Crabtree Falls/Award Event

We arrived at Crabtree Falls Campground around 3 in the afternoon, Monday, July 18. This was a quickie excursion for me to participate on behalf of Blue Ridge Heritage, Inc., in an event put on by the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association. BRHI’s Master Pan for our future facility won an award, and the presentation was scheduled to be during the Chapter’s annual conference in Wintergreen, VA.

Just as the road (Rt. 56) began winding and twisting uphill toward the mountain range we could see surrounding us from a decidedly and surprisingly flat section of the road, we approached a nondescript left turn with the campground sign.

Narrow gravel roads and narrow gravel sites, defined by boulders and trees pretty much describe the entire place. The owners live above the registration office. Off the primary set of sites is a lovely creek whispering over falls and around more boulders—along a very pronounced cut in the mountains—ever-falling to parts unknown. I learned later that this was, in fact, the Tye River (or Creek?). The narrow sites are separated only barely by a few trees and rocks. At the time we were there, the place was virtually empty, but I’d hate to see it if it were full. It looks like a tent camping only spot that has only partially been converted over to RVs.

We had been assigned site #14, which, by web-view looked fine. We backed in every which way from Sunday to try to get her level and maybe allow enough room for the awning to be erected.

In the end, we gave up. No amount of Anderson leveling, or pyramids made with the plastic blocks would do the job. So we moved to #16. After all, the owner had said, when I spoke to him about reserving a site, that we could pretty much choose where we wanted to be when we got here as he did not expect to be busy in the middle of the week.

In Site 16, there was no hope of getting an arrangement that might include an awning, but at least we got ‘er level. 

A close neighbor.

Shortly, we had the power and water hooked up, and especially, turned on the AC. When we were in the Lynchburg area (we drove up the BRParkway and got onto 460 at Blue Ridge, then took 29 toward Charlottesville for a while, then exited onto 151/56) it was in the mid-90s, on this, the hottest day so far this summer. By the time we turned into Crabtree Falls CG, it was 87. Not too shabby temperature-wise, but set-up had made us both steamy with the humidity. And inside Roomba, it was quite toasty from the sunny haul.

I checked the dinner rolls rising in the Omnia Oven, and found them to be too poofy to sit for another couple of hours until dinner, so I popped the air pockets so they’d collapse a little, and then let them rise another couple of hours. Our main dish was still hot in the Billy Boil: chili with beans that Jack had put together right before we left the house, and had continued cooking during the drive.

We put our feet up for the evening, and realized there was a total absence of cell service—not just a little, not a half-bar—zilch. So we read our books as the sun crept along to hide behind the western ridgeline.

Dinner was quite good, if a bit warm for the weather. The plan was to have the rolls and chili again for lunch the next day, but the rolls straight out of the Omnia were so good we almost ate them all.

Hit the hay early, and turned off the AC in favor of the vent fan and the cool air coming in through the windows and across our bed. Lovely to hear the babble of the creek nearby as we fell into slumber.

The Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association award event was not due to begin until the evening of Tuesday, July 19. So we figured a nice morning hike up to the falls for which the campground (and possibly, state park?) was named was in order. As we were hiking across the campground to pick up the trail to Crabtree Falls, Jack checked into the office (which had been closed by the time we discovered we could not level Roomba in #14, and we moved to #16 last night) to let them know we’d chosen a different site.

Unfortunately, the owner had promised site 16 to a return user who had requested that site specifically, so we had to move. The party was due to arrive in the early afternoon, so we had to scratch our hike.

The good news in this was that we selected a site that allowed us to erect the awning (#18). The bad news is that we had to re-hitch, stow a bunch of stuff inside, lower the roof, yadda, to move two sites along, and then try to level everything again, set everything back up, get everything back out from stowage, etc. And miss our hoped-for hike. And miss our lunch, which turned into a snack of yogurt and a banana. And run the water hose and the electric cord across the opening of the site, the pedestal being on the wrong side of #18 to accommodate both 18 & 19.

Along with being able to deploy the awning, more good news resulted when we discovered a path from site 18 down to the water, where there were excellent places to sit and dangle one’s feet in the cool river, observe critters, and just become immersed in the lovely audio of the rushing water.

Another neighbor.

We left the relaxing remoteness of the spot to head into Wintergreen Resort slightly early, as our Design Team Leader, David, had said he’d send some details about the place and timing of our meet-up for the event via email. It wasn’t long down the road before we began to see cell bars lining up on our devices.

As it turned out, we were about 40 minutes early, but we found a parking place, and were ready to just sit in the car checking the news, etc., until an enormous thunderstorm threatened to dump on the area. We high-tailed it into the Mountain Inn from the parking lot, and then just had to hang around for a while until David, who was attending the larger conference of which the awards event was just a small part, got free from his schedule to meet us in the lobby.

In the lobby of the Mountain Inn at Wintergreen Resort.

We learned when we spoke with him that another individual involved in the project for which the award was being given, Kevin, was also a participant in the conference. I was at the award event because I’ve been involved in the Blue Ridge Heritage, Inc. process of acquiring land, planning, and designing a facility that is intended to become an economic development asset to Floyd and Patrick Counties, in southwest Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains. Here’s a link if you would like to know more:

We had a nice time, and there were several types of awards being given that evening, for various students, professors, regional planning groups, and projects like ours. This was somewhat of a big deal, and I was proud to be a part of the team to receive the Chapter’s 2016 Outstanding Design for a Nonprofit Organization Award.

Kevin, Lee & David accept the Award.

After the ceremony, the group held a reception with heavy appetizers and a cash bar. We met quite a few folks that David and Kevin know, and were congratulated by several of the conference participants.

The food was good, but didn’t quite fill the hole left by the light lunch we’d eaten, so when we got back to the campsite, we heated the leftover chili and ate the remaining rolls with it. While the rain had obviously hit the campground, our awning kept most of the important stuff dry, but the forest duff had splashed up on all the leveling blocks and some of it had run through the “footprint” we place on the ground to help keep the dirt out of the camper, running along the inevitable slope of the site.

It was a lovely night, although the passing thunderstorms had left things quite wet and humid. So after sitting outside for a while (and as more thunder rumbled beyond the opposite ridge), we returned to Roomba and this time, we left the AC running.

We had enjoyed a passing thought that we might hike to the falls before heading back home, but both of us felt it was simply time to go. We ate some breakfast, broke camp at a leisurely pace, and headed southwest.