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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Blue ridge Parkway and Floyd, VA

If you have been finding some of my posts that are published and are a mess, Blogger and I are having issues. Hopefully, I can quit hitting enter when I shouldn't.
We had a change in plans making our drive of 50 miles in 3 hours. The pollen has been very high after all of the rain. I woke up and realized I needed to get some medical help as we left Fries. Galax had an urgent care that fixed me up with a shot in the hip of steroids. We headed on to the CVS Pharmacy in Hillsville for the prescription. The drive to Daddy Rabbit's Campground was on narrow winding roads. The Blue Ridge Parkway campground hadn't opened yet.
The tourist season doesn't start until Memorial weekend. We were the only people in the campground that had  no internet. We are finding that Sprint's 1% less coverage than Verizon has been in most of the places we have been visiting. We do get a certain amount of roaming on our plan. Even when we go over that amount, the amount of roaming we use isn't as expensive as the extra $100 we are saving with Sprint.
Blue Ridge Parkway, Rocky Knob Trail

We woke to heavy rain but got ready to hit the Blue Ridge Parkway and do some hiking. We chose the Rock Knob Trail which was 3 miles. We thought a short loop was a good plan with the sprinkles and potential for the return of the heavy rain.
The clouds in the valleys were eerie at times.
Mabry's Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Mabry Mill was originally constructed in 1905 and was in operation by 1908 and was used by many in the region who brought their corn to be ground.
The mill had a lack of water power, earning it a reputation as a "slow mill," but because of this, the mill would not grind too fast or scorch the corn, which resulted in the Mabry's mill being known for producing some of the finest tasting corn meal in the region.
Ed would eventually construct a sawmill and woodworking shop alongside the grist mill, and a number of the tools he used in the shop were powered by the waterwheel. He would also go on to build a nearby blacksmith shop.
The mill still stands as a unique symbol of the region's heritage and has attracted visitors from around the world.

Used to haul logs

Kettle to make soap


Floyd, VA

The Floyd Country Store is renowned as a place to experience authentic Appalachian music, and is home to a group of musicians, flatfoot dancers, and cloggers who are carrying on the tradition of their families who’d pass the time playing music and dancing together. Everywhere they could these folks would gather with their friends and families from their front porch to the neighbor’s kitchen. In the 1980’s Folks in Floyd took to coming out to the General Store and began the Friday Night Jamboree tradition that continues today.

Over the years the store has played a central role in the Floyd community, as a supplier of all kinds of merchandise, and as a community meeting place where folks would gather round the wood stove to exchange stories and the local gossip. In the early 1980’s, when it was known as Cockerham’s General Store, it took on another role. Two of the store’s former owners were in a local bluegrass band that gathered at the store most every Friday night for a practice session. People passing by would knock on the doors, asking to be let inside so they could better hear the music.

My picture of the musicians was blurred but picture people singing and playing while we shared a slice of apple pie.
Pretty soon, the band got tired of being interrupted every few minutes to let someone else in the store, and so they just left the doors open. As the crowds grew, other musicians came to join the fun. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Rock Castle Gorge Trail
The camp host had suggested this hike on CCC Camp Lane and gave us good directions. It turned out that this trail was the lower section of part of the trail we had done on the previous day but in the valley.

  We had hiked the upper trail the previous day and walked the lower section with a climbing hill for 5.5 miles round trip. I like the downhill on the way home. We did each find a tick on our long sleeved shirts even with Off on us. That just gives me the willies.

The Magnolia Trees were blossoming.

Old homestead chimney along Rock Creek Trail


Austin House beside Rock Castle Creek.

We have run across several of these black snakes (some people call them rat snakes) since we were in Mississippi. This time we got a picture. Yuk!

You have to love a place called Tuggle's Gap

Swallowtail butterflies were flying all around us as we walked. 
Floyd and the Blue Ridge Parkway were both treats for us. We weren't far from the city of Roanoke but felt a million miles away.

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.