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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Our First Fireflies!!🌟

~Friday, May 28, 2021~

Day 348 (Travel Day)

Light sprinkles as we pack up and roll on out to our next location, Walnut Hills Campground in Staunton, VA. We chose this spot because it points us in a southerly direction as we head to Tennessee (again) and we’ve always wanted to see Jefferson’s home, Monticello.

You’d think by now, breaking down camp so routinely, would make mistakes a thing of the past. Well, we’re proof that no matter how many times you’ve done something, if you do one thing out of sequence, it can really cause havoc. Case in point…..normally the chocks are taken out immediately after we hitch up, then we pull off the leveling blocks, then check that the brake lights/signals are in working order. When Jeff gave me the keys, I went into my mode of getting off the blocks thinking the chocks were already out. (Two of the chocks are heavy rubber and the other two are plastic, curved chocks). Instead of waiting for his signal to move forward, I moved forward anyway. But the STOP! came much earlier. The tire had crushed one of the plastic chocks down to about an inch. But the worry wasn’t the chock, it was what it would do to the tire. The tire, thankfully, is fine. Obviously, we let our guard down, maybe getting a little too comfortable with how we do things. Sequence and communication are ALWAYS essential, no matter how many times you’ve done it.

The drive, however, went smoothly. Nice to only have a few hours of driving time. And what a beauty of an area. I think the consensus is that the entire state of Virginia is gorgeous. Everything is so lush and green, it almost looks tropical. And it also has its share of humidity. The campground staff were very friendly as we checked in, and found the place to be bigger than we thought it would be. With it being Memorial Day weekend, it will be a steady stream of RV’s until tomorrow. Our site is perfect with pretty good space between, and backs right up to a flourishing forest and small creek. I’ve already picked out my spot at the nice little picnic table right next to this lovely forest; playing catch up for the lack of cell reception while in Shenandoah. However, within a few hours, my would-be spot was forced to go inside due to rain. No wonder everything's so green here. Unlike California where the rain stops for 4 or 5 months of the year, the East Coast continues with theirs.

Our neighbor to the right is also traveling full time in their Class A (motorhome) which looks like the Taj Mahal. The owner, Diane, was sitting under cover by her perfect spot next to the creek, along with her fierce protector, Belle (a little Shih Tzu), getting some work done. I think Belle was not happy to have another dog, a bigger dog like Sadie, in her territory. But to satisfy the curiosity, we had the meet and greet with the two to calm Belle down. Our other neighbor to the left, was on his 4th week of owning his 5th wheel, previously owning a travel trailer. I was so jealous of how spiffy both that and his truck were. Billie Jean and Hank are really in need of some TLC.

With the campground’s rural setting, one would think there wasn’t a grocery store for miles. But in the other direction and only about 3 miles away, there’s quite a selection. Food Lion it is. But before we headed out, we took the time to make a dinner menu to steer us away from the routine meals. We seemed to have gotten in a rut, though it was all from scratch and delicious; things like falafels, tacos, raviolis, hamburgers, salmon, soups, chili, spaghetti and our go to on travel days…..Trader Joe’s frozen Indian dinners. When we make bulk items like soups, chili there’s the proverbial leftovers too. Anyway, it’s time for some new epicurean delights. Here are a few things sure to get your mouth watering:

  1. Blackened Steak Salad

  2. Chimichangas

  3. Chicken Piccata

  4. Grilled Cheese (gourmet style) with Tomato/Blackbean Soup

  5. Garlic Pasta

We took a walk around the campground to see the lay of the land. This place is a family paradise. Jeff and I could completely see that families would make it a tradition to come here for any holiday weekend. They have everything. A pool, a huge green field to play horseshoes, kickball or what have you, a game cabin (which just reopened since COVID), a playground, a lake for fishing (no swimming), laundry facilities, and a small store. Up the backside is a gorgeous pathway that leads to the cabins and tent sites. Lots of privacy up there. The park is owned by Andy Zipser and his wife Carin, who also live on the property. And boy do they maintain their 45 acre parcel with plenty of love and care. Really dialed in. They’ve definitely fallen on hard times like so many RV parks, due to the pandemic. Virginia was at the peak of the spectrum with orders to either close completely or only allow long-term guests. The federal bailout package helped some, but when those funds ran out, things became increasingly tougher until the governor lifted restrictions. Hopefully this summer, with their steady flow of bookings, will help make up for lost time. But the demand is so high with people wanting to “get the show on the road”, he’ll get back what he lost.

The rain subsided, and we were back outside enjoying a nice, warm evening. Had a lovely phone call with my mom, catching up on things. Miss her, miss her!! As we were visiting, I kept noticing these little sparks here and there thinking they were from some campfire and then it dawned on me…..FIREFLIES!! At first I didn’t think that’s what they were because I pictured clusters of them, and a longer light time. These lights were fleeting, lasting only seconds. Finally!! We’ve been wanting to see fireflies ever since we’ve been in The South. Evidently, it’s still a little early in the season for them, so we feel fortunate we got to see them. They apparently like to be near slightly running water and dense foliage which is what our campsite is made of. I guess we’re in for this treat every night… long as it doesn’t rain!

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