Once again I drive through a torrential flood to make the trip down the mountains from Boone more interesting (at least in the Chinese sense of the word). As an additional bonus, I also get to brave a narrow gauntlet of serpentine roads that feature rock outcroppings jutting out menacingly from the adjacent cliffs. At some points, I’m pretty sure it would be too dangerous to put an elbow on the sill of either window, so that by the time I reach what resembles a normal modern highway, I feel like I’ve gone through a real-world version of a “Road Warrior” video game in which players are expected to die ignominiously, and my hands are gripping the steering wheel as tightly as a Louisville Slugger (which is appropriate since that is very close to our final destination today).
I started out this morning in church (yes, I know about hypocrisy and I’m working on it). I always enjoy attending liturgies when I’m away from home because it helps me center on what’s more important than mere recreation, especially since my life, after all, is just an extended vacation, and I get to meet real people in the local area. Plus, if you’re an Orthodox Christian, church is simply what you do. Boone, NC has a tiny mission parish (St. Peter and Paul), but the choir is heavenly, and, since our hymns are largely the same wherever you go, I can sing along (badly, natch) a cappella without even so much as a hymnal to guide me. I have noticed this phenomena at Orthodox churches all over the world: the ability to recognize the music and even some of the words in a land and language far removed from my own is enormously appealing because it speaks to the universality of God’s Logos and of a two millennia-old tradition that I am now a part of.
And I do cross myself in mute relief when I finally descend from the mountain and hit the gentle rolling hill country of Virginia and Kentucky. The truck (an F250 diesel) is a delightful beast and pulls like a freight train up steep mountains and Interstate onramps with effortless ease, a far cry from the gear-grinding struggles of my old F150 pulling a TT (trailer tow).
I am staying at the Kentucky Horse Park Campgrounds, which are owned by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I know this because the rate I’m paying is much lower than equivalent private facilities and the reservations system is even more Byzantine. When I try to reserve online, I finally surrender as easily as the Maginot Line after finding the process so obtuse, and when I call the next day en route, they happily inform me that they don’t accept reservations on the same day as arrival. I’m trying to imagine a real business that won’t accept your money because you want to pay them immediately…and I can’t think of anything. Ergo, this must be a government job, and I’m struggling to see the need for tax money to compete with the KOAs of the world, but I can’t, save to secure fat pensions for otherwise unemployable people.
But when I arrive, I find it easy enough to park, and the sites are very generously laid out under beautiful elm trees on a wide lawn. Set up is a snap because there is actually pavement under the wheels instead of dirt. I hardly know what to do. I test the tarmac with my foot tentatively, not believing my good joss at first, before lowering the jacks onto good solid blacktop.
I notice that a lot of golf carts are cruising around. I watch as my newest friend pulls up in the slot next to mine and backs his huge RV up. After disconnecting his monstrous F350 dually, he lowers a ramp on the back of his 5’er, and it disgorges a golf cart and some bicycles onto the lawn, like a whale vomiting up Jonah. He advises me that’s the only way to get around this huge area, but I’m not so sure, since I’ve managed for three days now without breaking my knees, but who am I to judge a man’s primordial need for motorized assistance wherever he goes?
Nor should I be surprised when he sets up a satellite dish on the lawn, but, somehow, I am. It’s for the grandkids, he says. Oh. Got it. For the children.
Right now, my list of RV problems is actually shrinking, so I’m able to relax a bit and enjoy the campground ambience. This is a happy park, with loads of families, dogs, and giant RVs the size of Nebraska, and they’ve brought along more of everything: more games, more kids, more relatives, and more musical instruments, because this week is the Bluegrass Music Festival. Entire multi-generational musical troupes are practicing together, and that’s a wonder to see. I love it that families have found a way to connect through the ages here via the magic medium of music.
I do have one new concern, though, and it’s kind of a big deal, in so much as it involves potty training. It seems that my black water tank didn’t completely empty at my last stop, and, since this park doesn’t have sewer hook-up, that presents a problem, which is: I can no longer “go” in my own toilet because it’s already nearly full. I’ll have to use the (cue horror music) dum-dum-dum-Dummm…public facilities.
But, worse than that, when I look up a potential fix, the solutions range from the improbable to the horrific. One fellow suggests having your son take the business end of the sewer tube and carry it onto the roof of the RV, from where he can hose water down the tube until gravity does its work, then quickly release the pipe. Other suggestions range from the introduction of potentially explosive chemicals to standard roto-rooter style plumbing applications. I read enough warnings about “back-splatter” avoidance to understand that this is yet another part of the RV experience that you only hear about in comedy movies.
I finally settle on buying a quart of some solvent from the RV store that I’ll introduce tomorrow along with some hot water. The plan is to let the toxic brew simmer and slosh in the tank all day until I reach Michigan. Then, I will be ready to release the Kraken onto the grounds of my unsuspecting hosts. Just like another comedy movie, come to think of it.
So, once again, to summarize: I do have hot water now, but can’t use my own toilet, the front door still sticks, the bathroom door won’t close, and I still have a laundry list of items I need to buy at the RV store when we get a chance, including a spare tire. What I don’t have is a golf cart or the space to put it in, but, as I’m told it’s a necessity, I’ll have to start thinking about an upgrade already.
Here’s the addition to the RV money pit for this leg:
- Fuel $126
- Groceries $75
- Entry Fees $43
- Campground $101
…And here’s the estimate for a car traveler:
- Fuel $50
- Groceries $0
- Dining out $210
- Hotel $420
So, ‘nuff said. Car travel costs a lot more if we don’t count the cost of the RV itself. But…
Notes about the RV travel:
- I get the impression the list of things to fix/do never goes away
- There is a bit of a spirit of “one-upmanship” that I hadn’t noticed before.
- It really is relaxing to sit outside and enjoy a cocktail as the sun goes down. I can’t remember the last time I just sat outside and enjoyed myself.
About the Kentucky Horse Park:
It’s worth a trip! We took two very leisurely days to see it (one admission price gets you in for both visits). There are a number of shows that are more educational than trick riding, and the museum is a fascinating look at horses from the late Pleistocene through Secretariat. Even if you’ve never had any interest in these beautiful creatures I think you’d find the trip quite worthwhile. It’s a great place for kids and adults alike, and there’s enough interaction between the animals and the visitors to keep it interesting.
Tomorrow, I have a long drive to visit my friends in Michigan. See you soon!