Skyline Drive

We live about 80 miles from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.  I have lived in Virginia my whole life.  When we were first married, we lived in Charlottesville, which is literally in the foothills.  And I am embarrassed to tell you that I had never been on the Skyline Drive. 

We had such a lovely time at the beach, Roger suggested that we drive the other way and do a little leaf peeping.  This was about two weeks before Hurricane Sandy blew through and probably stripped all the remaining leaves off the trees.

You can get to Charlottesville in an hour on I-64 but we decided to save that boring piece of road for the ride home and set off on Staples Mill Road aka Route 33.  This is a two lane road, winding from one small rural community to the next.  Eventually, we stopped for nourishment in Louisa before heading for one of the entry points on the Skyline Drive.

This was a WPA project during the Great Depression and the CCC – Civilian Conservation Corps – continued to work on it until it was completed.  Many of the overlooks are being repaved with stimulus money, in case you wondered where that money went. 

The overlooks face in both directions and alternate as you drive along, so you can look down on the Shenandoah Valley or across the far mountains.  Sadly, most of the mountain overlooks were closed for repairs.

Turns out that you can buy a lifetime pass to this and all the other National Parks for only $10 if you are a senior.  The ticket lady looked at our silver hair and told us about this great deal; we happily paid less money than it would have cost to go through just once as a young person.

Put your feet up and enjoy a leisurely look at the Blue Ridge Mountains as the leaves turn in autumn.

One of the first overlooks reminded us why they call these the Blue Ridge Mountains

After a while, we got to look in the other direction, seeing some of the fall color.

Behind us, we could often see solid walls of rock.  The road was cut right through this.

They used rock pieces to create low walls at the edge of the overlooks. 

A close-up look at the side of one mountain.  The foggy-looking spots are actually trees that have shed all their leaves.

A last look before we got off the Skyline Drive

Remember, as we stood there, this was all we could see for miles in all directions.  It was clear and just cool enough for long sleeves.  There was almost no noise but the sound of birds and bees.  And the occasion silver-haired tourist, stopping beside us with the obligatory camera.  One of the joys of running away from work on a weekday is that there are rarely crowds of any kind.

I looked out at those rolling hills and thought about the people who lived on the Eastern Seaboard and decided that wasn’t enough for them.  They loaded up a horse and maybe a wagon and set off to climb these mountains and see what was on the other side.  Makes me tired just to think about it.


14 thoughts on “Skyline Drive

  1. We drove along that road on one of our visits to the USA. We also took advantage of the lifetime pass offer. Great! When we visited our last National Park we gave our pass to someone else that we met going into the pass. I enjoyed your email. Dorothy.

    Dorothy Karman

    Canberra, Australia.

  2. Carol, I have lived in Alaska for the past 40 years and love the state, but I grew up in Virginia and remember fondly riding with my family on Skyline Drive. It was so beautiful and I was in awe with the blue of the mountains. Thank you for the memories and the history of this beautiful part of the state. Also I enjoyed your editorial about elections…so true. So much money wasted that could have been used for so much good. Perhaps we will see some change by the time the next election rolls around. I am so enjoying your postings. Thanks.

    • I’m sure Alaskans think of the Blue Ridge as a bunch on nice hills. :> I know they are just kneehigh to the mountains up there. But it is nice to have them – and nice for us that in an hour or two, we can see either ocean or mountains.

      This year was the first in which people and businesses could form PACs and use huge amounts of money without identifying themselves. It would be nice if the Congress could see how potentially harmful this is, to say nothing of making it almost impossible for a person of moderate means to run for office. Seriously, is there anyone who believes that a contribution of hundreds of thousands of dollars doesn’t come with some expectations of payback/

  3. Thanks for sharing your photos. I drove along Skyline Drive way back in the 1980s when we were on holiday in Virginnia. It was in July, so there was no lovely autumn colour, but what views! I thought the Blue Ridge Mountains would be a bit more like the Rockies, but I really fell in love with all those trees! Wow!

    • I’ve lived here all my life so I used to take the trees for granted. Then I visited San Diego, CA, for a month. By the second week, I realized I was STARVED for the site of a real tree! All they had was palms and yukka and gravel in front yard painted green. Jump forward 4 decades and we had visitors from a town in California near the desert. They couldn’t get over our trees. Made me appreciate them all over again.

  4. I’m from Los Angeles, have lived in Virginia now for 16 years. You know what I love? The trees in the medians on our interstates. I’m in Short Pump and I’m ashamed to say that we don’t get to the Blue Ridge/Shenandoah nearly as often as we could.

    • I shop out at Short Pump at least once a week! Small world, isn’t it? I like the trees all over town. Some are the huge old trees that overarch the street, others are flowering types that look spectacular in the spring and often have beautiful colors in the fall. Such a simple thing for a locality to do and it makes the whole city look better.

  5. Isn’t it amazing what we take for granted. I too love trees. I also love the change in seasons we get in Iowa (sometimes all of them in one day). Iowa winters make me appreciate spring even more, and Iowa summers make me appreciate the cool crisp mornings of fall and the beautiful colors. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures with us.

    • Cathy, you get a little more winter than I want to cope with. Years ago, when I made dollhouse furniture, I called a supplier to place an order. They had TUNNELLED from their house to the barn because it was easier than shoveling. I have never gotten over that one.

      • We have never had to tunnel, but I do remember my freshman year in college at a small college in central Nebraska, they actually had to cancel classes a couple of times because of all the snow. Midwest people are so used to the cold and snow that it is very unusual to have them cancel things when people can walk. Schools with all the bussing are a different matter. The last couple of winters have been very mild. I am afraid that our luck will run out soon.

        • So, are you saying there were no buses then but there are now? We’ve always had buses since I started school and you’re right, driving one of those in the snow is no fun. Plus the kids are kind of targets standing at the bus stops. Some months, it is still dark when they leave for school.

          As for the weather, we are getting extremes, so it’s hard to tell if we will have more cold or no cold at all. The new normal seems to be no normal.

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