Recalculating. Or, why I am not ass-in-sand, drink-in-hand. Or, does this Walmart lot in Beaumont *look* like Pensacola?

The plan on Monday was to start driving from Bristol to Pensacola, as shown here in Exhibit A.
Exhibit A

Exhibit A

After ten days of deliciously cool temperatures and eye-bogglingly beautiful fall foliage in Virginia, we were ready for 3-4 days of beachy R&R, before heading back to San Antonio for a routine medical appointment on Nov. 2.

Twenty-odd years as a Navy wife, and not once have I been to P’cola! My only actual mission: paddle boarding. I planned to hand someone my money and give that shit a try.

But when we woke up on Tuesday morning, there was a voicemail from the doctor, to the tune of “Oh, by the way, you need to have lab work done before your appointment.” Which is on Monday morning. At 8.
Shit.
So instead of continuing south, we turned right, spent a second night on the road, and here we are back in San Antonio again.

We saw some fine examples of custom RV life, obeyed a sign, and cursed Houston traffic along the way. Oh, and a golden toss pillow that had been headed to a charity drop box? It’s Lola’s now.

Try to get "I'm a little teapot" out of your head. Just try.

Try to get “I’m a little teapot” out of your head. Just try.

Stained glass windows? Who knew?

Stained glass windows? Who knew?

We see this combination from time to time. Note motorcycle, multiple spare tires, and basic black port-tank. *Ours* is *blue*.

We see this combination from time to time. Note motorcycle, multiple spare tires, and basic black porta-tank (it’s that rectangular thing mounted on the front of the trailer). Ours is blue, and therefore we are fancier.

Ha! We only have ten. Parked right in front of that there sign. Neener!

Ha! We only have ten.
Parked right in front of that there sign. Neener!

Houston? You have a problem.

Houston? You have a problem.

Riding like the Queen of Sheba

Riding like the Queen of Sheba

Waxing sentimental on our final night here

The hills in southwestern Virginia are old, worn and comfortable, and they hold the stories of my ancestors.

There is a sense of mystery here, almost a feeling of being haunted, but benevolently so. It’s just the ghosts of my daddy’s people, watching over one of their own.

The winding roads cut pathways not just through distance, but through time, and through memory. I spent hours and hours on them as a child, when we’d drive all day to spend Christmas or Easter or a summer week with my grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins (lots of cousins, of various degrees of kissin’).

In our ten days here on this trip, only my second as an adult, I have witnessed these things:

  • Ramshackle houses with recliners and washing machines on the front porch
  • A small-town building that serves as a combination elementary school, public library, and rescue squad
  • Yards that hold chickens, goats, and barking hounds
  • Spray-painted plywood signs for small engine repair, live bait, a vacant lot for sale
  • Narrow roads that twist through the hollers, causing a 14-mile journey to take 45 minutes
  • High levels of devotion to church, family, NASCAR, deer season, country music, cigarettes and beer

They are all part of me — just like bagels from the deli, evenings at the theater, city sidewalks, and never paying retail. But that’s a whole ‘nother journey and destination, and I’m not sure the RV can go there, but that might not stop us from trying.

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We clean up good

This evening we are dressed up all nice, and we’re gettin’ our arts on by taking in a chamber music concert at the historic Paramount, which opened in 1931.

Attending this performance lines right up with two of our primary traveling tenets, which tend to go hand-in-hand:

1. Support the local economy, and

2. See the sights and do the things that are unique to the area.

And since the final goal of this OwnLessDoMore adventure is to find our home, following these guidelines helps us get to know each area — and its people — a little better than shopping only at the Big Box and eating only at the Big Chain.

And hey, it’s kind of nice to wear something other than hiking boots. Also, we smell better.


  
  

photo from theparamountcenter.com

 

Today’s Hike: Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia

We started in Massie Gap (lower right) at 4600 feet. Finished up there in the top left at Mount Rogers, 5728 feet, after a 4.5 mile climb over rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. Then we went back.

We started on the Rhododendron Trail in Massie Gap at Grayson Highlands State Park (lower right) at 4600 feet. After half a mile, we picked up the Appalachian Trail, and stayed on it for the remainder of the trip. We finished up there in the top left at Mount Rogers, 5728 feet, after a 4.5 mile climb over rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. Then we went back. Total hiking time: 6 hours

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Up we go!

We encountered this group of college kids several times throughout the day. Second from right: dude in kilt. Awesome.

We encountered this group of college kids several times throughout the day. Second from right: dude in kilt. Awesome.

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I'd been muttering that we'd better damn well see some of these wild ponies they keep talking about in the park. Less than half a mile in, we met two!

I’d been muttering that we’d better damn well see some of these wild ponies they keep talking about in the park. Less than half a mile in, we met two!

"You got any treats in that pocket?"

“You got any treats in that pocket?”

So while I was snapping a selfie with this one...

So while I was snapping a selfie with this one…

... this one was trying to bite my behind.

… this one was trying to bite my behind.

And Tim captured that very moment!

And Tim captured that very moment!

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Some of the ponies blend right in -- and then kind of spook you a little when they cross the trail in front of you.

Some of the ponies blend right in — and then kind of spook you a little when they cross the trail in front of you.

Rocks. Have I mentioned that we climbed over a lot of rocks? And that I do not want to see rocks again for a long time?

Rocks. Have I mentioned that we climbed over a lot of rocks? And that I do not want to see rocks again for a long time? This is the actual trail.

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Nearing the summit, we encountered this group of 15 ponies. You'll notice the one on the far left is lying on its side. Some other hikers thought it was giving birth. I thought it was dead. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.

Nearing the summit, we encountered this group of 15 ponies. You’ll notice the one on the far left is lying on its side. Some other hikers thought it was giving birth. I thought it was dead. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

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The spruce-fir forest atop Mount Rogers is the only one of its kind in Virginia.

The spruce-fir forest atop Mount Rogers is the only one of its kind in Virginia.

This humble little US Geodetic Survey disk is all that marks the summit of Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia. And if you don't look at the right boulder, you'll miss it.

This humble little US Geodetic Survey disk is all that marks the summit of Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia. And if you don’t look on the right boulder, you’ll miss it.

Summit selfie

Summit selfie

On the way back down: more ponies! This never gets old.

On the way back down: more ponies! This never gets old. You’re not supposed to feed them or pet them. We may or may not have broken that second rule.

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Purple mountains

Purple mountains, full of majesty, on another perfect hiking day in southwestern VA