"Of all the paths you take in life make sure a few of them are dirt" US Forest Sevice

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


We had to plan our trip north but had no idea where we were going. Thank goodness for the internet. We knew the southwest mountains of Virginia were supposed to be great. We started our search in that area for a good rails to trails and found the New River Trail. The New River was running muddy and high due to all of the rain and the air was wonderfully cool so floating the river was out.

Fries, VA

After maneuvering the winding narrow backroads, we arrived at the New River Trail RV Campground in Fries (Freeze)  to a great greeting and pumpkin raisin muffin. Our site was along a babbling creek. It was actually babbling. When we called to make the reservation, the owner said he was down in the "holler" and would have to let us know if he could accommodate us. A holler is a small valley in Appalachia. Who knew?

Galax, VA

We went to the trailhead in Galax (gay-lax), considered the Mountain Music Capitol) for our first bike ride.

New River Trail

New River Trail is a 57-mile linear park that follows an abandoned railroad right-of-way with 2 tunnels, 3 major bridges, nearly 30 small bridges and a shot tower.
The mornings were chilly with temps in the low 50s on the old Pulaski section of the railroad. We kept adding clothes until we were ready to brave the cool wind and occasional raindrops.

Shot Tower was built more than 200 years ago to make ammunition for the firearms of the early settlers. Lead from the nearby Austinville Mines was melted in a kettle atop the 75-foot tower and poured through a sieve, falling through the tower and an additional 75-foot shaft beneath the tower into a kettle of water.

Here a shot of varying size would be molded, sorted and shipped down river where it would be sold to hunters, traders, and merchants.
View from the top window of the shot tower.

77 stairs to the top of the tower.

When trains were 100-500feet from a bridge or tunnel, a warning sign (the chains hanging from the post) would warn anyone walking on top of the train to duck, hazard ahead.
The names of the towns such as Fancy Gap and Sugar Grove are as eclectic as the people.

Blue Ridge Music Center

The Appalachian mountains are the home of Hillbilly, Folk and Bluegrass music. The more we learned about the area, the longer we stayed.  On the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Blue Ridge Music Center just a few miles outside of Galax in North Carolina. Fortunately for us, they opened for the season the day we arrived.
Local musicians play and jam in the afternoons from noon until 4pm.

I liked the bass player's little shoe on the bass.
There were a couple of other musicians that would join in at times with this group. The 15 year old girl with her father and grandfather on the right.  Between songs they would tell stories of their lives and living in Appalachia. It is said that there are more musicians per capita in this area than anywhere else. They all played more than one instrument.

We took a tour of the Music Center exhibits.

The Crooked Road consists of 26 exhibits in this area  and 330 miles driving route connecting 9 major heritage music venues, jams and concerts along the backroads. We can listen to 5 minute recordings on the FM radio within a 1/2 mile of the exhibit.

The fiddles in  downtown Galax spell LOVE.

We were pretty hungry after the bike ride and music. Galax BBQ which did not disappoint.

While taking a walk in Fries, a large class A RV was driving down the middle of the road. After he passed, we realized that he had to drive over the middle line to get down the road. The road was not divided down the middle and no parking was allowed on either side.
Mike says you only get half a lane entering town and extra room when you leave.
 Southeastern Virginia has beautiful place with rolling hills that moves at a slower pace. We loved our time here.


  1. I worked in VA for several years and have never seen this beautiful and historic section of the New River! Thanks for sharing. I did make it to see some bungee jumping off the New River Bridge in WVa. Will we get to see pictures of you going over the edge?

  2. I have never seen this area either. Visited Virginia many times through the years just goes to show there is so much out there to experience!! Thanks!!


    1. There truly is if you are willing to drive those winding roads.

  3. You guys find the best biking trails! The Blue Ridge Music Center looks awesome — I bookmarked this for our East Coast journey next year. Thanks. :-)

    1. Thank goodness for the internet. We would never find these places without it.

  4. Having lived in Appalachia my entire life but traveled all over, it is still my favorite part of America - I'm likely biased though

    1. It is an amazing place that feels pretty good to be there.