view of Shenandoah Valley

Day 52 – Skyline Drive through Shenandoah Valley

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Day 52 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

I woke up to rain, and as I’m writing this at 9:40 this evening it has yet to stop.  Per my waitress Laura’s recommendation, I stopped by Bodo’s for a bagel and coffee, the locals’ favorite.  What made Bodo’s even better is it was located directly across from the UVA campus which is splendid. With a full belly, I headed north to Shenandoah National Park.

Shenandoah National Park

In the Shenandoah Valley, with rain comes fog.  Visibility is the worst it has been for me in recent memory.  Traveling more than 25 mph would be hazardous, especially with all the deer.  I think I saw about six of them during my 55 mile jaunt along Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park.  The road, appropriately named, curved around the mountainous ridge tops peppered in trees covered in green lichen, some bare and some harboring fall leaves. While I got lucky a handful of times and came to an overlook of the Shenandoah Valley without fog, the majority of the nearly two hour drive was haze ridden. 

Big Meadows Campground

I arrived at the campgrounds around 1pm and took the afternoon to reorganize. VANilla was getting messy from moving in and out of houses.  In addition to organizing, I sneaked a hot shower this afternoon while it was relatively warm (in the forties and not snowing yet).  The evening forecast calls for a 60% chance of snow!

The ranger at Big Meadows campground was just fantastic.  She informed me that if it snows tonight, we have to stay put until the road is plowed.  After discussing my travel alternatives and the fact I wasn’t sure how to work the heat in my vehicle, she asked the campground host to help me. 

Bob came down to my site a few hours later and showed me how to operate.  Sadly, it was quite easy, and I felt stupid that I hadn’t tired it sooner.  It worked the first time I turned it on.  I just wasn’t sure how to tell it was on.  He said to walk outside and see if air is blowing out of the vent on the back of the van.  Well, I am officially an expert on the camping equipment on VANilla.  Now I just have to prepare for the possibility of my water tank freezing.  OK, so maybe I’m not an expert then.  All I know to do is drain it. Enough about propane and VANilla!

Bob at Big Meadows Campground in Shenandoah National Park

Big Meadows Lodge

The ranger suggested I hang out at the lodge by the fire since there wasn’t much else to do in the fog.   This was the best suggestion ever!!  I have been here for the last six hours with a few breaks to check on the doggies since they aren’t allowed inside.  While I was blogging and enjoying chili and a beer by the fire, Janet and her family (Laura, Russell, and Steven), from New Jersey, were playing scrabble.  I looked a few words up for them since a scrabble dictionary wasn’t available.  Janet finally asked if I was writing a book.  I told them my story, and we talked quite a bit about traveling before they went for dinner.

Janet and family at the Big Meadow Lodge in Shenandoah National Park

When they left, Ellie and Matt sat down.  Ellie is from Boston and retired from a variety of interesting jobs, including television, and Matt is a lawyer and judge from D.C.  They were extremely interesting people and so kind.  I asked them to watch my computer for a few minutes while I walked the dogs, and when I came back they invited me to dinner. 

Having just eaten, I said I’d be happy to join them and chat, but that I wasn’t hungry.  They insisted I order dinner to go so that I had something healthy to eat tomorrow – their treat!  So GREAT!  I learned Ellie has two horses which immediately bonded us.  I’m so grateful I met them during their only night at the lodge.  They were on the way to visit some friends in Asheville, North Carolina. Before I left them for the night, we shared some tasty blackberry ice cream.

Ellie, Matt and I at Big Meadow Lodge in Shenandoah National Park

I finished the evening downstairs at the bar listening to this great band that plays cover songs.  Just two guys with their guitars strummed out songs by The Eagles, John Denver, Elvis, Pink Floyd and more.  They were really good and not too loud!  Live entertainment ends at 10:30 at the lodge.  Therefore, I headed back to the campground and hoped for clear skies over the Shenandoah Valley and no snow in the morning. ETB

Map of My Road Trip Across the USA

For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

2 thoughts on “Day 52 – Skyline Drive through Shenandoah Valley

  1. I guess you didn’t leave the heater on for the dogs while you were in the lodge. I have a propane heater and I was scared of it in the beginning but now I’m a pro. A big truck comes by my house and they drag a large hose in and fill my outside etank when it gets low. It has turned very cold here in the mountains of Mexico but only at night and in the mornings. It warms up to the 70’s during the day.
    I can hardly wait to read you next post to see if it snowed!
    You are meeting the nicest people! What fun you are having!

    1. No heater for the dogs, but I have blankets for them which they kick off, so they can’t be that cold! And I turn the heater on in the car when I check on them. It seems like VANilla is pretty insulated.

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