Off the Road to Damascus

If you go camping with the Haynies, one of three things is certain:  (1) it will rain at some point during the day, more especially, your hike ( deep sigh); (2) it will rain when you are taking down camp (deeper sigh); and/or (3) it will rain when you are trying to put up camp–in the dark (deepest sigh).  You may think that we’re gluttons for punishment, but honestly, we’re not.  We love to get out into God’s creation, and last weekend, we decided to escape what should have been massive heat in the flatlands of the RTP area of North Carolina to the cool wilds of the southwestern Virginia mountains at Grayson Highlands State Park.

Oh, things started off well enough.  Sure, we hit the road a little later than anticipated, but, hey, that was okay.  It cleared up to the point where we actually saw sun as we entered the Winston-Salem area.  After nearly two weeks of a ton of rain and no sun, we tried to name that big, bright orb shining over us.  It took a couple of minutes to do so.  Then, we turned northbound on I-77 and headed up into the Virginia mountains, where it was clear that it had recently rained.  Uh, oh.  That should have been our first indicator that all was not going to be right in paradise.

Well, we turned onto US 58 headed toward Damascus.  I kid you not, there is truly a town in Virginia called Damascus.  I guess you could say that we were on the Damascus Road.  For all of you who are familiar with Paul’s conversion, I apologize.  I couldn’t resist the pun.  Well, it started raining on the road to Damascus.  Pouring, quite frankly.  Again, that should have been another sign to us that perhaps rain once more was in our near future.  Steve turned to me with a smirk.  “Maybe we’ll have to set up in the rain.”

My first thought was, In the dark and in the rain?  Are you nuts?!  I told him to hush since I’m very superstitious when it comes to camping.  But, it stopped raining.  So maybe just setting up around dusk would be our only issue.  Hah!  I should have known.  Once we turned off US 58 and wound our way up into the mountains, it began pouring–again.  And it didn’t show signs of stopping as we found our campsite and, yes, began setting up in the rain and the dark.  Oh, let’s not forget the occasional flash of lightning overhead.  Still, we refused to back down.  Setting up in the rain forced us to use our ingenuity.  Somehow, we got the awning up without much problem and moved it to above where we would put the tent.  That provided a modicum of protection as we set up the tent.  And, yes, it did stop raining!

But, the next day made it all worth it.  So worth it.  We did three small hikes.  On the first one, I learned how our Creator makes the most unique and beautiful creatures, like the salamander.  I also learned on the second hike that He loves to spread His creation out for us to see.  On the third hike, I learned how God also has a sense of humor when we found the “wild” ponies whose responsibility it is to keep the balds from getting reforested.

So what did I learn during this trip?  (1) Adversity builds character.  (2)  God has a wonderful sense of humor and delights in seeing His children enjoying his creation.  (3) Camping is fun, so long as you’re with the right person, even when it rains.  (4) I can go without a shower for more than 48 hours.  Whew!


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