All my Baltimore life I’ve heard the standard axiom that Maryland is little America. “Yes, just drive three hours West to the mountains or three East to the ocean. You can reach everything from here”. Years later I’ve made observations of my own. Just drive three hours north and you reach New York, the bustle, Times Square, Broadway, theaters, and all they have to offer. Then when you drive three hours South, folks ask; “How y’all doing?”, and they wait for a real answer. They really want to know. It’s still that way.
When we awoke here in Waynesboro Virginia without a plan, the good and possibly renowned outfitter, Rockfish Gap seemed the place to go for our morning question: Where should we go today? The clerks directed us to a knowledgeable bearded customer, Tony who rifled through the maps in the store rack.
He pointed out hikes of varied lengths and types, showing us where the most hunters would be and trying to ensure we’d have a good time. He added that we could be using retired “Smartwater” bottle instead of the 2 new Nalgene bottles I picked up in the store. I mentioned something of helping with business economy in my usual fashion, now forgetting our own newly chosen economy, which, without jobs, clearly goes only one way.
We picked a modest hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway and after a few miles and some elevation gains, saw evidence of the snows from Sandy and the Nor’Easter. Yup, there was a faceless snowman to greet us. Our hike did its elevating job on our legs as we found ourselves thinking about a meal.
We rolled carefully down a switchbacked mountain road Eastward off of the Blue Ridge Parkway seeking a campground called Montibello. The store was open, we hoped to check in after our nice rocky hike, but the clerk informed us the campground was closed for the season. I had just started my response that we didn’t need hookups or anything and she reached for the phone. Our friendly Southern cashier was calling ahead to another campground she knew to be open.
Dave and Sue run a nice little place called Crabtree Falls Campground where we were happy to pay the nice country fee of $26. Many bigger sites charge over $35 and this in part is why we “camp” in some of the strange places we use. Every dollar saved could be another day on our voyage. Only Dave was there to register and greet us. He and I could have talked another hour if that hiker-hunger weren’t simmering in my belly and Jane was waiting in the Tramper.
The next day, Dave had more questions about the Tramper. His avionics mechanic background coupled with his Mt Bike and snowboard social ways again led to timeless shared joy. I love to talk about things, learn about things, laugh with these great people we are meeting on the road! Before long, unprompted, Dave responded to our voyage by pulling a $20 back out of the register and “investing” in our trip’s future by refunding most of the camping fee! Jane and I were baffled, complimented, nearly cried and could only say THANK YOU Dave!