Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Too Much Rain Results in Plan B

Thursday June 4 -  Sunday June 7, 2015
Charlottesville, Virginia



When we came up to Stony Fork in Southwest Virginia, we knew David had to return to Charlottesville on Thursday for a Friday morning blood draw.  It’s 192 miles from Stony Fork so we had thought he would drive his car and just stay at the farm through this round of shots. Since Stony Fork allows a 3 week stay, we could be here next week and the week after so he could come back up on the day of the last shot which would be a Wednesday.  I’d stay with Winnona and Ruby.  Sounded like a great plan.

But as I mentioned before, the creek flows through the campground which is subject to flooding and evacuation if there is a lot of rain.  No problem, you just evacuate, unless you have a tow dolly.  It wouldn’t be such a big deal if the dolly weren’t an EXACT fit.  If there was a little bit of wiggle room when you are putting the car on it, one person could do it much more easily.  As it is, one person has to line it up, get in try it, check it out and if it is up on the side walls of the dolly do it again.   This is all AFTER you hook the dolly back to the RV and find a straight place to load the car.  The only straight place here is in the narrow campground road.  Of course, no one can get past you.  If it only takes one try to get the car on the dolly, no problem.  But that’s pretty rare and multiple tries would irritate especially if evacuation is the order of the day.

SO, since it won’t stop raining and the forecast also says days more of rain, I throw in the towel and go back to Charlottesville with David.  We need a new toad that can be towed 4 down that’s for sure.  I think I want a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo so I’ll have 4WD for those trailheads where you need it.   Now to find one at a price I can afford that isn’t too old with too many miles.  If you have better suggestions please let me know.

So that’s the long story of how we end up back in Charlottesville this past Thursday.  If it’s going to rain all summer around this state, we’ll have to pick some spots closer than 192 miles away to show Winnona.  Of course that’s tricky because it’s summertime and everyone else wants to be out and about too and most of them have already made their plans.





Friday is the blood draw with all the myeloma tests to see if this latest treatment is doing any good.  The results won’t be available until mid next week.

With all the rain we have noticed water on the dashboard.  Apparently Winnona has developed a leak above the windshield so in the afternoon David uses windshield sealant adhesive from Napa parts to try to seal it up.   There is more rain on the way so we’ll know soon enough.





By Sunday the weather predictions here include less rain and more HOT!  To be specific 4 days of mid 90’s starting on Wednesday.  We have never taken Winnona to our local National Park, Shenandoah, so I don’t really know anything about the campground other than that it is complete boondocking.  No water, no electricity.  Good chance to use our solar set up if there is an appropriately flat site that isn’t in the woods.

So off I go to check it out.  The farm is 17 miles from the southern end of the park and about 45 miles from the middle.  I head up to Big Meadows campground in the middle saving the more southern campground Loft Mountain for another time.

I take Route 33 to the Swift Run Gap entrance, use my wonderful Senior Pass (the ONLY great thing about getting older) and am soon headed north toward Big Meadows.

It is a bit warm down in the foothills but up on the mountain it’s perfect.  Since I’ve come this far, I figure I might as well make a day of it so I stop at the first falls hike I come to on my way from the Central entrance to the park at about milepost 66 to Big Meadows at about milepost 51.  South River Falls Trailhead is at Milepost 63.





Once on the trail, I’ve barely gone any distance when I cross the Appalachian Trail.  I’ve hiked lots of the sections of the AT in Virginia over the years.  Virginia has the most mileage of any state with 550.3, more than a quarter of the trail.  The first time I broke my ankle was on the AT in 2001.  It wasn’t the AT’s fault and I love seeing its familiar cement metal banded posts again.  

Today, I’m going straight ahead and down.  It is going across.







The trails in SNP for the most part start at the top of the mountains and go down.  This is not my favorite way to do my mountain hiking.  I prefer my uphill first and my down hill at the end.  But tough luck for me here.  It’s down all the way to the falls and then up all the way back.

After a bit the trail goes along the river.  I stop to enjoy the water and of course in doing so attract others including two families with numerous children.  After they leave heading on down to the falls, I decide they may be going there for lunch so perhaps this lovely spot is where I should have my lunch and I do.  The music of the river is enchanting.   The scenery outstanding.







Lots of rocks on the trail, big ones at a distance, some on the trail side and some as the trail base.









These are the oldest mountains in North America and their bones are showing.







All along the way I can hear the water tumbling down toward the falls.  I am glad I have the trail to myself now and there are no other sounds but the water and the birds.  The oven bird is yelling his “teacher, teacher, teacher” and the vireo is asking “see me, here I am”.










There are some flat sections of the trail but here too you have to watch for the rocks and the roots.






One nice thing about all the rain, although the trail is a bit muddy, it is green green everywhere.










I am getting pretty close, I can hear the waterfall and wonder if I might be able to see down into the gorge from this rock platform which has a clear path going down to it.



But nope, trees block the way.



I reach the stone viewing platform constructed in the 30’s by the CCC and find it  seriously muddy.  Underwater at the edge actually.   I also discover that the ‘don’t mess with it’ policy of the National Parks has pretty much allowed the gorge to fill in and the waterfall is now difficult to see.  Can you even find it in the first picture below?

South River Falls is the 3rd highest falls in the park. You cannot see its complete 83 foot drop down into the gorge.  I don’t believe there is a trail to the foot of the falls. 

I’m not sure how I feel about this don’t touch policy.  I certainly don’t want them landscaping my National Parks but if there is a viewing platform, I think perhaps they should maintain the view.   What’s your opinion about this quandary?




I try some other angles to see if I can get any better picture of the falls.  Zooming in does a little better but it’s just not the same not being able to see the falls tumbling all the way into the gorge.










Just below the viewing platform, there is what I believe is a Rosa Rugosa bush.  The bee is doing his part to make sure the rose hips will appear this fall.   I’m worried about the bees.  What will we do without them.






I arrive just as the big groups are leaving so I have the platform to myself until another couple quietly joins me and also comments on the lack of view.

The trip back up actually goes faster than the one down.  Probably because I don’t stop for many pictures.  Just a few of the really great huge rocks lining the path and one to show the incline.  It’s up all the way.  A good work out but not one David would want to do at this point I don’t think.







Ruby and I drive on up the road to Big Meadows where I go into the Visitor Center and get some maps more recent than the ones I have of trails in the area. 

I go on to the campground where Ranger Lori gives me some site suggestions and after checking them all out I pay for two nights in C 137 which is the flat enough, long enough and sunny enough for Winnona.  With full solar gain we’ll be able to stay boondocking as long as the tanks will last.

Luckily for me, SNP allows me to pay for tonight to hold the site until we can bring Winnona up in the morning.  This is the first National Park where I have ever been able to do this.  Sure makes it easier so I don’t have to rush back and bring Winnona tonight.

Lori also gives me some suggestions of where in the area I might get a verizon cell signal and/or be able to get internet. Neither of these is available anywhere in the large campground.  So I check out the amphitheater parking lot and from there I am able to call David and tell him about the site but no internet. 

I am also able to make calls from the National Park Lodge parking lot and when I go inside the lodge, wifi is available in the great room but the wifi is very iffy so I tether my phone and I’m in business.

Having finished all I wanted to accomplish, I head back down the mountain to get ready for tomorrow’s move up the mountain into hopefully cooler climes for this next week of very early extreme summer heat in Virginia.   It’s really been a great Sunday.  Can’t wait to return to “my” National Park.


  1. Two things I love: green and water! Looked like a nice quiet hike. Have fun! I went by your house twice and you were not there (obviously)! See you soon! XXXOOO

  2. We love our Tracker. 2001. We can hook it up in two minutes and it is 4 wheel drive for exploring. I think Suzuki is the same. Lots cheaper than a jeep and way lighter. They are hard to find because RVrs love them but worth it

  3. Just for the sake of argument, I'd say you can't have your cake and eat it too. In the past you have been against anybody doing anything to change rivers, etc., but now you want them to cut down trees so you can have a view? That seems lopsided to me. ;)

    1. Well just for argument, I didn't say I wanted them to cut anything, I said it was a quandary and I don't think letting the rivers flow is the same thing as maintaining the view you have directed people to. Still not sure how I feel about it.

  4. Pretty, all that green! Glad you found a place close by that will be cooler too.

  5. If you own a Winnebago, you will have a windshield leak sometime and maybe lots of time. Ours first leaked when it was around four years old and nobody wanted to work on it because pulling the windshield often resulted in breakage. So I pulled the top gadget and sealed it as best I could. That worked good and it was still dry two years later when we traded it. However, often the rusting continues and eventually a big job it waiting in the wings. We traded it before that came up:)

  6. We've been to Big Meadows many times, but never camped there in the motorhome. I did tent camp there once in 1973 on a cross country motorcycle trip. Memories. :c)

    Good luck in your toad search, I'm sure the perfect one is out there wondering when you're going to come by!

  7. If that leak is coming out the electric outlet or around the upholstered area....then leak is air conditioner gasket. It is recommended that those gaskets be replaced each five years, but most last longer. If they get old and it rains and RV is slightly nose down. Water will seep through the foam gasket and pass along the veneer glued to the blue Styrofoam and then drip on dash board. If the water has a tea color, that is glue that was dissolved. It happened to our neighbor then a friends RV and then ours. Glad I had seen it before and knew to buy the $ 20 gasket from Amazon and use the cool YOUTUBE video for a quick easy inside replacement of that silly but important square foam gasket. Even if yous is not leaking and has been installed five years...get it replaced. Another tip from the ClueLess Know It All.

  8. You should get an award for #FindYourPark. Glad you'll be able to stay cooler and it looks like more gorgeous country to explore.

  9. Pretty hike. Reminds me of our hike to Cunningham Falls in our park north of Frederick.

  10. Everywhere I have been this year has been rainy. Sounds like you will have a great place to explore for a few weeks.

  11. Up here in NY, the rains have been very busy as well. We have been rained out several days at Letchworth SP, but the days we can get out and explore, the rivers, streams and waterfalls are really flowing. You are right about everything is SOOOOO Green:o))

    Be Safe and Enjoy the Cool!!!

  12. Such a pretty area for hiking!

    In Eastern Ontario we've had off and on rain as of late. The skies look a bit ominous to the north at the moment, but we might not see anything today.

  13. Well, you in a Jeep 4WD - this is not something I would ever have imagined, but hearing that scenerio, I understand how it would make life easier for certain trails. Rain, Rain, Heat, Heat - got to love the spring/summer transition...glad you found a good site in a beautiful area. That falls trail was lovely. In terms of maintaining the view...that is tough - they clearly altered the landscape to make the trail and viewing point initially...maybe pruning in front of the viewing platform wouldn't be 'so' bad?! Pretty hike - hope you can stay up in the mountains while treatment continues for Dad. xoxo

  14. I say "don't touch". You might approve of them touching a bit to improve the view at the platform, but there will be something they touch that you will hate. It's a good rule and I think we just have to accept it on all counts.

  15. Good that you are finding places to go to entertain yourself and hopefully keeping cool. I am so grateful for the fantastic fan to cool down while using very little battery. It is tough to adjust to demands of the medical issues and continue to live the life you want. You two seem to be finding a way. While there may be locations you would rather be, being in nature doing what you love is a wonderful thing.

  16. What a gorgeous park! I'd say if they're maintaining the trails (which they do) then why not go ahead and maintain a view that has a viewing platform built by the CCC? That seems like it has enough historical significance to warrant maintenance. So happy that you found a good, close-by alternative since you weren't able to stay in Stony Fork. Wishing you guys good results with David's tests.

  17. Looks like you found a perfect option for beating the heat close to home! I love the green rocks - they take green to a whole other level :-) I'd opt for pruning for two reasons. First, it's not going to "hurt" the foliage. Second, when humans can't see something from a safe location, they seek out a dangerous one instead. Eventually someone is going to climb over that platform in an attempt to get a perfect photo and end up at the bottom. Getting rescue or recovery equipment in will do more harm than a simple pruning. Oh yeah, and we don't want more idiots getting hurt or dead :-) We love Sprocket - a 2007 Laredo 4x4. At 4800#, not light, but easy to hook up, easy to tow, easy to use rack on top, and getting out on established trails to see the back country is sweet.

  18. Love your park :) I bet David sure missed hiking with you.

  19. That trail looks familiar to me. It seems we have hiked that in 2013 after the fog lifted. Like you, I also prefer my hiking to start uphill not downhill.
    As for views, well, there is quite a few of those even at the Blue Ridge Mts. Why put up a lookout and theres nothing to see. I won't mind cutting/pruning trees as they grow back again and again.

  20. Sorry about all the rain. I guess the el Nino is going to bring us a rainy summer. It's not raining here any more than normal, at least not yet, but Georgia seems to be getting a lot of rain too.

    I feel your frustration on the view. We've walked a few long hikes hearing the rushing water from a waterfall, only to get to the top and be unable to see it.

    I'm sure surprised you're thinking of getting a 4 wheel down toad. I thought you guys were sold on the dolly. We loved our old Nissan that was a 5 speed. It was easy to hook up and go. Our new one has a driveshaft disconnect and we've had some problems with it. I wish you luck finding the right toad.

    I'm hoping for some good news for David. He's about due.

  21. I guess this is why I like many of the areas out west for hiking, there aren't trees to block the views:) Looks like a great place to get away from some of the heat and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Glad you were able to find a suitable site.

  22. I remember hiking to those waterfalls at least five years ago and the views were very limited then, too. It is a quandary since people hike specifically to see the falls and then are disappointed when they don't


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