Shenandoah NP

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Shenandoah NP

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October 16, 2003, Thursday

At 8:10 am this morning we departed home and 270 miles, 71/2 hours later we arrived at Country Waye Campground and RV Resort. The weather during the drive was a beautiful autumn day with puffy clouds and temperatures in the mid 60’s.

Originally we had planned to be in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina during the 2nd and 3rd weeks of October, but due to my knee surgery on October 1st, Diana and I decided it would be best to cancel the travel plans and wait to see how quickly I would recover. Fortunately the knee started to show significant improvement over the past week so we decided to “hit the road”. However, we were to depart on Monday but Rebecca, our miniature schnauzer took sick so we wanted to get her to the vet and feeling better. We selected Wednesday as our new day of departure, however had to delay again due to a rain and severe wind storm. Winds were blowing on Wednesday at 25 to 35 miles per hour with gusts up to 55 mph. Not a good day to be driving the motorhome. So finally we were able to depart on Thursday.

I had discovered Country Waye RV Resort on the internet so we decided to give it a try since it was close enough for a one day drive. Well, Country Waye is a best kept secret. The campground  has 78 sites, some are tenting, some water & sewer and the remainder are full hook ups. The grounds are very well maintained with gravel interior roads and modern 30 amp and 50 amp service at those sites that are full hookups. All sites are very level and range in size from large to huge. The campground is surrounded by farmlands with magnificent views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For $33 per night we stayed at site number 22 which was just excellent. The lack of cable TV and no formal planned activities seems to add to the beauty and peacefulness of this facility. The sites range from nice to very, very nice. If we ever visit the Luray area again we will definitely put this campground at the very top of our list.

When we arrived at the campground we did not have reservations because I didn’t think we would need them. The very nice lady that owned the campground, Shulamith Schumacher, told me it was my "lucky day" because they had one full hookup site that just became available due to a cancellation. Due to the Fall foliage this is an extremely busy time of year particularly on the weekends.

After dinner we drove to the local Wal-Mart Super Center to pick up some groceries which included an apple pie. There isn’t much commercialism in, and surrounding the town of Luray. No Home Depot, Loews, TGI or shopping malls to be found. Just a nice small country town with very few traffic lights and no rush hour traffic congestion. It feels like stepping back in time to the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Which reminds me, if you visit the area be sure to tune into channel 105.7 FM on the radio dial for sounds of the 40’s and 50’s.

As we were bringing the groceries from the car to the motorhome the folks in the Class C motorhome next to our site invited us to come over and enjoy their camp fire. We went over and spent the evening trading stories about travels, children and grandchildren. The night sky was absolutely beautiful with thousands and thousands of stars shining in full brilliance. The location lends itself to star gazing due to the lack of commercialized lights, so it was literally pitch black with the stars providing the only illumination. What a wonderful way to end the day, simply enjoying the night sky on a chilly autumn evening.

   
 

     
 

October 17, 2003, Friday

It must have been all the fresh air and the camp fire from last night that caused us to sleep in till 8:30 am this morning. Most unusual for us since normally we are up and about no later than 7:00 am. Even Rebecca failed to go through her normal ritual of waking us up, so she too was catching up on her rest. 

After breakfast we drove to the Thornton Gap entrance to the Shenandoah National Park. When we arrived at the entrance gate we were surprised to find a half dozen other vehicles waiting to pay their entrance fee which is $10 for a 7 day pass. The leaves at the mountain top had changed colors and may have been just a bit past peak. The different shades of red and yellow mixed with the green pine trees was “candy” for your eyes.

We drove to Big Meadows and went into the lodge to enjoy a seat in the old rocking chairs while enjoying the warmth of the burning fireplace. Generally the temperature is 5 to 10 degrees cooler at Big Meadows (mile post 51) compared to the temperature at the bas of the mountain. Today it was about 50 degrees outside the lodge with a slight wind which made it feel more like the 40’s. We saw some people walking around with gloves on their hands.

From here we traveled back to Skyland Lodge (mile post 41) where we enjoyed our lunchtime favorite, Country Chicken Pot Pie. After lunch we decided it would be best that we return to the motorhome so we could feed Rebecca and let her take a walk.

The remainder of the day we stayed at the motorhome to relax and enjoy the serenity of the surrounding mountains and country side. We took a short walk to the campground office and there discovered that the campground provides wireless internet service. So far I wasn’t able to connect to the internet via my cell phone because the cell phone service for Verizon in this area is analog and for internet connection digital service is needed. So I was delighted when I learned that wireless internet was available. Now, here is the good news and the bad news…..the wireless service was free but I couldn’t figure out how to get my laptop PC connected. I had my LinkSys wireless card with me but couldn’t get it to connect. I don’t know if the wireless card has the correct capabilities to connect or not. I went to the campground office to ask if they had printed instructions on how to connect, but they could not help. The good news is it’s free, the bad news I can’t figure out how to use it. After trying for 45 minutes I admitted stupidity and gave up.

We ended the day watching a video on the VCR. Tomorrow I’ll have to climb up on the rood to see if the TV antenna has a loose connection. Since there isn’t cable TV we are depending on the antenna but for some reason it looses the signal and has to be readjusted every few minutes. Something isn’t functioning properly so I’ll try to remedy the situation tomorrow.

         
 

October 18, 2003, Saturday

Over night the campground filled to full capacity. A nice evening rain accompanied by a cold front dropped the temperatures to a brisk 46 degrees. Again this morning we slept until 8:00 am and when looking out the window we were greeted with typical dense fog. We had a casual breakfast and then prepared to go site seeing for the day.

At mid morning we arrived at Luray Caverns. They are conveniently located approximately 5 miles from the campground. We purchased our tickets at the campground and paid  $15 each which included a $2 discount. When we arrived at the Caverns we were surprised with the number of people that were already there. But we were able to get directly in line and begin the tour immediately. The one hour guided tour wanders along a well paved pathway for a distance of 1.5 miles. The temperature in the Caverns is a year round 54 degrees and 87% humidity. If you have never visited cavern then this would be a must do item. The stalactite/stalagmite formations are magnificent to see. It’s a strange experience to walk “inside” the earth.

Following the Luray Caverns tour we drove into downtown Luray which is less than 2 miles away. We had lunch at a quaint restaurant named A Moment to Remember. We enjoyed a BLT and Chicken Caesar Wrap while studying the décor of the restaurant. We then returned to the motorhome to feed Rebecca and take her for a walk.

The weather today cleared up nicely and temperatures rose to 62 degrees for the high with deep blue skies. While at the motorhome I tried again to get connected to the wireless internet service. I saw Eric, the owner, when he was emptying the trash cans and I asked him about the wireless service. He showed me a LinkSys router that was stored in a plastic container placed atop one of the electric pedestals. He explained that this is something they are trialing and still have frequent problems. At this point I decided to quite trying to connect to the internet.

We wanted to build a fire so we went for a ride trying to find wood for sale. We drove east on Route 211 for over 20 miles which took us past New Market. The entire drive we could not even see a small pile of firewood. While in New Market we stopped at an estate auction that was taking place. We stayed for about 15 minutes just to see how the process works. We headed back to the campground without fire wood but we did stop at the Wal-Mart to purchase some artificial logs. Better than not having a camp fire at all.

Following dinner we started a campfire and enjoyed some hot tea and ginger snap cookies. We purchased 2 bundles of wood at the campground  office and that combined with an artificial logs created a dandy roaring fire. We enjoyed the warmth of the fire until 7:30 pm or so and then went inside to watch Game 1 of the MLB World Series ……New York Yankees vs Florida Marlins.

Both Diana & I enjoyed this very simple but beautiful Fall day.

     
 

October 19, 2003, Sunday

As I opened my eyes this morning I heard an unusual sound…..something moaning. Then I realized the sound was coming from the farmer’s field. It was the cows mooing. Now that was a different type of an alarm clock.

By 9:30 am we had dressed and eaten breakfast and headed to the Skyline Drive. We stopped at mile post 39 on the Skyline Drive to hike the path. This particular path was rather rocky as were the wooded areas filed with large moss covered rocks surround by large green ferns. You could smell the decaying leaves that had fallen from the trees and made a brown and orange blanket for the forest floor. We climb this path for about one mile and finally came to the summit at 4011 feet. This point is called Stony Man and is an excellent vantage point for a view across the valley below. I would estimate that we could see at least 30 miles off in the distance. The winds at this location were blowing at 30+ miles per hour so the wind chill was quickly felt on our nose and ears.

We headed back to the car and then to Skyland for lunch. We noted how crowded the drive was compared to other times we visited this area. Obviously many of the folks drove here to engage in viewing the Fall foliage and changing colors of the forest’s leaves. There were far too many cars and motorcycles so the wild life was staying far away from the roadway. After lunch we headed back to the motorhome to feed Rebecca and take her for a walk on this sunny, actually warm, day.

The rest of the day we just stayed at the motorhome and relaxed. Diana read a book and I took Rebecca for several walks. We enjoyed today.

     
 

         
 

         
   

 
         
 

October 20, 2003, Monday

When we woke up this morning we were greeted with a cold 36 degrees and a light coating of frost could be seen on the large grass field. We had breakfast and then around 9:15 am we departed for Drummer Boy Campground in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

For the trip to Gettysburg I decided we would travel I66 West to the I495 Beltway around Washington DC and then head north on I70 to Route 15 and finally arriving in Gettysburg 165 miles and 5 hours later. Just west of Washington DC the traffic on I66 increased and the roadway expanded to 5 lanes in each direction. We stayed in the right lane and took our time at 55 to 58 miles per hour. This portion of the drive was quite hectic and demanded for attention to traffic conditions. The drive north on Route 15 was a pleasure. The road surface was smooth, the scenery picturesque and modest traffic conditions.

Drummer Boy Camping Resort was easy to locate thanks to the GPS. With the Good Sam discount we paid $31 per night for full 50 amp hookup including cable TV. The sites all seem to be large, level and well maintained. A more than ample supply of gravel is spread around at each site. Sites vary from light to heavy shade. Since this is a weekday there are many empty sites. We quickly set up the motorhome and then headed into downtown Gettysburg.

I would guess that we drove about 3 miles from the campground to the center of downtown Gettysburg. We parked the car and walked through town, visiting some of the on of a kind shops. Many of the buildings in Gettysburg were built in the 1700’s and have been restored.  We then drove further down Baltimore Street and enjoyed a late lunch at the Spring House Tavern in the basement of the Dobbin House. This tavern was originally built in 1776 and provides an unique dining experience. The tavern’s main source of lighting is supplied by candles that are placed at each table and strategically attached to the walls throughout. The employees are all dressed in period costumes that helps add to the old time atmosphere of this establishment. Well worth visiting this place and the food was enjoyable and tasty.

 

 

     
 

         
 

October 21, 2003, Tuesday

The weather today was unseasonably warm with the temperature rising to a high of 74 degrees but tomorrow is forecasted to be considerably colder with a high of only 54 degrees. So, this being our last day in Gettysburg we are thankful for the ideal weather.

At 9:00 am this morning we boarded a shuttle van that transported us from the campground to a  tour bus station in downtown Gettysburg. There, we boarded a large Blue Bird bus for our 2 hour tour of the battlefield. The bus tour was a nice way to get acquainted with the area but only stopped once on the battlefield. This one stop was for a brief 10 minutes at Little Round Top. We wish we would have had time to make more frequent stops which could easily consume a day or two stopping at all the points of interest. The battlefields contains hundreds of monuments and over 400 canon. It’s sad when you realize the thousands of young men that gave theirs lives at this battle on July 1, 2 and 3, 1863.

Battle Casualties……..“that frightful price of war.” There was a total of 172,000 men committed to battle, 97,000 of these were Union and 75,000 were Confederate forces. Of this commitment 51,000 were killed, wounded or missing in action. The result is that one out of every three soldiers, in both armies, was a battle casualty. More than 5,000 horses were killed and 569 tons of ammunition used. This is considered one the 16 most decisive battles in the history of mankind.

After lunch we headed to an Outlet Shopping Complex which is located just a few miles south of the Drummer Boy Camping Resort. We made a few good bargain purchases and then returned to the motorhome to take a short rest.

Refreshed from our rest we headed back toward downtown Gettysburg but on our way we stopped at Wal-Mart for a few needed supplies. Then we had dinner at The Pub Tavern & Restaurant located in the Gettysburg Square. Following dinner we walked around the Square and I took a few pictures. One photo I took was the Willis House where Abraham Lincoln stayed the night before he delivered the Gettysburg Address. Another photo was the Gettysburg Train Station where Lincoln arrived when he traveled from Washington DC. This was a nice way to end of visit to Gettysburg.

We returned to the motorhome and began to prepare for our journey to our home. We will depart around 9:00 am tomorrow morning and will travel old Route 30 for part of the trip and then jump onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Lancaster. The return trip should be approximately 135 miles and will require approximately 4 hours door to door.