Patti: Syl, would you like to go to Z-Fest?
Okay, I didn’t know exactly what Z-Fest was, but I knew it involved driving from Asheville, North Carolina, my home away from home, to State College, Pennsylvania, for some kind of car thing. But ten days in the convertible speeding along the Blue Ridge Parkway, I’m in!
Leaving Julep, Patti’s Vizsla, at her doggy spa July 26, our Thelma and Louise <not the ending, of course> adventure began. Our first stop on the Parkway was for lunch at Little Switzerland where the food was wonderful and the view was amazing. Next on to Fancy Gap and Mount Airy, home of Andy Taylor and the basis for the city of Mayberry in the television show. We finally found the statue of Andy and Opie near the police station near the base of a big tree and more laughter and photos.
We didn’t stick around for long because we were headed to Mabry Mill, most photographed place on the Parkway, and I believe it. So calm and peaceful.
Leaving the Mill, we detoured so we could see the HUGE star in Roanoke; erected in 1949. It is lighted from dark to midnight every night and can be seen for miles around.
The Peaks of Otter came next and was my absolute favorite place on the trip. Our room was like going back in time to the 60’s. The view from our balcony was breathtaking with the Otter mountain, a lake and deer and heron all around. We had a date that night to meet a friend of Patti’s and it was as if I’d always known her. A dog person, I immediately liked her. We were the last to leave the restaurant and we left it laughing. We decided we needed an after dinner walk, and I couldn’t believe a doe let me get so close!
I’ve already warned Kind Paul to get ready, because we’ve got to go back.
If you’re tired of reading about the view, stop here, because there’s more. Just driving down the Parkway leaves you breathless; even if you didn’t stop at one of the pull overs. Hiking trails everywhere, deer crossings, horse crossings <?>.
One day, a bear began to cross the road in front of us…decided nah…and turned back to the woods. The canopy of the lush trees kept us dry one day during a little rain shower. Wild flowers, ferns and trees were everywhere and with the top down, we could hear the birds and the sounds around us.
Tuesday, we got off the Parkway and headed for Charlottesville and Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson. He was an amazing man, but a contradiction. We stayed late so we could go to the lecture on the slaves of Monticello and were glad we did. I am definitely going to read more about the man. The gardens were beautiful and I got some flower seeds for next Spring. I think the gardens at the Biltmore have me spoiled though. Nothing can compare to theirs.
On Wednesday we went back where the parkway ends, and picked up the beginning of the skyline drive. It is a drive like the parkway; going through the Shenandoah Valley. Yes, I did get the West Virginia/Shenandoah Valley song in my head and couldn’t get it out!
Next stop was an old lodge for lunch and then detoured about mid-way to go to the Luray Caverns. The caverns were amazing! Unfortunately, the guide was a teenager whose memorization of her script left us thinking a public speaking class would have been in order prior to her employment. With our tickets to the caverns, we were also able to go to a car museum…antique cars and carriages that were remarkable. We were amazed to read that a lot of the cars had less horse power than many lawnmowers do today. The horse drawn carriages were beautiful and I imagined us riding in the stagecoach for our trip <came to my senses very quickly> and wondered how in the world the ladies were able to wear all those clothes in the summer heat.
Back to the Skyline Drive, we drove to the end, which brought us close to Winchester Virginia. We stayed the night there in a beautiful old hotel in historic downtown; dinner in a neat English pub.
Thursday morning we visited Winchester and a small museum that was once an office for George Washington. Did you know they use to give little clips of their hair as gifts and later began making jewelry out of the hair? Creepy. It was in Winchester we met the other Z cars, 22 I think, from North Carolina and Virginia, to head to State College in Pennsylvania. What a sight! I think that was the day we traveled through four states. Well, not much of the state, but still, I was there!
When we got to the meeting place of the Fest, it was thrilling! Like the first time I saw so many Dalmatians at a dog show…speechless!! Patti met and made friends with some cool people from Ohio last year and we spent most of our time with them. There were lots of caravans to different places, agility type games for drivers and it was all fun. The man who took the group photo had been doing it for years and I was amazed how quickly he got them all lined up. He had a panoramic camera from the 1940s to take the photo and it only took a few minutes.
We got up to rain Sunday and decided not to wait around for lunch with everyone, but to head home for Julep and some time on the mountain before I had to leave Monday afternoon. We took the faster Interstate back and Julep was very pleased to be home from her spa visit; resting her chin on my head part of the way home, but always keeping a paw on Patti’s arm.
I have never seen so much beautiful scenery and everywhere we stopped, I found myself just standing and gawking. I don’t know how folks that live there ever get anything done. I would need to be cattle prodded out of my trance. Yes, there are so many beautiful places to go and things to see in our country. You just have to say yes when you get the chance!
I will leave you with the last photo…me with my new friend….we promised to keep in touch!