Gladlee of Guernsey

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RV Trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia and West Virginia

3rd to 17th October 2006

One of the things we have talked about is just how nice it would be to see some of the remainder of the USA away from the coast. To do this we have thought that we might at some time like to buy an RV (Recreational Vehicle) and do some land cruising for a year or two. Would we like this though? Well in order to find out we decide to take a holiday during our time in Oman and rent an RV as a tester. Below is a brief resum of our experiences........

3rd October 2006 - Manassas

Ron with the RV Woodchuck at Manassas

We fly into Washington and rent a car for one day to go to Manassas to pick up the RV. Manassas is south west of Washington and is an historic battle site from the Civil War. Even while we are in the motel Julie starts her wildlife photography as a woodchuck walks right past our window. We pick up the RV and the first thing is getting used to driving a big box on wheels - 25 foot long and about 8 foot wide. The RV comes fully fitted with oven, microwave, fridge/freezer, heating, air conditioning, shower, toilet, generator etc.

4th October - Deltaville

Our first journey is to Deltaville so that we can both check out Gladlee who is in storage here and also pick up some clothes for our planned hikes in the mountains.

5th October - Blue Ridge Parkway

Ron in the Blue Ridge Mountains Stream behind the campsite

We have headed west from Deltaville, through Richmond and up to the Blue Ridge mountains. One of the additional bonuses is that it is Autumn (Fall) and the colours on the trees are amazing. Our first campsite is very basic with few facilities but that is pretty much what we want during our trip. Our first (short) hike along the banks of a stream and Julie is in heaven with woodpeckers everywhere.

6th - 7th October - Ashland WV

A damp day at Ashland Trees with autumn colours

We move on down into West Virginia having driven along the length of the Blue Ridge parkway in some stunning scenery. We have picked out Ashland as our next site because of its hiking trails and its remoteness. It is in an area of West Virginia that used to produce a lot of coal but this particular area now caters more for the ATV crowd. ATV being All Terrain Vehicle which is otherwise known as a very noisy 4WD buggy. We are there mid week so no real problem and there are only a few of these beasts around. Ron's hiking boots decide to give up the ghost here and fall apart at the seams so it is back to trainers until something more sturdy can be bought. This site is a little better equipped and we have electricity and water plus a small shop on the site.

8th - 9th October - Summersville

New River Bridge Summersville Lake

Autumn colours The RV at the campsite

Our next stop is Summersville Lake a little further north in West Virginia. The walking here is just stunning and we seem to walk for miles without hardly seeing another soul. We do however see deer, wild turkeys, tortoise (turtles to you Americans) and lots of other wildlife and birdlife. Again facilities are provided and there is a shop and restaurant on site.

10th - 11th October - Elkins

The RV at Elkins River view out the back

A little further north again to Elkins and the site is beautiful. We are literally backed up on to a trout river and have the gentle river noises wake us up in the morning.

12th October - Brandywine - Seneca Rocks and Cavern

Seneca Caverns Bat in the caves

Brandywine on a COLD morning Mist on the lake

One of our better stops although the site is very basic with no facilities at all provided. There are no staff and payment is made by means of an "honesty box". On the way here we have stopped off at Seneca and done a tour of the huge caverns. These are still fairly basic and have not been over commercialised yet. We basically have a private tour with our guide. As you will see from the photograph above it is a bit on the cold side. We are after all in the mountains and it is October. Very cold and frosty mornings but it seemed to add to the beauty (well almost). One of our best memories was here. During what turned out to be quite a long hike - about six or seven miles we actually came across a Black Bear. We were aware that they are all over this region but to actually see these things first hand is unforgettable. Luckily the bear was more frightened than us and ran along the track away from us. We also walk round the lake in the morning and have the steam rising from the water as a family of deer cross along the bank behind it.

13th - 14th October -  Luray RV - Luray Caverns - Skyline Drive

Reflections in Luray Caverns Beautiful formations of stalactites

Ron on top of the world View over Skyline Drive

Our next stop is at Luray, our furthest north before heading back down to Richmond and Deltaville. Luckily we have phoned ahead and booked a slot at this site as it (unknown to us) gets full. The caverns in Luray are much more commercialised than at Seneca although they are much more extensive. It is a real tourist stop actually at the caverns and although it was real nice to see we are pleased to get away. The site is really nice with very friendly staff but again we have a coating of frost in the morning. Our drive has taken us next to Skyline Drive which adjoins the Blue Ridge Parkway further south. We stop along the way and the above photos speak for themselves. 

15th October - Misty Mountain

The RV at Misty Mountain campsite Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Our last night out before going back to Deltaville finds us just West of Richmond. A full facility site with shop, Wi-Fi, propane fills and good hiking. Julie again in seventh heaven with the birdlife including lots of Northern Cardinals and their bright red colouring.

16th October - Deltaville

The RV with Pianquatank River and Chesapeake in the background The Marina offices at Deltaville

So - back to Deltaville and dump all our hiking clothes (less Ron's defunct boots), spend the night here before driving up to Manassas to return our "home". We have decided we like this and at some point will definitely be buying our own RV.

On arrival back at Manassas Frank and Tari have arranged to pick us up and give us lunch before our flight, at Tari's son and daughter-in-laws house (Doug and Kara) so many thanks to them of course.

All in all this was an exceptional holiday and we can highly recommend it to anyone.



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