Coming to you from Moncove Lake, West Virginia

Water Lily: Asheville Botanical Garden
Water Lily: Asheville Botanical Garden

Twenty days have passed since my last Travel Report. I was “hole up” near Asheville, NC at the time and celebrating the beginning of my second year on the road, living full-time in my motorhome, traveling the USA. Second year. Holy crap! LOL.

Moncove Lake State Park Sign
A view of Moncove Lake, West Virginia.

Today I find myself in West Virginia. I bounced over here from next door in Virginia in order to, if nothing else, check WV off my 50 states list. The trip from Asheville to where I am now has been slow in terms of covering distance. I’m not complaining, not in the least, it’s been enjoyable all the way.

An early morning view along the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC.
An early morning view along the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC.

At Asheville I jumped onto the famous Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) and the drive from there to where I jumped off the BRP near Roanoke, VA,  in order to pop over to WV was just wonderful. Like the Natchez Trace, the BRP is a parkway, hundreds of miles long that is also a national park. At 469 miles in length the BRP is some 15 miles longer than the Trace. I traveled portions of the Trace, each a different time of year– fall and very early spring. I’ve been traveling the BRP later in spring and it has been fabulous. I’m a great lover of the bright green of nature’s early spring growth and for the most part my drive along the BRP has not disappointed.

Linville Falls, NC
Linville Falls, NC. A relatively short hike from the campground, but depending on which trail you choose it can be a challenge. Getting to where I took this shot is not a pice of cake.

I was a little ahead of spring at the higher elevations in the southern portion of the BRP that I drove, but as I wound my way up the parkway from one campground to the next–Crabtree Falls, Linville Falls, Julian Price, Doughton Park, and Rocky Knob–the road offered fabulous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, bright flashes of the occasional rhododendron and flame azalea, trees lush with spring’s verdant greens, picturesque pastures with horses, cattle and old barns… what am I forgetting?

Linville Falls, NC
Hiking to this overlook isn’t really difficult. There’s a bit of a climb at first but it’s not bad. Taken along the Plunge trail. Stay right at the fork.

My journey north along the BRP wasn’t just about the campgrounds and scenic vistas. No, along the way I got a glimpse or two of small towns nearby such as the charming little town of Blowing Rock, NC and its somewhat larger neighbor, the equally appetizing college town of Boone. Near Rocky Knob Campground I discovered the tiny town of Floyd where every Friday night people arrive from far and wide to listen to gospel music in the bluegrass tradition along with country and dancin’ bluegrass and to clog their little country hearts out at the Floyd Country Store. The place pack ’em in for $5  head and the overflow crowd spill onto the street where other musicians are performing.

Chantilly Farm
People gathered on a beautiful spring day to listen to some top notch bluegrass music at Chantilly Festival Farm in Floyd, VA. The headliner was Rhonda Vincent, who I hadn’t heard of (not being a close follower of bluegrass) and her band was totally kick-ass.

Also  in Floyd is the 5 year old Chantilly Festival Farm where, like my fortuitously timed arrival in Mountain View Arkansas, there was a big bluegrass festival going on. Have you heard of Rhonda Vincent? I hadn’t. She was the headliner at the festival and let me say something about her band: TOTALLY AMAZING KICKASS!

Amphitheater at the Blue Ridge Music Center
Amphitheater at the Blue Ridge Music Center

Moving north along the BRP into Virginia my first stop was the Blue Ridge Music Center where exhibits chronicle the history of bluegrass and traditional music as it’s called. It was there I learned the area was originally settled by the Irish and Germans, that the banjo came over from Africa, its original players black, and that jazz, blues, country and bluegrass music were all born here. The exhibits at the center were top notch. There was even free music while I was there. I won’t hesitate to recommend you stop there for a few hours should you pass by.

Fishing at Moncove Lake State Park
A couple relaxes on a bench along the shoreline of Fishing at Moncove Lake as they fish.

Further north along the BRP at Roanoke, VA, I took a detour east over to West Virginia from where I post this report. Just a couple nights here in the mountains at Moncove Lake State Park. Tomorrow it’s back over to the BRP where I will continue my northbound journey toward Maine. The BRP ends near Waynesboro, VA where it joins Skyline drive which travels another 105 miles through Shenandoah National Park in the Appalachians. I’ll let you know how that works out.

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