We thought about working in the yard; we really did! But with a basically sunny day–after so many rainy weekends–we decided to go for a drive, instead.
We headed west on Rt. 250 and got on the Blue Ridge Parkway at the top of Afton Mountain. We’re within 10 miles of the north end of this 470-mile road along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and we go often!
We stopped at the first overlook on the Parkway to eat a quick breakfast that we’d picked up at a convenience store on the way. We then continued south for a few more miles and turned right onto Reids Gap Road.
This narrow, curvy road offers some amazing views as it winds its way down the mountain to the Shenandoah Valley. We stopped to take this picture, and the ridges you see in the distance are the Allegheny Mountains, which are on the other side of the valley. (You can click on all of the pictures in this post for a larger view.)
When we got to the bottom, we turned left on Love Road (Rt. 814) when we actually should have turned right. Whoops! Oh well, when we reached the Blue Ridge Parkway again (south of where we’d turned onto Reids Gap Road), we simply turned around and drove back on Rt. 814 to Rt. 664, and then on to Sherando Lake and Campground.
Sherando Lake is truly a special place. We camped there for the first time last September (pics from our camping trip are here), and we hope to camp there again sometime this summer.
Driving in, I wondered if I’d see my cousin, Mary, and her husband. Sherando is their favorite campground, but when we drove through, checking all of the sites, we didn’t see them or their trailer. I was surprised to see that a majority of the sites in the campground were vacant, but given the time of day, I guess most Memorial Day weekend campers had already checked out and headed home.
The lack of campers in the campgrounds, however, was more than offset by the number of people at the lake and in the picnic areas! Since parking spaces were limited in the beach area (and we didn’t plan to swim anyhow), we drove up to the dam above the lower lake. You can see the beach at the far end.
We saw a large bird flying high above the lake, and it appeared to be an osprey, even though I couldn’t get a clear shot. Just recently, I’ve seen a few ospreys at other local lakes, so I guess it’s possible….
After leaving Sherando Lake, we headed north towards Lyndhurst, then turned left on Howardsville Turnpike (Rt. 610) towards Stuarts Draft. This is another pretty valley drive, and our next stop was at Shenandoah Acres Family Campground.
I went to this lake with my parents when I was a kid, and when my sons were young, we spent a fun day there in the 1990s with some family friends. In 2004, however, the lake was drained and the property was basically abandoned–for years. Now, with new ownership and management, Shenandoah Acres is thriving again! The campground boasts close to 300 sites, and we enjoyed driving around, looking at all of the different types of trailers and RVs. Our favorite sites were in “The Loop.”
After touring the campground (our second of the day!), we drove towards The Cheese Shop, which is also in Stuarts Draft. Wayne has been there many times, but this was the first time for me, and I was so impressed with all of the spices, herbs, and non-GMO offerings they have.
We bought an assortment of things–including some cheese–and as we walked out to the car, I had a nice episode of “coincidence”: While I hadn’t seen the cousin I’d been thinking about at the campground, my cousin’s daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren had just pulled in! We had a nice, but brief, visit in the parking lot. 🙂
Since it seemed that “campgrounds” had become the day’s theme, we decided to check out yet another one near Staunton, VA. We took scenic backroads from the Cheese Shop to Rt. 11.
The Staunton/Walnut Hills KOA is a relatively small campground off Rt. 11 south of Staunton. A couple of friends who’ve stayed there had told me about the ducks that hang out near the lake, and sure enough, there were ducks everywhere. We especially liked sites 26-33 along the lake.
So after touring these three campgrounds (Sherando, Shenandoah Acres, and Walnut Hills), we talked about the things we liked about each one and where we’d like to try to go next with our trailer. Sherando is still probably top on our list, but I think we’d enjoy Shenandoah Acres, too.
As we started for home on Rt. 250, Wayne asked if I’d like to stop at the overlook on Afton Mountain. This is another favorite spot, which offers beautiful views of the Rockfish Valley.
There was a gorgeous Airstream trailer parked at the overlook, towed by a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Very, very nice set up…. Yeah, a girl can dream….
When I looked at the sign on the back window of the trailer, however, I had a flash of “alternate reality” or whatever! We’d been looking at campgrounds and trailers all day, and suddenly there “we” were! WOW!
The trailer’s door was open and a woman was reading, sitting on a couch across from the door, so as Wayne walked by, he said hello, and the three of us ended up talking for a few minutes. Turns out her first name is Barrett, and she laughed when I told her my last name is Barrett–and that I’m an art teacher. She said she’d be spending the next three days doing en plein air painting, and I told her that our school has offered en plein air painting events for local artists. Small, funny world. 🙂
After we got home, I looked up her website, and it’s most impressive. Check it out: http://barrettedwards.com/about
Pretty darned cool coincidental ending to our campground-themed day!
Here’s a map showing our route today, and you can click here for an interactive map: