Day 4 – Uwharrie National Forest, NC -> Sumter National Forest, SC

Someone was asking if we should make reservations at the campgrounds and I said NOOO!! Why would we?? Who goes camping in the sticks where we are going? We found out today that everybody goes! Especially on Easter weekend. Luckily, sometimes people don’t show up… Tonight we are going to South Carolina to a campground with only nine spots, hoping for an Easter miracle.

Last night was not too bad. Hot shower, and drinking water out of a faucet right next to our site in the Uwharrie National Forest, North Carolina. The unfortunate thing was that there seemed to be a monster truck convention nearby. As our site was by the entrance, we watched every model of off-road vehicle parade. Otherwise, it was better than yesterday, but still cold at night. We are just realizing that our expectations were way too optimistic. It did not click in my brain that if at night it is near 40 F, then winter sleeping bags are necessary. I guess it was wishful thinking. And I expected full on summer right outside of NJ.

But for now every 4hr drive south seems to gain us only 1C degree at night. The boys are troopers though! On Friday morning they spend 45 mins in the car warming up and Yelisei kept saying ‘Mama, aw!’ and showing me his red fingers. So I would warm them up with my breath. Only then we figured to turn on the car and blast the heat. Soon we realized that we also forgot to put gas into the tank, so we only have 1/4 left. But that was on Friday. Today everything was much better. Full tank of gas, only 10 mins car warm up. And for tomorrow we got oatmeal and milk, so we will have something warm for breakfast instead of cereal that we have ben having. At night we will put on our long johns and zip our bags together with Renzo. It has been only twice that we put up the tent but we are already talking how nice it would be to have an RV. No packing – just take off the breaks and go.

Also, we took our double stroller, which was unnecessary. The boys nap in the car and we just keep unpacking it and packing it back in. Generally the process of waking up, having breakfast, and packing is three to four hours. The same goes for unpacking. So the way we are set up now, we don’t have much time for anything else. But I was obsessed with the idea of camping along the way and with going south. But so far it has not been warm enough and almost all of our time is consumed by packing and unpacking and driving in between. Timofei has been asking to go to a zoo and I said that if we pass one then we will go. We passed five already and did not stop, because if we did, we would not make it to our next unpacking destination.

That said, it is now 75F and it is totally green and the sky is blue, the air is fresh and my family and I are happy!

Day 3 – George Washington National Forest, VA -> Uwharrie National Forest, VA

Had a fantastic Peruvian chicken in a strip mall in Harrisonburg, VA, a town that otherwise shines thanks to James Madison University, not to mention Eastern Mennonite University. After getting a bit lost in strip mall parking lots, we arrived in the more friendly and accommodating habitats of George Washington National Forest.

Our target campground by Todd Lake was closed, but next one over was a winner. Five bucks, nobody else there, exactly what the doctor ordered. The kids paid attention to George Carlin and played with sticks and stones in the mud.

Gourmet dinner made by Ksenia and a professional campfire keep us reasonably warm. By and by, three pick-up trucks with massive campers in tow and a couple with a tent and mountain bikes get set up as well. The campers come with three other kids, one of them in sort of hunting camouflage, and the kid tells us they go hunting all the time – deer, bears, anything really. I don’t like the sound of “anything” too much, but he’s saying they aren’t hunting today. Good, let’s keep it that way.

Off to bed at 8. Red wine helps. Full moon makes it very bright and beautiful. I wake up freezing at 2am – ah well, but everyone else seems to sleep like babies all the way until 6:30.

Heroically minimal complaints from Timofei when he gets pulled out of his warm and cosy sleeping bag into the cold and dressed up for a breakfast in the cold sun. And Yelisei is just hungry. Food and a newly stoked campfire to the rescue!

9:30 and off we are – destination: Uwharrie National Forest, North Carolina.