State 3: Virginia -June 11, 2017
“The man who starts off going nowhere, usually gets there”
We have a lot to see in Virginia, and a lot of ground to cover! We left West Virginia on Sunday night to get as close as we could to our first stop. We attempted to sleep in the Fairfax, VA Walmart, parking lot, but it was a sweltering night with the temperature reading 97 degrees. Since our van runs on solar, and the solar AC has yet to be invented, we don’t have an AC in back of the van where we sleep. To combat the heat, we have 2 fans in the roof of the van. One of the fans pushes air in, and the other sucks air out. We also have another strong portable fan we use as needed. The 3 fans usually keep us very cool and comfortable, but when the temperature goes above 90 degrees the fans don’t cool us down enough. Here are some pictures of the install:
Around 8:00 am we cried uncle and peeled our hot, sticky, sweaty bodies’ out of bed, and drank about a gallon of warm water between us. After going to Planet Fitness to work out and address our hygiene, we headed for Arlington National Cemetery.
Since our van is a cargo van, the DMV said we had to register it as commercial vehicle, thus condemning our dear Rosie to a lifetime of driving without parkways. Not to mention, she would not fit under the low bridges as a high-top van. To safeguard against ending up on routes including low underpasses and parkways, we have a special RV GPS, named Michelle, and Lori programmed her with the measurements of Rosie. Michelle calculates routes to avoid places Rosie can’t fit. Michelle is about 95% right with her route calculations, but occasionally we will catch her being naughty and sending us somewhere where Rosie is not supposed to go. Usually one of us catches this error, and will find another route to take. Very occasionally, there is no other route to take other than a forbidden one, and that requires a more creative solution. Now back to the trip to Arlington National Cemetery...
Arlington National Cemetery is in the far north eastern corner of Virginia, literally on the border with Maryland. We were originally planning to see Arlington during our week-long visit to Maryland, in May 2018. However, since Arlington was technically part of Virginia, we wanted to be true to the state and see all it had to offer. It was a 3-hour drive from Fairfax to Arlington. We were 1.6 miles outside of Arlington, when we noticed Michelle was trying to put Rosie on a parkway. So we got off the only exit after the entrance to the parkway, which ended up being the exit for the US Pentagon. The exit ramp lead to a one-way road that encircled the Pentagon and all of its massive parking lots in a 5-mile loop with a speed limit of 20 miles per hour, complete with stop signs, traffic circles and security check points. It took over 30 minutes to finish the loop, and we couldn't help but find humor in the fact that we just drove in a circle around the Pentagon! We finally made it back to the highway, and programed Michelle to avoid the parkway hoping she would find a different route, and made another attempt at Arlington. When we approached the parkway, we realized that once again Michelle tried to have us take the exit to the parkway. We got off the only exit available after the parkway exit, and were treated to an encore performance of the 30-minute trip around the Pentagon’s parking lots. We finally made it back to the highway, and pulled onto the shoulder. We decided to call Arlington to find out how to get there without taking parkways. The lady we spoke with said we needed to once again get off the Pentagon exit, and bear left at the bottom of the ramp, which would lead us to Arlington without getting on a parkway. Off we went to take the exit to the Pentagon yet again. When we reached the bottom of the ramp where we were supposed to bear left, the road was closed for construction. We were forced to bear right and take a 3rd tour of the outside of the Pentagon and its parking lots. However, this time their security clearly began to get suspicious, and I can’t say I blame them. Here is this huge white cargo van, with out of state plates, casing the building that houses the US military for the 3rd time in the past hour! We started to get the stink eye from security, and noticed a black SUV starting to follow us! At this point we said to hell with Arlington, and set a course for anywhere BUT the Pentagon. In the end, we decided to go with our original plan and see Arlington Cemetery next May when we are in Maryland. Next time we will rent a car!
We decided to drive south from the US Pentagon to get as close as we could to our next stop, Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive. However, it was another 3-hour drive through the Virginia backroads to reach the Shenandoah. We arrived at the Waynesboro, VA Walmart around 11:00pm exhausted and frustrated after a 6-hour drive that led absolutely nowhere.