Monday, February 29, 2016

South Bound

You know how it is when you plan for a trip, using hours of research time, making lists until you need a card catalog to remember what was on each list and it seems as if the day will never come. And then one morning, you wake up and there’s no time left. You throw everything into your vehicle and head out hoping you haven’t forgotten anything. I always have that feeling for the first 50 miles or so. To date, with all the miles we’ve traveled, there has been little left behind that we truly needed.  

Three days of traveling just over 1,000 miles  kept us on schedule to arrive today for our first volunteer position as camp hosts at Lake James State Park in Nebo, NC. Our travel was uneventful with an evening spent in Cherry Knolls, NJ and Harrisonburg, VA Wal-Marts. We saw almost no snow our entire trip, encountered only a brief rain shower and the only complaint was high wind which threw us all over the highway from Harrisonburg, VA well into North Carolina, a distance of more than 150miles completely killing our already poor mileage. We had a brief chuckle when we followed a tanker truck which appeared, to us, to be hauling a load of coffee. The mood deflated somewhat when we passed the tanker to find it was an ordinary load of gasoline.

Manmade Lake James encompasses 6,812 acres and serves as a reservoir for the Duke Hydroelectric project. Constructed between 1916 and 1923 with the completion of dams across the Catawba and Linville Rivers as well as a lesser tributary, Paddy’s Creek. The park is an hour east of Asheville near the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lake James State Park currently has one campground, a walk in tent site only area with 20 sites, however they are in the process of constructing another campground which will accommodate drive to site tent camping. It’s not ready due to the really bizarre winter they, too, have experienced. It isn’t just the north country that’s been out of balance. Did I mention today the temperature hit 71 degrees.

We caused a bit of commotion when we arrived at the Paddy Creek Office. It seems no one was expecting us. There was a brief scramble to get us keys and show us to our site at the Catawba River Campground where we were told the showers and toilets were torn apart for renovations and the water source for our site had frozen over the winter. With our arrival, we were assured it would be repaired on Tuesday. The ranger checked in with us before he closed the park at 6:00PM. All was well and we were then “locked into the park” for the night. They actually close the gates from 6:00PM to 8:00 AM. There wasn’t a soul around and no artificial lights save those in our camper. We passed a very quiet night.