2.10.09 Shenandoah NP, Monticello, and Driving Day

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2.10.09 Shenandoah NP, Monticello, and Driving Day


7am:  Knock!  Knock!  It’s the Shenandoah NP Ranger.  (drat!)


The conversation flows like a Laurel & Hardy routine:


Ranger:  You’re not allowed to park here

Me:  We completed a self-registration and didn’t see a dispersed campsite, so we’re parked here and leaving no trace

Ranger:  But RV’s have to camp in the campground

Me:  But the campgrounds are closed

Ranger:  Yes

Me:  So we’re parking in a dispersed site like the website said

Ranger:  But RV’s have to park in a campground.  If, in the summer we allowed this, then overlooks would be too crowded.

Me:  But in the summer, we could park in the campground


So you see, this didn’t go very far in spite of the nice Ranger.  Basically, RV’s are not allowed to park *anywhere* in that National Park when the campgrounds are not open.  It doesn’t matter that they need no services and there’s not another sole around for 50 miles (nor open campgrounds or stores or anywhere else to park). 


She kindly gave us a “citation” instead of a “ticket” because she understands the stupidity of the whole rule.  Now I’m “in the system” and should I commit some other heinous offense, I will surely be hog-tied! 


I think you’re not worth your salt as an Adventure RVer if you haven’t gotten at least one citation, so I’m proud to join that league! 


Anyway, we drove down Skyline drive and Lia counted 42 deer, but we saw no other people except the Ranger and her counterpart, both of whom were stopped in the street to chat, since there were no other people there! 


So I plan to write the head of that park.  When the campgrounds are closed, then self-contained RV’s should be allowed to park at any paved overlook, provided they need no services and leave no trace- particularly National Park Pass holders.  Wouldn't that be *reasonable*.


I think that in our search for perfection in avoiding any and all potential and rare problems, rules are developed that severely limit personal freedoms.  I can park all over Central America but heaven forbid I park at an overlook at a National Park.  Can't you hear it in jail now:  “What are you in for?”   “Uh…”


I checked their website again (yesterday I'd perused it and called their info line to no avail) and I STILL cannot find any information that says RVs are not allowed anywhere in the park overnight in the winter.


I was telling this sordid tale to my Mom who relayed an even better one from today.  The FL State Park was full so Mom and Dad asked if they could stay in the Overflow Parking lot (like a parking lot with no services, but you still pay a fee).  “We don’t have Overflow Parking,” they said, “because if we did, people would use it.”  Huh?  You’d make more sorely needed money for your State Park while providing no services- and the downside would be *what*??


So, tonight we used our handy-dandy GPS and called ahead to a Cracker Barrel, where the Manager gladly provided permission for overnight free parking, where they have special RV parking, and where we plan to eat breakfast in the morning.  We should have stayed last night at the Warrenton Walmart! 


We continued on to Monticello and saw the University of Virginia campus that Thomas Jefferson founded.  The house and college comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site!


We really enjoyed the tour of the first floor of the house.  The alcove beds, triple sash windows, dumbwaiter and the foyer clock with the hole in the floor for the balls to drop into for Saturday were fascinating. 


Also interesting were the tales and contradictions of this most fascinating person.  Jefferson never remarried after his wife died 19 years before he became President, and yet children of his chambermaid slave have his DNA.  He called slavery an “abdominal crime” and yet had 125-200 slaves at all times throughout his life.  He was successful in many major areas of life, yet died in debt so that his slaves were sold to settle his estate. 


My favorite idea was that he believed he could learn to do anything by reading books!  Anything!  Design a house, survey land, build French doors that close together when you just pull one doorknob- anything.  I love the power of that idea! 


I also appreciated how he lived 5 years in France and culled many of their good ideas (like skylights) to use in his own house.  He apparently shipped home 82 trunkloads of treasures when he returned which gives me big ideas too… I did buy some pewter "Jefferson cups" and a small salt cellar to remember our trip.


Oh!  Our “RV2:  We’re Living It” movie will definitely include tour guides!  They will give their spiel and then proclaim, “Any questions?”  But then when someone asks one, they will be brusque and brief, blatantly discouraging any further questions in spite of their proclamations.  I think they are required to ask for questions, but feel very threatened by them.  I understand that- I just think it is hilarious.


Then we drove, drove, drove.  We crossed 3000 miles tonight on our Disney to DC trip so far.  We’re trying to see Mammoth Caves National Park, just north of Nashville.  We made it across VA, NC, TN, and into KY today.  We’re 135 miles from our destination tomorrow and hope our family meets us there to enjoy the large cave system for the day.



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