King of the Road
September 19, 2001
The thing about traveling in the fall, instead of the summer, is the only other people who are on the road, besides us, have been retired for at least a decade. Brian and I pulled into Hot Springs, North Carolina to find we were the only people staying at the Hot Springs Campground, except for Tom and his wife, a seventy-something couple and their three dogs. In a campground with over 100 sites the staff directed us to set up camp next to Tom and his wife and their tremendous King of the Road RV. Our shaded campsite, along the banks of the French Broad River, came equipped with a picnic table, a fire pit, running water, and free, tent-side coffee at 7am. The coffee was a surprise, courtesy of Tom, who took pity on two cold kids who were trying hard to conceal their growing fascination with RV life.
Traveling as a couple is a guaranteed way to discover little known facts about one another. In just a matter of days, Brian and I had found that, no matter how much we wanted to think we were up for roughing it in the woods, we were both drawn to RVs, in a rock star- tour bus sort of way. Tom seemed like a pretty cool guy; just because we’re fifty years his junior doesn’t mean we can’t cruise the highways in style, right? Ashamed of ourselves for doubting tent-life, we swore not speak of RVs again.
Our second night in Hot Springs we hopped across the road to the Hot Springs Resort to indulge ourselves in the private, mineral water Jacuzzis set up at the edge of the river. After watching the sunset and feeling each muscle turn to Jell-O, we returned to our campsite relaxed and in high spirits. Brian got an impressive fire going and we broke out the beer and hotdogs for Brian and the cookies and milk for me. It was starting to look like a perfect night.
We were so preoccupied with the fleets of Daddy long-leg spiders and moths that were overtaking our table that we barely saw it coming. Slowly, its head rose up over the far edge of the table, the shadows of our candles darting about as it emerged. Before I knew what it actually was, I jumped up onto the bench and let out a high pitch, cartoon-inspired “EEEK!” To my surprise, Brian followed my lead, jumping back from the table and yelling a bunch of expletives.
When the giant-headed, glowing green monster from the depths finally pulled the rest of its body onto the table we were too freaked out by our imaginations (I thought it was a lizard) to react calmly to the cicada. After realizing what it was we tried hard to go about our business, but there turned out to be more where that one cicada came from. The combination of sitting in the dark and feeling creepy things whiz by our heads and slither over our toes was too much for these two city slickers.
With great embarrassment I have to report that the only solution I could come up with was to turn on the Jeep and shine its flood beams until the whole site was lit up. Brian grabbed our stuff and made a dash to the tent and (after turning off the car) I followed. As we lay there huddled in our tent, lit by a single Maglite, and cringing at every screech from the cicadas that hovered over us, we couldn’t believe what we had done. I think the technical name for people like us is Sissy-la-la. Two adults had let a small infantry of bugs spoil their evening – it was pathetic.
We had discovered something else about each other during our visit to Hot Springs. We were both terrified of bugs. It wasn’t enough to make us pack up and head back to the city but before we fell asleep we made a mental note to ask Tom how much a beauty like The King of the Road costs these days.
Hot Springs, North Carolina
Hot Spring is located thirty miles north of Asheville and the Appalachian Trail runs right through this small community. Other than hiking or rafting there isn’t a whole lot to do in town, so head into Asheville if you’re looking for live music or late nights.
The Campground in Hot Springs costs approx. $15 for a grassy site and $20 for a site along the river. Other than camping, there is the Hot Springs Resort and a couple of small inns in town.
The Hot Spring Resort offers soaks in the Jacuzzis at a cost of $15 an hour prior to 7pm and $25 an hour from 7pm to midnight. The Resort also has massage therapists on staff. For either service you need to make a reservation.