Tuesday, September 20, 2016


                             The northern gray cheeked or Jefferson salamander (Virginia)
                                 This looks like nodding trillium, in the Mount Rogers woods.

     There was rain, rain, and even more rain, wind whipping through the campground. It actually created "wind rain," and a discovery that a slippery, grayish salamander was hiding out UNDER the tent!
    Grindstone Campground in the Mount Rogers Recreation Area (VA) has three camping loops: the opossum, the cottontail, and the groundhog. I reserved a spot in the cottontail, the middle group of sites that seemed the least crowded, reservation-wise. Though I wish that now we'd known someone with a great big RV to take us in at the different loop.
    The bath house with its tiny light made me a bit nervous as I strode toward it in almost pitch blackness. Of course, I'd just finished reading a passage of Bill Byrson's A Walk in the Woods about nasty encounters with bears in the woods. Not a great time to have just read that. There were too many "bear scares"  in his book for comfort. My son Zeb once spent in the car during a campout because he heard a big rustling of leaves in the woods and thought a bear was close. Supposedly, black bears aren't that aggressive, but they are still bears. And I forgot one night I had a muffin and other food in my camp shirt pockets. (Perhaps the downpour kept any away. That is what I like to think.)
    It rained both nights of our August stay -- grrr, grumble, grumble -- but what do you expect out in the woods? Weather made to order? At least it wasn't too hot. The second night we tried to dry out towels over an open fire. Then it began to rain, first slowly and then, never ending. I had to read in the car (9 p.m. is too early for me to sleep) with my flashlight. Being so sleep deprived from the night before (sometimes a first night in a tent is like visiting a new place your body can't get used to) I think I "conked out" at 10:30, a record for me. The rain didn't quit and lulled me to sleep.
    Next morning, it was raining again, only not as hard. We had to pack our tent while it was soaked, to be aired out later, and ate brunch in town at a KFC place. On the way out a camp rep did a survey with us. I mentioned the rain and two stupid women who took their two threatening dogs into the bathroom. I couldn't even relax in there and read in a good light.
    The trips to discover butterflies and old rocks with others were interesting. But the constant rain at night was aggravating. And this was well before any hurricane came!

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