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I woke up to rain and at 9:40 this evening it has yet to stop.  Per Laura’s recommendation I stopped by Bodo’s for a bagel and coffee, the locals’ favorite.  What made it even better is it was located directly across from the UVA campus which is splendid.

In the Shenandoah Valley, with rain comes fog.  Visibility is the worst it has been for me in recent memory…traveling more than 25 mph would be hazardous, especially with all the deer nearby.  I think I saw about six of them during my 55 mile jaunt along Skyline Drive, appropriately named as it curved around the ridge tops of the mountains peppered in trees, some bare and some harboring fall leaves, covered in green lichen.

I got lucky a handful of times and came to an overlook without fog, but the majority of the nearly two hour drive was fogged in.  I arrived at the campgrounds around 1pm.  I figured I’d take the day to reorganize…VANilla was getting a bit messy from moving in and out of houses.  In addition to organizing, I got a hot shower in this afternoon while it was relatively warm (in the forties and not snowing yet).  Yes, the evening forecast calls for a 60% chance of snow!

The ranger here at Big Meadows campground was just fantastic.  If it snows tonight, we have to stay put until the road is plowed, so after we talked a while about the alternatives and the fact I wasn’t sure how to work the heat in my vehicle, she asked the campground host to help me.  Bob came down to my site a few hours later, and we tested out my heater.  I kind of felt stupid it was so easy to operate.  It actually worked the first time I turned it on, I just wasn’t sure how to tell.  He just said walk outside and see if air is blowing out of the vent on the back of the van…well, I am officially an expert on the camping equipment on VANilla.  Now I just have to prepare for the possibility of my water tank freezing…ok, so maybe I’m not an expert then.  All I know to do is drain it.

Enough about propane and VANilla…the ranger suggested I go hang out at the lodge by the fire since there wasn’t much else to do in the fog.   The best suggestion ever!!  I have been here for the last six hours with a few breaks to go check on the doggies since they aren’t allowed inside.  While I was blogging and enjoying chili and a beer by the fire, Janet and her family (Laura, Russell, and Steven), from New Jersey and Patriots fans, were playing scrabble.  I looked a few words up for them since a scrabble dictionary wasn’t available to them.  Janet finally asked if I was writing a book.  I told them my story and we talked quite a bit about traveling.  They were going for dinner and a shower and coming back to the bar later to enjoy the entertainment by Flat Top Fred.

When they left, Ellie and Matt sat down nearby.  Ellie is from Boston and retired from a variety of interesting jobs, including television, and Matt is a lawyer and judge from D.C.  They were extremely interesting people and so kind.  I asked them to watch my computer for a few minutes while I walked the dogs, and when I came back they invited me to dinner with them.  Having just eaten, I said I’d be happy to join them and chat, but that I wasn’t hungry.  They insisted I order dinner to go so that I had something healthy to eat tomorrow – their treat!  So GREAT!  To top it off, Ellie has two horses.  They were only here at the lodge for the evening on the way to visit some friends in Asheville, North Carolina.  I’m so grateful I met them.  We shared some blackberry ice cream before I left them for the night.

I’m currently downstairs at the bar listening to this great band that plays cover songs – The Eagles, John Denver, Elvis, Pink Floyd and more.  Just two guys and their guitars – really good and not too loud!  Live entertainment ends at 10:30 at which time I’ll head back to the campground.  Hopefully, even if there is snow on the ground it will at least be clear enough tomorrow to see. ETB

websites:  www.nps.gov/shen/, www.guidetosnp.com, www.notablenotecards.com, http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

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