Three National Parks; One Great Road Trip; Celebrating America’s Best Idea – Part 5

national

1916- 2016

I love motorcycling the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. It is, perhaps, my favorite section of the BRP, although I enjoy all 469 miles of it. The Virginia segment is generally rural, pastoral, and rolling, where the road meanders through beautiful farmland. In contrast, the North Carolina side is rugged and mountainous, with significant elevation changes and breathtaking mountain vistas.

Today is my last day traveling the BRP in Virginia. Perhaps because I only get to ride the BRP here maybe once or twice per year is the reason I treasure it so much. The North Carolina segment is pretty much in my backyard, only eighty miles away from home, so I do ride it frequently.

It’s a longer travel day today, so I leave POO early. The Parkway begins an ascent as I make my way towards the western side of Virginia. Parts of the Parkway are shrouded in fog, and as I crest the ridge, I notice the fog climbing up the north side, over the road, then down the south side. I stop to take a photo:

The fog burned off as the sun rose higher in the sky and warmed up. I rode through the beautiful Virginia countryside for a few hours, then decided to stop for lunch in an idyllic setting.

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I had purchased a “to go” lunch from POO, and found this beautiful location to enjoy it. After eating, a short hike took me around this cabin and through the woods for about twenty minutes. I did it in a counter clockwise direction. Had I done it clockwise, I would have seen this:

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Doesn’t say anything about protecting oneself, though. Thankfully, I didn’t cross paths with any large, furry mammals with teeth.

Back on the ST, I continue rolling southbound, with but a few miles of Virginia yet to traverse. I’m now close to where I spent my first night’s camp on this trip, and so it is very familiar territory. I pull off the Parkway at Tuggles Gap, near Floyd, Virginia. Roo and I have traveled here many times and even stayed one night in this ramshackle mom & pop motel:

The motel leaves much to be desired, but the restaurant is great, and is a very popular eating spot for motorcyclists. The riding in this area is exceptional, with everything from twisty mountain roads to two lane country byways.

Right up the road, on the BRP, is my final stop in the state of Virginia. This historic site is probably the most famous, and most visited site on the entire Parkway. It is definitely known to have one of the most photographed spots by visitors; so much so that other states have used photos from here to promote tourism in their states!

Mabry Mill

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This is the famous photograph used in countless advertising campaigns and tourism ads in states where it doesn’t even exist! That is the Blue Ridge Parkway curving off to the left. Below is a photo taken in 1937 of the mill, taken at very near the same spot as I took mine:

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The mill was built in 1903, and provided blacksmith, wheelwright, and sawmill services for residents in the area. In 1905, a gristmill was added. By the 1950’s the mill was already in a state of disrepair. In the 1960’s, local residents, and later, the National Park Service, began restoration of this important landmark. The National Park Service began gathering other buildings from the local area to restore and display here as well.

Other Mill Photos

The final twenty-five miles in Virginia roll under the ST’s wheels. I cross the state line into North Carolina and bid Virginia farewell for now. Tonight, I hang my helmet in the tiny hamlet of Sparta, North Carolina. Tomorrow, the adventure continues.

Final post: An engineering marvel: the BRP finally comes together; So familiar, it’s like coming home; Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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