My sister graduated high school two years ago now. There are ten years between her and I and we have always been very close. When she was fifteen and I was twenty-five we vowed that we would take a trip together after her graduation. When that day came, we started planning, and decided to head South for our vacation. The idea was we would leave from our hometown in upstate New York, make our way down to Tennessee passing through Pennsylvania and Virginia. Then we would take a side trip to Galax Virgina for a fiddler’s festival, and make our way up the Blue Ridge Parkway.
All in all, it was a very successful trip, and in the end we did accomplish all of these things. Along the way we had a good deal of what I like to call “travel karma.” We met many interesting and gracious people who befriended and looked out for us along the way. However, almost no road trip is perfect, and our one crazy night happened in Galax, Virginia.
The day before the fiddler’s convention, we left from Tennessee and drove all day. By the time we got close to Galax it was near dusk and we were exhausted. I had booked a campsite ahead of time. The campground was on the website for the convention, so I figured it would be passable at least. We followed the directions to the campsite and noticed that we were going further and further into the mountains. Now, both of us live in the country and are used to mountains and rural areas. When either of us are getting nervous about how isolated we are, you know it’s pretty remote.
A few more miles down the road, we reached our turn. Giant cranes blocked and trucks blocked most of the road that was now totally unpaved and spread with soil. There was a sign for our campground though, so we decided to go a little further and check it out. At this point, I was having my doubts. We limped my car a bit further down the road until we came to the actual campground. The campground turned out to be a guy’s front yard, and the guy’s name was Harry. No joke. The lawn was littered with old tires, and broken down machinery. There was nobody at the check in booth so we called him. (Thank goodness for cell phones.) Harry answered and told us to park down by the river next to this very intimidating group of RV’s. At this point, I was thinking we were going to leave, but my sister popped out real quick just to check. Right as she got near the RV’s two snarling pit bulls bolted out from underneath and started barking. She bolted back into the car, and that’s when we decided to leave. A campground in the back hills of Virginia that happens to be someone’s front yard; the perfect place for two young women traveling alone.
At this point we were thinking we would probably not make it to the festival at all. We drove back to town in search of a hotel or campground. Somehow, we managed to get the last hotel room in Galax, VA that night. We trudged to the only open coffee shop in town in search of food. We were exhausted. My sister and I were chatting about the festival and how disappointed we were that we weren’t going to make it for the night shift. Just then, the woman sitting next to us said, “Excuse me ladies, just so you know, most of the action for the convention happens during the day!”
So despite the horrific campground, my sister and I prepared for the next day at the fiddler’s convention in the last hotel room in Galax, Virginia. It was a seedy hotel, but it seemed like a palace next to that campground. We ended up having a fabulous time, and fabulous stories to tell our friends. However, I will be more careful when booking campgrounds in the future.