Day Fourteen: Tuesday, October 12th, 2004
        Looks like I spent a little too long online the night before with the computer plugged into the car... Yup, the battery was dead. And believe it or not I spent the next two hours trying to get someone to give me a boost! Maybe it's that good American hospitality, or maybe in Virginia people don't even understand what it means to give a car a boost or that any old car at all will do.

        The only other person in the campground owned a big RV which was all hooked up to the electricity and sewage so I didn't want to bother him to disconnect everything and come up and help. I saw some people working at a construction area nearby and asked them, but they were all too busy or confused by the situation to help. Down at the store they told me to go find Daryl because he would be able to help me. Never did find Daryl but I eventually got directed to the truck repair shop and once the mechanics returned from lunch one of them drove up with a tow truck and gave me a boost. At least this guy was friendly and didn't charge me a cent for the help.

        So, it was afternoon before I got on my way again. I headed south to check out Natural Bridge - one of the seven natural wonders of the world if you believe their pamphlets. However, by the time I got there I was no longer in the mood for it. It cost $10 to check it out and I was a little offended by the idea of them charging to see such a thing. I was probably also in a foul mood after the whole dead battery incident. So I kept going. However, I did manage to check out Foamhenge. It was free.

        Before long I made it on to the Blue Ridge Parkway, an absolutely beautiful section of scenic road that travels over 450 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is like the opposite of the interstate with no commercial vehicles allowed, scenic stops every few minutes, numerous picnic areas and campgrounds, and not a single McDonalds (or any other business) in sight.

        I actually came on to it later than I should have. But I didn't realize it extended so far north. I just knew that it would take me to a few of the sites for Last of the Mohicans. I entered somewhere around the 160 mile marker. Unfortunately, I had not gotten far before it began to get very dark - almost an hour earlier than I expected. I looked at my watch and, sure enough, it was 7pm. However, the car was still showing just after 6pm since it lost track of time when the battery died.

        Realizing it was too dark to really enjoy the beautiful scenery, I checked into nearby Rocky Knob Campground. A cheap $14/night and a beautiful place. The older couple that volunteered at the place (it's a state park) were very friendly and helpful - even apologizing that the site numbers were not as clear as they should be because they had not had the chance to touch up the paint on them yet.

        What's amazing about these state sites is that they often have a fixed price, regardless of whether you come in with a tent or an RV. True, you don't get your hookups, but most offer a dumping station so it would be a cool way to really travel cheaply.

        I got myself a bundle of firewood and after the previous night's high tech web surfing evening, I proceeded to go back in time and enjoy some hot dogs and marshmallows over a campfire once again. A great campsite. Now if only it came with showers...

Day Fifteen: Wednesday, October 13th, 2004

        I had to mention showers, didn't I... Some time around 1am I heard a pitter patter of rain. "Never fear," I called out to the women and children, "I have a mighty tarp that will protect us!" And quick as a flash (and there were flashes - of lightning) I had the tarp secured overhead. And then the rains came. And it downpoured and it thundered and it lightninged and the tent started to fill up with water. The tarp did not cover the whole tent and water started streaming in around the bottom. (It was REALLY pouring.) Before long I had no choice but to make a mad dash for the car once again. From the look of the various flashlights darting about at the other sites, I was not the only one.

        So, another slightly damp night spent in the back of the car. In the morning it was still raining so I quickly poured out all the water from inside the tent, folded it up in the tarp, and placed it in the car before speeding off into the FOG...

        Yes, as luck would have it, I was traveling through one of the most beautiful places in the area and couldn't see a bit of it. Meanwhile, crazy Americans were driving through it full tilt with no headlights on.

        Fortunately, things did clear up after a while, though it alternated between fog, sunshine, and rain all day long. During the nice spots I was able to see some beautiful locations and even take a couple short hikes.

        I continued along the park until I got to Linville Falls, the first area where some of the Mohicans scenes were filmed.  There was a campground right there that seemed to be a carbon copy of the previous night. A very friendly elderly volunteer couple, $14 a night, no showers. Unfortunately, the trails to the falls and surrounding areas were all closed. They had taken too much damage from the recent hurricanes.

        I dropped into the neighboring community, but there was not much to see. With the rain still coming down and the tent still soaked, I just prepared for another night in the car, hitting the sack real early. (What else are you going to do when you are "trapped" in a car at night?

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