Rest Day #2 and the Appalachians

Trip Start Oct 10, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Virginia
Sunday, October 23, 2011

We stayed a second night in Lexington and visited the mostamazingdogparkever three more times.  By the end Lily had actually burned off all excess energy and seemed ready to get back in the car for a nap (all those dogs, all that grass, so much to do!)  We set off for eastern Kentucky and the beginning of our journey through the Appalachian Mountains.  Again, we took one of the state parkways, this time the Kentucky Mountain Parkway.  I have mixed feelings about the parkways.  They are gorgeous roads, both scenically and in terms of engineering (they are a joy to drive).  But, like the interstates, they bypass most of the towns.  So by the end of the day I end up feeling like I covered a lot of ground, saw a lot of scenery and yet didn't really experience much. 

We left the Parkway to explore the Red River Gorge area, with it's fascinating geology and vistas.  Then we wound our way up into West Virginia along the 'Country Music Highway' and the Big Sandy River, ending up in the state capitol, Charleston.

West Virginia is one of three US states that I had never set foot in (Alaska and North Dakota being the other two).  I only had a vague concepts in my mind (coal, poverty, beautiful, wild).  Though I didn't spend a lot of time there, Charleston seemed a prosperous and charming city, with at least one excellent Indian restaurant (one of the best meals I've had on this trip).  They also have dog park, which was quite a contrast to Lexington, about 1/4 acre on a busy street downtown.  But it was a dog park, so we checked it out and ended up having a lovely chat with Neddy Arevelo, percussionist for Donna the Buffalo (a festival band I've heard of but know nothing about).  You meet the most interesting people at the dog park.  His dog Beast was quite enamored of Lily, so a good time was had by all.

I have to say, I've been on some amazing drives this trip.  Colorado was full of drama, the prairies touched my soul, the rivers fascinated me.  But for sheer loveliness, today cannot be beat.  We took two scenic byways, the Midland Trail and the Highland Trail, through the middle of West Virginia.  The fall colors were just past peak in most areas, still full of fire but mixed with bare trees as well.  We followed rivers and streams, saw bridges and waterfalls, passed coal processing facilities and lumber mills and all of it was amazing.  The West Virginia license plate reads "Wild, Wonderful" and that's an understatement.  This is definitely a place I will come back to.  The communities I drove through were a mix, from prosperous to poor and everything in between.  

One thing that struck me today was the sense that as you drive from West to East, you drive back into our history.  Arizona and the Rockies were all about the Wild West, Nebraska and the plains emphasized the Pioneers and the rivers were about commerce.  Driving into the eastern Mountains I was struck by all the Civil and Revolutionary war architectures and historical markers.  Everything feels much older here.

The afternoon brought a huge surprise.  Around 3 pm I finally came in range of a cell tower and my phone lit up with messages and calls from my moving company.  Apparently, after confirming on Friday that delivery was still scheduled for Thursday, I was informed that no, in fact they are already in New York and need to deliver tomorrow morning!   After a scramble of phone calls, texts and emails, my friend Linnea stepped in to save the day and will meet the mover for me, God bless her!

We finished the day driving the back roads of the Blue Ridge mountains and the Shenadoah Valley, places I've heard about, and sung about, but never seen before.  The Shenandoah Valley was dotted with cow pastures, and the cows had the gall to stand right next to the road, frustrating Lily no end.  She was quite vocal about her displeasure with my refusal to stop.
So it looks like tomorrow will see the end of this journey, as I head up the Turnpike for a long days drive...home.
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nadyapb on

YAY you are in my home state! LOL! I was just about to tell you that if you directly North you should stop by the Bulgarian Restaurant in Winchester, VA, but Yelp says they've closed! BOOO!!! I was also going to suggest heading East - have lunch in downtown Fredericksburg and get coffee at Hyperion Espresso. From there, you could head into Westmoreland county and pay a visit to George Washington's birthplace and Stratford Hall, the home of the Lees of Virginia and the birthplace of Robert E. Lee - they're literally 10 miles from each other. Then take Hwy 301 to cross over the Potomac into Maryland. It's all a moot point though because you have to hurry to your new home! How exciting! :)
I am going to be following in your footsteps on Friday - I plan to go to Shenandoah National Park and do the Skyline drive, and maybe even get on the Blue Ridge Parkway!
Anyway I should stop talking. This is what happens when Virginia comes up. :)
Enjoy your last day on the road! Are you ready to settle in or could you drive for a few weeks longer? :)

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