in. This wasn’t just a long vacation. This was life. No one in a flat-brim hat was going to knock on our door and tell us that we’d had our fun and it was time to go home now.
Third, the plans ran out. Initially we had destinations like Niagara Falls. The Baseball Hall of Fame. Gettysburg.
Those stops where behind us. Now we were winging it.
Many northern campgrounds and RV parks close in October. We were struggling to find places to spend the night.
We did what most RVers do when the season turns. We headed south.
We figured we’d drive till the road ran out then we’d turn right.
We found an open private RV park in the Waynesboro area.
I looked at the map and saw that it was close to the northern terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the southern entrance to the Skyline Trail.
We got the RV situated in the campground and drove over for our first taste of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
We found the Humpback Rocks area. We toured the grounds. We marveled at the tenacity of early settlers. Our home was certainly small, but we still had all the amenities.
We enjoyed a tailgate lunch in the parking lot. While eating we spotted a high-elevation outjutting of rock off in the distance.
The Humpback Rocks.
A ranger let us know we could park at the base and hike up to them. He said the view was fantastic.
This was turning into the kind of travel day we dreamed about. Nice weather. Pretty views. Unexpected attractions. Outdoor experiences.
A family hike seemed like the right thing to do. We drove up the road, found parking, and hit the trail.
I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to us at first.
Our starting point was low. Our goal was high.
Which meant the entire trail was uphill.
And we were not in shape.
Being naive, we hit the trail anyway.
We stopped to catch our breath. We drank water. We mopped our brows.
A family with young kids was on the trail behind us. We were too proud to be passed by six year olds, so would start walking again just before they caught up with us.
We made it to the top.
There was no observation deck, no paved path, and no hand-rails.
Just the large rocks sloping up, then a steep, long drop-off past them.
There are times when one situation makes differences in personality abundantly clear. This was one of them.
I respect heights but am not afraid of them. I crept up to the edge of the slanted rock to enjoy the rewards of that all-uphill hike.
My son also approached the edge, but he has a cautious side. He stopped a couple feet short of where I did.
My daughter crept up to the same spot as her brother, then got overwhelmed. She had to turn away for a few minutes and collect herself.
And MsBoyink? I looked around and didn’t see her right away. I spotted her back down the hill several yards.
She waited until the rest of us had enjoyed the view by the edge, and then came down from it. Only then did she creep up for a better look.
Maybe you’ve heard of parents who won’t fly together, taking separate flights to decrease the odds of leaving their children parent-less.
My thoughts were on seeing the view. Hers were on the future of the family.
Yes, I married up.
The Humpback Rocks are at milepost 5.8 – 9.3 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is a visitor center, exhibits, costumed interpreters, and a gift shop. Check availability at nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/humpback-rocks-trails.htm