Charlottesville
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Fall Foilage
Our travels have been extremely limited since June of 2006. In September, 2006 we placed our home on the market in an attempt to "downsize". Within a few weeks our home sold and we found a new home in a 55+ community. Late November we moved and spent the last 5 months performing projects in our new home. This caused us to cancel our normal winter trip to Rock Crusher Canyon RV Resort in Florida but we do have our reservations made for 2008. Finally we are back on the road with several trips planned for this year provided gasoline is available at a "reasonable" price.

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  Sunday  -  May 6, 2007
  This morning at 6:00 am we pulled away from our new home and embarked on a 3 week journey into the state of Virginia.  Our itinerary includes a stop in Charlottesville, Luray and then finally a few days at New Holland, Pennsylvania. We plan to be home again around May 21st.

It felt good to be behind the wheel of the motorhome again, but this is our first trip without our good friend Rebecca.  She was our 15 year Miniature Schnauzer and she had to be put to rest 6 months ago due to old age.  She has been traveling with us for the past 40,000 miles in the motorhome and both Diana & I dearly miss her.

The weather today was a bit on the chilly side with temps in the low 60's and winds out of the north gusting to 35 mph made conditions a bit blustery.  Driving the motorhome with these winds hitting us broadside made the first 125 miles interesting but once we started to head south on I81 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the wind was to our backs and hopefully help with fuel efficiency. We always enjoy the drive on I81 because the road surface is smooth, traffic is light and the scenery beautiful.

Around 2:30 pm we arrived at the Charlottesville KOA which is located about 12 miles south of center city. The last 4 miles leading to the campground is a twisting road with some rather steep inclines.  This was certainly a test of my driving skills and abilities.

The campground is small with approximately 57 sites. We are located on site 24 at the far end of the campground. The sites are rather small, however, since the occupancy this week is about 25% we have empty sites all around us.  The campground is very peaceful with lots of large trees acting as an umbrella for practically all sites.  The location is so remote that cell phone service is not available on neither our Sprint or Verizon phones.  No cable TV is available and only 3 stations are received with the antenna up.  But, the free WiFi service provides a very strong signal.  I would rate this campground a 7 and if they would place more gravel on the sites I would give it an 8.  Diana & I are looking forward to the quiet and relaxtion that this facility will provide.

 
  Monday - May 7, 2007
  The weather for this week should be spectacular. Every day is forecasted for the next 6 days to be sunny and temps in the mid 70's to low 80's.

We woke up this morning around 7:30 am after sleeping like "logs". The overnight temp dropped to 39 degrees causing Diana to add a blanket around 3:00 am.

After a light breakfast we headed into Charlottesville. A stop at the Monticello Visitors Center was very informative and educational. As we walked through the center I kept saying, "I never knew that".  From here we drove for about 10 minutes before arriving at the University of Virginia.  We parked the car and walked through the University's grounds. A stop at the Rotunda was very interesting.  Again I learned much about history.

After lunch we visited The Downtown Mall area in.  About 8 blocks have been closed to traffic and the historic buildings renovated.  Here we found lots of unique shops and eateries.  

 
   
  Tuesday  -  May 8, 2007
  The day started at 9:30 am with a stop at the Monticello Visitors Center located on Route 20 about 3 miles from Monticello.  While there we viewed an extremely informative and educational video about Thomas Jefferson and Monticello. Then we drove to Monticello on Route 53. If you ever decide to visit Monticello be sure to take some food with you or go with a full stomach because food is limited at the area. We easily spent 3 hours at Monticello and could have spent another hour but hunger won over. For lunch we discovered a very small sandwich shop just a mile or so past Monticello on Route 53....Brix Marketplace. Following lunch we stopped at Ashlawn Highland home of James Monroe. This was a bit of a disappointment after seeing Monticello.
 
 
  Wednesday  -  May 9, 2007
  We were one of the first tour groups at Michie Tavern this morning at 10:30 am.  Right after our tour began 2 buses pulled into the parking lot so we timed it just right. The narratted tour was interesting and while in the large second floor room we all participated in a dance known as the Virginia Reel.  Lots of fun and laughs. Following the tour we we very tempted to par take in the buffet but most of the items on the menu did not appeal to me....but the fried chicken smelled yummy.

From here we drove about 25 miles north of Charlottesville on Route 20 to visit the home of James Madison - Montpelier. After the disappointment with the Monroe home yesterday I was somewhat reluctant to try Madison's home, but was glad we did.  The home is currently under going a 60 million dollar restoration and by this time next year completion is expected. 

On our way back to the motorhome we decided to treat ourselves to ice cream at Kohr's on Route 250.  The chocolate and vanilla twist tasted especially good because the weather today had warmed up to the mid 80's and feeling a bit humid.

 
  Thursday  -  May 10, 2007
  During the many miles we have traveled we frequently see deer feeding in the grass and vegetation along the roadway and occasionally see the carcass of a deer that had the misfortune to be hit by a motor vehicle.  Never did we ever witness a deer actually being hit until this morning. We left the Charlottesville KOA this morning around 9:00 am heading west on I64 with plans to intersect I81 and then head north to Luray.  The journey for to day would only be 95 miles until arriving at Country Waye Campground, Luray, Virginia.

While on I64 Diana was talking on the cell phone when I noticed a deer up ahead running down the mountain side toward the roadway.  I decided to hit the brakes and slow down since I was not certain whether the deer was going to stop or continue to run across the road.  The car in front of me never touched the brakes and the deer decided to keep running across the road.  The car hit the deer causing it to fly in the air, spinning horizontally for 75 feet until coming to rest on the opposite side of the roadway.  The car never hit the brakes and for that matter never stopped to assess damage to his car....just kept on going.  As I passed the deer it laid motionless on the berm.  Diana and I both felt very sad for the deer and truly hope we never have to witness anything like that again.

Not being in any big hurry I cruised along at 55 mph.  We stopped at the Super Wal-Mart in Harrisonburg to stock up on groceries and then had lunch in the motorhome while in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

I almost forgot to mention some of the steep inclines we traveled today.  A section of I64 was rather steep and 5 miles long.  I thought that was bad until negotiating the steep mountainous incline we encounter on Route 211, just after existing I81, Exit 264.  The incline was so steep that the motorhome speed was decrease to 27 mph, the engine temperature came near the red line and at one point I thought we might start going backwards. I think the grad may have been 7 degrees.  Needless to say, once on top of the mountain the other side was an easy down hill and much welcomed to cool the engine.

By 1:00 pm we arrived at Country Waye Campground and quickly got situated on site 63.  This I believe is the same site we had when visiting here in the Fall of 2005.  Nice level, wide, shaded site with a fantastic view of the mountains.  This is one of our favorite locations and campgrounds.  Very peaceful and a much slower pace here in Luray, Virginia.

 
  Friday  -  May 11, 2007
  Happy Friday !! Another very nice day here in Luray....partly sunny and temperature reaching 83 degrees.  By 9 am we were walking on "The Greenway".  We discovered this walking trail on one of our previous visits to Luray and find the trail to be a pleasant way to get our walking exercise.  The trail begins outside town and meanders along some fields and a running stream.  This morning after walking for about 1 mile we were suddenly startled when we discovered a 6 foot black snake sunning itself in the dirt adjacent to the trail.  We stayed our distance and quickly went on our way.  Fortunately the snake had no interest in us !!!

The remainder of the day we stayed at the campground passing the day with good conversation and some reading.  For dinner we grilled a steak that we had purchased at Wal-Mart.  We were pleasantly pleased with the tenderness of the steak.  It was  a deluxe cut with a cost of $13 a pound but well worth the price.

  Saturday  -  May 12, 2007
  Once again we took advantage of the Greenway and walked a total of three miles this morning.  Following lunch we drove into Luray to enjoy the festival taking place on Main Street.
 
  Sunday  -  May 13, 2007
  Happy Mothers Day !! The weather for the entire trip has been exceptionally nice. Last night was our first bad weather with thunder storms, heavy rain with strong winds.  The storm cleared the air and now the temperatures are returning to more Spring like in the 70's....which we prefer over the humid 80's.

After a 3 mile walk on the Greenway this morning we returned to the motorhome to prepare for the car ride thru Shenandoah National Park.  Access to the Park is gained by traveling on Route 211 approximately 12 miles from our campground.  Then its necessary to drive another 20 miles along Skyline Drive to Big Meadows Lodge where we had a yummy lunch.  The views from the lookout points along the drive were magnificent today.  You could see across the Shenandoah Valley for at least 50 to 60 miles !!!

 
  Monday  - May 14, 2007
  Each morning as the sun slowly peeks from behind the Blue Ridge Mountains the birds, with great enthusiasm, chirp their favorite melodies. This morning was no exception even though the overnight temperatures had dropped to a chilly 40 degrees.  The cooler temps have brought with them crystal clear blue skies.....perfect weather !!

We simply enjoyed the day by staying at the campground after a morning walk on the Greenway.

 
  Tuesday  -  May 15, 2007
  Slightly past 6:30 am the sun popped from behind the mountains as the birds serenaded in the background.  Each bird sings their own distinctive song but for some reason the sounds come together as soothing finely orchestrated tune.  I was able to enjoy the sounds and sights as I laid in bed looking out the bedroom window of the motorhome.  Thoughts of past, present and future raced through my mind as I watched and listened to planet earth.  Off in the distance I could here the call of a train moving through Luray.

After a walk on the Greenway we this morning we went onto Skyline Drive.  After a short drive we stopped at Skyland and enjoyed a good lunch at the lodge.  On the drive returning to home is when we got our first surprise of the day.  Along side the road was a rather large deer quietly grazing.  About 20 feet up on the hillside was another deer too bashful to come out of the foliage.  As cars passed by the deer just continued to go about their business of eating.  I was able to get within 10 feet of the deer and they made no effort to run off.

Seeing the deer was no big surprise since they can be found relatively easily throughout the Shenandoah National Park.  But the next animal we spotted was a big surprise.  On our last visit we saw some black bear off in the distance crossing the road.  But this time we found one right along the roadside, grazing just like the deer we saw a few minutes before.  This black bear was  about 250 to 300 pounds in size and it made no effort to run off.  The bear just keep eating even as other cars came by.  We pulled up directly across from him so I would say we were no more than 20 feet away and he still seemed to be OK with us being there.  We stayed and watch him for at least 10 minutes.

 
  Wednesday  -  May 16, 2007
  This has been our last day here at Country Waye.  I don't expect we will be able to return until perhaps the Fall of 2008.  The weather all week has been very nice with daily highs in the 70's and 80's and cooling off into the 50's at night. This afternoon we did have rain for a few hours and now the next 4 days will only have highs in the 60's.
  Thursday  -  May 17, 2007
  Over night the rain clouds moved through making for clear skies and cooler temperatures for our travels today. Total mileage from Luray to Country Haven Campground, New Holland , Pennsylvania was approximately 200 miles.  We pulled out of Luray at 7 am and arrived in Country Waye Campground at 1 pm.  Unfortunately the campground owner would not let us register (even though we had reservations) because check-in time is 2 pm and we were early.  He told us we would have to sit and wait.  So, we did and the time allowed us to catch up on telephone calls. 

This is a very nice campground over looking the Amish farms in the valley.  We are in site 32 and we think it is the same site we had when visiting here two years ago.  The sites are level, macadam interior roads and the space between sites is average.  The view from the campsites is what this campground special.  The kid activities are available so it seems to be an adult oriented campground.

 
  Friday  -  May 18, 2007
  The Harley Davidson Factory Tour was a great experience.  The tour itself talks 1 hour and another hour is spent going through the gift shop and looking through the display of Harleys'.  The factory is easily found on Route 30 in York, Pennsylvania and is about a 45 minute drive from the Country Haven Campground.  I'm glad we went early in the morning because the tours were very busy and this is not even the peak tourist season.

After the tour we drove back Rt. 340 and stopped for a tasty lunch at the Bird in Hand Family Restaurant.  We continued along Rt. 340 and stopped at Kettle Village in Intercourse.  For a chilly day in May we were quite surprised how busy the shops were.

 
  Saturday  -  May 19, 2007
  We managed to avoid the temptation of eating at Shady Maple Smorgasbord today.  But we did visit the gift shop in the basement level under the smorgasbord and Diana found some country decorations for our home.  Then we visited the Goods Store and finished our visit with a stop at the Shady Maple Grocery Store.  While grocery shopping here it is extremely difficult to avoid filling the cart with an assortment of cakes, pies, cookies and breads that can be found in the bakery isle.  Here I could not resist the temptation and snuck a coconut crème pie into the shopping cart.

Later in the day we drove about 8 miles on Rt. 897 to Weaver's Store, Inc. 

  Sunday  -  May 20, 2007
  The stores and restaurants in Amish country are closed on Sunday.  The Amish folks make Sunday a day of rest so no activity can be seen in the farm fields.  After a short visit to the Outlet stores on Route 30 we spent the remainder of the day relaxing at the motorhome.

Around 6 pm this evening 4 young Amish kids came knocking door to door selling baked goods prepared by their Mom. How could you say no?  The cookies were yummy.

This entire trip we missed Rebecca, our Miniature Schnauzer who is no longer with us.  While at the Outlet stores we saw a small stuffed toy Schnauzer so we bought her and she will ride with us as a fond memory of our Rebecca.

 
  Monday  - May 21, 2007
  The ride home today was safe and took less than 2 hours to travel the 65 miles.  Both Diana and I were glad to return to our new home and thankful for the peaceful, fun filled 2 weeks on the road.