Monday, September 03, 2007

Flatwoods, WV to Shenandoah N.P., VA

Day 3 - 323 miles through West Virginia and Virginia

We woke up at 6:30 AM, half an hour before sun rise, and again I had to tweek the route for today since we were supposed to be further east by now.

Sutton Lane Motel

We got to watch the sun rise from our balcony this morning

We liked the Waffle Hut so much, we went there again today for breakfast. We hit the road again hoping to get to the campsite early, at least this time we were leaving early enough to make it happen. We had reservations for tonight, so we needed to get there.

French toast at the Waffle Hut

I'm stuffed

19 and 4 were good roads, 20 had a bit of traffic

All the roads were great with little traffic until we got close to Buckhannon on 20, a bit of traffic here. Then we arrived at 33, once the highway portion ended the traffic got thicker and it only got worst as we continued east.

Riding 33 again

Wonderful and wide curves here on 33, unlike the narrow 33 we were on yesterday

I'm going to catch up to that black pickup truck and follow it all the way to Virginia, he wasn't going slow

Going up

Sweepers and mountains

Seneca Rocks on 33 in West Virginia

We stopped at the Seneca Rocks. The few stores there did not have public bathrooms so we geared up and rode over to the visitor center at Seneca Rocks, which by the way, is a really nice facility.

33 is a very nice and twisty road, so too bad we couldn’t enjoy it as much as we wanted to. At times we were riding in first gear, that’s how slow the traffic was moving. Going to Harrisonburg was also not much fun since it’s a good sized city and there was a lot of traffic there. Instead of grabbing the interstate as I saw best through my GPS I ended up following the signs that took me out of the way to I-81 North. The interstate was also crowded, but we didn’t have to go very far on it. Today was another hot and humid day, even on the interstate I couldn't cool off.

I-81 to 211 to 340, then finally we made it to Skyline Drive

The plan was to meet up with Scott and Holly for lunch at the beginning of the Skyline Drive in Front Royal, VA, but even though it was not that far away, the traffic was slowing us down. They arrived at the meeting spot and we were still 30-40 minutes away so they rode in our direction, turned around when they passed us, then Mike and I pulled over to ride with them until we arrived in Front Royal where the traffic was crawling also.

Meeting up with Scott and Holly

Following Scott to Front Royal and food

It was already 5PM, we needed to eat quick. We got to the subway but it was closed since it was Labor Day, so we went to the Taco Bell/Pizza Hut instead. Mike and I were starved, we hadn’t eaten since breakfast this morning.

The four of us had pizza

After food and some chit chat, we had to go, we still had a bunch of miles to get though before we could call it a night. We said our good byes, paid $10 to enter Shenandoah National Park and headed south on Skyline Drive. The 35MPH speed limit wasn’t going to do, but 45 seemed reasonable.

Skyline Drive

At first the road was mellow and just winding gently, but south of 211 it got pretty tight with many elevation changes. Scott had warned us about there being a lot of deer in the park and he was not kidding, they were all over, some just gawking at us from the grass by the road as we passed them, some dashing across the road, even had a bear cross the road in front of us, I had to swerve around a couple deer that just decided to park it in the road.

The deer came out at sunset

We didn’t have that much further to go, another 50 or 60 miles, but at 45 miles an hour with plenty of corners to run though and deer to avoid, the campsite at Loft Mountain was just not coming up as quickly as the light was disappearing.

Mike on Skyline Drive

Finally it was completely dark and I do mean completely. No lights except for the tiny specs of light from the towns below us way in the distance, the view was actually amazing, really made me feel like we were riding in the sky. We put on some warmer layers and kept going, Mike in front now with his not so bright headlights. I clicked on my brights behind him and illuminated the road and more, my headlight rock.

The ST3 and the mountains at sunset

Sunset on Skyline Drive

With only about 30 more miles we were completely out of gas. I knew that there was gas on Skyline Drive and there was some near our camp site but would they be open so late? And would we be able to make it that far. As tired as I was there was no other choice, with route 33 coming up and a town only 6 miles away, we didn’t want to risk running out of gas so we rode down the dark and twisty mountain road and gassed up below. As we started the bikes up again to head back to Skyline Drive I realized that I was pretty tired now. It was now kind of chilly, but not too bad. To my surprise the last few miles of the road to Loft Mountain was pea-graveled, this was not fun so late in the day and in the dark.

Mike in front of me on Skyline Drive around 1oPM

We arrived at the campsite at around 10:30PM. About 45 minutes later we had the tent set up. The camp site was pretty big but the parking spot was a bit of a walk from the spot where we needed to set up the tent so getting our stuff from the bike there in complete darkness only using camping headlights was a slow process.

With everything stowed away, I left my bag of toiletries on the picnic table along with a bag containing some granola bars, not sure if the bears can small shampoo or lotion through the bottle or granola though the wrapper, but I wasn’t going to leave it on the bike incase they did smell it and I wasn’t going to leave it in the tent either.

We fell asleep surround by the sounds of crickets and other insects. The night was cool, my 40 degree bag and a couple of layers kept me plenty warm, toward the morning I zipped the zipper from my sleeping bag all the way up but I was never cold. The lows for the night were supposed to be in the low 60’s to uppder 50's.


Payne said...

So, did your shampoo and granola bars survive the night? :-)

Anna said...

Nothing was touched, so either they were not around or they don't like these flavors... he he