Big Meadows Cpg to Meadows of Dan Cpg, VA

Big Meadows Campground to Peaks of Otter Campground, Skyline Drive, VA

Sunday, May 21, 2006 … 145 Camper Miles – Total 818

Beautiful, sunny day – breezy with a high in the mid 70°s.

We broke camp and were on the road by 8:30. We drove back down Skyline Drive to US-33 and headed down to the valley to find a restaurant breakfast … bad move! We passed only two restaurants and they were both closed on Sunday! We finally found Linn’s Pancake and Steaks in Waynesboro, all the way at the lower end of the park! It was a busy place and served huge portions of good food. Stuffed, we returned to the car and headed for the entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which we planned to follow all the way to its end at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

A note about the Parkway:

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a narrow strip of smooth macadam on a narrow right-of-way that is managed by the National Park Service. It flows for 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina. It follows mountain ridges the whole way and much of the way is flanked by National Forest. It celebrates the mountains and the environment. It celebrates the people who settled the area, their lives and their crafts. There are grassy shoulders with frequent overlooks. There is little traffic. There are no billboards. There are no trucks. There are no traffic lights or stop signs. There is no commercial anything. The speed limit is 45 mph, less in some areas … it is not a place to hurry. There are hiking trails. There are campgrounds and picnic areas. There are area visitor centers. There is beautiful scenery everywhere. It is a joy!

Motorcyclists love the Parkway … we see as many bikes as cars. There are lots of convertible sports cars, too. Bicyclists abound, of course. Many are on day rides. A few are touring with heavily laden panniers which is tough duty in this hilly terrain.

We drove the Parkway once before. It was many years ago and we did it in a hurry. That was a mistake. This slower-paced version is much, much better.

We entered the Parkway at its beginning in Waynesboro. We soon stopped in at the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center. There we picked up information on the Parkway from the nice people there and took the hike up to Humpback Rock for a wonderful view.

Demonstration Farm at Humpback Rock
Negotiating Cow-Proof Gate in Split Rail Fence
View from Humpback Rock

Retuning to the car, we headed south, stopping at the Yankee Horse narrow gauge RR and walking up to the small waterfall there.

Sandy Walks Yankee Horse Narrow Gauge RR

We had to make one more stop at the James River Canal where they feature one of the few remaining intact locks.

Lock at James River Canal

Finally, we set up camp at the Peaks of Otter campground on the Parkway. It had been another full day and we were hungry. So, what’s to eat? You’ll just have to get our recipe for Peaks of Otter Dog Dish, a stir-fry featuring hot dogs and whatever we had in the fridge … delicious!

Peaks of Otter Campground to Meadows of Dan Campground, Meadows of Dan, VA

Monday, May 22, 2006 … 105 Camper Miles – Total 923

Gorgeous clear day. Breezy, 70.

Hard to believe, but we slept ten full hours! Unusual for Sandy; unbelievable for Bill! We finally rousted ourselves from bed, did the usual morning stuff and headed out. We hiked the Falling Waters Cascade Trail near the campground and the Elk River trail at the Visitor’s Center. The Elk River Trail was reputed to have many wildflowers. Though it is past peak for spring flowers, we did find several that were new to us.

Sandy Scales Falling Waters Cascade

We left the campsite about 1:00, heading south along the Parkway. We stopped at the bridge across the Roanoke River and walked the short trail there that gave us a view of the river’s gorge and continued through woods. There was some signage describing the trees of the area and we may actually be able to identify a couple of new trees.

Bill Poses on Bridge

About 4:30 we arrived at Meadows of Dan and set up at the small, private campground of the same name. It was a pretty little place with nice facilities in a lovely wooded setting. Happily, the restrooms had just been redone and were very clean. Later, we drove to the tiny “downtown” area where we found a small grocery, gift shop & deli, restaurant, candy factory with retail outlet and a few other businesses. We eschewed our camper’s cooking facilities that evening and opted for dinner at the small restaurant … we think it was named the Blue Ridge Diner. Sandy was especially happy to discover that we were once again in the south where all restaurants serve sweet tea. Yeah! Anyway, the food was good and it was certainly inexpensive.

Meadows of Dan Campground

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 923

Sunny, breezy, high 60s

We decided that today would be another lay day and that we’d mess around the Floyd, VA, area. Sandy did the laundry while Bill did some chores and writing. Then it was off to the small town of Floyd. The name, Floyd, is shared by both the town and the county. Fittingly, the town has the only stoplight in the county. This is the advertised northern end of the bluegrass music belt, a weakness of Bill’s, and we hoped to find a bit of live performance here. If we’d been here on a weekend, we’d have had better luck. But, it was Tuesday and not a performance to be found. We did explore the new Moon Health Food store, though. It had a very nice selection of products and Sandy found a few items to satisfy her special needs. There was also a busy bistro with an interesting gallery upstairs that we wandered around.

Pastoral View of Mabry Mill

Since there was no bluegrass to be found, we decided to tour the Mabry Mill grist mill instead. This is a popular place and deservedly so. The mill and associated buildings are authentically restored and tell the tale of an interesting couple who built and operated the mill for many years. Not only did it grind corn. The owner fashioned a saw mill and cabinet shop complete with water powered jigsaw and tongue & groove jointer that would be the envy of our friend, Bill Creamer. These capabilities kept the mill busy in the off seasons and after the need to grind corn diminished.

Woodworker Friend Bill Creamer Would Envy Mabry’s Jointer

Later that day we hiked Black Ridge & Grassy Knoll trails at Rocky Knob. These were moderately easy trails that passed through nearby woods and even passed through pastures that were currently in service. The views were lovely.

Parkway Winds Through Virginia Mountains

That evening we exercised the camper’s galley, preparing a meal of basil-laced sausage, that we’d purchased at the specialty store in Floyd, accompanied by pasta and a fresh garden salad.

Bill Boils Pasta for Dinner