Since our hotel stay included a breakfast we ate it. Nothing too impressive but it was calories. Over the past few days we’d been debating about heading south to Damascus, VA for “Trail Days” but after hearing about the bad virus Thru-hikers were dealing with (vomiting, plus) we felt it best to avoid Damascus. So it was onward into Tennessee!
The first part of the day took us right through downtown Abingdon, VA. We heard plenty of good things about this town in regards to good music, food and a historical downtown area. Unfortunately, we don’t quite have the budget for staying in motels/hotels enough to be able to hang out in places like this without a warmshowers host so we rode through slowly to enjoy the architecture and get a feel for the town. Perhaps one day we’ll return for a longer visit.
The days ride was spent mostly on route 11, which had a great shoulder and gently sloping hills. It looks like we didn’t take any photos of the road this morning but the scenery looks very similar to yesterday and the day prior to that. Route 11 went through Bristol, TN where we picked up groceries and then stopped for lunch at an old grocery store. It looked like it had relocated across the street and the old building was still unoccupied.
Eventually we left Route 11. Here’s a VW bus we spotted in Blountville where we waited out rush hour.
After that, we took some back roads to reach our destination at Warrior’s Path State Park.
For dinner we made some delicious fajitas!
I also made a small fire and cooked half a summer sausage with onions. Not my usual fare but quite tasty after a long day of riding.
That night the “Raccoon Wars” (as I’ve dubbed them) began. Since we do not have a car we can’t store our food in our vehicle and despite all our earlier camping, this night was the first time we had trouble with critters–a determined raccoon specifically. We do carry a rope that allows us to hang our food in a tree, if need be. This hanging food bag is typically referred to as a “bear bag” but if you don’t have a tree limb at the right height for your rope and at an angle that allows the food bag to hang away from the tree, it’s not really that effective. So, we have been keeping our food in sealed bags, inside the tent vestibules. We made the mistake this night of leaving some trash in an accessible area near the picnic table, and around 1am I was woken up by the sound of Hannah’s metal water bottle clanging around. I climbed out of the tent and cleaned up the trash that attracted one fat raccoon, grabbed anything else that might seem desirable and disposed of it or packed it away as best I could.
From this point on the raccoon returned every hour or so and would slowly approach the tent looking for snacks. I would lie in wait until it got close enough that I could scare it and tried to throw stones at it a few times. After the third time I was so exhausted from not sleeping I got out my pepper spray hoping a dose of it would make it think twice before returning. In the end I couldn’t get close enough.
At some awfully late hour a pickup truck of loud locals drove through the park. Just what we need, crazy locals who’ve probably had too much to drink that like to drive into campgrounds and bother campers. Well, I think they also scared the raccoon off for the remainder of the night because it did not come back after that.
The last few hours of the night were quiet and I did get some sleep. I don’t have any photos since it was dark and I’d also like to make note of the fact that Hannah slept through almost all of this. She thinks I’m a bit too obsessed with trying to scare raccoons by waiting quietly by the tent until they approach and then charging them while shining a light in their eyes and chucking rocks at them. I will continue to test this method and we’ll see how well it works.