RV’ing-Does It Make Sense For You? Days 14, 15, 16 Claytor Lake, VA


Before I start, I just want to shout out to that lone Ohio roadway crew that must handle the whole state.  I know this because you haven’t had time to fill in the car-swallowing potholes that line your highways like the craters on the dark side of the moon.  Here’s a haiku I made just for you:

Snapped axles, crushed dreams

Ohio, tragic state of 

roads best not taken



These are cringe-inducing, gut-wrenching highways to hell, the stuff of truck-driving legend, like the monsters you used to find in the margin of old maps.  I half expect to see the warning “Thar be dragons” on my GPS when I cross the state line.

But the West Virginia highways, which we cross next, are a dream, in spite of the fact that there is scarcely a straight line or level plain in the whole state.  Maybe Ohio should look there for civil engineering grads or simply a decent road grader.

By the time I get to our destination in Virginia, it’s dark, so the last thing I want to do is try to set up a campsite, but such are the joys of RV’ing, wherein normal people do abnormal things to commune with the cosmos and prove that they are clinically insane.  

I fail to ask the nature girl/ranger at the Claytor Lake State Park about the hookups, because I assume that at $42/night I at least get sewer line access.  Ha, ha!  Just kidding!  Of course not!  I find out at the site that there is no such luxury provided, which is a bit of a problem, since I have been transporting a full tank of waste all the way from Michigan waiting for that golden moment when I can dump it, and be free at last from my earthy burden. But as everyone knows, “Sh*t happens””, which should be the motto I place on the cutesy pennant flag at my site instead of “The Jones’s” or “Welcome” or “On vacation” like all my neighbors.

Since it’s now pitch dark, I decide it’s best to wait until morning to find the park’s only dump station and discharge my noxious brew.  That means leaving my RV hooked up to the truck so I don’t have to do it again as soon as I wake up.  It also means living on an incline in a vehicle that rocks gently like a tall ship in a slight breeze every time someone moves, but once again, it’s all part of the fun and adventure!

I’m exhausted now, but inside the camper I find my wife struggling with the shower door, which fell apart due to the severe beating it received on the Ohio turnpike.  After about two solid hours of sweating and cursing, I finally give up on the repair as a bad idea, and, hoping to drink heavily instead, open the refrigerator, only to find that the salad dressing has exploded inside; another gift courtesy of the Ohio Department of Casual Neglect and Criminal Negligence.  

We spend the next 30 minutes cleaning up the mess, but we’re not through until I have broken a  small piece off of the refrigerator door, which causes me to laugh maniacally, because now it seems that I must be the butt of a bad cosmic joke, or an RV owner, but then I repeat myself.  I finally pass out cold, rather than drift asleep, dreaming of those carefree days before camping, wherein I was able to enjoy such coveted frivolities as running water and electric lighting without the need to to reinvent them from scratch at every stop.

When I awake, I get the pleasure of dumping the load, and yes I’m talking here about the RV.  After that chore, I disconnect the 5’er from the truck, but notice that an expensive sounding high-pitched squeal is emanating ominously from the jack motor, proving that no RV task, no matter how simple, is ever done without adding to the worry list.

But right now we’re enjoying some of the sights in Virginia.  Here’s a few I wouldn’t miss on the west side of the state:

  • Blacksburg, home to Virginia Tech, looks like they have a city-wide HOA, because everything is so architecturally coherent and well-maintained.  Spend some time at the university’s garden or take in the colonial house Smithfield Plantation.
  • Claytor Lake, where I’m staying, is a pretty little state park on a man-made lake with lots of paved hiking and biking trails as well as groomed beaches.  You can rent boats and bicycles at the marina.
  • Cascades Waterfall is a popular attraction accessed by a 2-mile trail and is a great photo-op.

Here’s a rundown of the expenses so far:

  • Groceries                  $126
  • RV stuff                     $175 (spare tire, shower curtain)
  • Diesel                         $255
  • Restaurant               $23

Total                                    $579

Next stop is in the Tennessee Mountains.  Let’s hope the jack motor lasts that long!


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