9.10.2013

33 Hours: On Skyline Drive, a.k.a. "SLD"

Besides a friendly conversation with a patch-holder at a gas station, Ole Girl and I rambled on over to the park entrance and showed the park ranger our families annual pass; there was a brief conversation on when the pass was bought because the pass had not been officially validated. I quickly threw my wife under the bus and explained that she bought it in New York so, I could not offer any other reasonable explanation. To the credit of the park ranger he validated our pass thus providing an extra month on it! Nice! By now the sun was high above us and my belly was beginning to gnaw on itself-time for that famous peanut-butter sandwich! I wolfed half of the sandwich down, the other half would be for tomorrow, while attempting not to inhale a mouthful of super-gnats that were quickly enveloping my face. I managed to eat it and it is quite possible a handful of gnats; the view was very nice so, I focused on it! Finally done, I attempted to leave, however, a chatty Goldwing rider started interviewing me about Ole Girl and what it was like to ride west of the Mississippi; I offered him my take on my faithful stead and what routes I felt were the best to reach Wyoming. The rider was awfully nice, however, the gnats weren't and I was starting to bake in the afternoon sun so, I very tactfully disengaged from the conversation and hustled out onto the 35 m.p.h., highly enforced, SLD.
 Within seconds of roaring out and onto the SLD, I saw National Park Ranger patrol car, thus reinforcing what the chatty Goldwing rider had mentioned: "...watch your speed! They are out there!" Thankfully, I did not have any interaction with the ranger...For a beautiful Saturday, SLD was not choked with traffic, that happens in October with the leaf change, but the 35 m.p.h. speed-limit started to wear thin but the scenery was wonderful!
SLD is smooth with a handful of twistys; around Mile Post 50 the scenery became more varied and eventually Ole Girl and I pulled over at a seemingly nice spot; a small roost of Turkey Vultures were sailing around and their black soaring silhouettes contrasted nicely with the sea-blue mountains, topaz sky, milk-white clouds and  the dark-green land expanse...
Certainly a grand, resplendent and well-composed view of the Shenandoah Valley! Time to roll on! The master-plan was to spend the night at in the park at the Loft Mountain campground, one of four campgrounds located within the park. According to the National Park Service's website, they keep aside so many walk-in tent sites per campground; I chose Loft Mountain because it is the last campground in the park before leaving and is located at Mile Post 80. I saw a sign at the entrance of the park that provided the availability at each of the campgrounds; Loft Mountain was available but several hours had elapsed; would I have a campsite for the night?

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