“[ photos ]”:http://www.spacepod.org/photolog/archives/cat_nbeast_2004.html
started out friday, october 22, 2004
left durham 10:10am (could not get tank full – b20 biodiesel from Exxon) ar luray, va, 5pm. approx 260 miles, mainly route 15. filled up tank during trip, use about a tank and a quarter, maybe less, for the trip up.
during trip ran fridge on 12 volt while engine was on. began having difficulty shifting into low gears about 3/4 way into trip extreme difficulty by end of trip.
did not want to start a couple of times while warm, jiggling key eventually got it to start
oil light came on after steep curve, about 10 miles from campground. stopped, oil 1/2 way down dipstick. topped off, oil light stayed off for rest of trip up mountain.
strange staying in jellystone campground, have only ever stayed at state parks before.
reasonably rustic site w/ water/electric, in with the tents, not in with the r/v’s which are packed in, no trees.. like a trailer park.
many elaborate campsite decorations. one woman said “we come here every year for halloween, it’s a tradition.” many kids. sullen teenagers hanging out by the bath house at 11pm.
tried the a/c 120v power in the westy for the first time, worked! nice ambient glow of pumpkin lights, instead of harsh white light. also, set up glowing eyeballs on stakes outside the camper. i’d like to get novelty lights specifically for westy and find a way to string them so they’re not in the way– they give the perfect light.
first night sleeping in the westy, the new bed is good, definitely needed sleeping bag and both wool blankets. cold but not extreme cold; would want more warm gear for winter camping.
rethinking rug inside; maybe a piece of bound carpet to fit in the living area floor would be nice– something still removeable so it can be cleaned, replaced.
a/c powered space heater would be nice too.
spare battery not much use– not sure what’s up with that.
took westy to the car show to serve as office/shelter. it was quite cold in the morning. lots of attention to the westy throughout the day! many folks complimenting her, telling stories of their old bus. the distinctive shape drew people in.
i judged the stock category in the show, which i have to admit, i really enjoyed. i judge beetles all the time in my mind– looking them over for dirt, paint scrapes, little flaws. the advantage of the stock class is that i can use the knowlege i have of the different models, but don’t need to worry about understanding and comparing performance and other mods i might not be familiar with.
van started just fine throughout the day which lends credence to the notion that it’s an issue when the wiring is hot, as mark had suggested. maybe trouble shifting and trouble starting means… time to give ‘er a bit of a rest.
after the car show we went through the luray caverns. i’d never been in a cavern before. i love the strange, moist, organic rock formations. i was quite exhausted so that sapped a little of my enjoyment from the experience but still it was fun.
i also checked out the antique car museum on the grounds. wow.
hard to be with people all day nonstop. after the caves, i was a little rude to an overenthusiastic japanese woman who practically sat in my lap on a crowded park bench. nice though to see the stephs. good to meet steph. surprisingly, we are sort of free joking back and forth about butchness. interesting moment for me when i said to her, “i wondered what it means that i share so many interests with stephanie’s new girlfriend” (meaning.. why am i straight yet so butch?) and she said, “it doesn’t mean anything”, which is the best answer anyone has ever given me to that question.
rain started before dawn on sunday. awoke early, checked for forming puddles or other potential rain related problems with flashlight; everything looked good so i went back to sleep.
steve came by in the morning and i opened my little sliding glass window to talk. he said, “i feel like i should be placing an order or getting money from an ATM.” he told me that he didn’t want to do the skyline drive cruise in the rain. i decided i wanted to go to dinosaurland anyway, and figured i would have no trouble recruiting some others to go along.
we had a merry group of john in cleo, the stephs (i rode with them on the way up), britt in his snap orange, and les. the rain stopped but it was quite cold. the gift shop was almost as silly as the big, fake dinosaurs, and oddly out of place king cobra, preying mantis, and king kong statue. i didn’t take many pictures since i had taken quite a few on my first visit there.
john was nice enough to give me a ride back. we stopped for lunch at a fantastic old place in front royal, the royal creamery restaurant. it looked as if not much had changed since it opened… probably in the 50’s or before. it was nicely kept up, but still reeked of authenticity, and the food was fantastic. crisp, hot fries and a very tasty patty melt. we decided to get ice cream, too… i got mint chocolate chip with sprinkles, my favorite from when i was a kid.
being rather burnt out on conversation, john was the perfect person to ride back with– he’s ok with some silence– and i told him at lunch that i appreciated that about him. i figure that being quiet and shy is so rarely an advantage, it’s nice to let someone know that sometimes, it’s really a good thing.
i bought a space heater because i knew i’d be spending some time hanging out in the van on my own. when i got back to the campground, it was practically empty, after being completely filled over the weekend. it was delicious to nap in the westy, hiding just below the un-curtained windows. when it got chilly i fired up the space heater and it works great. i probably won’t run it while i’m asleep, but while i’m awake and doing stuff in the van, it’s nice to be warm.
the fridge has been a champ through the whole trip, everything has stayed quite cold. i look forward to trying to get it to run off propane so i can run it anywhere. i think i will not run it off the 12 volt system while i’m driving home– if i’m correct and the wiring is heating up and causing problems starting, it would be better not to strain the electrical system.
trip home fairly uneventful. stopped at out of the way state park for a one hour break, to let her cool down and because i needed a nap myself. seems to have helped.
scored another cool old diner for brunch in culpeper.