Country Roads, Take Me Home

Hello from the mountains of Virginia. As I write this, a rainstorm is raging overhead.

I am at a campsite that is in a cloud in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Yesterday I took the famed Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park, and I can report it is as beautiful as it is reported it be.

It is a curious thing – a national park designed for cars. But that’s exactly what it is; an easy way to get some of the best mountain views you’ve ever seen in your life. I have spent hours climbing mountains for the views my van delivered to me in a matter of minutes yesterday. (I’ve included several photos at the bottom because I couldn’t just choose one.)

It’s been five days since I got back in the van full-time, and resumed the van life I thought I had signed up for. I’ve spent 28 days on the road, but a good chunk of that was spent in hotels and someone’s house. And it’s funny – it feels like forever, but when I got back in the van it was remembering all over again that this is totally new.

I was so excited to get back in the van, and I’m thrilled to be here. But there was a disconnect between my excitement and the learning curve that I am still very much on. The routines of taking things out and putting them away, operating in a tiny space to cook meals and clean them, even going to the bathroom is different (though I’ll spare you the dirty details.) I have to monitor my fresh water levels, my grey water levels, my battery power, the pee tank, and yes, the number 2 container. Everything that you’re used to in daily life takes more energy out here.

I found myself getting frustrated, especially earlier in the week, at how hard everything still was. Though I’ve been on the road for nearly a month it hasn’t been smooth sailing in getting used to my new routines. In fact, it’s been damn near impossible to develop any routines, which contributes to my frustration.

Finding things to be excited about helps me alleviate that frustration. And yesterday was very exciting – Bevy’s first national park, (have I introduced my van yet? Her name is Bevy), first official campsite, and first bonfire. And today, the first rain day. It finally feels like the adventure I signed up for.

The weather is always part of the adventure. Last weekend, at the National Cannabis Festival, my husband and I walked through a roaring thunderstorm to get there and spent five hours with wet pants and squishy socks. I thought as we headed south from DC into Virginia that it would only get warmer – but it actually got colder. I’m from New York and I know how cold the mountains stay long after spring has dawned on the rest of the state. I just didn’t think that applied 7 hours south too!

It’s been a week of chilly but sunny mornings, and camping at a trailhead makes getting outside effortless. Yesterday it finally started to get warmer, so of course we packed up and headed into the mountains, where it’s even chillier. Over 3,000 feet of elevation, the trees are barely blooming! A stark contrast from the lush forests of Maryland where spring is in full force.

Tomorrow I’ll get out and hike, even if it’s cold. I don’t know when the next time I’ll be here in Shenandoah is, and I want to take it all in.

Published by Jessica Reilly, Writer

Writer, cannabis aficionado, and poetry lover

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