When driving from Luray to Charlottesville, taking the long and winding road is the only way to go to enjoy the beauty of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Skyline drive, which runs north-south through Shenandoah National Park, covers 105 miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We drove the remaining two-thirds of the length of the road today.
The sky was blue after last night’s thunderstorm, so we got an early start to take in the views at overlooks along the way. The Appalachian Trail runs through Shenandoah National Park as well, so we hiked a tiny portion of the trail.
Since I hadn’t researched the park in detail (I only knew it was a highly recommended must-see scenic drive), I had no idea there were accomodations available other than campgrounds. Skyland Resort and Big Meadows Lodge are both located in the park, though, and offer accomodations we would have loved to have stayed at rather than at the motel in Luray. We saw the interior of one of Big Meadow’s cabins while it was being cleaned, and it was quaint and cozy, yet roomy. Both the resort and lodge have restaurants, evening entertainment, and plenty of great hiking opportunities to keep busy during the day. Skyland Resort even offers guided horseback rides.
This was the view at the end of one of the short hikes from Skyland:
A trio of deer were helping themselves to the grass alongside the cabins, and they weren’t the least bothered by me as I slowly got closer to watch. I was no more than 20 feet away, and I’m sure I could have gotten even closer.
The entire drive through Shenandoah National Park was gorgeous and so thoroughly enjoyable, today. We were fortunate to have nice weather, and I enjoyed driving the long and winding road.
After wrapping up our cruise along Skyline Drive, we made our way to tour Thomas Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville.
Monticello was designed by Jefferson, a self-taught architect, and the tour of his home was very interesting.
Not only was Thomas Jefferson an architect– he also founded and designed the University of Virginia– Jefferson was also quite an innovator, inventor, and horticulturist; in addition to being a statesman and author of the Declaration of Independence. Those are the impressive facts about the president who is the face on the $2 bill.
There are also very disturbing facts about Thomas Jefferson that make me wonder how on earth his picture wound up on that very bill in the first place.
Did you know that the man who wrote such inspiring words as “all men are created equal” and have a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” actually owned 600 slaves throughout his life? THIS from the man who promoted religious tolerance and freedom? I didn’t know this, thanks to my very basic education in U.S. history, but I wanted to scream, “HYPOCRITE!!!”
Another fact missing from my education about our third president was that Jefferson accumulated a great deal of debt, and was $107,000 in debt when he died. Strike two! (I will leave “Strike three!” to your imagination…”)
As it turns out, Monticello was built on land inherited from his father, run by slaves, and financed with other people’s money. The house is 11,000 square feet and originally sat on 5,000 acres; however, some of that land had to be sold off to pay down that $107,000 debt after Jefferson died.
The remainder of what turned out to be a blazing-hot day was spent strolling and having dinner at Charlottesville’s historic downtown pedestrian mall.