The Wagmiller Boys Summer Road Trip kicked off with a long day of driving, storytelling, belting out and deconstructing classic country ballads, and last-minute emergency trips to gas station restrooms of highly-variable cleanliness off I-81.
Our goal was to get to southwest Virginia before dusk so that we could set up camp today at Beartree Campground and hike up Mount Rodgers in Grayson Highlands State Park tomorrow. We didn’t make it to the campground because of a late start and the boys’ inability to synchronize their bathroom trips, but we were able to find accommodations for the night at the Abingdon, Virginia Comfort Inn ($63 on Priceline) that closely-approximate tent camping-levels of comfort by 9:30PM.
No long driving trip with Will would be proper without a minimum of three on-demand improv-style stories, each lasting at least an hour, based on an evil villain/monster or scary book title he dreamt up in his wonderful, frenetic mind. The common theme in today’s stories was Goosebumps-derivative fan fiction stories. Since at night we have recently been reading R.L. Stine’s The Creep from the Deep and we have several long hikes planned for the road trip, Will’s seed for the first story was the title “The Creep from the Woods.” Lucas followed with “The Creep from the Campgroup,” which Will without a hint of irony then chastised his brother for plagiarizing the ideas and storyline from The Creep from the Deep. I followed with the classic Keto Made Me a Monster.
When we weren’t making up crazy semi-plagiarized stories, the boys spent a good amount of time belting out and then doing a deep analysis of their favorite country ballads: Elvis’ Kentucky Rain and Memories and the Conway Twitty version of Rocky Top. They were somewhat obsessed with trying to figure out why Elvis’ girlfriend in Kentucky Rain left him with no notice and whether the song lyrics left any hints of why. After listening to the song several times with Will strictly enforcing a rule of no singing the lyrics and no speaking, they gave up and moved to speculating about why she would we leave. I didn’t have the heart to them that it was likely because Elvis was an obese drug addict singing and dancing around in public in a bedazzled onesie. They can find that out for themselves next week when we visit Graceland. Later on the trip we listened to the Smashing Pumpkins’ instrumental Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, which the boys decided immediately was indeed an infinitely sad song. Lucas was adamant that the songwriter was sad because his girlfriend had slipped away in the night and left him without telling him why. This infuriated Will, who barked at Lucas “Not every song is Kentucky Rain!” I don’t think that days can get much better than this.
We had a great dinner on the outdoor dining deck of the Rocco Bar and Ristorante at the Robert E. Lee Hotel in Lexington, Virginia. Will was his usual adventurous diner, scarfing down the Drunken Mussels, a side of spinach, and the fattier portions of my ribeye. I heartily recommend the food-to-table restaurant with amazing views of historic downtown Lexington and the mountains for anyone visiting southwestern Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains area.
Off to Mount Rodgers tomorrow morning, weathering permitting.