AMERICA’S BEST ROAD

May 15, 2010

From Mary’s Desk”

Someone may quarrel about what road is America’s best road, but for Jim and I,  its the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Dr.  Despite the rain and the mists and the haze (partly from air pollution), we hated to descend into the land of stoplights, sirens, traffic and, well, life in the fast lane.

Our last night, at Big Meadows Campground was bathed in light after the rain of the previous day. Wooded campsites, knee deep in wildflowers, spacious and comfortable. Our lovely temporary yard.

On the road, bicyclers and motor cycle enthusiasts were out in numbers. We never heard loud motor cycles. Its as though their machines recognize the wonder of this peaceful drive.

We stopped at the Big Meadow Visitors Center. The Big Meadow is visible outside the window where 11 deer were grazing. When the Shenandoah National Park was under construction, the construction crews and one  CCC Camp set up in this big meadow. This park had five CCC Camps working here. The first CCC Camp was nearby, as an experiment, to see how the project would work. It worked very well and gave some of the mountain people that lived in the park, employment as well. It was a time when hog cholera, the depression, and a horrible drought hit the area and many mountain people appreciated the work though not the eminent domain that eventually took their lands.

Shenandoah was built with more private funds from the states than government funds. A government parks commission, made up of movers and shakers, along with Virginia’s Governor Byrd, got the project moving when they invited President Hoover to visit the area. He was “hooked”. An avid trout fisherman, he loved the area and bought 165 acres and built a cabin on it. The cabin was a four mile hike in and we didn’t visit it although its available to visitors and is part of the park system now.


The Massanutten Resort, built in the late 1800’s, was one of the most popular places for the affluent people to escape the nearby cities where population was swelling and automobiles were everywhere. The first national parks were in the west, where nature was preserved and population was thin. It was a new concept to make a park so near the heavily  populated city areas. The ridge line road  was carved out of these Eastern mountain ranges, yet still preserves nature in all of its glory, quite a feat. The Appalachian Trail was realigned in some places to make way for the motor cars, and what we have is a grand place with over 500 miles in hiking trails, campgrounds, beautiful rivers, waterfalls, overlooks to horizon to horizon mountain views, and peace-giving nature not far from the cities.

We saw part of the Appalachian Trail and many backpack laden walkers using this great resource. The beauty of it is that you can walk it all or just a short part of it on a weekend.

We were saddened to see it come to an end. Back to the world of traffic and noise and all those things we can’t do without. A laundromat, a wonderful Martin’s Grocery Store in Front Royal where you can buy already prepared foods, and good bread. And, best of all, a visit with Glen and Karen Littlefield, with new grandbabies, I’ve never met.

Jim says:

We’ve just completed six days in RVing Heaven.

Yesterday we drove 50 miles and completed our second day on Skyline Drive. It was the end of 305 miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway and 105 miles on Skyline Drive. Six days of delightful weather, beautiful scenery, low-speed limits (45 on the Blue Ridge Parkway and 35 on Skyline Drive), no speeding drivers, no trash along the roadways, winding, curvy, up and down roads at elevations reaching 4,000 feet through the states of North Carolina and Virginia.

About 32 miles from the end we passed through Mary’s Rock Tunnel with only inches to spare.

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and then…about one hour later…we were back in reality…90 degree heat…traffic congestion…traffic lights…trucks…speeding drivers…exhaust fumes…trash along side the roads…YUK! Oh well, it was great while it lasted.To see the other 10 photos I took on our last day in RVing Heaven, click this link…
http://picasaweb.google.com/jimjrver/51510#

We ended up parking at the large and beautiful Moose Lodge #829 in Front Royal, Virgina. Mary has friends from the Washington, D.C. area, about 60 miles distant, coming to visit today so we will spend tonight here as well.

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2010
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.panamaorbust.com

Jim says:

Yesterday we drove 115 miles, 60 miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway and 55 miles on Skyline Drive…all in the clouds/fog! Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah National Park begin where the Blue Ridge Parkway ends.

The entire journey my maximum vision was from about 50 feet to about 100 feet which meant from 20 to 35 miles per hour the whole day. A very tiring day of driving. 5.5 hours of driving to do 115 miles.

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I’m sure the Shenandoah National Park is very pretty…if I could just see it!
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The only place with no clouds/fog was inside of a tunnel.
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The mystery flower from yesterday’s Blog is a Mountain Laurel which was identified in the Shenandoah National Park brochure.
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The fog/clouds abated only slightly just about the time we arrived at our campsite.

Here’s the official government website link…
http://www.nps.gov/shen/index.htm

Here’s a Wikipedia informational link…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skyline_Drive

Today we continue in a Northeasterly direction.

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2010
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.panamaorbust.com

Jim says:

We drove 52 miles yesterday. Here’s 10 photos…

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The day started sunny but hazy.
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The stonework on the bridges is beautiful.
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35 miles of today’s journey went through the Jefferson National Forest.
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Above 3,500 feet, the trees have fewer leaves.
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The James River as seen through my driver’s window screen. At 649 feet elevation, it’s the lowest point of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
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About one mile beyond the James River is Otter Lake.
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Mary holds a small delicate flower.
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The small delicate flower tree. Neither Mary nor I know the name. Do You?
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About one mile beyond Otter Lake, the Otter Creek Campground was open.
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Mary relaxing (snoozing) at our campsite. It’s nice to see here at ease as opposed to her hectic life when she’s at home in California. The afternoon was overcast with a temperature of 70 degrees with relatively low humidity.

About 3:30 PM the skies opened up and it rained HARD for about an hour. Later in the evening we enjoyed a nice two-hour conversation with our neighbors, Diane and Frank Wilson from Florida. They recently completed a couple of months RVing in Mexico. They bought a copy of my Panama or Bust book from me.

Today we have another 60 miles of Blue Ridge Parkway left to drive. Once completed, we will have driven 305 of the 469 mile parkway. Road repairs/closures prevented us from driving the entire length.

The roadway then continues on for another 105 miles as Skyline drive as part of the Shenandoah National Park.

Here’s the official government website link…
http://www.nps.gov/blri/index.htm

Here’s a Wikipedia informational link…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Ridge_Parkway

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2010
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.panamaorbust.com

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