Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Wyoming

State 45:

Welcome to the last post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I have only featured 45 of our beautiful United States because our wandering has  never taken us to Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island or Vermont.

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next and final state of my series is

Wyoming

Wyoming became the 44th state on July 10, 1890. The Capital is Cheyenne.

 

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Welcome to Wyoming

The Wyoming welcome signs feature the copyrighted symbol of a Bucking Horse and Rider that has been used on Wyoming license plates since 1936. According to legend the Bucking Horse and Rider is based on the early 1900’s horse Steamboat, “the horse that couldn’t be ridden”.

My husband and I are huge fans of the Longmire mysteries by Craig Johnson. I’ve read all of them except his latest The Western Star (I’m on the waiting list at the library). Set in the small fictional town of Durant in Absaroka County somewhere near Sheridan and the Montana border, the stories feature Sheriff Walt Longmire and a wonderful cast of characters. With beautiful descriptions of Wyoming and the Bighorn Mountains, page turning mysteries, and great dialog Johnson’s books are hard to put down. Boy Howdy!

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Bighorn mountains in Wyoming
Storm over the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming
Storm over the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first national park and is one of the most popular national parks in the U. S. The national park covers over 3,000 square miles. We spent several days exploring and as we drove through the park we stopped to explore the geysers, natural formations, hot springs, rivers, waterfalls, lakes and so much more.

Yellowstone is famous for it’s wildlife. Huge bison herds roam freely through the park and often stop traffic. Elk and many other animals are frequently seen.

If you love waterfalls you won’t be disappointed in Yellowstone.

Our time was limited in Grand Teton National Park but we were able to take in the majesty of the spectacular landscape.

On one of our trips we left the Black Hills of South Dakota and traveled into Wyoming to see the Devils Tower. As we drove along we could see the tower jutting up from the prairie. Our campsite at Devils Tower KOA had a great view of the tower.

As we took a hike around the base of the tower images from the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” popped into my head. There were climbers on the tower and some had made it all the way to the top.

We enjoyed our stay at Peter D’s RV Park in Sheridan on our way to Alaska in 2013 so much that we stopped there again on our return trip. With a view of the Bighorn mountains, a historic town to explore, and dinner at the Wyoming Rib and Chop House it was a worth a return visit.

On our return trip from Alaska, we drove south from Sheridan through the high plains where we saw ranches, several herds of pronghorn antelope, and prairie dogs beside the road. We spent a night in Casper, Wyoming at Ft. Caspar RV Park where we visited Fort Caspar on the North Platte River.

 

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina     South Dakota     Tennessee     Texas     Utah     Virginia   Washington     West Virginia     Wisconsin

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Wisconsin

State 44:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

Wisconsin

Wisconsin became the 30th state on May 29, 1848. The Capital is Madison.

On one of our trips through Wisconsin we had truck trouble on Saturday of Easter Weekend. It was too early in the season for the Madison KOA to be officially open but they let us have a site for the weekend while we waited until we could get the truck serviced on Monday morning. The campground was next to a cheese shop that had a little more money in their till after I got finished stocking up on wonderful Wisconsin cheese!

On Easter Sunday our server at the Cracker Barrel was from Georgia and I learned they serve grits even as far north as Wisconsin. After our Easter breakfast we drove around downtown Madison for a look at the state capital. On Monday morning the truck repairs were done early enough to hitch up the fifth wheel and continue north to our next destination.

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State Capital in Madison, Wisconsin

As we traveled north from Madison the snow started coming down. We arrived at Apple Creek Campground in DePere and set up camp in the snow. They weren’t officially open yet but the owners were great and let us have a site for a couple of nights. Seeing Lambeau Field and the Door County Peninsula were on our Wisconsin bucket list and the campground was close to both.

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We set up our RV in the snow in DePere

Jutting out into Lake Michigan is the Door County Peninsula.  Our visit was during the off season and as we drove around the peninsula very few places were open. There was beautiful farmland and several lighthouses to visit.

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Door County Peninsula
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Sherwood Point Lighthouse, Door County Peninsula
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Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, Door County Peninsula
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Cana Island
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Cana Island Light
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Baileys Harbor Lower Range Light is no longer in use
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Blondie got to put her feet in Lake Michigan

On the way back to the campground we stopped in Green Bay to see Lambau Field, the home field of the NFL Green Bay Packers.

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The fans love their Green Bay Packers
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Inside the Lambeau Field Atrium

On another of our trips we camped beside the Mississippi River at Grant River Corps of Engineers in Potosi, Wisconsin, population 711 in 2009. While we were enjoying lunch in the outdoor beer garden at the Potosi Brewery we watched as the town was preparing for their first annual Brewfest. The National Brewer’s Museum is located at the brewery. Also nearby was an interesting Grotto in Dickyville.

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We looked across at Iowa from the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River
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Grant River COE on the Mississippi River
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Sunset over the Mississippi River at Grant River COE
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Our campsite was very close to the train tracks
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Good Old Potosi Beer
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Springs at the Potosi Brewery
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Grotto in Dickeyville, Wisconsin
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Grotto in Dickeyville, Wisconsin

While camping at Viking Village RV Park near Stoughton we bought more wonderful Wisconsin cheese. I counted nine little Thirteen Lined Ground Squirrels running around behind our RV. There were also some Sandhill Cranes running across a field but they were too far away for a picture.

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Thirteen lined ground squirrel – mama with baby
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Thirteen lined ground squirrels
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Thirteen lined ground squirrel

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina     South Dakota     Tennessee     Texas     Utah     Virginia   Washington     West Virginia

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – West Virginia

State 43:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

West Virginia

West Virginia became the 35th state on June 20, 1863. The Capital is Charleston.

Almost heaven, West Virginia,
Blue ridge mountain, Shenandoah river,
Life is old there, older than the trees,
Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze

– from “Country Roads, Take Me Home” by John Denver

West Virginia is in my blood. My father grew up in a farm house high up in the southern part of the West Virginia Appalachian Mountains during the depression. Way back in the 1700’s my ancestors settled in the part of Virginia that later became West Virginia. Every year of my childhood my brothers and I climbed in the back seat of our family station wagon to travel up the narrow, winding roads up the mountain to spend a week at my grandparent’s house where my father grew up.

I’ve only traveled to West Virginia a few times in my adult life. Over 20 years ago Henry and I traveled to Pence Springs to attend a family reunion. The beautiful old Pence Springs Grand Hotel was our home for the reunion. Through the years the building has been a girl’s school, a resort, and a women’s prison. Since our stay there it has reverted back to a girl’s school.

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Pence Springs Grand Hotel
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Pence Springs Grand Hotel

The campground at Pipestem Resort State Park was our home for several days of exploring southern West Virginia. Located on the east rim of the Bluestone River Gorge, this scenic park was perfectly located for day trips all around the area.

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An aerial tramway takes visitors to the bottom of the 1,200 foot Bluestone Gorge in Pipestem State Park
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It’s a long way down to the Bluestone River

One of my ancestors,  Col. James Graham built this home in 1772. One of the oldest and most historic homes in West Virginia, The Graham House Preservation Society maintains the house and tours are available.

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Graham House, Summers County
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Graham House, Summers County

The New River is one of the oldest rivers on the continent and is one of the few that flows north. Biking trails, hiking trails, and white water rafting are popular activities in The New River Gorge National River. The New River Gorge Bridge is the longest single-span steel arch bridge in the world. We stopped at a few of the overlooks in the park for spectacular views of the river.

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The New River flows north
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Bridges over the New River
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Sandstone Falls on the New River
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New River Gorge Bridge is the longest single-span steel arch bridge in the world

We enjoyed walking around historic Hinton and took a drive to the Bluestone Dam.

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Bluestone Dam
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Bluestone Dam
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Hinton, WV Courthouse
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John Henry Statue, Talcott, West Virginia

After leaving Pipestem State Park our travels took us through Charleston where we passed by the state capitol on the way through the city.

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State capital in Charleston, West Virginia

In another part of West Virginia we toured parts of Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. We were camped at the Harpers Ferry / Civil War Battlefields KOA and took a ranger guided tour of the battlefield at Murphy Farm where Confederate Soldiers captured over 12,000 Union soldiers in September, 1862.

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Confederate soldiers climbed up this bank with cannons of the Shenandoah River at the Murphy Farm

Next we strolled around the historic buildings in the town of Harpers Ferry. John Brown’s raid took place here in 1859 and the town changed hands about 8 times during the Civil War. The town is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.  These days it is a popular place for tubing, kayaking and fishing.

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John Brown’s Fort at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, West Virginia
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Harpers Ferry
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The Shenandoah River at Harpers Ferry is a popular place for tubing an kayaking
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Harpers Ferry

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina     South Dakota     Tennessee     Texas     Utah     Virginia   Washington

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Washington

State 42:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

Washington

Washington became the 42nd state on November 11, 1889. The Capital is Olympia.

Our first journey through the state of Washington began when we crossed the state line from Idaho heading west. After a quick night in Spokane we drove across the plains of south east and central Washington. On both sides of the highway were fields of sweet corn, alfalfa, potatoes and spearmint. Later in the day the flat land changed to rolling hills.  We stopped at the Columbia River Gorge for a look before crossing the river.

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Columbia River Gorge
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Columbia River Gorge

After another quick stay at a campground outside of Seattle, we drove through Olympia and began our journey on Hwy 101 to the Olympic Peninsula. For many miles we traveled along the Hood Canal before arriving in Port Angeles to explore Olympic National Park.

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Hood Canal beside Hwy 101

A drive to the top of Hurricane Ridge was the first thing on our agenda. It was sunny when we started the ascent up the winding road but it wasn’t long before the snow started coming down. When we arrived at the top the snow was deep and there were snow boarders and cross country skiiers enjoying the snow. The view of the mountains was spectacular.

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Driving through snow on the road to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park
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Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park
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Deer beside the road on the way to Hurricane Ridge
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On the way back down we stopped for a view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca with Canada on the other side

Another day we drove by Crescent Lake on the way to the Hoh Rain Forest. When we arrived at the National Park entrance we were disappointed to find it closed. After making a few purchases at a small store a few miles from the entrance we found out there was a trail head just outside the park so off we went to explore the trail. There had been a big storm the previous year and there were many trees down.

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Crescent Lake
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Hiking in the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park
Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, Washington
Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, Washington

After our hike, we passed by a field with Roosevelt Elk on the drive back to the campground.

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Roosevelt Elk in Olympic National Park
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Roosevelt Elk in Olympic National Park

Dungeness Harbor was nearby so one night we went for dinner at the Three Crabs (the restaurant is now closed). There was a great view of the New Dungeness Lighthouse and were able to watch the sun go down.

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New Dungeness Lighthouse
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Sunset at Dungeness Harbor

Leaving Port Angeles in our rear view mirror we continued our journey through Washington on Hwy 101. As we drove south along the coast we caught our first glimpses of the Pacific Ocean. Hoping to find a parking space big enough for our truck and fifth wheel, we turned off the highway into a parking area at Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park. Success! It was a little tight but there was space to park and turn around to get back to the highway. After going down a short path to the beach we enjoyed our first walk beside the Pacific Ocean.

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Our first view of the Pacific Ocean was Ruby Beach
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Ruby Beach
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Ruby Beach

We continued down the coast to our next stop, Cape Disappointment Sate Park on the Long Beach Peninsula. It quickly became one of our all time favorite state park campgrounds. Our site was spacious with with a path behind the site. Inside the state park there were trails to explore, beautiful beaches, two lighthouses, magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean from high atop cliffs, and a Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. The first order of business to walk down the path and we were thrilled to step out onto a beautiful beach with a view of the North Head Lighthouse.

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I loved this view of the North Head Lighthouse as we walked out on the beach from the trail behind our campsite
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A short trail behind our campsite at Cape Disappointment State Park led us to this beautiful beach
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Sunset at Cape Disappointment State Park
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High above the Pacific Ocean at Cape Disappointment State Park
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Boat washed up on the beach at Cape Disappointment State Park

Lewis and Clark first spotted the Pacific Ocean while is the area and there is evidence of the their presence in and out of the state park. We learned a lot about their journey at the excellent Interpretive Center in the state park.

We explored some of the nearby towns and beaches on the Long Beach Peninsula. We ate our fill of local seafood at some of the restaurants in the area. Blondie loved running on the dog friendly beaches.

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Blondie loved the dog friendly beach at Long Beach

We loved the two lighthouses at Cape Disappointment State Park.

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North Head Light
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Cape Disappointment Lighthouse
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Our first Washington adventure ended when we crossed the Columbia River into Oregon. Several years later we returned to Washington on our return trip from Alaska. After a couple of nights in Orroville just south of the border from British Columbia our route took us past more beautiful scenery and the Grand Coulee Dam.

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Driving along in northern Washington after our trip to Alaska in 2013
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Near the Grand Coulee Dam
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Grand Coulee Dam

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina     South Dakota     Tennessee     Texas     Utah     Virginia

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Virginia

State 41:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. We have not visited Vermont so the next state in my series is

Virginia

Virginia became the 10th state on June 25, 1788. The Capital is Richmond.

Scenic mountain drives, a Sunday jam session at Floyd Country Store, Claytor Lake State Park, Natural Bridge, and a movie location are a few of the places we have visited in Virginia in recent years.

There are many spectacular views along the Skyline Drive which runs through the entire length of Shenandoah National Park.

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Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park

The Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia has some magnificent views and interesting rock formations.

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Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
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Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
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Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
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Butterfly and wildflowers along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Rocky Knob picnic area on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
Rocky Knob picnic area on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
Blue Ridge Parkway from overlook at Rocky Knob Visiter's Center
Blue Ridge Parkway from overlook at Rocky Knob Visiter’s Center

The movie “Dirty Dancing” was filmed at Mountain Lake Lodge.

Mountain Lake Lodge, Virginia
Mountain Lake Lodge, Virginia

Before we had our fifth wheel we drove through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel
Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

Listening to the Appalachian music and watching the flatfoot dancers at the Sunday oldtime music  jam session at Floyd Country Store was a great way to spend a rainy afternoon.

The Floyd Country Store
Floyd Country Store in Floyd, VA
Sunday Jam Session at the Floyd Country Store
Sunday Jam Session at the Floyd Country Store
Sunday Jam Session at Floyd Country Store
These guys could really play!

Claytor Lake State Park has been a frequent camping destination since we have been RV’ing and is one of our favorite state parks with a beautiful lake, trails, and wildlife.

Trail at Claytor Lake State Park
Trail at Claytor Lake State Park
Deer visited the campground on our last morning at Claytor Lake
Deer in the campground at Claytor Lake

Seeing the Natural Bridge requires either a walk down many steps to a paved path or taking a shuttle drive down the hill to the beginning of the path. Either way it is worth it to see this amazing natural formation.

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Natural Bridge, Virginia
Small waterfall beside the trail at Natural Bridge, Virginia
Small waterfall beside the trail at Natural Bridge, Virginia

 

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina     South Dakota     Tennessee     Texas     Utah