30. Apr, 2016

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WEDNESDAY 15-10-08 

Today we were due to leave Cherry Hill Park, our campground for the past week. We will be sorry to leave here, the campground is very well run for the benefit of its guests rather than its owners, and as a result everybody benefits.  The shop is well stocked with groceries, souvenirs, RV consumable items, accessories and spares. It’s not been the quietest campground we’ve stayed at due to the I495 and I95 which at this point ran parallel to each other at the rear of the site, but it was only really noticeable at peak periods. The public transport to get us in to Washington DC was really useful, and if this campground hadn’t been able to accommodate us we’d have had real problems. The week has been hard work but enjoyable, it was nice for me to have had a break from the driving, but we hadn’t come to America to stay in cities and were now looking forward to being on the move again. 

At 1100 we rolled out of the campground and headed down the road a few miles to the ‘Shoppers’ supermarket www.shoppersfood.com which was one of the nicest supermarkets we’d been in during our trips. We’d spent the past week running our food stock down enabling us to replenish at Shoppers before hitting the road. That done we programmed Front Royal, Virginia,in to the Satnav and slipped on to the I495 which seems to be the outer circular road around Washington. The price of fuel seems cheaper around here and so we topped the tank up on the way out of town. At Front Royal we had our tyre pressures checked before joining the Skyline Drive which runs along the crest of the Shenandoah Mountains looking down on the Shenandoah Valley and river www.nps.gov/shen 

Tonight we are camped in Matthews Arm Campground just off the Skyline. There are no facilities other than toilet blocks and a dump station, but that suits us just fine. There was no Ranger to be found when we arrived and so we couldn’t buy any logs. I could of course use the LPG campfire but in settings like this you can’t beat the real thing. Once parked up and with very few neighbours, all of whom were well spread out; I went checking the fire pits of all the surrounding empty pitches. Most of them had pieces of log that were un-burnt, and in two of them I found large pieces of log. These previous failed attempts by wanna-be Boy Scout’s enabled us to get a good sized campfire going, and all for free. 

Soon we were joined by an 89 year old gentleman who was staying at the campground with his daughter and son-in-law. We got chatting as I always like to do, and it turns out he was from Newport News, Virginia, and served in the US Navy during WWII. We told him about how we’d seen both Enola Gay & Bockscar, the two aircraft which dropped the atomic bombs on Japan and he said that when the first one was dropped he could have kissed the pilot Paul Tibbets as at that time the ship he was on was loaded with American troops and about to leave for exercises to take Japan in land warfare and they knew that they would suffer huge casualties in the process. He said the Japanese were such tough and dedicated fighters that the American troops hardly ever managed to take prisoners to interrogate, they would always die fighting or if they were losing, save the last round for themselves. There was one occasion when a group of Japanese soldiers had fought so hard they had ran out of ammunition, so with no bullets to kill themselves, rather than surrender or be taken alive waded in to the sea to drown themselves, being rescued unwillingly by American troops. These stories give some idea of how difficult and costly to both sides it would have been to have captured Japan by traditional combat. 

Whilst we were chatting a deer appeared nearby and began eating the fresh grass shoots. I was itching to fetch my camera and take a few pictures but didn’t want to be rude to our ‘guest’ who was telling us his very interesting stories. After his son-in-law collected him for his evening meal I fetched the camera and couldn’t believe how close I had managed to get to the deer to take the pictures. I suppose it was a combination of it being used to people in the campground and not feeling threatened by me. 

This evenings meal was a tasty hotpot which Rosina had cooked in the slow cooker last night whilst we were hooked up to electricity at our Cherry Hill Park Campground, and only required heating through in the microwave, which to operate required us to run the generator, and their operating times are restricted, and we only just managed to get it done before the curfew, otherwise we could have found ourselves in detention or getting a caning or something. 

LOCATION TONIGHT: Matthews Arm Campground, Mile 22.2, Skyline Drive, Virginia (GPS: N38.760851 W78.297485).