Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area
After leaving Tennessee, I crossed into southwestern Virginia and stumbled across the pleasant Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area. This area is something like Great Smoky Mountains National Park
a few hours south, but it's a lot less congested. I drove into the Beartree Campground here on a Tuesday afternoon
thinking that I'd camp for a couple nights.
I've stayed at hundreds of
campgrounds in my life, mostly in the Western U.S., and I've always believed
that campgrounds in the West are generally superior than those in the more crowded eastern
half of the U.S. My smugness took a hit, though, because the Beartree Campground is,
quite honestly, one of the very nicest
that I've ever camped at. As an added bonus, it's at over 3,000 feet in elevation so
it was a lot
cooler here than down in the lowlands. The daily high temperatures here
were "only" in the 80's, compared to the 90's or low 100's down
this campground was so nice that I stretched out my visit here to four nights,
which gave me plenty of time to
caught up on my website and process some of the 3,000 digital photos which I'd
taken since leaving Bellingham a month earlier. During my stay, I also made a few forays into the pleasant nearby towns of Abingdon and
Bristol, Tennessee for supplies and fuel, and each night, back at Beartree
Campground, I fell asleep to the sound of chirping crickets and the trickling of
a nearby creek. It doesn't get much more peaceful than this.
leaving Mt. Rogers, I continued heading north for a few hours, then pulled into
the bustling city of Roanoke, Virginia (pop. 94,000). Roanoke is separated
from the rest of Virginia by the Blue Ridge Mountains, so it feels more like
eastern Tennessee here than Virginia.
Since this was a Saturday, I
had decided not to camp in a campground, which would've been pretty crowded, opting instead to head into town and
splurge for a motel room. So splurge I did, at a Motel 6. Actually,
it was a very nice Motel 6, certainly the nicest one I've ever stayed at and
more like a Holiday Inn. To top it off, I
8-piece box of fried chicken at the nearby Hardee's. A nice, air-conditioned motel room
with AC outlets to charge my laptop and a box of fried chicken... this was like
heaven. Simple man, simple dreams.
Above left: The peaceful Beartree Campground is one of the nicest campgrounds that I've ever
stayed at. It's in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in southern
Virginia, an area like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park but without the
massive crowds. Note the power cord running from my cigarette lighter
to my laptop. I've learned on this trip never again to take AC outlets for
Above center: A possible candidate for "This Old House," near Abingdon, Virginia.
Above right: The cheapest gas that I've seen so far was in Abingdon. Gas is a lot cheaper in the South than on the West Coast,
averaging about $1.35 per gallon here, about 20 cents per gallon cheaper than
Above left: Traveling on the Virginia backroads in the beautiful Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.
Above center: The New River is a misnomer. Actually, it's probably the oldest river in North America and has been
cutting through the Appalachian Mountains for millions of years. It's only
a few feet deep here in Radford, Virginia, and I could've waded across.
Above right: "Splurging away" at the Roanoke Motel 6.
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