Virginia Is For Lovers

Aaron, Conor, and Gabriel hiking

Virginia is quite possibly the most scenic place I have traveled through in the U.S. as of yet. If Virginia is for lovers than we are in love with the trees, mountains, scenic byways, National Park and Forests. The back country roads are full of mountain top views, cows on the hillside, and beautiful homes (mixed in with a few forgotten ones). Even the forgotten homes still have a beauty about them that just blends in with the views.


We have seen black bears in Shenandoah National Park, turtles along the roadside, chipmunks, birds, beavers, and turkey. There are also wild horses near Damascus, VA and I saw several miniature ponies much to my heart’s delight. Seeing the wildlife and sharing the experience with the boys is just one part of this trip that I have been looking forward to.

A Box Turtle

Scenic Views

Our path through Virginia began in Yorktown on the beach and along the Colonial Parkway which is part of the National Park Service. This drive is tree lined and the way every town and city should be entered.

The views didn’t stop there as we traveled along the Blue Ridge Parkway and along the New River. We learned that the New River is one of the oldest rivers in the US and many crossed through Redford VA (one of our overnight locations) by ferry to get to the west. Lewis and Clark had an office in Redford and Daniel Boone used the area as a waypoint for his explorations. Daniel Boone has been a theme for us so far.

Driving on some of the back roads and up some mountains was slow going at times but definitely had its benefits as we enjoyed a slower pace and more scenic views. I drove through Jefferson National Forest complete with babbling brook and met many thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail (AT). The boys and I even walked on a portion of the AT or near by it while we were at Shenandoah NP and in Damascus.

Hayters Gap prepared me for what the Appalachian Mountains may be like while driving and towing the camper. It was slow moving up 1500 feet with many switchbacks and steep grades but we made it fine and had some time to take a break at the top; over 3000 feet.

Cycling in Virginia

Route 76 road sign

Dan started his Trans America Bicycle trip in Yorktown Virginia next to the Yorktown Monument. He dipped his back tire in the water and began pedaling the Colonial Parkway. A great way to begin the trip (or finish if you are heading east).

Virginia for Dan has meant rain and hills. Hayters Gap mentioned above - Dan rode his bike up that; pedaled every switchback and steep grade. He was thankful for the rest area at the top after that trek.

The Cookie Lady house in Afton is full of biking memorabilia all the way back to 1976 when the Trans America tour began. June C. happily made cookies and provided a place to stay for the bikers along the route. Although she has since passed away, her home is still open for cyclists to visit and stay overnight if needed. Our family did stay overnight in Afton and enjoyed the memorabilia that lines the walls and tables. There are tires, old photos, maps, cards, and many letters of gratitude to June and those that keep her memory alive by continuing to open the home up for cyclists. We left our thank you card on the wall, adding it to the hundreds already there.

Dan setting up his bicycle

Many churches along the route open their doors to cyclists offering a place to camp overnight and even a bathroom and shower. These are welcome sights to see after a long ride. Dan and I have enjoyed meeting the people along the way here in Virginia. We started the trip by meeting two other cyclists and although we have since separated we still keep in touch and pass on tips to each other long the route. The instant camaraderie is so cool. I love how Dan and the other cyclists hit it off so well and have a common goal of completing the trip. So far we are the only family tagging along but I have definitely enjoyed encouraging Dan along the route and seeing him after he has completed yet another day of riding. He is tired at the end of the day but always has a smile when he sees me and the boys. Especially when we have food.

Dan riding past a route 76 sign

We also met a group of cyclists that are almost finished with their route and heading to the east coast. They will be traveling to Arlington National Cemetery as part of their memorial ride for three fallen comrades in Afghanistan. Being Veterans, Dan and I were so grateful to these cyclists and if we were traveling east would have gladly joined them in honor of their comrades and the many more soldiers that gave the ultimate sacrifice for us and our country.

Brianne reading an Adventure Cycling map

Virginia has treated us well despite the rainy days and hills. I am a forever fan of Virginia’s back roads, scenic views, and wildlife.

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