Sunday, June 24, 2012

Blue Ridge Parkway

I spotted a trail at an overlook parking lot near Mile Marker 123, outside Roanoke. I determined it check it out with Cheyenne.

I figured she would enjoy a walk in the woods, several thousand feet up, a little cooler and full of smells.

I love the shade of green in these sunlit forests.

I am told these flowers are related to rhododendrons, though I am not a botanist of course and have no clue.

I was fascinated by the proposed thirty minute walk to the top of a "knob" as they call hills, but Cheyenne lost interest.

The trail was neat and graded and easy to stroll even though it went more uphill than you might think.

She said no thanks and it was back to infernal combustion for me.

The Parkway is a recreational tool nearly five hundred miles long from Front Royal in Northern Virginia to Cherokee in far western North Carolina. It is simply a strip of Federal roadway winding along the hill tops surrounded by private property:

People live alongside the parkway, use it as their driveway almost and as long as vehicles are non commercial they may use it, respecting 35 and 45 mph speed limits.

The views range from pleasant to stunning and the roadway is
lined with pull outs and overlooks and a few picnic areas with toilets.

I am not the first person to comment on it's loveliness though this section is bucolic where the sections I've driven in North Carolina tend to be more mountainous and rugged as the Appalachian Mountains there are newer and more jagged and steep to my eye than here in Virginia.

This is actually Mile Marker 149, from Front Royal.

The road itself, free of heavy trucks is smooth and winding and it does have passing places with dotted yellow lines where appropriate. Cell coverage is delightfully spotty so texting is problematic for drivers. Bonus!

Side roads, paved and unpaved crisscross cross the parkway. There are no tolls, no gates (except to close access in snowy icy conditions) and no hours of operation. There are no gas stations and billboards are prohibited.

Motorcyclists love it, despite the speed limits.

And locals amble along it.

Twenty years in California and I had never seen it, just heard of it. Now I've driven chunks of it in both states. Cool.

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