Today we have lots to do. Since we rolled in late last night the first thing we'll do today is go find some breakfast. We wiped the dew off the bikes and did some exploring in the daylight.
But before we head into town we stopped in Catabwa for gas. We also checked our cellphones for signal. There is no cell signal or internet access at the cabin. Gas is 25 cents cheaper here than back home.
It seemed like we rode around forever before we finally found a breakfast place. We stopped at the Pancake House. They were busy and we had to wait a few minutes but ended up getting a corner booth. The food was great. I had an egg and bologna sandwich!
Our next destination was the National D-day Memorial in Bedford, VA. I punched it into the GPS and away we went. The GPS has been doing a great job. US460 in Roanoke was stoplight after stoplight but eventually it became a nice open road.
We spent about an hour here. The memorial is a nice place to visit. We hit the gift shop and scored some pins. On the the way back to Roanoke we stopped at a BP station and John ordered the new hitch for his Venture while we still had cell signal.
At 13:26 we turned off US460 onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was a little warm but as soon as we started ascending the parkway the temperature became very nice. Mike led us on the parkway. We stopped at several pulloffs.
When we reached the Peaks of Otter visitor center we parked and scored some more pins and stickers. I also got some water. We were at a lower elevation now and the temperature had picked up. We spent about half an hour here before moving on up the parkway, eventually stopping at the James River visitor center. Here we got another sticker, and toured a walking bridge under the parkway that leads to the remnants of an old canal system.
By this time (15:47) we were getting hungry. The visitor center proprietor suggested the Otter Creek restaurant just a few miles up the road. It sounded good to us so Mike led us to it. They weren't busy at all and the waitress was very friendly. While we waited for our food we visited the gift shop. Some of the braver eaters tried their fried corn on the cob. I had a turkey club.
After a fine lunch I led the pack onto VA130 which tee'd into US501. Our next destination is the James River Foot Bridge located four miles north of the parkway. This is part of the Appalachian Trail. It was easy to find but as we approached it looked very unfriendly. All the pulloffs had 'No Parking' signs and the bridge itself seemed to be fenced off. This must not be a sanctioned place to visit and apparently visitors aren't welcome.
After a short pow wow we headed onto our next destination...the Natural Bridge (not to be confused with the one in Kentucky we had visited). The Natural Bridge area is 16 miles from the parkway. We spent over two hours browsing the gift shop, looking at the arch, and walking the trails back to the waterfall (3/4 mile each way). The arch is massive...probably 200 feet tall. A highway runs along the top.
We had one more destination after the Natural Bridge. We needed to find a Walmart for groceries and supplies. John showed me a cool trick. Text a name to '46645' and Google will send you back the address. We put in 'Walmart Roanoke' and Google sent us the address. I entered the address into the GPS and off we went. The GPS is becoming a handy item and it led us right to Walmart. 41 minutes later we emerged with our supplies. It was 20:32 and getting dark when we left Walmart. When we exited I-81 we got behind a Craig Creek FD ambulance who unknowingly led us down the still unfamiliar road. From I-81 it's 11.9 miles on VA311 to Craig's Creek Road, then 9.7 miles to the driveway for our cabin. The cabin is 0.5 miles down a gravel road. We missed a few deer on the way back but arrived safely.
We had hamburgers for supper and lounged on the deck afterwards. A formation of hornets were exploring the deck but they all met their fate. Mike even killed one with his bare hands. What an animal! I downloaded the daily GPS information and digital camera pictures and went to bed. Tomorrow we go south.
Click here for our next day's adventure.