The Summer of the Car

It was now the end of June 2017 and I stumbled across an ad during my Google search for ’69 Charger parts. It read “Cooter’s Last Stand, Luray Virginia”. Boy, this had the makings of a good family road trip! The ad pertained to a Duke Fest where all the cast members who were still alive would be available for pictures and autograph signings. We built a family vacation around the timeframe for the weekend event, scheduled for the end of July 2017.


The family vacation started in the Poconos of PA at the Kalahari Resort and Indoor Water Park, then ventured on to Niagara Falls, NY before ending with a 5-day weekend in a small town south of Luray, VA. The trip was action-packed and full of good, family enjoyment.

The last leg of the journey would prove to be a great adventure as well. We left Niagara Falls at around 3:30 in the afternoon on Wednesday. The GPS said we would arrive at our destination shortly after 9:00 p.m. We finally arrived in Luray at 9:45 p.m. and it was pitch black. We had been following along Route 211 for more than 20 miles and all we could see off to the left side of the road was a mountain of darkness.

The GPS hollered out to “make a left turn”, straight into the blackness of the night. No street lights, no town center. Just darkness and our whole family in our conversion van, headed for somewhere we had never been before. Left turn it was: the road went from asphalt to dirt, and from dirt to what seemed like a goat trail before heading up a 70% grade, all in darkness.

scary dirt rd

We rounded the corner at the top of the hill with what looked like a scene out of one of the Children of the Corn movie: an old tractor on the right next to an old broken fence with two sets of ruts that went up to something at the top of the hill. They must have gotten an immense amount of rain that week because the driveway to our cabin in the mountains had wasted away. All that remained were two hard-to-navigate ruts where the driveway once was. I grabbed my cell and called the owner to explain what I saw and that we were not driving a 4X4 but that we were driving a 2WD low-clearance conversion van. He said the house was at the top of the ruts, so I gunned the gas in the van and prayed we would make it. At the top was our beautiful mountain-side cabin.