02/01 – 02/02/2017 Congaree NP + Shenandoah NP


The day has come. Today I embark on a trip of a life time.

My first day ended up being one of the best days of my life. To rewind a little bit I didn’t end up leaving until 2pm. My Mom helped me organize my truck and it took longer than expected. Then as I was walking out the door my tax return came in the mail. I spent some time filing that before leaving because I’m sure ill need the extra money sooner than later. Pro tip: TurboTax! I got on the road and stopped in Gainesville to say goodbye to my cousin Allison Jones. She has been a huge help in preparing me for backcountry endeavors. She is a backpacking and rafting guide during the summers.


In between St. Petersburg and Gainesville I received an email that made my first day unforgettable. The last few weeks I have been interviewing for an internship on an organic farm in California. The farm, Apricot Lane Farms, practices biodynamic’s and permaculture. This means they put the environment first and in return they get nutrient rich foods unlike many other production farms that focus purely on revenue. Please go to their website and read more about what is going on there. They have been featured on the Oprah network. I start March 12 and have a 3 month commitment.

So now I have a little over a month to explore the midwest area before I start on the farm. I also plan to travel to National Parks in the area when I have some extra time off. It won’t be much during the first month or two because I will be working 6 days a week caring for the animals and plants. I will be updating this blog throughout the course of this next year so I hope everyone wants to learn about organic farming in addition to traveling across the country.

After leaving Gainesville I decided to drive until I was too tired. I made it to St. Mathews, SC. This is a very small town outside of Columbia, SC. It just so happened to be the same exit you take for Congaree National Park. I pulled into a well lit hotel parking lot and went to sleep only to wake up to train horns during the night. Overall it was a great first night sleeping in the truck.



That is the word for my second (first real) day. Driving through the Carolinas will never get old. I woke up at 7:30 am and started off towards Congaree National Park. I made it before the visitor center opened so I took off on a trail. The park itself reminded me of the Everglades National Park minus the heat and skeeters. The trail took me through a swamp and the rising sun made it beautiful. Wow. Being out in nature alone can make you feel free. After taking some photographs I hiked back to the visitor center. It was now 9pm and I was able to buy a National Park Passport (thanks for the idea Christina). At 9:15 AM I stamped my first park visit of 2017 and was off towards Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.


One fuel stop, three restroom stops and 7 1/2 hours later I pulled into Shenandoah National Park. I could write a novel on how beautiful the drive was. I made the mistake of not checking to see if the campground were open. It turns out they are all closed during winter. Soooooooo as I am writing this now I am in the middle of the Shenandoah forest with no one around for miles. I turned off into a trail head parking lot and I am hoping no one bothers me tonight. This is the first time I have ever been this alone in nature. I didn’t see anyone for a few miles before pulling into this spot. It is so dark and quiet but peaceful and relaxing. I thought I would be a little scared to camp along but right now I feel safe and cozy.

Before calling it a night I drove to the peak of the mountain and cooked dinner over looking the mountains as the sun set. I did this so the bears wouldn’t be attracted to the smell at my current campsite. The low tonight is 28 degrees and I already feel like its -10. The drive into the park was gorgeous and I can’t wait to explore more tomorrow morning. I plan on hiking to a waterfall then getting my second stamp at the visitor center. In the afternoon I will pack up and trek on to Washington, D.C. to visit my friend Parth. Stay Tuned.


I will post my pictures  from Shenandoah NP and another update from 02/03/2016 tomorrow.

Also sorry about this took so long. I haven’t had much time to write. I just got to DC and finally have wifi. I wrote this blog while camping the last night and I haven’t had time to write about my entire day at Shenandoah.

John Putrino

9 Comments on “02/01 – 02/02/2017 Congaree NP + Shenandoah NP

  1. Beautiful pictures. What a great opportunity you have in California. Stay safe and enjoy this time you’ve been blessed to have. I’m Tracy Isaacs Mull I’m from your moms hometown.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi John. I’m Nora and was your Mom and sisters’ Wine Country Bikes tour guide in Healdsburg in Nov and now FB friends. They mentioned you were planning this trip – good for you – and I look forward to following your blog. I’m planning a cross country bike ride July – October and plan to blog as well, so will glean any tips I can from you. Where in Cali is the farm? Best wishes for a wonderful adventure. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Nora, I remember my Mom and sister mentioning you. The farm is in Moorpark California. If you are ever in the area don’t be a stranger!


  3. I love you John Putrino-always have-always will! You make my heart sing. I am grateful to your (amazing) mom directing me to your blog. Enjoyed reading of your adventures. God speed. Sending you well wishes and safe travels. Keep on trucking’! love you sweet baby boy!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Have fun Johnny…..I’m catching up on ur adventures….
    Joe and the Keegan Girls

    Liked by 1 person

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