From Southern PA to Home via Shenandoah National Park--September 28-October 7, 2012

Published: November 26th 2012
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The next morning, Friday, the 28th of September, we drove back to highway 94/30 and then followed the early morning traffic through interesting old villages and residential areas with modern shopping centers here and there. After crossing the Maryland border the road was just numbered 30 and after about 50 miles it dropped onto Interstate 795 toward Baltimore. We exited toward Randallstown and then took the back way into Columbia to visit Paul and Christina for the weekend.

On Tuesday morning, October 2nd, we left their home in the pouring rain and drove mostly on the freeways to Gaithersburg to have lunch with our Aunt and Uncle. After a nice lunch, we drove around DC proper to Interstate 66 and headed toward Virginia and the entrance to the ShenandoahNational Park (see ).

Just as we entered the town of Fort Royal, we saw a Roadtrek parked on the side of the road in a gas station and the two occupants looked like they were looking at a map. We thought they might be our friends again, but wasn't sure until we entered the park and then pulled over to let them catch up. Surprisingly we had met up again, and we both then continued to the first campground, Mathew's Arm, which was about 50 miles into the Park. We were late in arriving in the afternoon and went in and out of thick fog, so we were very glad when we got settled side by side that night.

Skyline Drive, the Park's only road, is a 105 mile, narrow, mountainous road that follows the highest ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The speed limit in the Park is 45 miles per hour so that you are expected to take a leisurely drive and pull off at 75 scenic overlooks to see the views down into the valleys below. The Appalachian Trail traverses the entire drive and often crosses it. It was interesting to come across trail hikers here and there. Before it was a national park (established in 1935), this area was home to many early settlers that lived up in the mountain gaps and hollows. Some resorts were built as early as the 1800's and President and Mrs. Hoover had a retreat here (Rapidan Camp) to escape the stress of DC. The CCC came in the 1930's and built rock walls all along the sides of the road and also built some park facilities.

The next morning, October 3rd, we said goodbye to our friends as they took off early to head back to their home in Texas, and then we continued down Skyline Drive. At many overlooks along the way, when we stopped, Rosie became covered with stink bugs. It was hard to get in and out without getting some of the bugs inside. Stink bugs were about all the "wildlife" that we saw---no deer, bears--not even road kill. It was overcast, grey, and the fog stayed with us and made looking down into the valleys below difficult. (Please note that the captions on the photos are best guesses of where we were.) We had lunch at the Big Meadows concession restaurant and perused their small gift shop.

We drove as far as the last campground still in the Park (LoftMountain), and spent the night. This campground was situated such that the campsites were in circles at the very top of the mountain so everyone had a nice view.

On October 4th, we finished driving the length of the Park and exited at Rockfish Gap onto highway 250 and drove through the town of Waynesboro and then drove west to Interstate 81. We stopped to get gas off I-81 and noticed a sign for a German Restaurant. We found it tucked back out of the way---not sure how it survives that way---had some German food that was more dinner than lunch. Also stopped around Roanoke, VA to shop and purchase some items for Rosie at a big Camping World that can be seen from the freeway. Continued driving south until the community of Salem where we pulled in for the night at a private campground called Dixie Caverns. Again, we were amazed at how many people live full time in these ratty RV/trailer parks. Some of them, we know are highway construction workers, but others ???

October 5th, Friday, continued driving southwest on I-81 until the junction of I-77 where we turned south toward Charlotte, NC. We exited around Statesville and wandered on small roads and through several communities until we found the road leading to LakeNormanState Park. The park was tucked away and quite large with marinas, bike trails, picnic areas, and so on. Although the campground was nice, it didn't, as we expected, have a view of the Lake.

On Saturday afternoon, October 6th, we had an appointment to have lunch and visit with a cousin and her friend who are working in the area around the Lake temporarily. So, we left the campground, and killed time by driving around the LakeNorman area. Met at the their hotel and then had lunch at a Bob Evans and talked until it was time for them to leave to rest before they both had to be to work that night. Maneuvered around the very busy Charlotte area to I-85 and continued southwest toward Atlanta.

Although we were with-in an easy drive home, we wanted to spend the night close to home in order to get Rosie cleaned up and her tanks dumped and then a scrub down the sides of the black holding tank with 2 bags of ice, in preparation for winter. So, we left the freeway at the Spartanburg, SC and then drove forever on highway 56 to CroftState Park.

This park was once an Army Training Facility and storage for explosives during WWII. When we arrived we discovered that the park was full of horse people/trailers and that they were camping and having various horse events. In the morning, we purchased some ice and then drove home the very, very long way on scenic narrow roads 215, 418, and 8 that went through farm land, tiny communities, and then back to I-85.

Forgot to take the mileage when we got home but it was at 34,140 miles Sunday morning when we left the campground.

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