Saturday, May 28, 2016

So. We went on a road trip and... (Part 5)

...drove home via most of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive (Shanandoah National Park).

When we left Roxboro, NC we drove southwest toward Ashville with the intention of going to the southern terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The parkway is a 469 mile drive from Cherokee, NC to Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, VA. We learned there were two road closures with resulting detours in the southern end of the Parkway so we opted to join the road at mile post 331--the location of the Museum of North Carolina Minerals. (Guess we'll just have to go back to hit the southernmost portions along with the unforeseen detour we had to make for another closure north of where we got on.)

The museum was nice, but the real purpose of driving these highways is to take in the views.

View from The Knob

The things you learn.

Historic cabins abound.
 There was a Park ranger at this particular site who was trying to teach herself how to spin yarn. We talked with her for a while, toured around the little farmstead and it's spring house and other outbuildings.
Root cellar below shed used for storing foodstuffs. Why can't my stone walls look this neat?

Other side of the cabin. love the use of the crooked tree as a corner column for the porch.
 We hopped off the Parkway shortly after entering Virginia and drove back into North Carolina to find a motel in Mt. Airy. Had a great steak dinner at a place that knew how to cook beef right. They also believed that "small" is a foreign word not to be uttered at any cost.

The next morning we got back on the Parkway (in Virginia) and headed north. Soon we came across one of the most photographed sites on the Parkway: Mabry Mill at mile post 176. This mill was operated by E.B. Mabry from 1910 to 1935. Water was gathered from two small streams and directed by way of sluices to the wheel. Much of the year he ground coarse corn but in the spring, with snow melt increasing flow, he could saw wood. In addition to the mill building, there were several others that would house interpretive activities during the summer: cabin, blacksmiths, wood shop, etc.

Mabry Mill
Shortly after leaving the historic mill, we came to the modern day equivalent: a lodge/inn/restaurant. Being 11:30 Am we stopped for lunch and had a fine meal while overlooking the small lake.

All along the Parkway not only were the trees nearly in full leaf (although that changed as we got further north. And flowers were abundant, too. While too early for the majority of the azaleas and rhododendrons to be in flower, there were a few. Lots of wild flowers were also visible along the side of the road.

Flame Azalea
 We soon reached the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway and continued on to the Skyline Drive in Shanandoah National Park. This is a much shorter highway park (105 miles versus 469 miles for the Blue Ridge) and it runs along a much narrower ridge, but the views are as spectacular and, because the ridge is narrower, the views often open up on both sides of the road at the same time.

The flowers continued including this tree with purple flowers. I can't get a name to it, having discarded suggestions of honey locust and wisteria. (The former has white flowers and the latter is a vine. Still think it might be some form of locust, however.)

 And the views included some burnt over areas form forest fires that spread along the ridge in April.

View toward the Shanandoah Valley with some burn areas visible.

Close-up of a burned out area.

View to the east with some burn area in the foreground.

As we neared the northern end of the Skyline Drive we decided to make one more stop: Luray Caverns. We got off the SD and pulled into Luray for the night planning on visiting the caverns first thing in the morning. That will have to wait for our next installment.


Garry said...

The tree in bloom that you could not put a name to is the Royal Empress or also called Royal Paulownia. We have them here in Kentucky and they are considered to be invasive.

joated said...

Thanks, Garry! I looked up some images of the Royal Empress and that is indeed what we saw.