I left Gettysburg Friday morning headed toward Shenandoah National Park and the start of my long, slow drive along the Park’s Skyline Drive (at no more than 35 MPH) then onto the Blue Ridge Parkway (where the speed limit cranks up to 45). Other than the winding, picturesque drive on back roads (and across that same 10’6″ bridge with my 11’2″ trailer) between G’burg and Front Royal, the drive was Interstate doldrums.
But at Front Royal, where I fueled up both truck and generator (no campsite power in the national park) and entertained a group of foreign tourists with the size of my rig (no wisecracks!) the drive got pretty, pretty fast. You enter the National Park and quickly benefit from the beauty of the forest and expansive views overlooking both sides of the ridge-line road. Don’t believe a word of what you hear about how beautiful Skyline Drive & the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s much better! I quickly learned you can’t reasonably stop at every turnout to take in the views. And you really don’t need to thanks to the 35 MPH speed limit. The two-lane road twists & winds its way up and down ridges, alternating between tight forest and open skylines. Truly a pleasure to drive! Truly a wonderful road!
(As a side-note, I’ve gotta get Ford credit for their tow/haul feature on the SuperDuty trucks. This was the first time I’ve been in mountainous terrain with this rig, and once I engaged the towing feature and got comfortable with how it manages transmission shifting, I happily realized how efficient it is managing speed both up & down hills. Up-shifting is minimized so the turbo kicks in less; downshifting takes much of the wear off the brakes as the heavy truck/trailer gains momentum downhill. It’s a cool, effective feature that, as I suspected and then confirmed with the owners manual, gets more efficient as it learns the terrain. Henry Ford would be proud.)
I rolled into Big Meadows Campground about 2:15 and setup camp for three days. I planned to hike some and enjoy the park. As it turned out, the weather and my left knee didn’t cooperate much so I just spent time chillaxing and reading a couple books I’d been wanting to get after. I smoked a small rack of ribs one day—there’s nothing like the smell of smoking meat in a campground, knowing you’ve gotta be annoying the holy outta the other campers, and maybe a bear or two!
When Monday morning rolled around I was up early and on my way through the southern part of Shenandoah and toward the Blue Ridge. Morning driving kept me alert as there were lots of deer alongside the road and uncountable squirrels on the road. Sadly, one of them didn’t make it to the other side (a squirrel, not a deer). But I wasn’t putting 10,000 pounds of rolling mass at risk for a rodent with a good marketing department. Sorry little guy… The frequent patches of fog/clouds added to the fun and I slowed to about 20 MPH many times. All-in-all I loved the drive!
Once I hit the BRP I dialed it up to 45 most of the time, except for downhill curves and, again, some foggy areas. After a few turnout stops later to snap pictures and tour a cool mining encampment I arrived at the Fancy Gap KOA for another couple nights so I could reconnect with the electronic world, get a little work done, and get caught up on this writing before new places fill my head.