Road Trip to Athens, Georgia: Part 3 – The Blue Ridge Parkway

The hardest part about planning this trip was realizing that we did not have enough time to do the entire Blue Ridge Parkway. This national highway treasure stretches almost 500 miles from the Shenandoah National Park all the way to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. Hiking trails, fishing, and camping abound along the way, and the views can be spectacular.

We chose to travel a middle section from just outside Roanoke to Fancy Gap, NC. The views in this section are not as rugged as those I remembered along the Skyline Drive portion of the Parkway, but there was plenty of beauty and a few bits of local color.

We stopped for lunch just off the Parkway in a town called Meadows of Dan. We were wondering who Dan was, but we had it wrong. Apparently, years ago, the founders settled the area near the Dan River, and noting the low uniform height of the trees, which at that time were reseeding after a forest fire, coined the town’s name.

We ate at the Poor Farmer’s Market, a produce stand, gift and sandwich shop in this tiny town.

There was a bit of a line at the sandwich counter, so we had time to eavesdrop on the locals sitting in the rows of big wooden rockers there. I learnt me how to pour “ceement” to hold down a persnickety fence post, and watched with amusement as Karen behind the counter ordered one of the men up out of his rocker to make some more fresh coffee, which he grudgingly did.

We had sandwiches, chips, milk and soda. (No bottled water here, dear.) All very good, thank you. Not as good were the fried pies we had for dessert at Becky’s Fried Pies, a sweet little pastry shop next door. I suspect that these pastries, which are made from homemade dough and store bought fillings, are well-loved by the locals, but they were a bit too greasy for us.

Meadows of Dan is part of the Crooked Road, Virgina’s Heritage Music Trail celebrating and preserving the history of gospel, bluegrass and mountain music of this area. Too bad we couldn’t stay around for the Square dancing…

and too bad we somehow missed Mabry’s Mill, a working grist mill and one of the most photographed spots along the Blue Ridge…

Billy Humphries, Forest Resource Consultants, Inc. www.forestryimages.org

but we were on a roll to Fancy Gap and back to the highway.

Next stop: Athens, Ga.

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