Monday, August 28, 2006

Camping at Natural Tunnel

This is the first opportunity I've had to post since our camping trip to Natural Tunnel August 17 -20. Busy, busy, BUSY!

It was another great trip. Randy wasn't able to leave until Friday, so I went ahead on Thursday afternoon (after Randy's doctor appointment) and set up camp.

The weather Thursday was glorious, but hot! I was pretty tired by the time I got everything set up, but I hadn't planned to do much but rest that day anyway. It was my birthday, so a lazy evening was my gift to myself! *LOL* By bedtime, fog rolled in and the temperature dropped to a level that was very comfortable for sleeping.

It was still foggy when I woke up Friday morning, but the fog burned off to reveal another beautiful sunny day. After I'd eaten breakfast and straightened up the campsite, I took an unintentional driving tour of the area. I say "unintentional" because I was actually trying to go to nearby Duffield (5 miles away) to place a cellphone call. (That's the nearest place I could get a signal.) I zigged when I should have zagged and drove on some scenic narrow roads for a good while before I got to an area I recognized. I really didn't mind, though, because I was only killing time until the chairlift started running at 10:00 am anyway. :-)

When I returned to the park I took the chairlift to the floor of Natural Tunnel. I have pictures on Flickr (see link to the right), but if you're ever near enough to visit, be sure to add Natural Tunnel of your list of things to see. Near the tunnel is the Carter cabin, which was moved from its original location to the park in 1997. The cabin is believed to be the oldest house in Scott County, Virginia.

Randy arrived Friday afternoon earlier than I'd expected. I fixed him a quick sandwich for lunch, then we went down to the Tunnel together. Initially he seemed a little reluctant about the chairlift, but enjoyed the ride and was impressed by the Tunnel as well.

There was to be a "community campfire" in the campground that night, but a sudden violent thunderstorm rolled in just before it was to begin. We were disappointed that the campfire was cancelled, but the storm cooled everything off for another night of good sleeping weather.

After breakfast Saturday morning, we went back to the Tunnel so that Randy could visit the Carter cabin. The woods were all wet and cool from the storm the night before. When we took the chairlift back to the parking lot and returned to the campground, though, we found that the temperature had gone up considerably at the campsite.

To dodge the mid-day heat, we decided to go to Norton for lunch in an air-conditioned restaurant and make a side trip up on High Knob. A benefit gospel sing was scheduled at the amplitheater at Natural Tunnel for 5:00 pm, so we went back to the campground to rest for a bit before time for the singing. We also had reservations to go on a hayride at 7:30 that evening.

We were sitting under our shade tree, enjoying afternoon breezes, when I heard thunder in the distance. No sooner did we take care of getting everything under cover when another violent thunderstorm hit. We'd planned to be at the amplitheater when the benefit sing began, but the rain didn't let up enough for us to get out of the screen tent and into the car until 5:15!

There were several local gospel groups participating in the singing. Proceeds went to help defray medical expenses for a lady who worked for the park for many years and was going through some very serious health problems. We were surprised and pleased to see our amiable campground host, John, take the stage and sing a few songs.

Even though we were reasonably sure that the hayride had been cancelled, we left the amplitheater just before 7:30 and drove to the parking lot at the blockhouse, where we were to have met our guide. No one, of course, was there. We were a little disappointed, but when we returned to the campground John already had my refund for me. We'll make an effort to go on the hayride again later. I've never been on one, and would really like to do that.

Sunday morning the weather was foggy again, but this time when the fog lifted it was replaced by gray and threatening skies. I'd hoped the weather would clear so that the tent and screen tent would all dry out before we had to check out at 3:00. By mid-morning it was obvious that the weather wouldn't improve that day, so we went ahead and broke camp. I put a plastic tablecloth over the front seat of my car and placed the wet tent and screen tent nylon on it so it wouldn't soak everything.

We said our goodbyes to our campground host and his wife (lovely people!) and drove to Mom and Dad's house. They were in Pigeon Forge, but I called Daddy and asked if he minded if I pitched the tent and screen tent in their back yard to let them dry out. He, of course, didn't mind at all.

Just as we pulled into their driveway, a downpour struck! I barely got onto the back porch before the deluge. We sat there for about ten minutes and the rainstorm passed. We pitched the tents and headed to my apartment to unload everything else.

We were wet and tired, but all in all it was another great camping trip. The next one will be September 15 - 17; Grindstone, here we come!

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