Day 3: August 23, 2010
Skyline Drive
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I found two hitchhikers waiting for me when I checked out of the motel this morning; This fellow on the rear window and his little buddy on the roof. I let them stay but they got off somewhere before my first stop.

That first stop was at Patsy Cline's grave in Shenandoah Memorial Park at the south edge of Winchester. It's one of those places where all markers are flush with the ground to make mowing easier which doesn't make reading them easy from any distance. You have to almost be on top of a marker to read it and you need to know that Patsy was buried under her married name, Dick. She was named Virginia Patterson Hensley at birth. Cline was the name of her first husband. "Patsy" presumedly came from her middle name. At the time of her death, she was married to Charlie Dick. There is room for Charlie's name on the marker. Charlie is now very much alive and has remarried. I don't know whether or not he plans on being buried here.

The grave is near the east edge of the cemetery and there is a small sign pointing to it. Pictures show the grave relative to the sign and to a funeral home that stands next to the cemetery. Coordinates from my GPS were N 39 07.741 and W 78 09.578.

It was somewhat foggy when I reached Front Royal, where Skyline Drive begins, so I followed part of a walking tour about town while some of it lifted. There are quite a few historic building near downtown along with a couple of promising museums.

A column of turkeys failed to keep me out of the park and I even got to use my old-farts-get-in-free national park pass for the first time since acquiring it at Carlsbad. I've read that some have referred to Skyline Drive as a toll road. It isn't but it is inside Shenandoah National Park which does have fees.

I was barely past the entrance when I spotted the two deer at roadside. They would be the only non-flying wildlife I would see in the park.

I stopped at the first overlook and took some pictures then drove a little farther and stopped at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center. There is a helpful ranger on hand and some nice displays including an interactive 3D map. There are also some great views.

The Drive was busy but not crowded.

Sometimes it was the horizon that caught my eye...

...and sometimes it was closer stuff. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, or float like two butterflies and sting like a bee.

There were cool views just about every where except inside the park's only tunnel and even that wasn't too bad. There is quite a bit of work going on inside the park as a result of federal stimulus money. Many pullouts were closed for repair and that included the large one at the south end of the tunnel.

That construction also means seeing vehicles on the parkway that wouldn't ordinarily be there. I followed two of these trucks for a few miles before we joined the line at a construction blockage. There was a pretty long line behind us before we were allowed to continue but that was the only such happening of the day. Other than it being less than scenic, following the trucks was not a problem. The speed limit inside the park is 35 MPH and they can maintain that just fine.

Skyline Drive connects directly with the Blue Ridge Parkway and you can move from one to the other without pause. I, however, exited and looped back under the roadway to head toward my motel in Charlottesville.

The weather couldn't have been much better. Raindrops splattered on the windshield once but lasted a minute or less. The sky was usually cloud covered but that didn't bother me and no doubt helped with the temperature. The car thermometer read 71F when I entered the park and it got no higher until after 2:00. In fact, it sometimes dropped a bit but stayed between 67 and 71. The sun burst through around two o'clock and the temperature climbed quickly to 81F but that was it. Within half an hour, returning clouds dropped things to the mid-70s and that's where they stayed.

Dinner was at the South Street Brewery. It's not exactly imposing on the outside but those big tanks sure look good behind the bar. I tried Satan's Pony Amber Ale, the Dunkel, and the portobello ravioli. All were delicious.

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