All about an extraordinary road trip from New Jersey to San Antonio, and back again.

Shenandoah Valley

March 18, 2008 – 3:28 pm | by Dave

2008-03-18-148.jpgHeading further into the Shenandoah Valley, we decided that a more interesting and scenic route was in order after the travel doldrums of the last couple of days, so we turned east to catch the Blue Ridge Parkway and to change our point of view. The day was overcast, but the views were impressive nonetheless.

One of the goals for the day was a visit to far-off Britts Mountain, my family’s ancestral home, near Charlottesville. We decided the day was ripe for high adventure, so we threw caution to the wind and reconfigured the GPS to guide us along the shortest route to that location from atop the Blue Ridge Mountains. Winding our way along barely discernible and unnamed state forest roads, we stopped often to take in the local landscape. Some roads were narrow, others were steep, many were both. Our breath caught once when we crested a hill and saw only sky, trusting that the road continued beneath us as we drove onward. (It did.)

One of the day’s unexpected gifts was Crabtree Falls, a waterfall with three cascades that began barely discernable through the trees at the mountain peak hundreds of feet above, falling down into a cataract below us. The roar of the water was exhilarating.

The mountain roads eventually gave way to wider avenues, and we made our way to Britts Mountain. There wasn’t any road that ascended the mountain, so we satisfied ourselves with a more distant view, and headed back into the Shenandoah valley, proceeding north to Luray Caverns.

If you’ve never visited the caverns, be sure to go some day. A mile-long tour brings you to beautiful and strange cave formations. The guide gives insight into the caverns’ discovery, and offers a deeper understanding of the geological processes that gave birth to them. As an added bonus, there’s a museum of old cars in a building adjoining the entrance to the caverns.

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