August 24th - 25th
One of the many waterfalls on the James River with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background
Blue Ridge Parkway entrance at Otter Creek
Arnold Valley over 2,700 feet below
Sissy stopped for a pic of the river and a falling down barn. She couldn't resist this one also
Sis-Monster all wrapped up ... it was cold at 3,000 feet
We wanted to leave Canton, Ohio early, so we were up before the crack of dawn. John was up first, made coffee and then looked outside at the bike. Yup! It'd rained again during the night and the bike was soaked. Oh well, it needed wiping off anyway. After a few cups until the sky got light (no sun due to clouds) it was time to get moving. Tom, our neighbor, heard us rustling around so he came over to say good-bye and invite us to Indiana if we ever came back that way. We exchanged personal information, and then it was back to packing up.
It didn't start raining again until after we'd dumped our tanks and headed up the hill toward I77. Then, at 0814 and southbound on the interstate, it began with a sprinkle. Gradually getting worse as we drove, the rain continued all day long through Ohio and West Virginia. We weren't sure where our next destination was going to be, but decided to keep driving as long as the rain continued. Then, shortly after entering Virginia, the sun came out and the rain stopped. Ok, the map book and camper guides were next to locate a place to stay. Before returning home we wanted to visit our friends and former neighbors Skip and Susan in Lynchburg, Virginia (remember Trip 1) so we wanted a campground nearby. We settled on the Campground in Natural Bridge (Yup, that's it's name) in Natural Bridge, Virginia. It was also a perfect place for getting the bike out and touring the Blue Ridge Parkway the following day.
The upper campground at the park was nestled in the woods with large sites. We had a little problem backing into ours because of the trees, but with about 4 neighbors helping, we made it. The humidity was terrible, so we cranked up the air-conditioning and shed some clothes. Then it was next door where we met Gordon, Barbara, Dennis and Darlene all from Lynchburg and having a weekend outing together. After socializing a bit, it was back to our trailer for some phone calls back home (it was Saturday), and then to Dennis and Darlene's trailer to watch the Bristol NASCAR race on television.
Sunday morning we awoke to a beautiful weather forecast of upper 80's, partly cloudy and no rain. We'd planned to ride the bike on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it looked as if we were going to be able to do it.
The closest entrance to the Parkway was about 11 miles from our campsite off US 501 (Lee/Jackson Memorial Highway). We headed that way following directions from our campground brochure. The roads were great and traffic was light, but some of the curves were slow going. At the entrance, the sign indicated South to the left and North to the right. We headed North because our brochure said to take a right for Peaks of Otter. Going left (it said) would take us along Skyline Drive. Whelp, you guessed it, the brochure was wrong!
Riding North was a beautiful ride through the Washington National Forest and along Otter Creek. The 45 MPH speed limit was perfect for the straight aways, but the curves demanded 35, 25 and sometimes even 10 MPH. We took advantage of several pull offs along the way to simply absorb the scenery. At one, we even watched a couple from Raleigh, North Carolina for a while trying their luck fly fishing on the creek. She was snagging her fly on a tree several times until finally braking the line, and he wasn't taking any time out from his casting to help. Now that's a dedicated fly fisherman!
After about 30 miles we realized the Peaks of Otter were not on the northerly route. We pulled off the road to check the map when another couple on a motorcycle pulled up. They'd left Detroit, Michigan the day before and were headed down the parkway to North Carolina. John asked them how the scenery was up north, and after chatting for a few minutes we decided to turn around and head south. We rode back the same way we came, and shortly after passing the entrance we saw a sign indicating Peeks of Otter 25 miles!
The southerly route was much nicer and higher as well. While riding through the Jefferson National Forest, past Rice Mountain, Arnold Valley, Terrapin Point and the Peaks of Otter, the chill got to us. John was only wearing a t-shirt and jeans, and Sissy didn't have her leathers on. It was time to stop for something hot, so we opted for the Diner at Peaks of Otter. The hot chocolate and fries hit the spot! We rode south some more until reaching the Visitor's Center, checked our bearings and decided to head back. Sixty miles one way was far enough without proper clothing, and the ride back was going to be just as cold. It was really cloudy in the mountains so the sun wasn't able to warm us up.
Sissy said she wanted to be back at the campsite by 1530 to watch Virginia Tech play Arkansas State, so John wasn't about to screw that up. Sissy needed her FIX during football season, and John had learned his lesson years ago. But first, we had to make a stop for another piece of coax cable (our existing 2 cables weren't long enough). Stopping at a little store in Glascow, Virginia for the cable without success, we then stopped at the campground store (our last resort before having to move the trailer forward a foot and a half). John was lucky because they had one.
John talked Sissy into making dinner before the game, and at 1530 (after we ate) Sissy began watching the game. Ah, shock, the score was already 35 to 0 in the beginning of the 2nd quarter. Whoops! Sissy couldn't complain too much though, because SHE was the one that said the game started at 1530. You guessed it ... the game had started an hour before. Ok, but John had his dinner and he was happy. The game was a rout anyway with Tech winning 63 to 7.
John took an hour long nap (he was tired from the ride) while Sissy finished watching the game. Then, it was time to have a fire in the pit (we'd already bought the firewood - and Virginia allowed campfires). The flame was roaring in no time, so we broke out our camping chairs to enjoy the moment. Then, it was on the cellphone to chat with some friends before the mosquitoes came out. And, after John was sufficiently eaten up, we headed inside for the night.
The next day was head-home time because Skip and Susan (our friends from Lynchburg) were both out of town until Wednesday. And, besides, the weather forecast for Tuesday through Friday was rain, rain and more rain.
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