Monday, June 27, 2016

Natural Tunnel State Park - Duffield, VA

Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield, VA is a gem of a find!  We spent five days there exploring, chilling, and enjoying life.
Our site - 11
In addition to the main attraction and hiking trails, this park has a TON of activities…..canoeing, kayaking, caving, ranger led programs, night hikes, etc etc.

We spent the first few days exploring the tunnel and visitor‘s center.
Everyone's doing the locomotion....
The tunnel was formed millions of years ago when groundwater that had carbonic acid in it ate away the rock and formed the tunnel.  It is huge…about 200 feet wide and 80 feet high.  There is some folklore that says that a Cherokee maiden and a Shawnee brave were forbidden to marry and jumped to their deaths from the highest pinnacle…now named Lover’s Leap.  There is a still an active railroad thru the tunnel hauling coal.  And, there is a creek that flows thru the tunnel. The campground sits atop the tunnel.  

There are two ways to get down to the tunnel…you can ride the chairlift or you can hike.  We did both!
Syl and I are cautious!

Gin and Dan are not!

Looking up - pictures do not do it justice!

Dan walking towards the tunnel

Would love to see a train now!

Man-made tunnel

Another perspective of the height

Making memories
Taking a stroll

Little cabin in the big woods

You know I love "back" pictures   
We purchased all day passes to ride the chairlift.  A bargain at $6 a person

View from Lover's Leap

The mountains are calling - we must go!

Syl and I on the trail at Lover's Leap - the drop-off is right past the chain fence

The only time we saw the train was when we hiked Stock Creek Trail

The hills are alive.....I LOVE this picture!

Rock hopping on Stock Creek Trail
Tiger lilies were everywhere

North side of the tunnel - no one in sight!


Mom and Cathy - this is for you!

Syl and I had signed up for a caving program.  This is something that intrigued me but also knew I would be pushing my limits.  Cold, dark, damp enclosed space.  Hmmm….oh yeah - and little did I know - heights!
Our guide, Cory, unlocking the gates
Cory told us that the gate on this wild cave served two purposes.  One, it kept trespassers out. Two, it kept bears out.  The slates on the gate are horizontal instead of vertical for the bats. Apparently, due to the way they fly, they do not do well with vertical slats.  Who knew?!

We had 10 people in our group.  We were told we would get dirty; we may get muddy.  We got both! The cave was a “wet” cave and you had to do plenty of crawling.  It was beautiful inside but also a little bit scary!  Cory did a good job explaining different features of the cave and gave us time to look around.  The scariest point of the experience was a cliff you had to navigate.  It was about 20-25 feet high and about a foot or so wide.  One side of the cliff was cave wall….the other side was open  - and at the bottom, if you fell, was a substance like quicksand.  GREAT! Thank goodness there was a rope you could hang on to but I was still very nervous.  My friendly hiking partner Syl understands my fear of heights and is of great assistance when I am out of my comfort zone.  I am so glad we had the chance to do it!   It was absolutely amazing.
Happy cavers!
We left Natural Tunnel State Park and continued to head west to Kentucky.  We were going to Kentucky Horse Park Campground for a few days.  Unfortunately, I had caught a bad, bad bug (which we later figured out was the FLU!!) and gave it to Dan, Gin and Syl.  We did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in Kentucky except focus on getting better.  We left Kentucky a few days ago and headed to Indiana….leaving that pesky bug behind!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Fries New River RV Park

When we first started full-timing, a couple we had met had told us about a RV park in Fries, VA. They told us it was small, sites right near a babbling brook, and very quaint.  I’ve had it on my radar since then!

We left Wilkesboro, NC and headed to Fries New River RV Park.  We followed the directions provided by Tom, the owner, to a “T”.  The roads were windy and a tad narrow but definitely do-able as long as you took your time.

Tom met us when we arrived and told us to take our pick of sites.
Oh, and his wife makes baked goods for each new arrival.  We were the happy recipients of pumpkin raisin muffins!

The RV park has 16 sites and a good number of them are right along the babbling brook.  
Park office
One of the main attractions of the park is the close proximity of the New River Trail.  We were one block from where we could get on the trail!  Talk about convenient!!

We spent quite a bit of time on the trail.  While not paved, most of the sections that we were on were hard-packed which made for mostly easy riding.
Framily time!

Near the Fries Junction

Dan and I enjoying the scenery
I'm watching you!!
Acting silly!
It's a looong bridge

Great day to bike ride
Beautiful river views
The first day on the trail, we saw a Baltimore Oriole.  It was such a treat and made Syl and I smile.  A little further down the trail, we had an even bigger treat.  We had stopped to look at the rock formation in the river….

It was neat how the two formations paralleled each other.  I walked to the other side of the trail and Dan motioned for Syl and I to come back to look at something….
A deer was swimming!

On the rock formations

Going to swim again!
So neat to see

Time to dry off
Fries is a very small town.  I believe that the last census taken showed it had about 400 year round residents!  But, the town is on the “Crooked River Music Trail” and music is an important part of the their heritage.  Thursday evenings, the community center hosts a jam session.  Syl and I walked to town to check it out….it was a larger crowd in attendance than I anticipated.  There were 16 musicians playing all sorts of instruments.  The youngest musician was about 4 years old.  He was so cute playing the banjo!  Most of the audience seemed to be locals and many of them loved to dance. Two-steppin‘ and flat-footin’….it was such a good time!  Syl and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The rest of the week was spent chilling and exploring the area.
Gin and Syl like the campfire quilt I made them!

I think I am going to have to make another campfire quilt!
Swing on the hill opposite our site

Dan smoked brisket and taters!
We really enjoyed our time in Fries but it was time to head further into the hills!


Thursday, June 16, 2016

A little bit of mountain time!!

We had a leisurely drive to Warrior Creek Campground near Wilkesboro, NC.  The campground is located on the W Kerr Scott Reservoir and is a Corp of Engineer campground.

It was good to get back in the woods

Gin and Syl joined us and, despite rain every single day, we had a wonderful week catching up, hanging out, having fun, and chilling!

We went on a donut picnic!

Gorgeous views from atop the dam

We toured the dam

Hey Gin!
Mountain View Overlook
You know I love “back” pictures
Syl and Gin

And sometimes, you just have to be silly!

Or sweet!

We set out one day for Shiloh General Store.  We had been here before with Bruce, Laura, Gail and Rick and wanted to go again. We all ordered deli sandwiches for lunch and they were a BIG hit!  No pictures as we were too busy eating!  We left there and headed to Raffaldini Vineyards.  It is a gorgeous winery….and we spent time enjoying the gardens and scenery.

Gin, Syl and I did a wine-tasting and walked away with several bottles of “La Vita Dolce” (translated to “The Sweet Life”).  Yum!!

Syl and I set out on morning to see the frescoe paintings at two nearby Episcopal Churches.   Frescoes  are painted directly on concrete/plaster.  Water is used to “soften” blend the paint.   You can read more about these Ben Long frescoes here.  The churches themselves were amazing and the paintings (and stained glass) even more so.
Holy Trinity Church in Glendale Springs, NC
 "The Last Supper" frescoe

And a close-up

St Mary's Church in West Jefferson, NC
"The Mystery of Faith" frescoe

"Mary great with Child" frescoe

"John the Baptist" frescoe

Noah's Ark

St Cecelia
We also stopped by Ashe County Cheese and The Honey Hole and picked up some tasty treats!!

We ended the week with a picnic lunch and afternoon of playing Molkkey and Sequence!
No donuts this time!

Our view for the afternoon!

Having fun.....

playing Molkkey!!
Yes…I do believe it’s going to be a fun summer!