Real Camping Life

Since leaving StinkBugLand, aka Ohio, our camping fortunes have greatly improved. We wandered across the border into Virginia, and holed up for three nights at Stony Fork Campground in the Jefferson National Forest. A green shady (mostly) quiet oasis. After just a few days on the road, we were already mighty tired of peering through the windshield. A few days in the woods were exactly what we needed.

Sadly, I don’t have photos of this campsite, due to my own incompetence and lack of understanding between the relationship of my Android photos, Google photos, WordPress, and (perhaps) Windows 10. Stuff I thought was uploaded has disappeared. Oh well. Wait, John had one – here it is.IMG_0887We strapped on our hiking boots and hit the Seven Sisters Trail for some much needed exercise. Although big panoramic views were blocked by the trees, we enjoyed the ascent and stroll along a winding ridge, up to an elevation of just over 3300′. Happy feet!wp-image-1867635873Some of you readers may have seen a Facebook post from this location, where I mentioned my displeasure with one aspect of this campsite. In a National Forest campground, the policy apparently is that camp hosts MUST blow leaves from the streets using. While this was roundly discussed on the FB pages, I still am amazed at this policy. To blow leaves off the streets in the forest seems stupid and needlessly disrespectful of the quiet nature of camping in the woods. The arguments about safety, potential lawsuits, and the beauty of a pristine setting unsullied by leaves on the street just don’t cut it with me. It’s a Forest! Leaves fall. Let the wind push them around, but leave the gas-powered blowers off.

After two days of sitting in the woods, we decided to venture into the nearest town for a meander, and to gather a few supplies.First, we headed to the Walker Mountain Lookout, where we paid $6 to climb a tower a few hundred feet up into the wind. wp-image-2003259020The views up there were incredible, although the wind velocity made me a bit uneasy. I could imagine myself sailing over the fence like a Yugo over the Mackinac Bridge.wp-image-1063929515On into the town of Wytheville (pronounced Withville), we went. Of course, that meant a stop for a hotdog at historic Skeeter’s (over 9 million hotdogs sold!).wp-image-110177072 While perched at the lunchcounter enjoying our hotdogs, we learned that the Skeeter’s building was the childhood home of Edith Wilson, the second wife of President Woodrow Wilson. In fact, next door was the Edith Wilson Museum. Of course, we had to go in, where we were greeted by one of the most enthusiastic, theatrical volunteer docents we have ever met. We watched the ten minute film, explored the artifacts, and learned a bit about the only First Lady ever to come from Appalachia. It was a quality afternoon.

Next up is Jordan Lake Recreation Area in Pittsboro NC, where we once again joined up with a gang of folks with T@DAs and T@Bs for a few nights. We were impressed with the quality of the campground at Jordan Lake, a State Park. We had a huge site with our own private little water’s edge sitting area.wp-image-1592096609 Most of our friends were all in the electric/water sites, while we chose a site in the rustic area, relying on our solar panels to keep the lights on and refrigerator running. With just a few tent campers for neighbors, it was calm and beautiful.wp-image-2044354567We did the usual catching up with old friends – sharing potluck breakfasts and happy hours. Here’s a photo of our hostess Jen with her ‘Easy Bake Oven’ – a propane campstove/oven combination.wp-image-470438259 John and I laughed about how shiny and undented it was, knowing that if it were ours, it surely wouldn’t be so pristine! A few other folks brought bikes, so we wandered off on Saturday morning for a 30-mile roll. Perfect weather and a lively pace made it a great ride. We met lots new friends, and picked up info on a few promising-sounding campgrounds for future visits. We find that folks camping in small trailers like us are an agreeable and friendly group, and we’ve made many real friends among them.

Now it’s Sunday afternoon, and nearly all the other campers have left, headed toward home and Monday workdays. We’re here for one more night, then we’re going to move on to nearby Raleigh to explore the state Capitol, and nose around a city that’s new to both of us. After that, we’re pointed to Asheville, southern NC, then on toward Atlanta.

Hoping for better luck with photos and technology!


20 thoughts on “Real Camping Life

    • Hi Sylvia. Glad that you are finally able to connect up to the blog!

      We have been fortunate to have scored several great campsites so far this trip. Although I don’t like to actually swim or play in the water, I sure do like to be perched next to it.


  1. Always love reading your blog and have used it to plan much of our camping for our trip this winter to TX,NM,AZ & Southern California. New purchase this year, solar panels(yay) can’t wait to do a little more boondocking to try them out.


    • Hey thanks, Hobien. Maybe our paths will cross this winter sometime, as well be wandering the same area.

      You’ll love the freedom of having solar, especially in the Southwest. There are so many great places to camp, and the wide open spaces make solar the perfect choice for power. Right now, were struggling with our solar – even though we’ve had lots of bright, sunny days, we’ve been in heavily forested sites, so we’ve been able to get just an hour or two of low, filtered sunlight. Enough to keep the lights on, but we’ve shut down our refrigerator for now, and are living out of the cooler. Good enough!


    • You’ve got so much great camping near you, Jen. Instead is nice too, but tiny sites. Other than airport noise, it’s pretty quiet.

      Thanks for all the work you put into the JLJ. It rocked.

      See you down the road in the solar sites.


  2. I’ve heard great things about biking in Asheville if you like MOUNTAINS! You find such interesting places with such beautiful views. Love reading about your adventures. Keep the stories coming!


    • The mountain biking in Asheville is way above our capabilities, but we will always try to find some fun back roads and paths to ride. But you won’t see the likes of us on any of the big single-track stuff!

      Ha! Makes me laugh to even think about it, Alison. Thanks for your note.


  3. Love your posts! We camped at Powhatan Recreational Center outside of Asheville and loved it! The arboretum next door was lovely! We’re enjoying NS–at a national park now that is super!


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    • Can’t wait to hear your camping stories. Think about you all the time, so we’re happy to hear it’s all going well for you.

      We love Powhatan – only been there one time, but it’s a great campground in a super location. We’ve gotten brewery tips from everyone, so we’re looking forward to exploring new sights.


  4. I really like the idea of the propane stove/oven combination, I’ve never seen one and I think that it would be a handy thing for me to have.

    I’m glad that you found quieter campgrounds, and prettier ones at that. I’m with you, I see no reason to ruin people’s camping experience by using a gas powered leaf blower to clear the roads of fallen leaves. I hate those things with a passion, I’d better be careful not to camp in a campground where they’re used, or my camping time may become jail time.

    Loved the views, you’re not missing much by being down south this fall, I’m afraid that the fall colors here are going to be a dud.


    • Hi Jerry. The oven is pretty slick. We wouldn’t use it much, but our friends love having it. Many of our camping buddies are into cast-iron Dutch oven cooking. You can get wonderful oven results, but it takes a bit of elbow grease and trial and error to get things right.

      I was amazed about the leaf blower controversy. It never occurred to me that so many folks were accepting of it. I’ll go down swinging in that issue, I’m afraid.

      No fall colors here in North Carolina yet either, although I think it’s a bit early. It’s been as dry here as at home, so we’re seeing lots of crispy downed leaves. Everything looks so tired!

      We’ll move into a bit of elevation later this week, so we’re hoping for a positive change in the climate.


  5. Love your posts. Have you done any camping during the winter months in the south? I want to spend time in Louisiana, New Mexico and Arizona this winter but notice that the average temps even in the southern regions dip into freezing. What do you do in a TT when the temps dip like that? Any suggestions of campgrounds for a month in each state?,


    • Hi Mary. Thanks for checking in. We head to the southwest every winter, so we sure have some favorite spots. We don’t spend much more than four or five days in any given place though, so a place that you might want to spend a month is probably different than someplace we love for a few days or a week.

      Louisiana is one state that we’ve not visited extensively, although we’ve stayed in a few State Parks, all in the southernmost area, Fontainebleu SP was our jumping off point to explore New Orleans. For long-term stays, I don’t think it would be a great choice.

      We’ve camped at lots of state parks in AZ and NM, most of which we have enjoyed. Your choice of where to stay will probably be determined, in part, by when you go. Santa Fe and the Grand Canyon are at significant elevation, and you’ll likely have snow and/or freezing temps in January-March, although there are lots of dry, sunny days. If you stay toward the south, this won’t be issue. There are some great National Forest CGs around here, and these are always our first choice. More rustic facilities might not appeal to you.

      At the top of the blog page is a search box. If you put in the state you’re looking for, it will hopefully bring up posts from those areas. I’m always trying to get better at tagging locations to make the blog a better resource.

      It’s a great area for winter escapes. I’d be happy to answer any specific questions about areas, if you’d like.


    • I noticed that I really didn’t answer your question about the cold. We have winterized on the fly if it gets too cold. We just can’t use the toilet or run water, but otherwise it’s no different. We always use water from a campground pump for drinking, anyway. Our system is pretty simple, and John can winterize and de-winterize without too much problem, although de-winterize does involve flushing the system.

      If temps are just going to dip into the mid to high 30s at night, we don’t worry too much. We disconnect our hose from a water source, since a frozen hose is a big pain. We will open the cupboard doors where our pipes run (under the sink) and keep our bathroom door propped open, so that those areas will get a bit of warmth from the furnace or our little space heater.

      So far, knock on wood, we haven’t had any big problems.


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