April 25, 2015
Today’s trip started a bit rough. And when I say today, I mean at 1:00 in the morning when the phone rang and someone asked “what room are you in?” My sleep-addled brain didn’t think to answer “the room you called jackass”. It turned out there had been a glitch in the computer and some rooms were overbooked. Oh well. Then when I thought I got a free breakfast it turns out it was a whopping $2.50 off breakfast at the Perkins attached to the hotel. Had it been free I would have overlooked the no chain restaurant rule. But forget that!
So we hit the road on an empty tummy with not even my beloved wafflewich in hand. I had been told by the lovely gentleman in Pine Grove Furnace State Park that we had to go to the Skyline Drive through the Shenandoah Mountains and that is where we were headed.
Now I’m used to large attractions having large signs but as we passed through one town I lost my way. Good thing too because we found a lovely little restaurant, The Apple House, that sent me on my way with eggs and bacon and pancakes and home fries and six doughnuts. And directions on how to get to where we were going.
I drove up to the gate and all of a sudden I learned that I have to pay a $15.00 fee to get in. I waffled on it for a few minutes then figure $15.00 is an acceptable expense. We stopped at the first rest stop and I shared my bacon and pancakes with Jack and Piper as we getting pelted by ice pellets on top of a mountain.
When I think back on this trip that moment stands out so clearly. Partly because it was so absurd but also because there I was, literally on top of a mountain, with Jack and Piper and it was just the three of us on this unlikely adventure.
Then we set off down the 105 mile road that winds it’s way through the park. There are 75 overlooks and over 500 miles of trails. And all of it is gorgeous.
We did a couple of hikes before the rain started to fall again. On one trail I looked up and there less than 50 meters in front of us was a deer. Piper saw it and was frozen. I pulled my phone out of my pocket, got the camera up, switched to vibrate, was bringing the phone up…. And that’s when Jack moved and scared it away. I had their leashes looped over the same arm that I used to hold the phone so I ended up with a great blurry shot that I just can’t bear to erase. We hiked on a little bit further and came to the perfect spot to turn around: a rock that jutted out from the cliff in a break in the vegetation. The kind of spot that seems as though no one has ever stood there before. We went back to the car and had a break and I finally had my cheese and pepperoni.
There was a light intermittent rain that fell that day and then fog started to roll in when we were about 2/3 of the way down the road so I ended up missing a lot of the views. But then deer also decided to come out which made up for missing the one on the trail.
We met several people that day including a group of boys out camping, an older man who had fallen down the trail but was still hiking with a bloody face, and I gave a woman a ride to her car since her group came out on the road about 2 miles too soon and it was raining quite heavily at that point.
By the time we hit the end of the trail the fog was so thick you could barely see the signs and I had to make a quick decision: go west to Roanoke (the site where an entire town’s population had vanished) or east towards the coast. Since I wanted to go east eventually that was the way I started until I stopped when I could get a cell signal to start looking for a hotel. Weeeelllllllllll unless I wanted to sell a kidney, it turned out the only hotels in my price range were in Roanoke anyway so back around we went. The dogs didn’t seem to mind turning around since they were snoring like little chainsaws in the back seat.
We ended up staying at the Comfort Inn in Royal Mount on the outskirts of Roanoke. I was so tired from the day spent hiking in the mountains that I did not even bother to take a photo.