we got out of Blacksburg and renewed the search for swimming holes. this led us to a little nature area in southwestern Virginia called Dismal Falls. it had a waterfall/swimming hole (pictured ABOVE) and some hiking and a campground (below). there were always folks at the swimming hole. dogs, too. it seemed like a popular place.
the campground was about a mile walk from the swimming hole and at the end of a gravel road. there were 2 people camped when we arrived but they cleared out and for the next 2 nights we were alone. it was free, too; a sign said it would cost $5/night but nobody came to collect it and there wasn't an iron ranger to leave cash in. there was a cool water pump at the campground i forgot to photograph. it had the traditional pump fixture but then sticking out of it was a water fountain.
we got out of there and spent a night at a walmart in some random commercial plaza. we ran into some other van-dwellers who were going in the opposite direction, toward Rhode Island. then we crossed into North Carolina and drove into (or rather up into) Stone Mountain State Park. the park was substantial. it had dozens of electric and non-electric sites and it was all beautifully groomed. there were hot showers too (free, too - no coin-op crap). we spent 2 nights on Stone Mountain and went on 2 of the hikes available in the 19 miles of trails.
pictured ABOVE is Stone Mountain's famous granite (?) dome. this giant bald thing is really awe-inspiring to see. its kind of freakish. you can see all the streaks and pits from rain run-off. im not sure what created it and why more mountains dont look this way.
on the hike we encountered this bug. he had eyes on back of his head. we urged him to move off the stairwell, fearing he'd get crushed. when prodded with a pine needle he retracted all his legs and played dead, or something like it. it was neat. we moved him into the leaves. who knows, maybe he wanted to get stepped on...
this picture ABOVE is of the Stone Mountain waterfall. there were numerous scary-looking signs warning people not to swim on or walk anywhere near it. you can see why.