Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Blue Ridge Parkway - Virginia

I look like I belonged there. We had realized that it would be dark soon and as we drove up the Parkway in Virginia we could see deer and bear either feeding at the roadside or actually running across the roadway........there was a great chance that as the darker it got, the more dangerous the trip would become.

Yep.........those mountains are indeed blue. I drove and drove and drove and the nearest decent sized town that I could find on a map was Galax, Virginia. Surely there would be a motel there and we could get something to eat as well. We got lucky..........found a motel right in the heart of Galax and ordered a pizza. Whew! was nothing fancy here but we did notice that the sidewalks were rolled up before we arrived......hehehe.

After a good night's sleep we loaded up the car to head back to the Parkway. This praying mantis thought he would hitch a ride with us, but I gave him the ole brush off routine....hehehe.

At this point of the trip, there was one last place I really wanted to visit specifically before we would leave the Parkway.......... Mabry Mill.

We arrived at Mabry Mill well before noon Tuesday morning. They have a visitor center which also just happens to have a small restaurant............YES!.......breakfast was being served. Nothing fancy.......but worthy of note is the fact that all of the restaurant employees appeared to be over the age of 65........hmmmm. It made us feel as if somebody's grandmother was serving us.

A short walk from the facilities is the mill itself. You simply cannot find a better mill anywhere. And when you consider the history of this place, you are sent back to a time that many of us could not survive in. Mr. Mabry did all of the work himself. If he didn't have a tool, he made one. If he needed water, he built a wooden viaduct to get the water to the mill. He even built his own "jigsaw".

The grounds around the mill are set up so that you can follow a path that leads you through several historical displays......from buildings to old moonshine stills in the woods. All of this is FREE.

Here is a portion of the wooden viaduct that Mr. Mabry built.

Mabry Mill is, for me, the absolute must-see of the Blue Ridge Parkway. I am lucky enough to have seen this place with my very own eyes, three times in my lifetime....... Once when I was about 10 or 11, and when I had my children with me almost 20 years ago.........and now on this day. It was just as wonderful then as it is now. I cannot say enough about the atmosphere here...........fresh air and beauty.

If you decide to drive the Blue Ridge yourself........remember the following:
  • Take your time........don't rush.......the speed limit is only 45mph.
  • Watch out for wild animals such as bears and deer darting out in front of you.
  • Bring drinks and snacks....maybe even a picnic basket.
  • Have a map handy.
  • Try to stop at every opportunity...whether its an overlook or some other facility. (BTW, the bathrooms close up promptly at five)
  • Take lots of pictures and try to go in the Fall.
  • While driving, watch out for the bicyclists. There are lots of them.
Well............I was satisfied with the trip.....I had my was at this point that I would drive a bit further northward on the Parkway and exit near Roanoke.

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