As Thursday night wound down with the car fully packed, good friends properly and drunkenly said goodbye to, and basically no reason not to, we made the decision to leave a day early on our trip. Friday morning, we would attack.
While at Stop & Shop the next morning gathering essential nourishment and thinking we were seconds from hitting the road, I discovered two important things. I forgot to close my tab at the Squealing Pig at the night before, and we definitely did not remember to put my bike on the car that morning.
The bike was easily remedied, the credit card, not so much at 8am on a Friday. Luckily Jared was able to pick it up a day later, and probably charge a few drinks to my card for good measure. Me and VISA will rendezvous in Austin again it seems.
The drive was deceptively smooth right into NYC, creating illusions of getting into Shenandoah National Park by 5PM. Or so said our fearless and often stupid navigator, Sally Nuvi. The GW Bridge, New Jersey Turnpike, and whatever the fuck Delaware is doing with its highways, had a very different idea.
Everyone hates New Jersey.
While Beth was driving through Baltimore, I fought with an impossibly stupid person from recreation.gov on the phone who was charged with the simple task of finding us a campsite that night. The issue made all the more difficult by her endlessly appologetic and generally pleasant demeanor, as I could not rally the energy to actually become upset with her. She assured us that every single non group campsite was completely booked that night, and the same at Great Smoky Mountains for the next night as well. After trying to explain to her how to use her own website, I conceded defeat, hung up, and decided to just show up and see what happens. Of course, at both places, both campgrounds were less than 50% occupied.
We met Jeremy, my good friend from high school for dinner just outside the DC beltway, at the Gordon Biersch brew co. Our first of many breweries to be sure. Said hi and bye to our first friendly face of the trip, and moved on south to the park.
We arrived, after 20 miles of night driving on a windy national park road, and found a spot with ease, set up camp, and immediately passed out, wondering what America has in store for us, and us for her, in the days and weeks to come.