USA - Virginia to West Virginia

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August 18th 2017
Published: August 24th 2017
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Suzanne here...

We knew that Washington has too much on offer to do in one trip, but we were still sad to leave. Then again, after four days of full-on sightseeing the more relaxed pace camping offers seemed attractive.

After picking up the hire car, our first stop was Walmart to buy all the camping gear we needed - cheap tent, bedding, cookware etc. We got most things we needed, but decided to stop at another branch nearer the campsite for food. We did this, and got another few bits of camping gear. In the end I reckon it cost us around about £200. Seems a lot when most of it won't make it home with us. But a hotel would be anything from £50 upwards per night, so we'll soon make that back.

I'd booked our first campsite as we were going to arrive quite late. I didn't need to bother, there was only one other family there. Horseshoe Flats in Virginia was a nice site by the James river. The waterside setting did make it a bit buggy. I was also irritated that for $35 per night the shower was so dirty. It didn't get cleaned the whole time we were there. Oh, and nobody had mentioned the huge freight-trains thundering by either! But still, we had a nice grassy pitch and it didn't spoil our enjoyment at all. We managed to get the new tent up in daylight, although we did end up cooking our steak in the dark. We continued the evening listening to music with far too much beer and Jack Daniels.

The following day, after coffee and peanut butter sandwiches, we walked over the river and into Scottsville. It's a tiny town, but rather pleasant and very friendly. On our walk we saw an amazing house for sale which we both immediately fell in love with. Then we spotted a tortoise. A wild tortoise wandering around! Maybe not that amazing if you are American, but it was to us.

After our stroll, and some time in the park, we called into the James River Brewery. I wasn't mad on their beer, but David really enjoyed it. Then it was back to camp for dinner (a huge piece of salmon) and more drinking, chatting and music. It was a very enjoyable evening. However disaster struck right at the end of the night when our MP3 player died. Yes, it's seen us through two RTW trips and numerous holidays. It probably is time for a new one. But WHY did it have to cut out at the start of three weeks of camping? A new one won't have our music on it, and without a PC will be difficult if not impossible to load up. The tablet will be difficult to keep charged enough while camping, and currently doesn't have any music on it anyway. So, it looks like our evenings are going to be music-free. Gutted doesn't even cover it.

After two nights we moved on to our next destination. We are steadily heading south in time for the eclipse - we're determined to be in the path of totality. It was to be a long trip, over five hours. On the way we noticed the rear bumper was coming loose, which was annoying and a bit worrying. We called Thrifty to let them know, but with no branch near us there was not much to be done. It was a long drive, but it did get a big chunk of the distance done in one go. On the way we stopped at another Walmart (they must love us) for some supplies and camping mats as we decided we needed another layer to sleep on. We also picked up a few CD's (Megadeth, Metallica, Five Finger Death Punch) so at least we could enjoy some music (there is no digital radio in the car).

Our destination was a fabulous campsite in Beech Fork state park, West Virginia. A huge site, it was practically empty. We chose a nice quiet pitch by the lake, for $24 per night. Nice soft grass, old but clean shower facilities, and lots of nature. We saw loads of interesting birds, fish leaping out of the lake, and many grasshoppers and butterflies. That evening we saw a deer grazing near our tent, and in the night we had a skunk come to visit us, always fun (as long as you leave them alone). It was another nice relaxing evening, although we did miss our music.

I got up early the next morning to shower before it got too unbearably hot. Once David appeared we had coffee and bagels. By 10am it was really starting to heat up. We would have loved to have hiked one of the park trails, but it was just too hot. Instead we made our way to a nearby shopping mall. David managed to find a great t-shirt but the main aim of our trip, eclipse glasses, proved elusive. Seems they are sold-out everywhere. We stopped off on our seemingly daily Walmart run then went back to camp. It was still hot, but we did have a nice shady tree at least.

There was no rush the following day, as our next destination was only a couple of hours away. So that was Virginia and West Virginia done. It's a shame we just had one stop in each. But after finding out about the total solar eclipse, we really had no choice but to change our plans. Perhaps we'll see more of them on the return journey. Hot as it is, we are absolutely loving being back in the USA, having the freedom of a car, and most of all camping again. Now it's time to head south. Next stop, Kentucky.

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