Shenandoah National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway

We started the day off with a big breakfast of sunnyside up eggs, bacon, potatoes, toast coffee and OJ.  We ate outside under the awning.  It was very resortish.  Big Meadows is one of the quietest campgrounds that I have ever been to.  There is a large RV up the hill from us, and they run a generator in the morning during the allowable hours.  It’s barely audible and sounds like an air conditioner running somewhere undeterminable.

After eating, we cleaned up the site a little and pulled out.  We left the leveling blocks, door mat and the grass rug and headed for the Great Meadows Lodge.

On the way out we met Don with a Navion Itaska 2006.  He asked if I belonged to the Yahoo users group; told him I did, and I remembered some of his posts.  He said that he posts infrequently, and we laughed about some of the ‘out there postings’ at the group. We had nice chat, and he told me before I left that the ceiling vent was open.  There was a disaster in the making,

Big Meadows Lodge is timeless. The exterior is the same as when Louise and I were here last in 1979.  The old leather couches are gone, I really liked them, they have been changed out and reproduction furniture has taken their place.  They have an old photograph showing the original arts & crafts style furniture when the place was built, so I guess it’s more like it was, but the old couches were classic late 30’s early 40”s style, and really comfortable.  A great place to catch a snooze.

We meandered over to the gift shop, found a pin, and met two female law enforcement rangers getting coffee. I asked them how they got their jobs, as forty years before, I tried and was unsuccessful.  The short story was that they worked for several years, essentially for free, before they got the job.  They said that you have to do it for the love of the job as it certainly wasn’t for the money.

We took off to the three mile walk down and back to DarkHollowFalls.  We were there relatively early as there was plenty of space in the parking lot. The upper part of the trail is easy walking and it’s not until the portion of the falls that’s on all the postcards that the trail gets steep.  We decided to walk to the bottom, and it was worth the effort, the falls below the postcard falls weren’t spectacular, but they were very nice.  I took a bunch of pictures with Louise’s Camera. I had changed out the battery in my good camera, the one that’s always ready with a full charge, to find that the battery was dead and the camera in turn was a lump of glass and metal.

It was a very nice walk even in the humidity. We returned to the RV, and found the batteries dead.  The Green, all is good, light on the refrigerator was flashing, and a check of the batteries showed a voltage of about 10 Volts. I started the generator with chassis electricity, and ran generator and AC upon return, as it was really hot, we were soaked, and I figured that the refrigerator would cool with 110V electricity.  The green flashing light was replaced with a green is good light and the indicator that we were on propane for the refrigerator went off.  I intended to replace the batteries next season, but I think that will happen as soon as we get home.   With everything running, we charged all the camera batteries, and all in all solved the problem for now, or at least figured out how to manage it. I think that we are in good shape

We had a long drive to Endless Caverns to and from, so I thought that everything would be charged by the end of the day, so when we hit the overlooks, I didn’t turn off the RV.  The overlooks were nice, I suspect that the 30 miles we missed had some of the better views, but we hit them all and occasionally got out to take a peek.  The drive to Endless Caverns was pleasant, down steep hairpin turns.  It would have been fun in a BMW, but not so much in the RV.

I was on the lookout for WiFi, so when we stopped I took a quick peek at the laptop while Louise kept an eye on the traffic light.  We found and excellent WiFi connection at a Lowe’s and I conducted some business.  The connection wasn’t the best in the world, but it was better than most.  Thank you Lowes.

We arrived at Endless Caverns, and found the place much the same as it had been 40 years ago, you still enter through the padlocked barred entrance and descend into then cave. The tour guide was a summer employ, last time the tour guide was family, there was a pride of ownership and ‘this is mine, isn’t it the greatest thing in the world” A lot has changed in the last forty years.  The cave is essentially dead.  The formations are red with clay, there are very few live formations, and all the pools are dry.  The thing that impressed me most forty years ago was the incredible flowstone and drapery formations that were active.  They are all still there, but are dead dry.  This cave has more and better formations than the more famous Luray Caverns, and they were all alive once upon a time, but not now.  As far as recommending a cave to visit, this is at the top of my list still.  The commercialism is negligible, the tours are intimate, the formations are stunning, absolutely out of this word.  The whole thing is understated, and you may wonder how good can this be, but it’s great. I’m coming from the vantage point of walking through a cave that was four to six inched deep in water on the walkways, with gravel strewn to help drain them.  I was young and handsome too. All things change.

On the way back to the campground we filled with cheaper diesel and I calculated that we got about 13 MPG, which isn’t either the best or the worst mileage.  It will have to do.  On the return, we also charged up the laptop, energy management is something I have to learn.  We also received a call from Marjorie, who we will see on the way home.  It’s nice when people are excited to see you.  We’ve been invited to a barbeque which is one of my favorite things.

We were checked in by Sara Mink, history major, who was reading the ‘Longest Day’, I promised that if she contacted me I would send her a list of other historical novels that I enjoyed.

We stopped at the stopped at dump station, emptied and filled the appropriate tanks, and the odor we got a whiff of every now and then went away, however the level indicators in the coach don’t appear to be working.  I’ll have to keep an eye on that.

I was pleased when it only took about 25 minutes to set up, get the coach leveled, we were right on the money, set up awning, set up table and chairs. We have some wireless speakers and ate under the awning with some low music.  I like the background music very much, but the cool thing is that about 20 feet from the coach you can’t hear any of the music.  Dinner was parmesan noodles, barbeques pork chops that I nailed and peas. In the process of having a cool beverage and listening to the music, I made a mess on the stove, but it cleaned up OK.

We were tired, so we relaxed, forgot about a fire, took showers and enjoyed the 67 degree sleeping weather.