A Comedy of Errors

Winston Salem, North Carolina
April 15, 2017 12:02pm CST
There have been many times that I have stated that the worst vacations usually make the best stories. Our mini-vacation of the past few days wasn’t all bad, but it was definitely one of the more stressful attempts at relaxation that I have endured in a while. Tueday night I had decided that I wasn’t even going to attempt to head back for to the hills until my husband was able to join us. My husband decided he wanted me out of the house and called from work on Wednesday morning to suggest that we head west and he would join us on Thursday if he could break free from work. The oldest daughter still wanted to go, but the younger was resistant, that gave me the deciding vote and since the oldest daughter is planning to take classes this summer I figured it would be best to camp while we could. I made use of the internet and verified that Davidson River Campground south of Asheville was open and had non reservable sites available. Non-reserved sites usually fill up on Friday afternoon this time of year, but since it was mid-week, and camping season hasn’t really begun (it is only April after all) I didn’t anticipate any problems. Three hours and twenty minutes later we pulled up to the gate house and were horrified to see “no-vacancy” signs posted beside the entrance. I’m not sure I could adequately describe the sinking feeling that those signs invoked. It was beginning to seem that this camping trip was not meant to be. We turned around and headed on up the road to the Ranger Station and Visitor’s Center, hoping that we’d be able to get a little bit of direction. Thankfully the station was open and the ranger we spoke to was quite helpful. There were several primitive sites along some of the side roads that we could try. Normally I don’t mind going that route, but since it was just the girls and I staying in an area that is only loosely policed didn’t seem like a wise idea. His next suggestion was to head back up the Blue Ridge Parkway to a couple of other campgrounds that were already opened for the season, although he couldn’t promise that they weren’t also already full. I chose one that seemed like our best bet and asked my oldest daughter to navigate. We wound our way up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and then kept a sharp eye out for Forest Service Road 479. We didn’t see it and ended up nearly in Asheville, clearly we had missed the turn off, so we pulled a u-turn at the NC Arboretum and headed back the way we had come. My daughter is not the best of navigators, and I should have studied the map a little more closely myself, but from glancing at it I didn’t have any reason to question heading back up in search of the missing Forest Service road. On our second attempt we found the road, though it didn’t look much like a road, more of a dirt track. We pulled off the Blue Ridge Parkway and crept down the bumpy, narrow, winding dirt track accumulating 5 miles worth of road-dust before we found ourselves back on black-top and at the entrance to the campground. Fortunately they had a site available so we were able to stop worrying about having to turn around and drive back home. I asked the campground host where I should go to get cell service so I could let my husband know that we had found a campsite the night. His response “if you head back down the road to the iron fence at the Arboretum you should be able to pick up a signal there.” We had circled around nearly fifteen miles, only to discover that we had been within two miles of our destination. That wasn't our last navigational error...but I'll save the other for a different discussion.
18 people like this
16 responses
@PainsOnSlate (20089)
• Canada
15 Apr 17
Sounds like a nightmare but your photo is lovely. There is no cell service where we camp but there is a pay phone on site and when we need to leave a message we use that, It's helpful to have a paid card for your local state phone companies so you don't have to use money in the phone..
3 people like this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
15 Apr 17
Neither my daughter nor I had cell service (we don't use the same carrier), but when my husband showed up on Thursday afternoon he actually had 3 bars. Go figure.
2 people like this
@JudyEv (119172)
• Bunbury, Australia
15 Apr 17
Some days you should just give up and go home. Meaning 'one should just give up'. Great photo though.
2 people like this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
16 Apr 17
I was ready to give up and go home, but I'd already done that the day before and I was nearly three-and-a-half hours from home. I did NOT want to spend anymore hours behind the wheel.
2 people like this
@JudyEv (119172)
• Bunbury, Australia
16 Apr 17
@BellaDoc (767)
• San Diego, California
25 Apr 17
@Platespinner That's understandable!
2 people like this
@MALUSE (38107)
• Germany
16 Apr 17
How did your husband find you?
2 people like this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
16 Apr 17
I called him from a mile or so outside the campground with the address and campsite number. He had no trouble finding us.
@MALUSE (38107)
• Germany
16 Apr 17
@Platespinner I'm relieved. :-)
2 people like this
@Morleyhunt (19539)
• Canada
16 Apr 17
Sounds like our trip down for your wedding many years ago. There was no room at the inn, or the next, or the next....finally exhausted we pulled into a parking spot and slept for a couple of hours in the Aerostar Hilton.....which was loaded with furniture for your apartment.
2 people like this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
16 Apr 17
Ugh, I've slept in vehicles before. Not fun at all.
2 people like this
@BellaDoc (767)
• San Diego, California
25 Apr 17
@Platespinner I can never get comfortable in a vehicle.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (53401)
• United Kingdom
24 Apr 17
Oh my goodness I should think you were tearing your hair out. I hope the campsite was worth all that trouble.
2 people like this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
24 Apr 17
We enjoyed our time there. I just hope next time we plan a camping trip things aren't as bumpy!
2 people like this
@UncleJoe (9484)
• Virginia Beach, Virginia
16 Apr 17
When ever I have traveled to where I used to live and wasn't planning to camp, we always stayed at King's Court in Ridgeway, Virginia, just across the NC line. My oldest son and I decided to haul our ATV's up there one weekend to ride some trails I used to know. Of course, I knew that Ridgeway was just 4 miles South of Martinsville where there is a NASCAR track. We happen to go on "Race Weekend" and couldn't find a room withing 60 miles. I too, should have done my homework before leaving it. LOL
2 people like this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
16 Apr 17
So far April has not been a good month for us, my husband has been having as much trouble with his plans I have been having with mine. He bought a new chainsaw today to replace his old heavy duty Husqvarna that was impossible to get replacement parts for. He managed to demolish the bar and chain on the new beast, and nearly destroyed the body as well. He was a little taken aback when he told me and I got a fit of the giggles. Fortunately we both usually do a better job with this thing called life.
1 person likes this
@DWDavis (10774)
• Pikeville, North Carolina
15 Apr 17
Your adventure makes for a great story. I'm glad it had a happy-ish ending.
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
15 Apr 17
I don't think I have EVER been so happy to find a vacant campsite. On the way from Davidson River to our final destination (Powhatan Lake) the girls and I got a little silly. We decided that if we tried to camp at Pilot Mountain a flood would have washed the campground away, Hanging Rock would have been buried by a rockslide and if we were to set the tent up in our own back yard a tree would probably fall on us.
2 people like this
@DWDavis (10774)
• Pikeville, North Carolina
15 Apr 17
@Platespinner I remember one camping trip where we wound up on my parents' living room floor because every campground had been flooded out. We were going to camp in their backyard but the rain was coming down too hard.
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
15 Apr 17
@DWDavis Several years ago my husband had an overnight job to do in Panama City Beach, we went down with him intending to get a campsite and then spend the next day on the beach. I didn't realize that it was Columbus Day Weekend, all the campsites in the area were taken, all the hotel/motels were no vacancy. The five of us spent the night in the Sienna behind the Sam's Club where my husband was working. It was hot and humid, there were lots of bugs and it rained as well. If that wasn't enough double red flags were posted on the beach the next day. The kids and I have had several beach trips that ended badly over the years. Fortunately we all have a well developed sense of the absurd and don't mind laughing over life's lemons.
2 people like this
@valmnz (12661)
• New Zealand
16 Apr 17
This helps me justify my choosing comfortable hotel or motel accommodation in populated areas for my holidays these days! I like my home comforts and I don't like getting lost.
1 person likes this
@BellaDoc (767)
• San Diego, California
25 Apr 17
Ditto Val. I completely agree with you!
1 person likes this
@valmnz (12661)
• New Zealand
25 Apr 17
@BellaDoc Hi there - haven't seen you here for a while.
1 person likes this
@BellaDoc (767)
• San Diego, California
25 Apr 17
@valmnz Hello! Life continues to be crazy busy with the two little ones and all my sewing classes and homework...and then school volunteering etc... Hope you are well!!
@TheHorse (62414)
• Pleasant Hill, California
29 Apr 17
Sounds like "fun." Yes, I've said things like "In a year, this will be a story." I said that as my friend and I were running back to the trail head in pouring rain through grizzly country in Montana. Needless to say we didn't get to hike on Grinnell Glacier that day.
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
5 May 17
At least the grizzlies didn't get you .
@BellaDoc (767)
• San Diego, California
25 Apr 17
This all sounds a little frustrating to this non-camper. Hope all is well! Are you sewing much these days? I bought a serger recently :(
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
25 Apr 17
I've been doing quite a bit. Mostly quilting at the moment, but there are costuming projects on deck at the moment. I'm currently lusting after a long-standing quilting machine...But I would have to make it pay for itself and I'm not ready to commit just yet.
@Tampa_girl7 (24969)
• United States
21 Apr 17
Just reading this is stressing me
1 person likes this
@BellaDoc (767)
• San Diego, California
25 Apr 17
Me too....I am not a camper.
@Corbin5 (100227)
• United States
15 Apr 17
I am just so glad you found a place that had a vacancy!!! Navigation is not something I do well at all, and I have yet to learn how to use the navigation system in my car of 3 years.
1 person likes this
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
16 Apr 17
I'm usually pretty good at navigating, and so are most of my children. The artist-daughter however could probably get lost going to the grocery store if something distracted her.
1 person likes this
@Hate2Iron (7662)
• Canada
17 Apr 17
I would have been terrified... but I'm one of those people who freak out if I can't find my way out of a maze... true story and it was getting dark lol!
1 person likes this
@Juliaacv (29043)
• Canada
15 Apr 17
So, finally with a lot of effort, it sounds as though you and your daughters were able to get out to camp. I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of the story now.....
1 person likes this
@andriaperry (46643)
• United States
15 Apr 17
This sounds like the time I went to NOLA and there were NO rooms anywhere.
• Winston Salem, North Carolina
15 Apr 17
The kids and I went to Panama City Beach once when my husband was working overnight re-working the lights in a Sam's Club. The campgrounds were all full, the hotel/motels were all full (I hadn't realized it was Columbus Day weekend). We ended up sleeping in the Sienna behind the Sam's. It was hot, it was humid, the bugs were awful, it rained overnight and when we went to the beach the next day there were double red flags.
@PatZAnthony (12371)
• Charlotte, North Carolina
16 Apr 17
Not having cell service can really complicate the issue. Also, our GPS likes to send us in the wrong direction at times. Those times with the GPS issues could be an entire book for us.