On the road again

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 27, 2001

Eleanor and Barger Moss sit on a swing in their back yard. In the background is the camper they will take to the Blue Ridge Parkway in September.(The Vicksburg Post/ Melanie Duncan )

[8/27/01]The Blue Ridge Parkway of North Carolina is a place where Eleanor Moss forgets she’s not supposed to climb mountains due to her knees.

It’s a place where she and her husband, Barger, get to see friends they talk to only twice a year.

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It’s a place, they say, where they’ll stop going only when they just can’t go anymore.

In retirement, the Mosses have been giving back to the national parks they have enjoyed for so long. They’ve volunteered their time along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the western half of the Tar Heel State for six years, ever since he retired from the Vicksburg District office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

They’re part of a National Park Service program called V.I.P., short for Volunteering in Parks. As campground hosts, they serve as liaisons between campers and the park rangers.

“All the campers usually want to know where Wal-Mart is, so we help them out with things like that,” said Barger Moss, 66.

Having already served as volunteers on the Blue Ridge this spring, the Mosses plan to return next month to help park rangers stage a re-enactment of the Revolutionary War Battle of Gillespie Gap.

The work is naturally attractive to the couple, says Eleanor Moss, 65, since staying at home has never been a priority.

“We’re not very good at sitting around and doing nothing,” she said. “We don’t like sitting in here very much.”

They do like hiking, so much so that Eleanor Moss walked to the top of Table Rock, one of the highest points east of the Mississippi River, a few summers ago in the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The doctor who had replaced her knee a year before told her not to go, but the beauty of “seeing forever” compelled her. And she was glad she did.

“It was so beautiful it almost made me cry,” she said.

Besides the scenery, the Mosses say they also like the opportunities that camping along the Blue Ridge Parkway gives them to be together.

Camping in national parks was a vacation idea they came up with about 30 years ago, when all five of their children were still at home. They found that “you can’t have any more fun than you do just sitting around telling stories around a campfire,” Eleanor Moss says.

Park camping also had another attractive side.

“It was cheaper than Disney World,” says Barger Moss.

Both Mosses say they have their past trips more than 30 of them in mind when they go to the Blue Ridge every year.

“The parks have given so much to us,” Eleanor Moss says. “Now it’s time for us to pay them back.”