“Oh Shenandoah, I long to see you/Away you rolling River/Oh Shenandoah, I long to see you/Away, I’m bound away/Cross the wide Missouri.”
There are songs that you hear as a child that bury themselves deep in your brain and are forever being replayed. Oh Shenandoah was one such song for me. It had a yearning that even my 9-year-old soul understood. I longed to see the Shenandoah River, and return to it— even though I had never been there.
It isn’t surprising then that Shenandoah became my song of the day as I wrapped up my bike tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway and entered Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah National Park. I often sang on my bike. It helped wile away the hours. But this time I sang with the same longing I had felt as a fourth grader.
Riding along the Skyline wasn’t enough for me, however. Oh Shenandoah was about the river and I had to see it! I reached US Highway 33 and made a snap decision. Instead of following Skyline Drive the rest of the way to Front Royal, Virginia, I would turn left and drop down into the Shenandoah Valley where I could sing to the river. And that is what I did. In Elkton, I picked up US 340 and followed it along the south fork of the Shenandoah River to Front Royal.
From Front Royal I biked on to Winchester where a billboard announced I was entering Patsy Cline’s hometown. I had another decision to make, this one more dramatic than my quick decision to check out the Shenandoah River. I had been bicycling for three months and I needed a break. A friend was supposed to meet me in two weeks in Maine and join me in bicycling through Nova Scotia. I could make it, just barely, maybe. But I would have to push hard through urban areas with urban traffic. Finally, I had developed a sore on my inner thigh in Mississippi and a sore on your inner thigh when you are bicycling is not a good thing. It would not go away.
So I decided to become good friends with the Dog. I would take the Greyhound from Winchester up though Washington DC, New York City, Boston and New England to Bangor, Maine. It would drop the total distance of my trip to around 10,000 miles, but I could live with that— and I would have a two-week break.
Next Blog: I make it to Maine and begin my exploration of Nova Scotia.
31 thoughts on “A Foggy Day in Shenandoah National Park… The 10,000-Mile Bike Trek”
My parents’ farm was just outside Charlottesville and I graduated high school in Winchester, so these beautiful photos took me “home.” Your and Peggy’s adventures have John and me thinking about hitting the road in an RV! 🙂
Glad to take you “home.” 🙂 I was really impressed with Winchester. As for RV travel, I never would have thought I would enjoy it so much until Peggy and I took a year off in 1999-2000 and traveled for a year in out 22 foot Pleasure Way through Canada, the US and Mexico. We still love to get out and about in it. Our three month trip following my bike route was a real treat for us. –Curt
Oh these photos are gorgeous. Visiting Shenandoah is on my bucket list. And your post is certainly convincing. Funny: last year I almost stayed in Winchester, VA and ended up not. Too bad because I love these towns that create pedestrian only areas. On my list too!
Cannot wait for your New England post.
Sorry my New England post was so short, Evelyne. Peggy and I had to rush through it. Hopefully, Nova Scotia, which is so similar, will make up for it. –Curt
I still loved it!
I remember that song. I used to play it on the guitar when I was young. Too bad I didn’t have the voice to go with the beauty of the song! 🙂
Peggy says she used to play Shenandoah on her guitar as well. (Must say that Peggy does have the voice for it.) She lived close to the river when she was at Mary Baldwin in Staunton… long before we met. 🙂 –Curt
You need to record her for us!
The song, Shenandoah does have a yearning sound to it, which obviously appealed to a small you. Did you have a deja vu feeling when you first saw it? The foggy photos are calm and mysterious in some cases. Very nice post Curt.
Yeah, that and “Old Dog Tray.” Not so much deja vu, but still a fun experience. I’ve always found fog mysterious. Thanks, Kayti. —Curt
Great fog shots! I have been on the Skyline Drive one time, but it was in a car. I was in the midst of one of my cross-country moves and when I saw the sign, I had no choice but to go. What a gorgeous country and I am delighted with the perspective you had in such misty weather. Funny how that song is one I remember from childhood too.
Of course you made the right decision by leaving the driving to Greyhound. Maybe you could have pushed directly through, not allowing yourself any snap decisions, but only pressing forward, counting miles. But…there’s less joy in that. Greyhounds offer their own perspective on America, too. 😉 I hope to hear about any characters you may have witnessed on the way.
I always think that fog adds a unique perspective, Crystal, as I am sure you appreciate quite often on the Oregon and Washington coasts.
Don’t really remember any true characters, which means they probably weren’t outrageously so. I would have made some notes. 🙂 –Curt
The moodiness of fog plus spring blossoms – nice combo!
Thanks, Dave. It was quite nice of the dogwood to be so cooperative. –Curt
Next time we are that way, we will have to see Winchester again. It has been a long time. We worked in DC around 30 years — I recall a close encounter [but no accident] with deer appearing suddenly in the fog on the Skyline Drive.
It certainly seemed different when Peggy and I visited this spring as opposed to 1989. I was impressed. As for deer encounters, I bet it was scary when one came out of the fog. It’s bad enough on a clear night. We have to be so careful here in southern Oregon. There are dozens of accidents annually. –Curt
Excellent photos for a wonderful song.
Thanks Peggy. It started playing in my mind again at your mention. 🙂 –Curt
The fog creates quite the mood and setting. You have really captured the feel of it beautifully.
Thanks, Sue. It adds another whole level to photography. In addition to the beauty, there is the mystery and slight sense of danger. There are reasons why it makes its way into scary movies. 🙂 –Curt
I love fog. I don’t enjoy driving in fog. But, when it can’t be avoided, it certainly does add a certain strange thrill to a trip. I’m not sure how willing I’d be to bicycle through it.
As for pushing on and on and on and on a little more, regardless of circumstances — well, that’s often the worst decision. I don’t need to tell you that, of course. Besides, you had a reasonable alternative that wold add it’s own piquancy to the later tales!
Fog creates it’s own world, Linda. I find it both mystical and magical, as well as beautiful. But it is best not to travel in it. I am always reminded of the horrendous pile ups on the freeways of the Central Valley of California.
Knowing when to stop is always important, particularly in wilderness travel. It is all too easy to end up in dangerous situations. I’ve been there a few times. 🙂 –Curt
Can imagine fog for a bicyclist isn’t great – back then with a little less traffic maybe not so bad. You caught the best in and out of the sun. What a great idea to strip 10,000 miles off the trip 😉
Fog is always a hazard. Bright clothing and bike lights are important. Dust storms and Burning Man creates the same situation. 🙂 But then again, driving in fog, as I am sure you often face, isn’t much fun either! It does make for interesting photos however. And I chuckled at your 10,000 miles. That was one more zero than I eliminated. –Curt
Ha, we Europeans have no idea about the real size of the USA 😀
Each time I have been to Europe, I’ve been struck by how quickly one moves between countries. 🙂 It’s vey much like traveling through states in the US or provinces in Canada once you move beyond the Atlantic Provinces. –Curt
Wow, that was well worth the detour down to Shenandoah River, spectacular scenery and of course you had to visit the place of your childhood favourite song.
It was a journey back in time for me, Annika. Isn’t it interesting how music influences our mind. Thanks. –Curt
I’d be singing “Oh, Shenandoah,” too if I saw what you’ve included in this blog. Quite lovely photography, Curt. But not even Patsy Cline could deal with a sore leg. Good thinking to take a break.
Your mere mention brings the tune back into my mind, Rusha. (As does each of the other comments. Strange how powerful music can be in our memories.) And thanks. It was definitely time to get off my bike for a week or so. And it worked. –Curt