Back to a more normal day except breakfast was waitress served, not self-service as it had been up until now.
Biting the bullet I had a short stack of pancakes with maple syrup and ‘breakfast meat’ aka crispy bacon, with grapefruit juice. A short stack, I was informed, was two pancakes, a tall stack three. Thinking I could quite happily manage a couple of pancakes, I ordered the short stack, but forgot to include the American factor. They were both the size of a dinner plate and a good half inch deep. Needless to say, that although delicious, I didn’t finish. I didn’t get offered a box either.
Once we’d checked out we wandered down to the farmer’s market, just one stall, and giving it up as a bad job continued on our way.
The county we were in, and the neighbouring one, had a weekend long yard sale. Anyone could put goods out for sale along the roadside.
First stop was a double span, double width covered bridge, in Philippi, the only one left that has a US road across it. The US roads are classified in a number of ways: interstates, freeways, highways, county roads, US roads, state roads and common or garden town roads. They all have their own number, some have two or more if they are classified that way, plus the number is displayed with a different boder. US roads have a ‘ sheild’, state roads are square with black numbers on a white background, and county roads vary in colour.
We found a couple of yard sales to have a look at before continuing on to US33 over the Appalachian mountains, a fun road, one US motorcyclists are particularly fond of, lots of bends, switchbacks and blind corners. Our Toyota Camry didn’t enjoy it quite so much as, being an automatic with cruise control, it couldn’t work out which gear to be in.
Seneca Rocks, as a tourist destination, was a bit of a let-down, but great if you like rock-climbing as it’s the most climbed vertical rock face in the US. We went for a walk down to the river, a very rocky, narrow creek.
Families were there, making the most of the weather setting out tables of food and playing games.
The aptly named Spruce Knob, highest mountain in West Virginia, was our next destination.
For a change there were places to stop and take photos and we leapfrogged a pair on a Harley Davidson motorcycle all the way to the top, useful if you need a photo of the two of you.
There were, indeed, spruces at the top. All the other trees were deciduous, as the mountain was only 4860 feet high. A tall observation tower allowed you to (almost) see over the treetops in every direction.
We fuelled up in Harrisonburg before visiting Luray Caverns.
This is the fourth largest cave system in the US and well worth a visit.
Costing $24 each, you enter as a group but once all the safety information has been imparted you are free to follow the path through at your own pace. Guides are situated along the way to tell you what you are looking at and what to expect next.
The caves were dry as the caves are at the top of a hill and water no longer flows through them. Lots of stalagmites and stalagtites, curtains of rock and some that looked like towelling.
The mirror pool was especially good as it was hard to believe there was any water there.
The piece de resistance was the organ; a large chamber named the cathedral housed a number of separate stalagtites and it was discovered that if they are tapped gently they resonate in a series of notes, hence the organ.
It was getting late and we still had a long drive ahead with the Skyline Drive to look forward to; 100 miles of road along the top of the blue ridge mountains. We were driving 30 miles of it to Front Royal. It costs $15 to go along the road and never closes.
Lots and lots of overlooks, alternating one side then the other, with lovely views as the sun went down.
Best of all we saw two deer, one just a baby, but they were way too shy of the camera.
There is a speed limit lf 35 mph over most of the road but the Camry had trouble with that too.
We enjoyed the drive, made better with the sunset and low lying cloud.
Once again we had the road practically to ourselves and the peace and quiet in the hills was lovely.
It was over far too soon, even though it had taken us over an hour to drive.
Washington next. It was over an hour away and darkness had fallen and, on top of that, the drizzle that at started at the caverns, and had stopped on Skyline Drive, suddenly became heavy.
So were driving on I-66, in the dark and in the rain.
Good job we had SamSam to show us the way because we could barely see the road, never mind the white lines (that sometimes had cats eyes and sometimes didn’t).
I was a bit terrified, mostly because I couldn’t see a thing. It turns out we came in across a bridge over the Potomac. I never saw it!
We made it though. The hotel was 2 minutes from the interstate. The concierge found us a parking space on the road for free (no charge for parking on Sundays), and we were here.