I've just sat down at my picnic table in Claytor Lake State Park. I need to write right now to blow off some steam because I'm pissed off. It's actually not about the ride, I'm still having a lot of fun. It's about where I'm staying. Now I love this country probably more than the next guy. That's why I'm traveling it instead of your stereotypical "backpack" across Europe college adventure (not that there's anything wrong with that). But I've just paid $26 to camp in a state park. That is a perfectly acceptable price for a private campground; a fee I wouldn't think twice about paying, especially now that I'm getting the swing of how this country camps (it's definitely not what Lewis and Clark were familiar with).
Upon arriving I was assessed a $5 overnight fee for my camp site. Pardon my French, but 'What the @&$! else was I going to do at a campsite but sleep there?!'. There was also a 5% sales tax to rent this campsite for the night. Why am I being taxed to use public property that is tax payer funded?
This might not sound like a big deal to most people. They might say, "Hey it's not so bad if you're camping with multiple people to split the cost". Well it is big deal because first off, why am I paying KOA (a national camping chain) the same amount of money to camp as the state of Virginia? The state parks get subsidized by the taxpayer and I'm betting they don't pay property taxes, not to mention the volunteers that help run this place. I met a nice man today that's living here all summer and tending to the bathrooms and campsite concerns (I bet no one volunteers for private campgrounds). But through it all, somehow they've found a way to shape their business model after every private camp site to the dollar. There's everything here that the two other private campgrounds I've been to have. Well except there's no pool at this state park.
Imagine a world where the U.S. government tried to open up an electronic store that sold everything Best Buy did at the same price? How many Americans would stand for that, and if they did, how many would allow their tax dollars to subsidize the place without getting a discount? That's how I feel. I'm just pissed that there seems like there's no place to camp for a little individual American on a bicycle without it being illegal or paying my dues to Uncle Moneybags. I don't need a shower, or electricity, or even a clearing, just let me venture into the woods of a state park to spend the night without the threat of arrest. I guess I'll have to wait until I cross the Mississippi to get into the grown man camping.
Don't misconstrue my anger; I'm not mad about the money, I'm mad at the Americans that allowed this country of pioneers to turn into this mess that does not resemble the one that defeated the British.
Anyway, there was a ride. I took a detour through Blacksburg to check out Virginia Tech. I ended up riding to one side to get into the football stadium, then the other to get food, then back to leave. It was worth it though, beautiful campus.
I took the 460 Business route to get back to the map in Christiansburg. It was pretty busy and I was kind of shocked at how off put I was by the city air. I must be getting used to the country roads.
Tomorrow is the seventh day. I don't have any plans for rest though. I'm not sure how far I'll be heading, maybe Wytheville or Rural Retreat. More camping is in store, I'm really getting the hang of setting up, passing out, and packing back up. I've been so energy drained that I've only scratched the first few pages of The Republic. Eat, Sleep, Ride, Repeat. Rinse occasionally.