Hiking ON the Blue Ridge Parkway

We awoke and our hope was to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and stop for a nice hike.  A short drive from our inn is where the Blue Ridge Parkway meets Skyline Drive.  Who would have thought to call ahead?  By now the roads are surely opened?….

…We arrived to find the Parkway shutdown and the Skyline drive still closed due to the snow.   Well what to do?  Hike ON the parkway.   We arrived before most others and enjoyed a solitary walk along the rode heading upward – There was something so serene but almost eerie of being the only ones on a road usually filled with drivers.   The views were just amazing down to the valley below.  There were indeed some patches were the ice formed on the roadway which I am sure would make it a treacherous drive.

After our nice hike we stopped for some lunch and beer tasting at Devils Backbone. We had enjoyed the Vienna Lager and wanted to taste what else they offered.   We had no idea what to expect.  As we drove up we were surprised by a beautiful huge lodge-like building that looked straight out of Colorado and that was jam packed!   We also visited Wild Wolf Brewing where we had expected nicer surrounding but found the shops all empty – however we ended up enjoying this beer far more and left with some very well priced bottles.  So Devils offered the better atmosphere and Wild Wolf offered the better beer.

We enjoyed another hike in the valley below and returned to Iris Inn for an evening wine tasting followed by a relaxing soak in the hot tub.  This ended abruptly when our power went out.  After regaining power,  I unfortunately fell into a deep sleep in our treehouse above the woods and would sadly not awake again until it was time to say goodbye.

All alone on the Parkway
All alone on the Parkway
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Over the mountain we go..

… to Charlottesville!

What a change in weather.  As we descend the mountain there is no snow to be found and the temperature is 5 degrees warmer! This makes it a perfect day to visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.    Taking the walking up the hill provides a good opportunity for exercise, fresh air, and knowing just how high up on a hill Jefferson built his home.   If you choose this route, your tour begins with  the end of his life; the cemetery (interesting to note – Privately owned by the family and still in use).   After leaving the cemetery, you enter through Mulberry Row.  Even on a cold winter day, the gardens still have a few plants growing, primarily herbs which still smell wonderful.   I was amazed by the size of his gardens, vineyards, and nursery.  The grounds of Monticello are a work in progress.  Just this past year the Mountain Project  was launched to restore and recreate what was originally found on the property.  I always find projects like this very interesting – figuring out what was really there and peeling back the layers to represent how it really was.

We were hungry after our visit and decided to visit Charlottesville for lunch. Our trip into Charlottesville took us right into the middle of town where an open Market filled with Christmas music played by old and young musicians. Charlottesville Historic Downtown Mall – Charlottesville, VA Listings. After eating a great burger and too many fries at Relish – we decided to explore a few breweries.  We had enjoyed a Star Hill beer with Thanksgiving Dinner and decided it was the perfect place to go -in Crozen.  They only sell beer – no food so be sure to eat before you go (or hope a food truck is outside) and offer a few beers on tap we had never seen in bottles.Our favorite however was there beer called Snow Blind.  We decided to make one more stop as we drove up the mountain at Blue Mountain Brewery.  Wow was this place packed!  They offer a great flight of all their beers which was a lot of fun for most of them (majority) were new to us.

After a great day out sightseeing there was nothing better then returning to our cozy cabin and enjoying the fire.

Awakening in a Tree House

One sleeps well when surrounded by trees.

We arrived in time the previous evening to enjoy the hot tub located on our own private deck to our cabin.  Heated floors warmed our feet after the two steps from the frigid air into the bathroom.    A fireplace to cozy up to along with a bottle of wine was waiting for us after our soak.  Not one detail was missed in the design of these cabins.  All is perfectly laid out so one can sit back and enjoy either the view, the fireplace, or tv from comfy reclining chairs before retiring to bed. The cabins at Iris Inn are the furthest from what one would expect when  hearing the word cabin or Bed and Breakfast – instead think of an luxurious studio suite.

Whereas for us the place we are visiting is the primary reason to travel and the accommodations are found based on this, the Iris Inn is instead a destination unto itself for a romantic getaway.

 

Dashing through the snow in a …

Oh wait.  Wrong Holiday.  It was Thanksgiving Day – 2014.  And the snow had fallen the previous day and shut down Skyline Drive…. the only way in to our Thanksgiving Feast at Skyland Resort.

As we drove from our home to Shenandoah National Park, we were unsure where we would be eating our Thanksgiving Meal.  At 7:00 Am Skyland Drive remained closed.  I entered the # on speed dial (thankful for cell phones).   We decided we would keep calling and would not give up hope until we hit the entrance gate.  As we traveled out of Pennsylvania – a call was made. Road Closed.  Through Maryland – Road Closed. I called the lodge and asked for an alternative road or if they could send down some snowmobiles (I was told this was not Yellowstone.)    Through West Virginia we travelled – Road Close.  Entered Virginia – Road Closed…  I instead this time decided to call the restaurant.  It was hard to believe there was not some sort of access road to get us to Skyland Resort.  We were asked if wanted to cancel… but where else would we eat?  No way.  We were holding out.  With less then one hour to go, leaving the highway and diverting from our final destination… the message had changed.  I had to listen again just to believe it.. Road open form Thorton Gap to Skyland Lodge!   One way in and one way out.  It would mean backtracking to reach our final destination but that did not matter!  We were in!  Thanksgiving Day was saved!

And oh what a magical ride it was up the mountain. Tree tops glistening with snow.  Deer prancing through the forest.  Icicles suspended from rocks. As we climbed to the highest point of the mountain, it was easy to see why this road was shut down.  Snow was several inches deep.    The temperature plummeted from high thirties to match the date…

As we entered the lodge, we were seated at the best table – with a view overlooking the snow covered mountain down to the valley below.  We enjoyed a feast – what a wonderful meal!

A Thanksgiving hike was planned to burn off the calories but that was unfortunately not going to happen… but there were still pullovers to stop enjoy!   As we descended the mountain, the snow began to fall again but this did not stop us from stopping at each pullover to enjoy the view.  By the last pullover it became one big blur as the snow began to come down steadily.   We departed Shenandoah National Park stuffed and oh so happy. It was surely a Thanksgiving that we will never forget!

View from Atop the Mountain