The day after the Kentucky Derby we left Louisville and started toward Virginia where good friends of ours were getting married on May 20th. In the meantime, we were looking forward to a couple quiet days as we had a large to-do list that had built up while we were in Lexington and Louisville. In mapping our route between Kentucky and Virginia, I also wanted to take advantage of a camping membership program we had enrolled in that was going to be expiring soon. If we booked this campground in Lynchburg, Virginia, our stay would be free as part of the membership. In order to get from Louisville to that campground, I decided to route us through Gauley Bridge, WV.

Gauley Bridge, West Virginia

Having spent months in relatively flat areas of the country, seeing mountains again was a nice treat, but it made for a challenging drive.

Mountain roads in West Virginia

The route from eastern Kentucky to our campground in Gauley Bridge was made up of a series of twists and turns, high grade ascents and harrowing descents through the mountains. No big deal if you’re driving a car; a bit more challenging when you’re trying to control 30,000 pounds.

These are the signs we used to ignore….

Mountain road with sign warning of 5% grade

But now need to pay attention to….

Mountain road with sign warning truckers to use lower gear
The highest grade we encountered was 8%, which might not sound like a lot, but trust me: it’s a lot.

Kevin did great though, and got us to our destination safe and sound. The campground itself was beautiful. We had a waterside spot right on the New River and we were surrounded on all sides by beautiful mountains.

view from inside RV showing river
The view from inside our coach was pretty nice….

We watched as numerous kayakers paddled past, oftentimes exiting the river right down the way from the campground. Had the weather been more cooperative, we might have joined them out there, but unfortunately, the majority of our time in West Virginia was spent indoors as the rain poured down.

During a momentary dry spell, I snapped these photos.  It seems the area has just been inundated all spring.

Unfortunately, in addition to the lousy weather, our visit was also made frustrating by all the mountains. As beautiful as they were, they pretty much cut off our internet access. Given the weather, it would have been the perfect time for us to knock items off our to-do list, but without a workable connection, we were unable to get much done. It was a good reminder of just how reliant we are on our technology these days. From routing our trips to making campground reservations to paying bills, we rely on the internet for pretty much everything.

Our time in West Virginia was short and, unfortunately, we didn’t get to do very much. We’d love to go back at some point, hopefully with better weather, and explore more.

Coal train parked next to highway
We were in the heart of coal country, passing numerous processing plants and seeing trains like this, loaded with coal, everywhere we went.

Wedding Weekend

After a busy week in Lynchburg, we continued northeast toward Harrisonburg, site of our friends’ wedding. We’ve been friends with Julie and CJ for many years and making sure we were at their wedding was a priority during our travel planning.

The wedding was at a beautiful farm set on a hilltop commanding endless views of rolling farmland. And the outdoor ceremony, which reflected their personalities and their sense of humor, ended just minutes before the skies opened up and the rain started falling. Their timing could not have been better. Once the rain moved out, about halfway through the reception, the staff opened the sides of the tent revealing the incredible view once more, and guests headed out to the patio to enjoy the evening. It was a beautiful and fun wedding.

Collage of wedding photos

In addition to seeing Julie and CJ get hitched, we got to catch up with several other friends and, because CJ is a police officer in the jurisdiction that I used to be a prosecutor in, I got to see a lot of familiar faces from the law enforcement world. We had a really great time.

Laura, CJ, Julie, and Kevin at the wedding
The beautiful couple on their special day. Also pictured: Julie and CJ. Oh I’m kidding. Put the knife down, Julie.

Northern Virginia

After the wedding, we made our way back to our “hometown” of Northern Virginia. We had a ton of stuff to do and we wanted to spend time with our other friends.

The problem with the Metro DC area is that it looks like this:

Traffic map of Metro DC area

All day…  Every day….

Traffic on highway in DC area

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to have your blood pressure quadruple in 20 minutes, take a drive through Northern Virginia around 4:00 p.m. any day of the week. It is truly remarkable how infuriating it can be.

To make matters worse, the campground we stayed at was about 30 miles out from everywhere we needed to be (doctor’s appointments, vet visits, meet ups with friends, etc), so just about every day, for two weeks straight, we were driving in and out of this insanity. How people commute in this nonsense is a mystery to me.

Anyway, when not feeling traffic-induced homicidal rage, we enjoyed many gatherings with friends we hadn’t seen in a while.

There were brunches!

…which turned into bar crawls!

which led to stretching!

Everyone got in on it!

There were Barbecues!

Mmmmmmmmm brisket

which turned into tastings of high end wine courtesy of one of our friends’ neighbors…

Five bottles of wine
(I tried not to embarrass the guy by displaying my wide range of knowledge regarding wines that come in a box… I think all appreciated my discretion)

There were hula hoop lessons by the kids for the adults!

Six year old Tessa crushed all, even though (or because??) she was wearing cowboy boots.

There were evenings out…

And evenings in….

And when we were done with all that, we made sure to hit up a few of our favorite eateries that we have missed while on the road….

Bowl of Vietnamese pho
Pho from Pho Saigon in Manassas
Neapolitan Pizza
Neapolitan pizza at Pupatella in Arlington.

It was two weeks of nonstop running around, socializing, eating, and drinking. It was GREAT.. but by the end, we were D-O-N-E.

When it was time to go, we hit the road in search of quiet spaces and lightly traveled back country roads.

We were off to Gettysburg….

(and if this photograph looks familiar, it’s because I apparently took almost the exact same photo a year ago and used it in this post when we headed out of town the first time. I didn’t realize it until later, but apparently, the views I find photo-worthy as we drive down the road, have not changed.)


Where we stayed:

Gauley Bridge, West Virginia

Lynchburg, Virginia

Mount Solon, Virginia

Centreville, Virginia


  1. Yep, we remember that traffic from visiting you and it looks a lot like ours in Boston! Not fun. Glad you got to reconnect! We remember you taking us to that pizza place, it did not disappoint!

    • Pupatella is absolutely one of our favorite places! I mean, it helps that they imported their pizza oven direct from Italy. They are not messing around. And yeah, Boston is definitely on par with DC when it comes to traffic related misery. I really don’t know how people commute in it every single day. But I guess that’s why the houses closer in cost what they cost. Ugh… I definitely do not miss it.

    • It was great to see you too… I think… Actually, I don’t know. Because you are listed as “Anonymous.” Hmmmmmm. A conundrum…. Welp! We’ll just assume the best!! We were happy to see everyone we saw while we were home, so you must be someone I like pretty well! 🙂

    • It was great to see you too! I’ll keep you all posted of when we’ll be back around. It’s always great catching up with you guys!

  2. I so enjoy reading about your travels! Visiting friends and family all around the country is one of the things I most want to do. It’s been an eye opener to read what it’s really like on the road, good and bad, but I am so looking forward to it…until then, keep writing so I can live vicariously! Ha! Enjoy!! And, thanks!

    • Visiting friends has definitely been a highlight for us. We’ve tracked down several people we haven’t seen in 15 or 20 years. Facebook is really helpful with that. We would have had no idea where these folks even were if not for being friends on Facebook. In any case, there are absolutely positives and negatives with all this, so it’s good to read as much as you can to have realistic expectations going in and be prepared for the various stresses that will come up, but truly, the good far outweighs the bad. We really have no regrets and we’re glad to know people are following our posts!

  3. LOL! I laugh because we can relate. We go “home” every year and the traffic is horrendous! I am surprised you stayed at Bull Run though, is Lake Fairfax still closed for construction? We like Bull Run’s full hookups, but seriously the only reason we stay there is to be close to my parents when we visit. Otherwise we head over to Lake Fairfax if we want to do anything closer to the city. Ugh, I can’t imagine the traffic you had to deal with on 66 every frickin’ day.

    Still, it looks like the eating, drinking, and being merry made it worthwhile. Enjoy the nice quiet of Vermont!

    • When I first made the reservations (many months ago), the people at Lake Fairfax didn’t know exactly when they would be reopening and couldn’t take reservations, so I just made a reservation at Bull Run to have something on the books. But when we thought about it, it just seemed to make more sense because we would get full hook ups for about the same price. Of course, knowing what we know now, I’m not sure we’d do the same thing. I think we assumed we wouldn’t be going into the city quite as much as we did. I don’t know why… live and learn, I guess. On the other hand, we really like Bull Run, (other than the stupid shooting range) and when we were actually at the campground, we really enjoyed it. Ughhhhhh. I just wish there was a better solution in that area. Unfortunately, all the options kinda suck. And Vermont is freaken magical… I love it!

  4. Looks like you had a great time — except for the traffic! I hope you’re somewhere peaceful and enjoying the backroads (but with internet). :-))

    • We are currently in stunningly beautiful and amazingly quiet Vermont. It is just what the doctor ordered and we could not be happier. And, in addition to all the maple syrup and cheese we’re gonna sample, we have excellent connectivity. Score!!

  5. It’s funny, when I was downsizing my wardrobe, I made sure I have a dress for a wedding and a funeral. So far, we’ve attended one funeral but no weddings yet. Then the dress is back in the closet again 🙁
    Having driven in that part of the country, I so agree with the traffic but sometimes we have to go through it just to be with friends or to go to the next campground.

  6. You definitely pegged DC traffic! We were just there visiting family as well, and willl be back in May 2018 for a wedding. It’s a great place to visit, but also a great place to see in your rear view mirror! I look forward to reading your next blog post!


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