The morning is calm and cold. Jennifer and I sit quietly listening to the breeze blow through the trees as we enjoy a warm cup of freshly made coffee. The children are sleeping in the rooftop tent and the campers in the surrounding sites are beginning to wake up as the sun starts to burn its way through the morning mountain mist. The warm feel of the sun breathes life back into our spirits, especially after two days of cold, damp and rainy conditions. The thoughts of the days activities are running through our minds. Hiking, exploring and most importantly, adventure are looming on the horizon.
After a dreadful work week, we were ready for some much needed rest and relaxation. The holiday weekend was the last chance we had to take a nice family trip before the kids went back to school. A trip that honestly, we all needed! In normal fashion, the truck was packed and ready to go, as it always is, for our Friday evening departure. The slow constricting Virginia Beach rush hour traffic only fortified my need to get out of town, as I fought arduously to make my way home. We had a four hour drive ahead of us and I was anxious to get on the road. We made our way out of the metropolitan area and were soon greeted by the beautiful sights of the surrounding rural areas. The sights didn't last long though, as we started to encounter the remnants of the relentless Hurricane Harvey that decimated much of southern Texas the week before. Driving through the blinding rain and dodging standing pools of water on the highway, we eventually made it to our first destination in Bedford, Va. Pulling into our camp in the middle of a meadow and finding a level spot to set up became ever more complicated by the mountain mist and the sporadic down pours. We set up as quickly as we could and we pulled the kids out of the rig and got them ready to turn in for the night. We were all exhausted, but excited to be back in the mountains.
The next morning was cold and rainy. Harvey wasn't finished with us yet and the forty degree temps were not helping the situation at all. A morning walk through the meadow, taking in the beautiful sights of the surrounding mountains, with our trusty adventure dog was just what we needed to pick our spirits back up. A short time later, we were greeted by friends in camp and the morning became filled with conversation and laughter as all of the kids played in the meadow. A sense of warmth came over us as we sat back and watched all of the children play. Weather be damned, this was going to be a good trip!
Breakfast in our bellies, camp broken down and stowed away, we made our way into the heart of Bedford to visit our friends at Blue Ridge Overland Gear. Pulling into the parking lot at BROG we were greeted by the local farmer market and the classic charm of the Appalachian town. Our hiking shoes thumping against the old timber floor as we walked in and the smell of the old Bedford hardware store, where BROG now resides, added even more charm to the experience. Once inside we were greeted by Matt and Adam, who were working hard to get the tasks at hand finished in preparation for the week ahead. We made our way around the shop and checked out all of their latest additions. The amount of gear placed throughout the shop, is almost overwhelming at times. BROG has made a name for itself by specializing in storage and organizational solutions for the modern outdoorsman and overlander. What many people don't realize though, is that they truly are a one stop shop for all of your outfitting needs. Recovery gear, 12 volt fridges and rooftop tents are just a snippet of what they provide. After drooling over the latest gear, not to mention those beautiful James Barroud tents, we made our way to the counter and payed for our new apparel and gear. The guys were extremely helpful in picking out the right solutions for our needs and many great conversations were had. If you're ever in Bedford, we’d highly recommend stopping in and visiting the people at BROG, even if it is just for some good ole conversation!
Speaking of conversation, we had spent so much time engaged in conversation, that we’d had completely lost track of time! It was now lunch time and the grumbling sounds coming from our children's stomachs had now set the next task. Luckily we’re overlanders! Ham and turkey sandwiches ala-parking-lot were on the menu. The sandwiches were not the original gourmet meal we had planned for lunch, but they worked in a pinch. We were ready to get back on the road and definitely ready for a little adventure! A quick stop at the gas station to top of the tank and we were on our way. We made our way out of Bedford on the beautiful winding mountain roads and into one of our favorite Virginia localities. Eagle Rock is a beautiful area with a lot of geographical diversity. On one side, you have a massive rock face that towers in to the air, seemingly forever, and on the other side you have the Beautiful James River that is winding its way through the picturesque Appalachian valley. Across the river, the quaint little town that adorns the same name can be seen. On the river kayakers are enjoying the class 1 and 2 rapids, even if it was a little rainy. This is an extremely popular location for kayaking and canoeing. Twin River Outfitters, just a short drive away in Buchannan, supports all experience levels of water sports enthusiasts by making sure they are instructed and outfitted properly.They also offer a shuttle service that will take you and your equipment up river and they could be seen at the boat landing around the bend dropping off the latest bunch of adventure seeking enthusiasts.
Climbing up out of the valley and still fighting our way through the drizzle and rain, we made our way into the Alleghany Highlands. A brief but steep ascent up the mountain road, we arrived at our destination, Morris Hill campground. It’s Labor day weekend and the campground is sparsely populated thanks to the storm system. Empty sites with reserved placards could be seen all around, a welcomed sight for sure. Almost serendipitously, the sun came out as we found our site. The warm welcomed rays shone down on us for a brief moment, giving the false sense that the cold drizzly weather may finally be over. Not being the type to look a gift horse in the mouth, we took advantage of the break in the weather and quickly leveled off the truck and set up camp. With our Freespirit Recreation rooftop tent erected and our trusty Rhino-Rack Foxwing awning drawn out, we made the decision that this weekend may require just a little something extra in the form of shelter. Luckily, Freespirit Recreation was kind enough to send their universal annex for the Adventure series tent to us for a review. With the weather beginning to move back in, we figured no time like the present for a full field test. A little cumbersome, but totally worth the extra realestate, we erected the annex. Good thing too! No sooner did we drive the last stake into the ground, the sun disappeared into the menacing sky and the rain, once again, began to fall. Nestled into our newly erected annex, we listened to the rain falling through the trees and the children giggling and playing in the rooftop tent above. A short time later we had a break in the rain and out came the Skottle. All hands were on deck as Jennifer and the girls prepared Chicken Alfredo for dinner. One of the kids’ favorite camp meals. Truth be told, its one of ours too! About the time we were wrapping up dinner, our friend Adam (@Overland_History on Instagram) arrived at camp. His well kitted Jeep XJ is always a welcomed sight around camp. Hilarity and conversation ensued well into the wee hours of the night.
The next morning came far to quickly. Rolling out of the tent with eyes-a burning, we made our way quietly down the ladder trying our best not to awaken the kids. Shoes on and stepping out from the comfort of our annex for the first time, we were abruptly stopped in our tracks by the mountain mist and the barely above freezing temperatures. A quick scramble to the door of the Cruiser and out came the winter jackets, stowed in our BROG attic. Finally somewhat warm and coherent, we began our typical morning ritual of making coffee in our JetBoil and french press. As Jennifer worked on the coffee, I made my way around camp doing the usual equipment checks. Everything in order and coffee in hand, we retreated back to the warmth of our annex and wondered what adventure lies ahead…..