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

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – North Carolina

State 30:

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

North Carolina

North Carolina became the 12th state on November 21, 1789. The capital is Raleigh.

From the Great Smokey Mountains to the Outer Banks, there is a lot to explore in North Carolina. Waterfalls and beaches, hikes and scenic drives, mountains and racetracks, wildlife and wildflowers  –  these are just a few of the things that make North Carolina memorable.

Back before our RVing days we wandered around the Outer Banks seeing the lighthouses and beaches, visiting the Wright Brothers Monument where they took their first flight, and taking the ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke.  Another ferry took us from Ocracoke back to the mainland where we visited Bath where the pirate Blackbeard once lived.

If you love waterfalls, you won’t be disappointed in North Carolina.

It doesn’t get any better than a campsite with a beautiful view. Our campsite at Campfire Lodgings in Asheville was perfect for hanging out after hiking or touring the fabulous Biltmore Estate.

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Blondie taking a break at our campsite at Campfire Lodgings in Asheville
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Biltmore Estate in Asheville
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Sunset at Campfire Lodgings in Asheville

I felt as if I had gone back in time to Mayberry as we wandered around Andy Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy.

We ended our tour of the Charlotte Motor Speedway in the winner’s circle.

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In the Winner’s Circle at Charlotte Motor Speedway

One of the hikes we made was on Whiteside Mountain in the Nantahala National Forest.

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Whiteside Mountain in Nantahala National Forest

Whether it’s the leaves showing their fall colors or the flowers showing their brilliant blooms, the vibrant colors of the North Carolina mountains change with the seasons.

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Fall Colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway

We explored Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Mingus Mill in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park near Cherokee.

And if it’s wildlife you’re looking for, try visiting in the fall where you might see the bugling elk in Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

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

Blue Ridge Parkway, Creek Side Camping and Barbeque in North Carolina

After two days of elk watching in Cataloochee Valley we packed a lunch and set out from our campground in Waynesville for a 40 mile drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway in search of fall colors.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469 mile scenic parkway through the southern Appalachian Mountains in Virginia and North Carolina. The northernmost point of the parkway is Mile 0 in Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, Virginia. The southernmost point is Mile 469 near Cherokee, North Carolina. There are scenic overlooks, picnic areas, hiking trails, and campgrounds all along the way.

Although we have traversed several sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the past we had never been on the area in North Carolina north of the Highest Point at Mile 431. On our journey this time we traveled south from  Mile 408 at Mount Pisgah to Maggie Valley at about Mile 455.

The first order of business was a picnic at the Mount Pisgah picnic area at the top of a short paved trail. After lunch under the trees we started our journey south, stopping at several of the scenic overlooks. It was too early in the year for the peak autumn colors but a few of the leaves were beginning to change.

Fall Colors on Blue Ridge Parkway in NC
Fall Colors on Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

Looking Glass Rock got it’s name because sunlight will reflect off the granite when there is water collected on it.

Looking Glass Rock Blue Ridge Parkway in NC
Looking Glass Rock Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

There was beautiful scenery every where we looked.

Beautiful day for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC
Beautiful day for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

We found a few more fall colors.

A few fall colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC
A few fall colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

There are many folktales surrounding the Devil’s Courthouse. It was getting late and we decided to skip the trail to the top.

Devil's Courthouse Blue Ridge Parkway in NC
Devil’s Courthouse Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

The picture on the left was taken 8 years ago when we first stopped at the Highest Point of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile 431. The one on the right from this visit.

The photo below is the view from the Highest Point.

Highest Point Blue Ridge Parkway in NC
Highest Point Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

A few clouds rolled in as we continued south,

Blue Ridge Parkway in NC
Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

Our home base for exploring Cataloochee Valley and the Blue Ridge Parkway was Creekwood RV Park a few miles north of Waynesville and Maggie Valley. Our site backed up to a beautiful creek. It was a perfect place to relax after a day of wandering.

Of course we had to try some North Carolina barbeque while were were there. The Heywood Smokehouse in Waynesville was recommended and the spareribs, chicken, and brisket were done to perfection. And it turns out the owners are originally from Georgia!

Heywood Smokehouse in Waynesville, NC
Heywood Smokehouse in Waynesville, NC

Beautiful fall weather, bugling elk, scenic drives, camping beside a creek, and delicious barbeque. It doesn’t get much better than that.

A few days in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia

Fall was in the air when we arrived in Virginia. In just a few days we went from hot and muggy to crisp and cool. Our shorts and tee shirts were traded for jeans and sweatshirts. The air conditioner was turned off and the windows were open to let the fresh air in. And the best part was campfires at night.

We love to stay at Claytor Lake State Park in Dublin, Virginia when we visit our daughter’s family. We had a great time hanging out with our grandkids in their new home and meeting their two new kittens. Watching our granddaughter’s swim team practice and our grandson’s soccer game were the highlights of this trip and the reason we came up here.

Morning walk at Claytor Lake State Park
Morning walk at Claytor Lake State Park

 

 

Sadly, we couldn’t spend every minute with the family so we spent some time exploring the area. This was our fifth stay at Claytor Lake and wandering on the many trails in the park is always one of my favorite activities.Trail at Claytor Lake State Park

Trail at Claytor Lake State Park

Wildflowers in the woods at Claytor Lake State Park
Wildflowers in the woods at Claytor Lake State Park
An early morning walk in the woods
An early morning walk in the woods

One day we decided to take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. In order to get to our destination, the Rocky Knob Visitor’s Center at milepost 170, we had to drive about 30 miles on a narrow country road through beautiful farmland. After a stop at the visitor’s center to get my National Park Passport stamped we had lunch in the picnic area. A narrow one way road winds through the picnic area which has picnic tables scattered around the hills.

Rocky Knob picnic area on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
Rocky Knob picnic area on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
Rocky Knob picnic area on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
Rocky Knob picnic area on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

After lunch we enjoyed our short drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The views from the overlooks were spectacular

Blue Ridge Parkway from overlook at Rocky Knob Visiter's Center
Blue Ridge Parkway from overlook at Rocky Knob Visiter’s Center
Buffalo Mountain from the Saddle Overlook on Blue Ridge Parkway
Buffalo Mountain from the Saddle Overlook on Blue Ridge Parkway

We only drove about ten miles on the parkway before exiting to the town of Floyd for a return visit to the Floyd Country Store. I posted about our visit to their Sunday Jam Session in this post from 2013.

Floyd Country Store
Floyd Country Store

Saturday morning before driving to Roanoke to our grandson’s soccer game I walked down to the lake to watch the start of the Claytor Lake Triathlon. An 80 year old man, his 50 year old son and his grandson all participated in the event. After watching the swimmers take off, I walked to the beach to see them exit the water and run to their bikes to begin the bike race.

On our last morning at the state park I woke up to see four deer in the campground.

Deer visited the campground on our last morning at Claytor Lake
Deer visited the campground on our last morning at Claytor Lake
Two fawns in the campground
Two fawns in the campground

On Sunday afternoon our daughter’s family came out for a visit. So much fun sitting by the fire, going for a walk, playing ladderball, and sharing a meal of burgers, hot dogs and of course  s’mores. A perfect end to our stay at Claytor Lake.

Twists in the Road

While on our RV journeys across the U. S. and Canada in our fifth wheel we have come to many twists in the road.

Moose on the Alaska Highway
Moose on the Alaska Highway
Bridal Veil Falls Overlook on Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada
Bridal Veil Falls Overlook on Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada
Big Thompson Canyon Hwy 34 Colorado
Big Thompson Canyon Hwy 34 Colorado. This road flooded in September, 2013, about 2 weeks after this photo was taken
Twist in the Blue Ridge Parkway
Twist in the Blue Ridge Parkway

We’re not wandering at the moment. These are just a few of our favorite twists in the road.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist