On a Sunday morning, there was virtually no traffic and I crossed the state line into Virginia in a couple of hours stopping at the Welcome Center for a needed break and a snack! Longtime travel journal readers know the joke behind my desire to capture of picture of every state sign as we enter it and my absolute inability to do just that. We have so many pictures of everything around different signs, but the sign itself is nowhere to be seen! I'd like to tell you that I managed to snap this perfect picture welcoming me to Virginia while driving down the road at 70 mph, but that would be a lie. It was taken from the rest area Welcome Center.
Shortly after crossing into Virginia, there was a dramatic increase in traffic including lots of trucks By lunchtime, it was virtually bumper to bumper. I dislike interstate driving in the best of conditions and my patience was wearing thin. I knew it was time to seek an alternate route. A stop for gas near Staunton gave me a chance to look over my map and I saw that State Highway 211 would take me through a portion of Shenandoah National Park, Luray,Virginia and Manassas Battlefied with easy access route directly to the Residence Inn Dulles where I'd be staying the next two nights.
I did not stop in Shenandoah, but what a delightful respite it was as I drove up and over the mountain in zero traffic. Entering the town of Luray brought back some childhood memories as I remembered visiting Luray Caverns as a small child. These types of once popular attractions have certainly lost their allure in today's Disneyesque society, but the town of Luray seems to have capitalized on its surrounding beauty keeping their town quaint and lovely. I stopped at the restored train depot and had a delightful conversation with the two gentlemen who were volunteering their time on this Sunday afternoon. Both quite proud of their town, I had a hard time breaking away. Part of the former railroad passing the depot has become a community greenway system and I loved seeing all the activity passing by on a leisurely afternoon. I walked a bit to stretch my legs and then moved on towards my destination.
One last stop for a quick break at the Manasass Battlefield Visitor Center. I was becoming tired and ready to be done driving for the day, so only remained here long enough to stroll briefly through what is a massive area of land. This is somewhere I'd love to return.
Endora, our faithful GPS, who only complained for a short time after I had exited the interstate several hours earlier, brought me straight to my hotel which anchors one corner of a large outdoor shopping complex that appears to be very new. Having been cooped up in the car for most of the day, a stroll through the complex was a welcome relief.
Woke up bright and early Monday morning excited about seeing Tish again and finishing something we started in October, 2010. The Washington and Old Dominion (W and OD) Railroad operated from 1859 to 1968. If interested, you can read more about the history of the trail here. Today, it is a 45-mile paved multi-use trail which runs from Purcellville, VA to Shirlington, VA. In 2010, Tish and I rode the 33 miles from Leesburg, VA to the end in Shirlington. I'd hoped someday to return and complete the other 12 miles. We started at the trail's beginning point in Purcellville and exited at Pacific Blvd in Sterling, VA for a ride of 21 miles. Conveniently, we exited only .4 mile from my hotel. We were able to pedal directly back to the hotel, rest and enjoy a nice lunch before driving back to Purcellville to retrieve our car. Temperature was perfect and skies were overcast. It was a bit windy, but we had no complaints. It was a wonderful ride. And such fun seeing Tish again.