A Foggy Day in Shenandoah National Park… The 10,000-Mile Bike Trek

Regulations on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive understandably recommend that bicyclists not travel on foggy days. The fog does present some good photo ops, however.

Regulations on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive understandably recommend that bicyclists not travel on foggy days. The fog does present some good photo ops, however.

 

“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.

Peggy and I woke up to a foggy morning on our last day of retracing my bike route along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I was glad I wasn't riding my bike.

Visibility can be a real issue when the fog sets in for bicyclists as well as motorists.

A pine tree stands out in the fog along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

But fog has a way of shrouding everything in mystery.

Skyline Drive provides the same beauty, lack of commercial traffic and slow speed limit as found on the Blue Ridge Parkway, without the severe ups and downs.

Skyline Drive starts where the Blue Ridge Parkway ends when you are riding south to north. It provides the same beauty, lack of commercial traffic, and slow speed limit as found on the Parkway, without as many ups and downs.

Dogwood in fog along Skyline Drive in Virginia.

Distant vistas disappear in the fog. The traveller is left with views closer to the road…

A tree of dogwood blooming along the Skyline Drive in Virginia.

That bring their own beauty…

Trees along the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.

With a different perspective.

Pine needles provided an interesting pattern in the fog.

The grey backdrop made these pine needles stand out.

Not sure what these flowers were, but I found their green hue appealing.

Fog or not, I always like close-ups. The yellow-green hue of these flowers, and their abundance, caught my attention.

Tree lichens caught the attention of my camera.

Lichens are always worth a closer look..

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.

A cow and her calf welcomed me to the Shenandoah Valley.

Peggy and I followed the same route in our van as we retraced my route. A cow and her calf welcomed us to the Shenandoah Valley.

Welcome sign to Shenandoah.

As did this sign.

As this pasture land demonstrates.

Spring was bursting out all over!

This old fireplace was all that remained of an earlier Shenandoah Valley home.

This old fireplace was all that remained of an earlier Shenandoah Valley home. It isn’t unusual to find fireplaces standing alone, the one thing that wouldn’t burn when pioneers lost their homes to fires. This one would have gone with a large home.

And yes, I did find the Shenandoah River with its mountain backdrop.

And yes, I did find the Shenandoah River with its mountain backdrop.

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.

Old Town in Winchester Virginia has bee turned into a pleasant and attractive auto-free zone. Patsy Cline would recognize the buildings.

Old Town in Winchester, Virginia has been turned into a pleasant and attractive auto-free zone. I think that Patsy Cline would like it..

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.