“You sick of us yet?”
“I was sick of you when you got here…”
My mother is a great Host, but she’s not afraid to give you the que to leave. More than four days in PA tends to get old for both guests and hosts, so after 11 days it’s not surprising to find your toes gracing the edge of insanity. This visit, being one of the last for awhile, meant we had to stay as long as possible until mom kicked us out, so after a few weeks of watching the Eagles lose and a solid camping trip with my dad, sister and brother in-law, it was time to go.
A detour to the south would put us in the Shenandoah Valley for a quick jaunt down the southern section of Skyline Drive. With over a hundred miles of viewpoints and trail heads, Skyline Drive has quite the plethora of outdoorsy potential, however it fails to compare to it’s shorter big brother to the north, the Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountains. We snapped a few photos and said our oos and ahhs then continued on our way.
Without taking into consideration Personal Hygiene, I decided that Courtney and I would camp our way out to the Pacific in hopes of having a better story to tell. Thus far finding free camping is about as adventurous as staying in a Best Western, thanks to a trusty website freecampsites.net. Our whole trip was pretty much all planned out from previous boondocking travelers.
The sun started to set as we pulled onto State Road 250 in Churchville Virginia, the GPS decided to finally let us know that we were a “quick” 20 mIles from the first overnight point on our route, Braley Pond. Located in between the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, Braley Pond is host to a handful of free camping sites, some big enough for an RV, mostly designed for Tent Camping. The next morning we woke late, as usual, to cold pets and a rainy day. A hearty breakfast of Bacon and Eggs was made over the fire, the cars were packed, the animals thawed out from their overnight freeze and we were on our way.
The next stop, Saddle Lake in the Hoosier National Forest, would be a long drive through rain. Getting a late start, we ended up arriving around 8:30pm to find the site simple to find but deep into the Forest. Wet conditions made it next to impossible to get a fire lit with a dying lighter magnesium, so we opted for a PB&J dinner. The next morning the weather continued to be less than favoring, without breakfast we decided to pack up and go… take a shower.
For the first time in my life (and hopefully not the last) I had to rely on the perks of gym membership to keep my hygiene from becoming my worst nightmare. Luckily, that gym membership Court bought for her New years Resolution that never seemed to get used, finally got its use as a free pass for two to any Planet Fitness shower in the nation. While being homeless isn’t awesome, it is refreshing to have a girlfriend with similar open mind-ness and patience for alternate plans.
Rushing is typically the way people travel, which, regardless of our intent, we went into this trip the same way. We rushed out of Rhode Island, took some time in PA, rushed through VA, WV, KY, IN…. but once we we hit Missouri, time seemed to stand still. As we pulled up to Little Lost Creek Conservation Area, Courtney and I realized it was time to slow it all down. We set up camp before the sunset, cooked a large dinner and stayed up past 10pm.The next morning, while taking our sweet time waking up and getting some kindling cut for our fire, the axe bounced and landed on my pointer finger/thumb, a bit of a scare, a whole lotta blood, and a couple gallons of Neosporin, the cut is all good and healing well.
Lesson: Take your time, with everything.
Kansas. What have you heard about Kansas? Its the most boring state in the US, you will want to kill yourself half way though, you will leave your girlfriend there… that’s just a few of the claims that I heard as a warning before embarking on this Journey. Fast Forward 4 days and you get jaw dropping scenery, and epic sunset, bass jumping, good ol’ boys listening to country music while casting out their crankbaits trying to get a bite…
“This isn’t Kansas.” I thought to myself as a stumbled down a rock ledge to the shore of Milford Lake to snag a few token sunset pictures. But Kansas it was, in all of its flat, boring beauty. The sunset over the Lake was enough to keep me there for a few weeks, but the acres of watery greatness reminded me of the surf I left behind in Rhode Island and the fact that all I wanted to do was make it to California and snag a few peaks. It was a mutual decision to stay for two days, try our luck at fishing and enjoy Kansas for all its worth instead of creating a Highway travelers tale of how shitty it is.