Wednesday, October 2, 2013

September Road Trip No. 1 - Staunton and the Blue Ridge Parkway, Va.

Some people might think that spending eight days on the road in one month was not their idea of fun, especially when other faster options exist for getting from A to B, but for me the journey is an integral part of the experience of travel and whenever possible I would chose land over air travel. Of course, time and cost factors always play a part in the calculation of which is the best means of getting to any destination, but in September I was lucky enough to be able to indulge in two road trips.

The first was a trip from Westchester, New York to Greensboro, North Carolina, a journey of approximately 579 miles each way according to Mapquest if the I78 and I81 route is used. While the distance is not impossible to cover in a day, it would require about ten hours or more behind the wheel, which is certainly not my idea of fun. Nor is the idea of spending all the time on an Interstate when two-lane highways offer more interesting and scenic options.

Fortunately, we were able to split the journey over two days. The first took us through New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia, admittedly mostly on Interstates, to an overnight stop in Staunton, Virginia.  

Located in the Shenandoah Valley, Staunton is a beautiful small town, well worth visiting. 
Downtown, Staunton
The old movie theatre

There is so much to see and do, that one night is not really enough to sample all the delights it offers, but we made the most of our time with a wander around the downtown area full of historic buildings, a visit to the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, and a meal at The Depot Grille , a wonderfully refurbished old freight depot at Staunton station.
Woodrow Wilson's presidential car
After an overnight at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel, which offers luxurious accommodation at very affordable prices, we continued our journey south along the Blue Ridge Parkway from Waynesboro to Roanoke, a relatively short section of the 469 mile road, but a magnificent drive offering stunning vistas at almost every turn.

The wooded mountains, which in the distant really do look blue, stretched as far as the eye could see, only occasionally interrupted by a lake, river or a patchwork of farmland. When we got out of the car at various overlooks, the most noticeable aspect was the silence, so quiet that at times it seemed that we were the only ones on the road.

It was with some regret that we had to leave the Parkway at Roanoke to continue onto Greensboro via US-220. I ’d love to travel the full length of it (to Smoky Mountain National Park in North Carolina) – yet another addition to my travel to-do list – and can only imagine that its magnificence is multiplied when fall adds its tapestry of colors.    

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