Day Eleven: Saturday, October 9th, 2004
        I will not tell you how I got lost in Washington. I will not tell you how the one place I almost couldn't find was the White House. But I will tell you that the place was really crowded. Lots of senior citizens on bus tours as well as a lot of veterans visiting the numerous war memorials. It was also a beautiful day. Very hot. It was the first day of the trip that I wore shorts. Oh yes, it is so nice to be heading south into warmer weather. It will be difficult to head back north into the cold...

        The hardest part initially was just finding a place to park. All the main areas are packed so I had to drive a fair ways away to some additional parking areas and then walk back. I spent three hours in total wandering around the various memorials to various wars and past presidents. Now if only all the lovely sayings and ideals expressed on the monuments really rang true today. Anyway, I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

        Three hours of walking around Washington left me exhausted. At least I left this city headed in the right direction. I traveled south into Virginia and went to a library in Arlington that had a wireless hotspot. Unfortunately it was closed and the parking lot was too far away for me to access the network from the car. So I sat out front on a park bench checking my email and such until it started getting a little dark and I decided it was wise to move onwards.

        Ahh yes, a familiar story. Getting dark, looking for a campground. Do I need to tell you anything more? That I set off in search of my campground at seven, naively expecting to find it by eight, and eventually crawling into a completely different campground sometime after eleven once again.

        First of all, a word on the insanity of Virginia roads. I took a wrong turn down one side road and swear it was the most insanely stupid road in all existence. First of all, take a road that is barely wide enough to allow two cars to pass each other. Then leave off any form of lines on the road just to make it a little more interesting. Make it extremely hilly and full of curves. Then, just to add a little spice to it all, give it a 55 mph speed limit! Yes, all the back roads seem to have the same speed limits as the local major highways. And I seemed to be the only one who wasn't trying to go 60 on them! I must've pulled over a dozen times on this one night to let yet another psycho driver riding my bumper to pass me by.

        Virginia has another very annoying setup with regards to their road signs for campgrounds. There must be some rule that forbids anything but standard bland road signs anywhere along the roads. All I kept seeing were little green signs that would say CAMPING with an arrow pointing in a direction. No name of the campground, not even a distance. Now I'll admit that the first campground I encountered I ignored. It looked like another trailer park. The next one was an RV Park. No lowly tenters allowed. Then there was a cool one called Low Water Bridge Campground. You actually had to cross a concrete bridge that with barely any side rails which was only a few inches above the water line. Unfortunately, the campground was all booked up. The lady was kind enough to offer to squeeze me in somewhere, but I decided to press on.
        The next one I never did find. I traveled ten minutes down some dark road on the basis of a single arrow and finally gave up and turned back. Then there was another RV Park which I happened to find TWICE thanks to the generic camping signs and approaching it from a different direction. And with all of this I never actually found the one campground that I had come here for in the first place!

        My original plan was to head up to the small village of Edinburg, which has a wireless library. So I headed right to the village, figuring I would check out one other campground that was slightly north of there. However, much to my surprised I found Creekside Campground, right in Edinburg itself. I pulled in shortly after eleven and once again set up camp right next to a little creek, just as the name suggested. 

Day Twelve: Sunday, October 10th, 2004

        After all the insanity of the previous two days, I decided to take it easy and spend an extra night in Edinburg. Basically a day off. I enjoyed the sunshine and wandered around the area a bit. I checked out the library. It was unfortunately closed and the only way to access the wireless was sitting on the concrete ground outside the front door. At least there was no one around so I didn't feel too foolish sitting there as I updated my web site. Tomorrow I begin heading south again, though I am planning on taking it a little easier. There are some caverns to check out along the way. I'll probably get near the North Carolina border before pitching my tent once again. (Yeah, yeah, we know where you want to pitch that tent of yours.)

(okay, so the squirrel was from the previous day in Washington, but hey...)

Day Thirteen: Monday, October 11th, 2004

        Back on the road once again, but another rather simple day. I started off in the morning by going back to the local library but I couldn't get a signal anywhere and quickly gave up. Heading southeast this time for about half an hour to get to the Luray Caverns.

        Going as deep as 164 feet underground, the caverns featured some dramatic stalagmites and stalactites. The guided tour took just over an hour. A little expensive at $18/person, but I think it was worth it. As always, the pictures can't always do justice to the real thing. One of the most beautiful sections involved a perfectly still pool of water. It initially looked like there was a vast arrangement of stalgmites growing upwards but in reality it was the reflection of the stalactites from above.

        If you are wondering about the organ, they actually had it set up with little hammers connected to various stalactites in the area so that they would play various notes. Unfortunately, instead of having someone actually play it they just had it played by computer and since they used microphones and speakers to amplify the sound, it was hard to tell it was even coming from the stalactites. The second last photo is of Pluto's Ghost - Pluto being the God of the Underworld. When explorers first came upon it in the 1800s, it glowed in the light of their candles and resembled a ghost. It took them some time before they actually went close enough to it to discover it was just another formation. The final shot is of a wishing well. All the money goes to charities and some years they have collected over $50,000.

        I didn't do too much else that day. Briefly visited a Car and Carriage Caravan Museum which was part of the ticket price for the caverns (a peculiar combination) and then I was headed a little firther south to stop at the Lee Hi Campground in Lexington. A combination truck stop / weigh station / restaurant / garage / campground, I just had to check it out, especially for the low low price of $10/night for an unserviced tent site. And the showers were free! As an added bonus, for a small fee I was able to connect wireless right from my campsite. (Though there was the minor inconvenience of setting up my tent a stone's throw from the interstate!)

        Surrounded by truckers of every shape and size down at the restaurant I really felt out of place. When I ordered chicken fingers and fries the lady looked at me weird and with a southern drawl said "You get two sides with that." I was all confused until she pointed out that aside from the fries my chicken fingers could come with another side order. I got coleslaw. I then asked at the store whether anyone carried wood for campfires nearby. She said it was too early in the season for that. I'm still trying to figure that one out.

        A very cold night, not helped by the fact that I stayed up too late making the most of the high speed connection.

on to the next day...