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Virginia is for Lovers of Leaf Peeping

What automatically comes to mind when you think about places to experience beautiful fall foliage in U.S.? That’s right, the northeast.  Well I’m a believer in appreciating the autumn splendor that is outside your own front door. Growing up in KY, there were the reds, golds, greens and purples. Then living in Montana with the unique gold-turning Tamaracks, mixed with the evergreens, made the mountainsides a stunning green and gold, and in Colorado where the Aspens made a vibrant fire-like gold. These were all distinct versions of autumn. However, for the past 10 years, before moving to Virginia in July, I lived in Georgia; where there were very few areas where the leaves did anything but just turn brown before falling off the trees. I was prepared for Virginia to be more of the same, assuming that fall foliage color is not a part of the South’s autumn. NOT true!

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The inn’s favorite “neighbor lady” told me about her Fall Foliage drive to Monterey, in Highland County (known as Virginia’s Little Switzerland).  So, when our day off was met with a beautiful sunrise and blue sky, Bob and I took off on our first drive as Virginians. I appreciate when the journey along the way is as nice as your end destination and this drive was certainly that. We headed south from Harrisonburg along Rt. 42 through Dayton to Churchville. The rolling hillside was dotted with sparkling bright, white farmhouses with the matching white, metal topped silos.  Green grass, grazing cows, blue sky with the fluffy white clouds; it was all food for my soul.


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We stopped at the Overlook at the top of Shenandoah Mountain to hike the Confederate Breastworks Interpretative Trail, which was lined with reader boards with letters from Lt. Shepherd Pryor to his beloved Penelope.  Being a gushy mush, those were my kind or reader boards. I was mentally prepared for the last reader board to say that Lt. Pryor was killed in battle and buried somewhere on the mountainside.  I was delighted when it indeed said that Shep returned to his home state of GA, where  he served as sheriff and died at the ripe old age of 82.

We then continued on with our journey, winding through the hairpin turns of Hwy 250, soaking in all the beautiful colors of the changing leaves. In Monterey we stopped for lunch at Highs, whichIMG_9440 was packed, not surprising since it was the only restaurant in town. Then we were back on the road, getting on the Blue Grass Valley Road, Hwy 220, stopping to take pictures of a cool, red barn or an old house with a bright, gold tree in its front yard.

As we were heading back toward Harrisonburg, we noticed a wooden-covered bridge. We stopped to snap a photo. As I was taking pictures, a big truck came pulling up and I was prepared for him to tell me to get off his property. Instead, he cracked a joke about needing to start charging folks for the photo op and told us that if we wanted to follow him up the lane, there was another spot that we could get a nice pictIMG_9588ure of the valley. So of course, being that my middle name is Adventure, we head out behind him. By this point, the sky was now filled with not-so-happy clouds, but it  was indeed a beautiful spot overlooking a quiet valley. The fellow mentioned that he was Mennonite and he and Bob had a lively chat. He then mentioned that his wife makes an awesome iced coffee and asked if we’d like to head on to their house to have some. What?! Do people still do things like this?!  So, being as I said, my middle name is Adventure, of COURSE we said yes!  And now here’s a sentence I never thought I’d be saying  when I took off for my fall drive……we spent an hour with a lovely couple and their two sons, sipping iced coffee and chatting.

Is that an adventure or what??

In case you haven’t picked up from my blogs…I’m a sentimental fool. I love life, I love “experiencing” life, having adventures and making memories. My first adventure in the surroundings of my new homeland of Harrisonburg, VA was just perfect.

Have you jumped into Fall yet? Well, what are you waiting for?

Western Virginia Fall drives may be found at http://www.vawesternhighlands.com/scenic-drives/and for additional Fall Foliage drives around Virginia go to http://fall.virginia.org/

 

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