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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Hatching Season

~Sunday, May 23, 2021~

Day 343 (Travel Day)

Camphost John stopped by one last time as we were breaking down camp. The ambulance we heard last night after all, was NOT outside the park like we thought. It was actually at HIS campsite last night, but not for him. Evidently, sometime around dusk last night, a 35 year-old woman was walking with a friend back from washing dishes at the bathroom and was bitten by a baby Copperhead snake at the top of her foot. Unfortunately, she was wearing sandals. She is o.k. but her foot swelled up immensely. With snake bites, they like to keep a person in the hospital for at least a few days. Lesson 1: Don’t step on a snake, Lesson 2: wear close toed shoes. Earlier in the day, 2 campers had spotted Copperheads at their campgrounds. Now we know to be on the lookout, especially since it is hatching season. Baby snakes can be more deadly since they don’t yet know how to control their venom. Gosh, snakes were not even on Jeff’s and my radar but now my more immediate worry is Sadie with all of her exploring through leaves and bushes.

Onward and being more reptile aware….we headed to Shenandoah National Park at a campground called Big Meadows for 5 days of dry camping. Of the 3 route choices, we ended up taking the fastest route. Though you never really know, the roads seemed doable with Billie Jean. The scenery….absolutely breathtaking. I was telling Jeff the mountains remind me a little bit of the Napa Valley but on a grander scale. The mountains in Napa Valley are mostly made up of vineyards. But the mountains in Virginia, at least in Spring/Summer are much more lush with their large variety of trees and low underlying shrubs. Green, green, green….everywhere! After entering the national park, there’s still another 25 miles to get to the campground. Windy roads and an elevation gain to 3,600 feet, you almost start to question if you missed a turn. Hank seems to pull Billie Jean effortlessly no matter the terrain, no matter the climb. We’re so glad we got the diesel engine!!

When we finally arrived, there was a small line of campers checking in, but the staff was on it, so things moved right along. Loop A, site #86. Our site is lovely, but Houston, we have a problem. It’s not deep enough for both Hank and Billie Jean. Our obstacle…….a tree. Since we can’t move the tree, the choice is to back up the trailer as much as we could to the tree. But after unhitching, we realized we didn’t factor in wind moving the tree or what would happen when we leveled out. After we had pulled the slides out and leveled we took a second look and realized the tilt of the trailer put it too close to the tree. Back to square one. Put the slides back in, hitch back up, and pull the trailer up about 2 more inches. We just didn’t have much wiggle room. After putting the slides back out and leveling again, it didn’t take long for the ranger to come by and scold us for having the truck on the grass. Because we booked this site a while ago, we have forgotten the reasons as to why we picked it in the first place. It seems that every park labels their site dimensions differently. Some state the overall length of the site, some just state the trailer length. This national park denotes it as overall length which is why the truck is partially on the lawn. We are having to park him at an angle perpendicular to the trailer. Anyway, the ranger told us that someone complained about us being partially on the grass. Really??? These kinds of people drive me crazy. I guess there’s a “Gladys'’ in every neighborhood. The ranger (a newbie), tried to help us park in a way that would allow us to stay at the site, with a slight mishap. He was signaling Jeff to back up but wasn’t paying complete attention to the hitch, so Jeff ended up backing into the hitch of the trailer, enough that I felt the trailer jolt. Ugh!! This is getting worse by the minute. Luckily just a slight indent (barely noticeable). After about 15 minutes of trying to figure out how we were going to fit, a ranger stopped by suggesting a move to a different site. Sorry, ain’t happening. Long story, long, we made it work. We always have the option of parking in the overflow.

After all the set up debacle, I left to go find an internet signal. Jeff was about to take Sadie on a walk when our new neighbor, Margo said, “I love your dog!” and a lovely 45 minute conversation ensued. Sadie is always our conversation piece. Currently Floridians, Margo and her husband Greg purchased their home in Florida, on a whim while they were living in New York. They fell in love with the area while visiting a friend….a friend who happens to be a real estate agent. And now they live 4 doors apart. Funny how things unfold. Luckily, they bought before the real estate craziness. Talk about stars aligning. They invited us over for an 8:00 “O Be Joyful”, but we asked for a rain check since we were both tired, hungry and showerless.

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