Day 4: June 5, 2005
Blue Ridge & Blue Sky



This sign greeted me almost immediately on leaving Amherst. Maybe there are a few truck drivers who are upset but drivers of sports cars have a different view. I snapped the picture of the log truck after passing it and its twin stopped in the road. Apparently one of the pair had broken down. The drive along this section of US-60 was gorgeous but I knew even better was ahead. That "better" was the Blue Ridge Parkway and I entered it some twenty miles from Amherst.

Awesome views appeared almost instantly and continued non-stop. A significantly straighter and less scenic I-81 sort of parallels the parkway in this area and I would be using the expressway to return to Sixty. My destination was actually the parkway's beginning and I realize that I probably should have done the parkway & expressway in the reverse sequence. As it was, I drove from near mile 45 to mile 0. One of the pull offs is at a reconstruction of a 1920 narrow gauge railway that was used to haul more than 100 million board feet of forest to the mill. In a rare stroke of timing luck the motorcycles appeared just as I was snapping a shot of the rock wall.

A number of log structures have been relocated to an area beside the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center and organized into a farm like setting. The cabin is furnished with original items and today park employee Gary was there in farmer garb to explain the furnishings, the buildings, and the area. The trail continues on a short distance from the cabin and I liked this view of it looking back. I guess my reward for strolling the streets of Williamsburg in the rain is perfect weather for my Blue Ridge Parkway drive. Hillsides covered by colorful blooms are more evidence of the good timing. There are 469 miles of sights like this connecting the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks. Skyline Drive connects directly with the Blue Ridge Parkway making it possible to drive all the way from Front Royal, VA, (about 60 mile straight west of the nation's capital) to Cherokee, NC, with scenery like this all the way. Some day.

At the end/beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway, I dashed to I-81 on I-64 and to US-60 on I-81. As I traced Sixty back to where I had left it, I spotted this giant coffee pot near Lexington. I don't know its history but do know that it is now serving as headquarters for James River Basin Canoe Livery. Incidentally, the section of US-60 that connects Buena Vista to the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the more fun sections of the road I've been on.

Like most of today's US highways, US-60 is a mixed bag. There are pretty and entertaining stretches like those around Amherst & Buena Vista, boring divided four lane, congested city passages, and some interstate piggybacks. The second picture here is of a piece of old Sixty that was retired by I-64. I hadn't researched this in advance and saw no obvious way of connecting with the new interstate routing on both ends so I had to drive this section in both directions. Poor, poor, pitiful me.

After passing through Covington, VA, and before being dumped back on the interstate, I stopped at the Humpback Bridge Wayside. The bridge was built in 1835 as part of the James River Kanawha Turnpike. It was in service until 1929 and was reconditioned and brought out of retirement in 1953 to serve as the centerpiece of the park.

The thermometer in the car read 85F (I saw 90F on a bank sign) so I was getting hot and thirsty when I read "GOOD EATS AND ALE ON THE MIDLAND TRAIL" in White Sulphur Springs. I paused for a refreshing beverage but when I saw the guy working the grill I decided to sample something more solid, too. Hand formed burgers, fresh cut fries, "big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer" (get ready for a musical head snap) "these are a few of my favorite things". Directly across the street is a bank turned art gallery that dates from the year that US-60 and the other US routes were created - MCMXXVI. I really liked the looks of Bev's Diner just up the street but it was closed. In the Route 60 American Grill I learned that it's only closed on Sundays and when the owner (it's a one gal operation) is sick.

Not far from Lewisburg, WV, I spotted a "covered bridge next left" sign and went for it. Right away I found some surprises. First was the narrow "sidewalk" style road. It looks similar to some remaining bits of Route 66 "sidewalk" but is much smoother. The next surprise was goats in the road closely followed by a single llama among the goats and sheep. Perhaps a shepherd's version of The Ugly Duckling (The Ugly Lamb?). But the biggest surprise was the lack of a bridge. Turns out that, probably in my excitement over the road, I had missed this well marked turn (the bottom sign does point to the bridge). Anyway, here's the bridge going and coming.

It looks as if West Virginia has just received a new capitol and was just starting to unwrap it as I passed through. I don't think anyone was surprised as the shape and size of the package kind of gave it away. Directly across the river, at the University of Charleston, a concert (lots of bagpipes for some reason) was in progress and provided background music as I snapped pictures. Precisely across the street from the capitol is West Virginia's Zero Mile Stone.

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