We spent the week of May 14th on vacation in Virginia and North Carolina. I have been uploading blog posts about our vacation since May 29th. This blog post is about our eighth, and final, day of vacation.
I wish I had slept better the night before. Bob’s snoring awakened me, and the room temperature wasn’t good. I was either too warm or cold. Apparently I slept with an ant too. While half asleep, during the night, I changed my sleeping position. I rested the side of my head on another pillow. I heard a buzzing noise…bee? fly? I turned on the light and lifted my pillow….nothing. I lifted the other pillow…nothing. I pulled back the bed sheet and shook the covers…nothing. I eventually went back to sleep. Later on, I placed my hand underneath the pillow and felt movement. I brushed my hand outward. I got up, looked underneath the pillow and saw a black, plump ant moving quickly to the head of the bed. I flattened that ant, without a moment’s thought.
We departed A Holiday Motel on Sunday, May 21, at 5:15 am, in the rain. We arrived at Cracker Barrel in Asheville, NC at 5:50 am. We had an approximate wait of 10 minutes before the restaurant opened. While we ate, it got lighter outside. The rain, however, continued. We were back on the road around 6:30 am.
Our next stop was 3 hours later at the Rocky Gap Safety Rest Area/Welcome Center, located along Interstate 77 in Virginia. The only thing noteworthy about this rest stop was some old vehicles that we saw in the parking lot.
Interstate 77 in Virginia at the
Rocky Gap Safety Rest Area/Welcome Center
The rain turned into drizzle, as we entered West Virginia and soon stopped completely.
We ate lunch at Shoney’s in Summersville, WV. We were back on the road at noon.
The Pennsylvania Welcome Center in Waynesburg is a very nice welcome center. It is full of brochures and maps about places throughout Pennsylvania, as well as coloring and activity books for children. There is also a coal miners memorial at this welcome center.
Coal Miners Memorabilia at
Pennsylvania Welcome Center in Waynesburg, PA
Monument Dedicated to all Coal Miners at
Pennsylvania Welcome Center in Waynesburg, PA
The coal miners memorial was of interest to me, as both Dad and my brother, Jim, were coal miners.
The rain started up again soon after leaving the Pennsylvania Welcome Center, and followed us home.
We got off Interstate 77 at the Slippery Rock exit, several miles sooner than routed by the GPS. We were getting tired of interstate travel.
We returned home at approximately 5:30 pm. We drove in rain at least 75% of our drive home.
We spent the week of May 14th on vacation in Virginia and North Carolina. Earlier this week I uploaded a blog post about the first day of our vacation. This blog post provides details and photographs of our second day of vacation.
We checked out of the Quality Inn Skyline Drive on Monday, May 15, at 6:20 am, after a complimentary breakfast at the hotel. We drove straightway to Skyline Drive; the north entrance was located within 2 miles of our hotel. For the next 9 1/2 hours we drove the entire length of Skyline Drive (105 miles), from Front Royal to Rockfish Gap. We stopped at LOTS of overlooks and hiked the trail to Dark Hollow Falls. Here are some of the photographs that I took at the overlooks.
Signal Knob Overlook
Mile 5.7 Elevation 2,090 feet
From the Signal Knob Overlook you can see Signal Knob, the northernmost peak of Massanutten Mountain. You can also see the south fork of the Shenandoah River.
There was a sign at Jewell Hollow Overlook that discussed wall construction. The sign read: “In the 1930s, stone walls in Shenandoah National Park were built in two styles of masonry: dry-laid and ashlar. Dry-laid walls, like those here at Jewell Hollow Overlook, could be built by less-experienced stone workers, like the young men of the CCC, since they require only moving and aligning heavy stones–more muscle than skill…”
We saw this pretty Indigo Bunting, while at the Jewell Hollow Overlook.
Stony Man Mountain Overlook
Mile 38.6 Elevation 3,100 feet
Profile of Stony Man
at the Stony Man Mountain Overlook
Skyland Resort is located at mile marker 41.7 and sits at Skyline Drive’s highest elevation, 3,680 feet.
Crescent Rock Overlook
Mile 44.4 Elevation 3,550 feet
Crescent Rock Overlook
Franklin Cliffs Overlook
Mile 49 Elevation 3,140 feet
What can I say about Dark Hollow Falls. I have hiked the trail to the falls three times. The first time was with Mom in June 1994. I was 38 years old at the time; Mom would be 56 years old in a couple months.
Mom and I at Dark Hollow Falls in June 1994.
The second time I hiked the trail to Dark Hollow Falls was with Bob in May 2001. I was 45 years old at the time.
Bob and I at Dark Hollow Falls in May 2001
Sixteen years later I hike down that trail once again to the bottom of Dark Hollow Falls. From the parking lot, which is located at mile marker 50.7 and at an elevation of 3,425 feet, the trail is a round trip of 1.4 miles. The descent is about 440 feet, which means you have to climb back up from the falls 440 feet! A trail description states that the time required to make the round trip on this trail is 1 hour and 25 minutes.
This year the thought of hiking the Dark Hollow Falls trail caused me trepidation. I had a scare, while at Bushkill Falls earlier in the month. We were hiking around the Main Falls. We planned to do more hiking than that, intending to see more waterfalls than only Main Falls. I got lightheaded, shaky. My breathing was not good. My heart was beating very fast. My chest started to hurt. I sat down on a wooden rail for quite a while, until everything returned to normal. Then we began the climb back to the car. It took a while because I had to make lots of stops.
I had no trouble hiking down the Dark Hollow Falls trail.
Dark Hollow Falls trail
The hiking pole was a great help on this trail.
There were a few small waterfalls along the trail to Dark Hollow Falls.
Small waterfall along trail to Dark Hollow Falls
Another small waterfall along trail to Dark Hollow Falls
One more small waterfall along trail to Dark Hollow Falls
Dark Hollow Falls Trail
This part of the trail was bad enough going down; I wasn’t looking forward to the upward climb!
Dark Hollow Falls
Dark Hollow Falls
(photo by Bob)
Will I ever see Dark Hollow Falls again? I hope so, but I told Bob that this may be my last visit to the falls.
I took it very slow on the climb back up the trail, resting frequently. Thankfully I never experienced what I did at Bushkill Falls, while hiking the Dark Hollow Falls trail. But, man was I exhausted from that hike. Toward the end I began to feel quite weak from low sugar, I think, as we had not had anything to eat since 6:00 am. I mentioned earlier that a trail description stated that the time required to make the round trip on this trail is 1 hour and 25 minutes. It took us about 2 hours to make the round trip…not bad considering all the stops I made.
Less than a mile south of the Dark Hollow Falls parking lot is Big Meadow. We ate a picnic lunch (Bumble Bee meat spread and crackers and pineapple) at Big Meadow. We also bought Blackberry ice cream (for me) and peanut butter pie (for Bob) for dessert. I believe the blackberry ice cream is available only on Skyline Drive. It is the only place I have had that ice cream flavor. When we planned our drive to Maggie Valley, via Skyline Drive, blackberry ice cream and a Shenandoah National Park t-shirt were on my list of must-haves. In addition to the ice cream, I purchased THREE t-shirts.
It was 2:10 pm, when we continued our trip south on Skyline Drive. It wasn’t long afterward that I began to feel motion sickness. Bob parked the car at an overlook. We reclined the front seats for “20 winks”. I think Bob needed a rest, as he fell asleep for a short long time. As for me, I wasn’t feeling any better. I ended up throwing up the ice cream and pineapple that I had for lunch. I felt better, after throwing up.
We exited Skyline Drive at 4:10 pm. We didn’t make any other photo op stops at any outlooks past Big Meadow.
About a mile from our hotel we stopped at a car wash in Waynesboro. The car needed a bath, as it was covered with pollen dust and a bird had crapped on the hood.
We checked into Best Western Waynesboro around 5:00 pm. Our room number was Room 414. It was a very nice room, a two queen bed suite. The sitting area, with its couch, two comfy chairs, one end table and a coffee table, was quite nice. The living and sleeping areas were separated by a half wall.
At 6:00 pm we drove to a nearby Outback Steakhouse for dinner. Bob ordered steak; I ordered chicken fingers, which Bob helped me eat. My stomach seemed to have settled; dinner didn’t upset it further.
After dinner we watched an episode of “Elementary” on Hulu.
We spent the week of May 14th on vacation in Virginia and North Carolina.
We departed Warren PA on Sunday, May 14 at approximately 6:45 am, en route Front Royal VA. Around 7:30 am we stopped for breakfast at Joey’s Bakery in Ridgway, PA. We ate from the Mothers Day brunch, which included.scrambled eggs, ham and pineapple slices, hash brown potatoes, fried potatoes, Italian hot sausage and peppers, beef brisket, cut-up fruit (strawberries, pineapple and blueberries) and various donuts. Food was good, as was the service. We were back on the road around 8:00 am.
We arrived and checked in at Quality Inn Scenic Drive in Front Royal around 12:30 pm. Normal check in time is 3:00 pm; however, the front desk clerk was able to accommodate us early. Our hotel room was on the second floor, room 206. It was an average size room, nothing extraordinary about its furnishings. The room was somewhat shabby, but clean. The view from our hotel room included the swimming pool and office.
The view from our hotel room
About an hour after checking in to the hotel, we went in search of lunch. Front Royal’s main commercial thoroughfare, East Main Street, was located across U.S. Route 522 from our hotel. Located on East Main Street is Main Street Mill, where we decided to have lunch.
We walked across U.S. Route 522 and followed East Main Street to Main Street Mill.
See the red checkered sign on the right?
That is Market Street Mill.
The restaurant was located in a renovated feed mill.
Here’s a picture of me that Bob took inside Main Street Mill.
I liked the restaurant’s tall ceilings, exposed wood posts, the wood floor and the wrap-around wall mural. Bob ordered a Cobb Salad; I ordered a Taco Salad. Our salads were delicious, and service was good.
After lunch we walked to the Warren County Courthouse.
On the way to the courthouse we walked through the Front Royal Town Square.
Front Royal Town Square Gazebo
The Front Royal Town Tourism Office is located inside a historic train station.
The tourism office lies adjacent to Front Royal Town Square.
This caboose is located in Front Royal Town Square.
The caboose was given to Front Royal in 1989 by the Norfolk and Southern Railway Company.
It sits on original tracks.
The Millennium Sundial is located in Front Royal Town Square.
The sundial was dedicated on December 31, 1999 to commemorate the end of the 20th century and to celebrate the beginning of the 21st century.
We saw this beautiful Irish Wolfhound, while walking to the courthouse.
I think it was a 5 block walk to the courthouse.
Warren County Courthouse and Confederate Monument
The courthouse was built in 1936.
From the courthouse we walked back to our hotel. We spent rest of the afternoon / evening in our room. We ate a picnic-style dinner in our room. Later in the evening we watched the movie “Night at the Museum“. Bob downloaded this movie and its two sequels before leaving home. He thought we would watch all three movies during vacation. We ended up watching the last two movies, after returning home from vacation.
Stay tuned. In my next vacation blog post (which may take a few days to prepare), I will share details and photographs of our drive on Skyline Drive.
This blog post continues our 3-day Easter weekend vacation at Chincoteague Island. Our first vacation day was a travel day. We spent much of our second vacation day at the NASA Wallops Visitor Center and exploring Assateague Island.
On Saturday, March 26th, we drove to the Assateague Island National Seashore at 6:00 am to watch the sun rise at 6:55 am.
Assateague Island Sunrise
While on our way back to the hotel from the seashore, we made a couple stops along Beach Access Road. Our first stop was at Little Toms Cove.
The Assateague Lighthouse is visible across from Little Toms Cove.
We opted not to walk the Assateague Lighthouse trail this year.
We saw Northern Shoveler Ducks on Friday.
We were rewarded with their presence again on Saturday.
We saw ponies at our second stop on Beach Access Road.
Chincoteague Wild Pony
Back at the hotel we ate breakfast in our hotel room, as it was quite crowded in the breakfast room and too chilly to sit on the outside patio.
After breakfast we drove into the town of Chincoteague. At the draw bridge we turned right onto Main Street and followed it to the end, where there was a turn around. We made three stops on Main Street.
Captain Timothy Hill House (c. 1800)
Oldest house on Chincoteague Island
The Captain Timothy Hill House is the oldest house on Chincoteague Island. We were not able to tour the house interior, as the house was closed for the season.
Our second stop was at a house with a miniature replica of itself built beside a mailbox.
A house and its miniature replica
Our third stop was at a yard sale, where I picked up the game Connect and four bags of small plastic toys for our granddaughters.
We made our way back to the traffic light at the draw bridge. We crossed over VA 175 and drove into downtown Chincoteague on Main Street. We were soon stopped by runners.
Runners on Main Street
A search on Facebook revealed that Saturday was the Bay to Bay 10K & 5K Run/Walk Event. All proceeds from this event support the Chincoteague YMCA financial assistance program. We did continue our drive on Main Street, slowly, encountering runners all the way and on the return trip.
Chincoteague Island docked boat
The Chincoteague Channel runs alongside Main Street. This boat was docked near where we turned around to return to downtown Chincoteague. I applied a texture effect to the original photograph and love the result.
An Easter egg hunt followed the Bay to Bay 10K & 5K Run/Walk Event. Upon our return to downtown Chincoteague, we parked across from the Robert Reed Park. We walked over to the park and watched the Easter egg hunt.
Here comes the Easter bunny.
The Easter bunny posed for lots of pictures.
On your mark, get set and GO!
Some children picked up Easter eggs near them,
while others ran to pick up the eggs the farthest away.
Easter Egg Hunt
After the Easter egg hunt we made a return trip to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. The highlight of that trip was a great blue heron.
Great Blue Heron
I watched this great blue heron for about 30 minutes. The only movement the heron made, during that time, was to stretch its neck!
Later in the morning we returned to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. We parked at the Wildlife Loop and walked the ½ mile Marsh Trail.
Marsh Trail Scene
Marsh Trail Scene
Marsh Trail Scene
The overlook was our destination.
Marsh Trail Scene
I am standing on the overlook.
You can see Marsh Trail, leading up to the overlook.
After walking the Marsh Trail, we drove along Beach Access Road to the Assateague Island National Seashore. A Chincoteague wild pony was closer to the Beach Access Road than it had been all weekend.
Chincoteague Wild Pony
It was very clear along the Assateague Island National Seashore, a big difference from Friday’s foggy scene.
Assateague Island National Seashore
After leaving the seashore, we stopped opposite Little Toms Cove.
My best photograph of the Northern Shoveler Duck!
These wading birds were fun to watch!
UPDATE 4/1/2016: I emailed Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge for help in identifying the birds in these two photographs. The top photograph “features a greater yellow legs on the left and that bird is transitioning to breeding plumage. The other two birds are also yellow legs, but probably lesser. The bottom photograph “Few birds. Foreground is another lesser yellow legs. Far right is a long billed dowitcher. Smaller birds are dunlin and the other larger birds middle and left are short billed dowitcher.” Thank you, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, for identifying these birds!
Farther along Beach Access Road we spotted a Kingfisher, a first for both of us.
We found this seafood market by asking Siri, iPhone’s virtual assistant, where to find a good place to eat near Wallops Island. Siri made an excellent choice.
You place your order here, either for fresh seafood or for fried seafood.
The menu is behind the counter, but it is located outside on the patio wall as well. While looking at the outside menu, a woman walked by and remarked “Order one of everything. Everything is good.”
We both ordered fried seafood platters. We waited 15-20 minutes, I believe, for our meals. It was standing room only inside that tiny shack! We struck up a conversation with a local man, who has been coming to Metompkin Seafood for 10+ years. He told us everything on the menu is good. We ate our meals on the patio outside. The man with whom we struck up a conversation inside joined us outside at our table. The conversation was pleasant, and our meals were very filling and tasted great! We would definitely make a return trip to Metompkin Seafood Market!
Returning to Chincoteague Island, we made another trip to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. It was after 3:00 pm, so it was possible once again to drive the car around the Wildlife Loop. We actually drove the loop two times. I am happy that we decided to drive twice around the Wildlife Loop, as we saw a deer the second time around.
Wildlife Loop Deer
As we approached the deer, a car was in front of us stopped on Wildlife Loop looking at the deer. The deer turned around and went back into the weeds. The stopped car moved on. We slowly approached the place where the deer had been. Bob pulled off the road and turned off the engine. I got out of the car, standing behind the hood. We waited for a few minutes. The deer popped its head out and quickly pranced across the road. It really wanted to get to the other side!
The Island Creamery, which sells homemade ice cream, is a popular place. It was busy, but the line moved faster than we expected.
Bob ordered 2 scoops of Java Jolt ice cream; I ordered one scoop of Marsh Mud ice cream and one scoop of Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream. Delicious! I wouldn’t have ordered the Marsh Mud ice cream, if it hadn’t been recommended to me by a couple in line behind us. They told us, when that ice cream was first made, it was made incorrectly. However, everyone liked that ice cream, so they kept making it the wrong way.
We returned to our hotel, the Best Western Chincoteague, around 5:00 pm. I noticed that the hotel cleaning woman had placed an Easter chocolate on each of our pillows. What a nice touch!
We checked out of the hotel at 5:00 am on Easter Sunday and began our drive back home. Our ETA was 12:53 pm. We made a few stops on the way home, the longest stop being at Cracker Barrel in Hagerstown MD. We stopped there for breakfast. We both ordered the Sunrise Sampler. We returned home around 2:30 pm.
We are talking already about our next vacation in Chincoteague!
Our Easter vacation began on Thursday, March 24th. Bob came home from work at noon, and we were on the road en route Chincoteague Island, VA by 12:30 pm. Our ETA was 8:30 pm, without making any stops.
We hadn’t even made it 50 miles from home before 20 minutes were added to our travel time, as the result of a detour on PA 948. We ended up going through Johnsonburg before returning to our route in Ridgway. An additional 10 minutes was added to our travel time, when we made a bathroom break at Sheetz in Clearfield, PA. We made it through Breezewood, PA without experiencing any traffic congestion. A fuel and bathroom stop shortly after crossing the Maryland border added 15 minutes to our travel time. We gained back some of the time we lost earlier, though, before making the stop. Our ETA at 5:12 pm was 9:17pm. We encountered nothing out of the ordinary, while driving through the Frederick, MD area. There were lots of cars, moving fast. We saw the most traffic congestion on I-97 about 3 miles from the exit for U.S. Route 50 to Annapolis and continuing on Route 50.
Crossing Chesapeake Bay Bridge
(commonly known as the “Bay Bridge”)
I did not like crossing the Bay Bridge. I have an aversion to bridges that possibly goes back to when I was rear ended many years ago, while on a bridge in Maine. While on the bridge in Maine, I saw through the rear-view mirror a truck barreling toward me. I was trapped. There was no way for me to get out of its way. When we neared the end of the Bay Bridge, I let out a breath of air. Bob asked if I was holding my breath, while crossing the bridge. I wasn’t holding my breath. What escaped was a breath of relief!
Traffic improved, after crossing the Bay Bridge.
Sun setting behind us
near Queenstown, MD at 7:12 pm
Around 7:30 pm we made a quick stop for dinner at Burger King in Easton, MD. Our ETA, after dinner, was 9:36 pm.
We arrived at the Best Western Chincoteague Island around 9:45 pm and checked into our room. Our home away from home for three nights was on the third floor, room 360. Our hotel room was spacious with two queen beds, a large bathroom and a private balcony that looks out on Maddox Blvd. The Best Western Chincoteague Island is a very nice hotel, and we highly recommend it to everyone who travels to Chincoteague Island.
As I wrote in an earlier blog post, we checked into the Best Western Chincoteague Island around 1:30 pm on Easter Sunday, April 5. After checking in, we relaxed in our room until 4:00 pm. The Best Western hotel is the closest hotel to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island. We were within walking, or bicycling, distance of the wildlife refuge entrance. After paying an $8.00 entrance fee earlier in the day, we were free to enter and leave the refuge as many times as we wished. From 4:00 pm until 7:30 pm we returned to the wildlife refuge two more times.
The best-know residents of Assateague Island are its wild ponies. The ponies may be seen by strolling to the Woodland Trail observation deck or driving along Beach Road. We saw these ponies, while driving along Beach Road. We didn’t, but should have, walked the Woodland Trail to the observation deck. We will definitely make use of the Woodland Trail on our next visit to Assateague Island!
At the end of Beach Road is Toms Cove and the Assateague Island National Seashore.
The Assateague Lighthouse can be seen from Toms Cove.
The Wildlife Loop, located a short distance from the wildlife refuge entrance, is a 3.2 mile loop that circles the Snow Goose Pool. The Wildlife Loop is a great place to observe wildlife, especially waterfowl and wading birds. It is open to walkers and bikers throughout the day, but vehicles are permitted to drive on it from 3:00 pm until dusk. We drove on Wildlife Loop two times between 4:00 and 7:00 pm. We saw waterfowl on the pool, but they were so far away I couldn’t get a good photograph. The next time we visit Assateague Island, I want to ride bicycles on Wildlife Loop! I am getting excited already about our next visit to Assateague Island, and we have no plans yet for a return visit. I do know that I want to spend a long weekend there, with accommodation at the Best Western Chincoteague Island.
Panoramic view of Snow Goose Pool from the Wildlife Loop
The Assateague Lighthouse can be seen
from one of two observation platforms on Snow Goose Pond.
This solitary tree drew both my and Bob’s attention.
On Monday, April 6, we awakened around 5:00 am. We got showered and dressed, and we were enjoying breakfast (complimentary) shortly after 6:00 am. We checked out of the hotel and began our trip back home around 7:00 am. We spent several hours on Maryland roads. We followed Routes 13 and 50 across the Bay Bridge. Routes 97 and 695 took us toward and around Baltimore to Route 70. We crossed the Pennsylvania border at 11:15 am. We continued following Route 70/76 to Bedford, PA. We ate lunch at Hoss’s Steak and Sea House in Bedford, and then hopped onto Route 99. The rest of the route from Bedford to home was very familiar to us, as we have used the same route many, many times. We returned home a little after 4:00 pm.
Our Easter vacation was very enjoyable. The weather was cooperative in that it rained only one day (Saturday) and for a very short time. Sunshine was plentiful. One day (Friday) was quite warm, reaching temperatures in the low 80s. The other days were cool, even chilly! I did not complain about the cool temperatures, though. It was warmer in Virginia, than at home. I am looking forward to our next vacation at Chincoteague / Assateague. I hope the wait isn’t too long!
In yesterday’s blog post I wrote that we drove through the town of Chincoteague, after lunch. Chincoteague Island is Virginia’s only resort island. The town of Chincoteague is known for the Chincoteague Ponies, although these are not actually on the island of Chincoteague but on nearby Assateague Island. Chincoteague is the gateway to the Assateague Island National Seashore and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.
While in downtown Chincoteague, we admired the Robert N. Reed Downtown Waterfront Park.
The Robert N. Reed Downtown Waterfront Park is located
at the intersection of Main and Mumford Streets.
The lovely white Queen Anne style building is the Chincoteague Island Library.
The Sharon Nicole was docked at the park.
These four Adirondack chairs are 10 feet tall and weigh more than 500 pounds. The chairs arrived in Chincoteague in the summer of 2014 and promote the state’s “Virginia is for Lovers” tourism slogan. They had been located at Virginia’s Kiptopeke State Park since May 2012. We sat in this particular chair because the “O” looks like a wedding ring.
Misty of Chincoteague
While driving through downtown Chincoteague we saw our first Chincoteague pony.
This is the site of the Fireman’s Carnival, located at 3648 Main Street. The Carnival leads up to the world famous Pony Swim and Auction always held on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July.
a Chincoteague pony!
While on Chincoteague Island, we also enjoyed the view along Chincoteague Channel and saw a couple houses that were decorated for Easter.
Chincoteague Channel view
We ate dinner at Mr. Baldy’s Family Restaurant, located along Ridge Road. Bob ordered the special, Surf & Turf, and I ordered fried chicken. We were the only guests in the restaurant. Our waitress was very friendly; service was great; and the food was good.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading about our Easter vacation in Virginia. We made a couple more return trips to Assateague Island before calling it a day I have one more vacation blog post to share with you. We finally saw some Chincoteague ponies on Assateague Island. I bet you can’t wait until I share the next blog post with you!