We left Louisville and started to head east once again, crossing through West Virginia along our way. We stayed one quick night in a nice campground just about 20 miles west of Charleston, WV, the Huntington Fire Fox KOA; nice stop after driving about 230 miles. We decided to eat in and did not even unhook the car. I think it was only the second time on our trip we did so. We had a lot of little chores and laundry to do, so this was a good time to get some stuff checked off our lists. Later in the afternoon, I headed over to one of the private lakes on property for a little evening fishing, and they were hungry for my hot dogs. Large mouth bass, two different types of catfish, and a sunfish of some sort, lots of fun on the catch and release only lake.
The next morning we headed towards Charlottesville, VA. After our 270-mile drive we arrived to the Misty Mountain Campground 10 miles west of town. We checked in and headed to our site, a water and electric only location (no sewer connections). After about an hour of fighting with the soft ground, the maintenance guy bringing in a truck load of gravel, and all sorts of other ideas, we finally went up to the office and amazingly they found us a full hook up site. We moved over to that site, and had similar issues with the soft ground, but found a way to make it work. Tired and soaked with sweat, it was time to cool off with several cold beverages and get some dinner. We ran to the local grocery store in Crozet for taco fixings and as a bonus found what I would call the best cookie in the world! A little bakery nearby had this perfect dessert, a “monster cookie,” that I should have bought more of, but did not know how good they were till we got them home and had one, opportunity missed there!
The next day we headed out for Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive, which runs along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We grabbed a couple maps from the entrance ranger, and decided to take a couple short hikes through the park. We drove along the ridgeline, stopped at several of the pullouts and took in the views. Unfortunately for us, there were some forest fires burning on some neighboring ridges across the valley, and it made for a very smokey and hazy day. We got to the trailhead, and headed out on a short little 1.3-mile loop hike. A fairly simple little walk, until Traci rolled her ankle, and then it was a bit more of a challenge for her. We got back to the car, and that was the end of our hiking for the day. We decided there was no need to push it and take a chance her weakened ankle could not perform on another trail. So we continued to drive, and just about 3 miles from where we were planning on exiting the park, we came upon several cars parked on/off the roadway, and we immediately knew this sign; there had to be some sort of wildlife worth stopping and viewing. (We saw this in Yellowstone a lot.) Sure enough, we got out and walked over to the edge of the roadway, and there were two mother bears with cubs; one set looked like they must have been about a year old, the other set could not have been more than 2-3 months old. We stayed there and watched the little ones climb the trees and hide, and their mother just chilling at the bottom of the tree. The other mother was knapping with one cub on the ground next to her, and one up a tree above her. Our vantage point was up a ridge, probably about 75 yards away, close enough to keep your attention in case something spooked them and they wanted us all out of there. Several cars stopped, and eventually the park maintenance staff came by and it was time to move on, but what a surprise! We headed back to the MoHo, on a high, and got cleaned up for a night out in Crozet for dinner. I found a local place called Fardowners, featuring local food, beverages, and vibe. We ate a nice pub style meal and then returned to the MoHo and relaxed.
The next morning, we headed into town for a meeting at 10:00AM. We had decided a while ago it was probably time to sell the kayaks, we just weren’t using them and they cause a lot of drag on the MDX when we are out on side trips. We had been advertising on the local Craigslist sites in each town, and finally found a buyer in Charlottesville. We now want to get bikes as we think we’ll use those a bit more. After making the transaction, we walked around the corner into the outdoor mall area of downtown. This is one of the coolest little market/restaurant/bar areas we have come across on our travels. It is about 8 blocks long and ends up with a huge covered stage for concerts right in the heart of town. We would have loved to spend more time here, but we had other plans for the day. (We did have a quick late morning beer at “Miller’s”, a local bar that Dave Matthews used to bartend at back in the early 90’s when the DMB band was formed.) We then took a drive to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, and it was super busy, and a bit pricey so we skipped the tour, and returned to town and drove all through the Univ. of Virginia campus. After a quick lunch, we then headed north into wine country. Virginia now has over 250 wineries, and we just happened to be right in the middle of the Monticello AVA. We hit 4 different places, the last one featuring a guitarist Dave Tewksbury. We sat out and had a glass of vino on the deck overlooking the lake, and left just minutes before the clouds opened up.
The next day, Saturday, we planned on more vino tasting south of our park. We got a late start, and found out how popular this area is with the locals. Our first stop we stood in line for 15 minutes before we could get a spot at a tasting table. It was still a bit showery, so I think everyone else in the area had the same idea, lets go taste some wine. We hit three wineries, a cider place (actually bought a case of local hard cider) and returned to the MoHo that evening and stayed in for dinner. This area has a very fast growing wine region, and we got to sample some of it, but there is a lot more to see, only if we had more time. Sunday we head to Lanexa, VA – right between Richmond and Williamsburg.