Adventures in America; a Founding Fathers and American Civil War Roadtrip. Part 5 The Shenandoah National Park

Friday

“Almost heaven, West Virginia

Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River

Life is old there, older than the trees

Younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze

Country roads, take me home

To the place I belong

West Virginia, mountain mama

Take me home, country roads” ~ John Denver

I actually lost count of the amount of times that we played this, on full blast mIght I add, today. We were of course taking a road trip through the Shenandaoh National Park which snakes through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The south access point to the National Park was found only 20 mins away from Charlottesville and as we had brought a National Park Annual Pass earlier this week, was free for us to enter. Well, the pass cost $80 but what with todays entry and our entry to Jamestowne earlier this week, we are almost breaking even.

We were both super excited as the fall colours leading up to the National Park were insanely beautiful. Today’s roadtrip is features as one of the most spectacular fall drives there is.

Not even a mile into our 105 mile road trip and the colours were just out of this world. We took every opportunity possible to stop and take pics – in fact we need up with over 500 pics, just of today! (Don’t worry I’ve edited them down!)

About half way through, at mile marker 50.7, we stopped at the Dark Hollows Falls trail head. We really wanted to do a hike in the National Park, so chose this one as it was not too long. The speed limit in the NP is 35 mps so we didn’t really have time to do anything more significant. The trail down to the waterfall was busy and steep, but really enjoyable and very scenic nonetheless.

We carried on for the remainder of the skyline drive, literally gasping around each corner – each time we thought the view couldn’t be surpassed and we were proved wrong.

On leaving the National Park, we reluctantly turned off John Denver and drove in silence to Woodstock, Virginia, our final base for the night before heading up to Philadelphia again for our return flight home. We were staying on the edge of town, so ordered a cab to take us in for our final night in USA. We found a microbrewery and enjoyed some more Pumpkin ale with the locals..

then made our way to the Spring House Tavern – word on the street is that this is where the locals eat their steak.

We may have overindulged – I couldn’t help myself ordering fried chicken to start, then steak AND ribs to follow. With a side of mac n cheese of course. Well talk about a mistake – only in the portion size, the meal itself was incredible. The portion size GINORMOUS!

We took my over indulgent over ordering as a sign to walk the streets of Woodstock. Its not THE woodstock, but just a small, non touristy town. All the houses were decorated beautifully and creatively for Halloween. We just LOVE visiting these small American towns off the beaten track. They are fab!

Next day, after a bit of a restless night – someone had indigestion (ahem!) we set off bright and early. We had a full packed day. We were driving 4 hours towards Philadelphia, ready for our return flight that evening. But as we had a 10pm flight, we decided to make the most of the travel day by stopping at Lancaster County within Pennsylvania – home to a rather large Amish community.

We arrived in time to book onto the 1pm coach tour around the Amish settlements, visiting small communities, meeting the locals and visiting their shops. It was absolutely fascinating seeing the Amish families going about their day to day life and learning about how they live and worship.

The tour ended back at an old Amish farmhouse – now converted into the living museum. We weren’t so keen on the tour inside if we’re honest, but the grounds were big and interesting. There was also a historic covered bridge to look at.

It was time to point our hire car towards Philadelphia now – with a quick stop at Pat King of Steak’s Philly cheesesteak shack for our dinner.

Pat’s is apparently where the famous Cheesesteak originated from so we couldn’t pass through without trying it out. I’m really glad we did. It was marvellous! Worthy of a return trip in it’s own merit!

And so – it was sadly time to make our way to the airport. What a phenomenal week we’d had. Virginia and Pennsylvania aren’t often talked about as road trip options, but we LOVED it! If you like history and good food then it really needs to be on your bucket list.

Until Next Time

Lx


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