I am writing this blog post from a hotel room. The first hotel room I have stayed in in over 6 weeks and the first time I have not slept in the Airstream since Chicago and the first time Ian and Tasha have not slept in the Airstream since November 4. First, we are totally fine. We are not in trouble nor did we have an accident or anything like that. Let's back up.
The day started off lovely--we woke up in our little KOA campground in Wilmington, NC and reluctantly headed out towards Raleigh. We would have loved to stay in Wilmington for a few more days, but we wanted to camp in a more natural area than surrounded by Big Box stores which is where the KOA was located and there really isn't anything beautiful around the area. Wrightsville Beach was the area we really loved--fabulously intimate beach cottages, huge waves, miles of empty beaches and the potential of running into Emily VanKamp after filming of Revenge--alas, there are no campgrounds in the area.
So, we got up, packed up, hitched up and after a failed attempt to vacuum the trailer at the carwash, we headed towards the beach for a run and to visit some surf shops and then off we went towards Raleigh. We had a reservation at a campground in a State Recreation area about 10 minutes outside of Raleigh and the drive was only 2 hours--no problem.
Well, it got slow somehow and before we knew it it was 4pm, with a sun setting at 5pm and we were still 30 minutes from the campground. No problem--we pulled into the campground around 5pm and drove around....and around....and around...and around. Not only were we the only people in the recreation area, but there were also 3 or 4 huge gates boasting large signs stating that the closed and locked at 5:30pm. Our campsite was no where to be found.
We called a few phone numbers and while we never actually get a human on the line, we managed to figure out that our campsite that we had booked was 12 minutes away....cause this recreation area was HUGE and we were on the opposite end of the area..with an Airstream trailer...and we were getting close to gate closing time.
We hustled over towards our campsite, managed to find it despite the horribly marked route and pulled in right as the rangers were preparing the lock the gate for the night. We hopped out and quickly explained that we had been all over the place looking for the campsite that was prepaid.
They didn't care.
They barked some militant orders at us, telling us that the gate would be closed and locked in 10 minutes and "if we had a medical emergency, then we should call this number, but that it would not be reopened until 8am", handed us a site sticker and then got back in their cars, heading towards the gate.
They had given us no directions on how to find our campsite and we were in the middle of a 45,000 acre state recreation area. Obviously.
So we drove around aimlessly for a few minutes, found the 1 camping area that was not yet closed for the winter....drove into it....and quickly found we were the ONLY people in this park.
Now, I know that some of you might think that this sounds awesome, but we were in the middle of nowhere. And it was pitch black and we were LOCKED IN..or we would be in about 4 minutes if the rangers had any say over it. There was no ranger on overnight duty....no campground host...no garauntee that the electric or water hookups worked and no literature or brochures telling us anything about where we were. We would have been better off boondocking on the side of the road. After about 1 minute of thinking this over, we looked at each other and realized that neither of us had any desire to stay in a totally abandoned state recreation area that was LOCKED.
Well, we busted our butts right out of there, right as the rangers were locking the gate--we literally just spend by them and were like, "Yeah, not staying here, thanks, dueces," and off we went into the dark night with no plan. 15 minutes later we found our way to a Shell station and spent another 30 minutes attempting to make a plan that involved sleeping in Walmart parking lots, or a Cracker Barrel, or an abandoned church, and then we both sort of came to the same conclusion--we've got some major road burn and we really, really wanted a hot shower, a double bed and some cable TV...and that's totally ok.
At this point, it's nearly 8pm, we haven't eaten, the entire car stinks of dogs, we're wearing our running clothes still, we're craving a beer and we're hauling an 5000 trailer around behind us. We're exhausted. We're grumpy. We're burnt out. We're ready to rest. The thought of sleeping in a Walmart parking not with no heat and security gaurds shining flashlights through the window just was not appealing. We both realized...tonight was a hotel night. We indulged. Fine, it's true. But I don't feel guilty at all. It was time.
We found a LaQuinta Inn near the airport, confirmed that pets are acceptable, headed over and were welcomed with heat, hot showers, an ice machine, and all the Modern Family on USA as we could ask for. It's grand.
Being on the road is great and we are having a good time, but truth be told, it's been awhile and we are both totally looking forward to our time back in Michigan for the holidays. There is something unbelievably comforting about being in one spot for a few days at a time....as I'm sure you know.
At this point we have no idea what our next steps are for tomorrow. We're supposed to stay in Raleigh until Friday when I fly out to Chicago, but there appear to only be 2 RV parks and we know for sure that 1 on of them is booked.....Alas, at this point there is nothing we can do except drink an IPA and watch some Modern Family.
Phew. Tired now.