Friday, June 3, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend - Endless Caverns - New Market VA

Wednesday (May 25) to Wednesday (Jun 1):

On Wednesday we made the 110 mile trip from the James River State Park to Endless Caverns RV Resort. This campground is located next to the Endless Caverns which were discovered in the late 19th century and opened to the public in 1920. The campground has been here for a long time but only had primitive camping up until 10 years ago. A group of investors bought the property and put in a 140 site RV campground with full hook-ups on each site. There are a combination of back in sites along with pull throughs. We were assigned site E-46 and guided to the site by one of the workers at the campground. The sites are located on the side of a mountain with steep roads and tight turns. We took it slow and got into our pull through site. We had to do some pulling forward and back to get our rig situated where we could get all of our slides out and hook up to the utilities. We we arrived on Wednesday there were only a few sites occupies in the campground but by Friday afternoon the park was completely full.
Sites are terraced into the side of the mountain.

We had a hedge to give us some privacy.
We finished setting up the rig and walked around the campground. It is either up the hill or down the hill everywhere you go in the park. They have a swimming pool, rec hall with games and several shower houses around the park.

We took one day (Friday) to visit the Skyline Drive located within the Shenandoah National Park. This is a 105 mile road that runs along the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was built during the 1930's by the CCC as part of the federal government's attempts to employ men during the Depression. There are a total of 75 overlooks along the drive. There is a Visitor's Center and a Skyland Lodge & Resort located at one of the highest points along the drive. The lodge was originally a private resort but was purchased as part of the park in the 1920's.  The weather was hazy and there is smog in this part of Virginia: so the overlooks are not as spectacular as they used to be. Years ago people said you could see for 100 miles while the day we visited it was more like 25 miles. We travelled about 35-40 miles of the drive and pulled off at most of the overlooks along that stretch of road. We also did a hike up the mountain to an overlook located at the end of the trail. I made it all the way to top while Connie turned back about 2/3rds of the way. The trail became very steep and slippery near the top so while I continued on Connie wisely turned around.
One of the overlooks along the drive.

View from another one of the overlooks.

I made it to the top of the trail.

The top of Hawksbill Overlook Trail.

Old Cabin at near Hawksbill Overlook.
Another day we visited the Storybrook Trail located in New Market which has a nice overlook of the Shenandoah Valley. The trail is paved and is only about 1 miles long. You drive along a county road with a number of switchbacks to get near the top of mountain so the incline is gradual along the trail.
Starting point of the trail along side a creek.

At the overlook.

Saturday evening there was a husband and wife team that played music at the park for about 2.5 hours. They were called Whistlin Dixie and played a mix of music that included songs from Patsy Cline, Fleetwood Mac, Charlie Daniels Band and the Doors. The husband played guitar and other string instruments while the wife played the electric piano. We stayed for about 2 hours before retiring back to the RV. We could still hear the music as we sat outside our rig.
Whistlin Dixie band
Sunday we hiked up to the top of the park where there is a large ENDLESS CAVERNS signs (similar to the HOLLYWOOD sign in California). The trail is very steep and was muddy in places so we took our time getting to the top. There is a small area below the sign where campfires are sometimes held and people watch the sun set in the evening.

On Memorial Day we travelled south to  Harrisonburg VA. Harrisonburg is the home of James Madison University which is a large public university that is located on both sides of the interstate highway that runs through town. We walked around the university which was empty due to the holiday. A lot of buildings were erected in the early 20th century (school opened in 1908) along with some modern ones as well. We also drove through downtown Harrisonburg to view some of the vintage buildings located there.
Statue of President James Madison

One of the "halls" at James Madison University
As we were leaving the university we saw a sign for the Carrier Arboretum. This is a 125 acre arboretum located on the campus of James Madison. The visitor center was closed but we were able to walk around several acres of the gardens. It was a nice walk and very peaceful within the grounds.
We never did find out what this flower is called.

A number of these small trees were covered in blooms.
We had rain off and on the entire week we at the park. One night it rained quite hard for several hours. We did meet a couple from the Washington DC area who had purchased a 2014 Dutch Star last year. They are about a year away from retirement and are hoping to travel to Alaska next year.

On Wednesday morning we left early to head north into Pennsylvania. Along the drive north on I-81 we passed through four states: Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.