The Virginia Side of the Blue Ridge Parkway
from June B.
(Note: June is a good friend whom I met will doing work at the Massanutten Resort in McGaheysville, VA. She says that others who have done the BRP have told her they came back changed. We could hope for no less.)

After 269 miles of the North Carolina part of the Blue Ridge Parkway (hereinafter referred to as BRP) you will find yourselves in the commonwealth of Virginia, my home state for my entire life. To wit:

"To be a Virginian, either by birth, marriage, adoption or even on one's mother's side, is an introduction to any state in the union, a passport to any foreign country, and a benediction from the Almighty God."
I have driven the BRP only as far south as Peaks of Otter, but I have on occasion dropped off the interstate to see a few special places further south than there. By all appearances, the NC side of the BRP is more "developed" with tourist-y attractions - most wonderful in their own right.

After a while, the more casual observer might ask, "Just how many spectacular views can there be?" Well, just wait until you hit Virginia. Fancy Gap is still one of my favorites (even from I-77), but Groundhog Mountain is also cool because of the many kinds of fences - snake, split rail, post, picket, etc. - around places there.

I've driven to Peaks of Otter from Rockfish Gap just to kill a day and eat a good meal --back in the "old" days when Sundays begged to be "wasted" on long drives with no schedule and hiking boots for attire.

As you guys come North, just past Peaks of Otter, you'll reach the highest VA point on the BRP (3,950'), and only 10 miles later you will arrive at the lowest elevation (649') at the James River Visitor Center. For those of you who will deny doing the math, that's an incredible 3,301 fabulous feet of downhill elevation change. My, I'll want to hear how that goes! Of course, just 15 miles later you will be back at about 2,500'.

(Side note: as you approach your goal - the end of the BRP at Rockfish Gap - you must promise me that under no circumstances will you venture a visit to that other ski area which is just a mere mile off the Parkway.)
Most of my earliest impressions of "mountains" was as a young child with my parents, siblings and cousins escaping the late 50's-early 60's "rat race" of suburban DC by going to Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park (hereinafter referred to as SNP). SNP continues the "high mountain road" theme of the BRP through from Rockfish Gap to Front Royal. Many, many hot dogs have been roasted on freshly whittled green sticks (I will never forget my first pocket knife!) over exuberantly collected piles of dry mountain kindling set on fire just as exuberantly with flint and paper. Yes, sir, that's gourmet cookin'. I learned then the joys of the constantly surprising nature of Mother Nature while exploring woods and trail with incredible sights of waterfalls, wildlife and those killer views.

But, alas, you boys will not be experiencing my Shenandoah National Park in my backyard. Maybe the next ride?

I'll close with a quote my kids are probably sick of hearing, but I did my "mother's" best to teach them "respect" for all this stuff by using it whenever I could.

"This land belongs to my people; some of them are living, some of them are dead, but most of them have not yet been born." --Anonymous Native American.
Ride on.
June
9/26/99