Following our mid-trip stop for clean laundry in Stuart, VA, we located the local Super Wal-Mart and stocked up on supplies for our next day or so. We’ve been trying to shop in smaller amounts and more frequently than we usually would for a camping trip. Moving from place to place every 3 days has let us enjoy seeing folks from different places – noticing the differences and the similarities. The Navigator and I have both been struck with the friendliness of the people we’ve met in each of our stops. This goes beyond the various park staff and extends to the casual bump of a grocery cart in an isle or stopping at a local hardware store to ask for directions. We’ve yet to run into anyone out and out rude.
As we returned to Fairy Stone State Park for our last evening, the rain ceased and the skies began to clear. Even though we were under heavy tree cover, the rays of the setting sun were very much welcome. Our site was on a sort of promontory and we enjoyed just sitting and watching the various squirrels and birds as they went about their day. We took a short hike and walked right upon a doe before seeing her. She glanced at us for a moment and then bounded off into the underbrush.
Our second day here was much more enjoyable than our first as it was much quieter following the departure of our previous night’s neighbors. The camp host informed us that the party of 15 or so had been part of a larger church group that was supposed to be down in the group shelter but the shelter’s accommodation limit had been reached. The Camp Ranger made the executive decision to move the remaining group members to the campground where they behaved as if, well, they were a group. Ah well, the irritation of the night only served to help me appreciate the relative solitude of the following day.
DAY 8 Begins With A Move…
Feeling that we had pretty much gained our maximum enjoyment of the Fairy Stone Park, we loaded up first thing this morning, our 8th day on the road, and headed toward Hungry Mother State Park in southwestern Virginia. Hungry Mother is routinely listed as one of the top campgrounds in America and we didn’t know whether they could accept “walk-ins” or not. We decided to risk it knowing that most families with school age children would be departing today and also knowing that next weekend (Memorial Day Weekend) will be the first really big camping weekend of the year.
Our route took us across The Crooked Highway beginning with Jeb Stuart Highway just outside of Stuart, VA. This two lane road crosses over some serious mountain roads. We had one long stretch of highway that I would easily estimate at 4 miles and I’ll bet it had an average gradient of 9%. Our F150 was down to 30 mph as we reached the summit. It would be one heck of a training climb for the Wood-Man!
Reaching the summit brings you to Lovers Leap. An incredible vista of Virginia land is spread out for you to see. I made sure to get an image but the skies were still so grey that much of the magnificence of the view is lost in the image.
Our arrival at Hungry Mother SP occurred mid-afternoon. We were greeted in Marion Virginia, the entrance to Hungry Mother, with bike lanes leading into the park. We were fortunate in that we guessed correctly that sites would be available and were able to secure a site in what the Ranger told me was the prettiest campground of the 3 in the park.
The Legend of Hungry Mother
Legend has it that when the Native Americans destroyed several settlements on the New River south of the park, Molly Marley and her small child were among the survivors taken to the raiders’ base north of the park. They eventually escaped, wandering through the wilderness eating berries. Molly finally collapsed, and her child wandered down a creek until the child found help. The only words the child could utter were "Hungry Mother." The search party arrived at the foot of the mountain where Molly collapsed to find the child's mother dead. Today that mountain is Molly’s Knob, and the stream is Hungry Mother Creek.
(Courtesy of Virginia State Parks literature: 2010)
We found our way to the cleverly named Campground B and secured a site alongside a bucolic creek. We’ve again been welcomed by a committee of Mallard ducks. This particular pair seem to be habituated to people and came right on up into the campsite. We were treated to a welcoming bath by the female of the pair as she spent a good 30 minutes cleaning all of her feathers and doing a pretty impressive “water dance.” The male of the pair stood by stoically keeping an eye on his lady love. (I’ve been told that Mallards mate for life. I wasn’t able to confirm this before posting today.)
(Glad you’re here! Did you bring supper?)
(The Navigator enjoys our latest campsite in Hungry Mother SP)
Tomorrow, after working for a few hours, I hope to get in some bike time as this campground appears to have lots of good ride-worthy roads. I’ve seen more cyclists today than I have in the entire time we’ve been on the road. The sun is shining as I post this at 6:00 p.m. EDT. It may be time to start a fire or maybe even take a nap. Whew, life is tough…