Posts filed under ‘Blueridge Parkway’

National D-Day Memorial

On Sunday, Ryan and I stopped by the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. Bedford is a small town near the Blue Ridge Parkway and doesn’t seem like the most likely candidate for a national memorial. The planners, however, paid attention to every single detail. The memorial’s location is no coincidence.

On the morning of June 6, 1944, 30 men from Bedford landed on Omaha Beach. By the end of the day 19 were dead. Bedford is a small town now and it was a small town then. With a wartime population of 3200, Bedford suffered the highest per capita loss that day.

You couldn’t ask for a more gorgeous spot than Bedford– perched at the top of a hill, the memorial has great views of the mountains, including the Peaks of Otter.

National D-Day Memorial - Overlord Arch and Peaks of Otter
Peaks of Otter Between the Overlord Arch

I think this is the most well-thought out structure I have ever visited. Every detail was chosen for a reason. A plaza separated into five parts represented the five landing beaches. A peaceful garden was actually in the form of the SHAEF seal. Hidden above a statue of Eisenhower was a replica of the map they used for planning. Marble in the form of Higgins Boats. Bathrooms that looked like pillboxes. A fountain reminiscent of the scattered gun fire at the beaches. Even the aesthetics of the Overlord Arch were selected to match the stripes the Allies had on their planes.

National D-Day Memorial - Plaza and Plane
View of the Plaza– Separated in Fve sections for the Five Beach Heads

National D-Day Memorial - Valor, Fidelity and Sacrifice by Overlord Arch
Valor, Fidelity and Sacrifice

National D-Day Memorial - Beach Head, Higgins Boat From Front
Beach Landing Fountain – Complete with Sporadic Water Sprays Reminiscent of Gun Fire

National D-Day Memorial - Higgins Boat and Soldier
Marble Higgins Boat

National D-Day Memorial - SHAEF Gardens from Sword Tip
SHAEF Garden – That’s Part of the Sword from the SEAL

National D-Day Memorial - Eisenhower and Tedder
Eisenhower and Tedder

National D-Day Memorial -Eisenhower with Map
Hidden Above Eisenhower – An Invasion Planning Map

National D-Day Memorial - Overlord Arch Inspiration (Portrait)
Inspiration for the Overlord Arch

Like I said, the planners of the memorial thought of everything, including traveling pet owners! Pets aren’t allowed on the monument, but the National D-Day Memorial has a shaded area with crates and water bowls for your pets to wait. That allowed Jimmie and Henry to sit back and get attention from the gift shop staff, while Ryan and I took in the sights.

National D-Day Memorial - Jimmie and Henry in Shade (Far)
Jimmie and Henry Wait in the Shade

More pictures of the National D-Day Memorial can be found on my Flickr site.

June 30, 2010 at 8:22 am 2 comments

Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition Winners – 2010

Copyright “Leave Only Footprints” by Dale King
Winner Blue Ridge Parkway Vistas category.
Courtesy ASU Outdoor Programs

I didn’t enter any photos in this year’s Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition, but that doesn’t stop me at gawking at all the amazing photos in this year’s collection! You can see all the winners and finalists here.

As for me– I think my favorite is “The Lost Table” by Dale King. It’s a lovely depiction of nature taking over! : )

March 31, 2010 at 9:10 am Leave a comment

Roanoke Outdoor and Social Club Hiker Challenge – Advanced Hiker

On Saturday, James I. and I ascended Flat Top at Peaks of Otter. That was the last hike I needed to complete the Roanoke Outdoor and Social Club’s Advanced Hiker category in their Hiker Challenge.  They have challenged their members to do specific area hikes and submit photographs of themselves at the top.  If the Hiker Challenge page is up to date, then I’m the second hiker and the first female to finish that category! : )

Advanced Hiker:

Vicky Dogs Top Dragon’s Tooth
View in Summer McAfee’s Knob
Tinker Cliffs - Vicky Tinker Cliffs
Flat Top - Vicky with Sharp Top Flat Top
Vicky and James Sharp Top
Kelly's Knob 2006 - Vicky At Top Kelly’s Knob
Vicky, Henry, Jimmie Angel’s Rest
Carvin Cove / Hay Rock Overlook

For more information on the Hiker Challenge, check out the Roanoke Outdoor and Social Club.

April 26, 2009 at 10:18 pm 3 comments

Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation on Flickr

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has a PhotoStream on Flickr! Although the images are tagged as copyrighted on the Flickr site, the April 2009 edition of the e-Blue Ridge Parkway News has a blurb about image usage:

It is becoming more common that we receive a request “May I use one of your photos?” Well, of course you can, when those hi resolution image requirements are needed for that special Parkway related project. Just call us (336.721.0260).

Here is a sampling of some of the photos their Flickr site has to offer:

(Photo from Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation)

(Photo from Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation)

April 9, 2009 at 3:00 pm 1 comment

Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition: D L Ennis is In!

It turns out I have a blog buddy with me in the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition! D L Ennis of Visual Thoughts (I highlighted that blog a couple months ago along with Behind These Eyes in my Brillante Weblog Awards) got his photo, “The Morning After“, selected as a finalist in the Blue Ridge Parkway Vistas category:

The Morning After (Photo by D L Ennis)

Congrats, D L and what a wonderful shot!

February 4, 2009 at 8:00 am 1 comment

Hiking News from Roanoke Times

The Roanoke Times had two articles that were of interest to my hiking hobby.  Thought I would pass them on.

Timing is Everything
This article is about catching the rhododendron blooms on the local mountains.  The article is aptly named.  There had been a couple of occassions where I’ve climbed a mountain to see rhododendrons and I’ve been too early or too late.  This year, Bill and I had it perfectly timed for the blooms at Rhododendron Gap.   Of course, there is an easy solution– just hike every weekend in June.  You’ll be bound to see something!  😉

Crews Attempt to Contain Forest Fire
Last Monday a forest fire started off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  They had to close a number of trails, including ten miles of the Appalachian Trail starting at Petite’s Gap (I hiked there just last May).   According to, the Forest Service did a shuttle service for the thru-hikers. 

That news of the shuttle kinda ruined the picture I had in my head.  I could see a thru-hiker finally passing the 800 mile mark to find the trail closed.  The disappointment of this ficticious hiker was very much like that of the Griswolds when they drove across the country to find Walley World closed.  I’m sure there are some purists who’ll regret missing 10 miles of trail, but I suspect the experience was no where near as interesting as the blatent rip-off of National Lampoon’s Vacation I was playing in my head.

P.S. The trail is back open now

July 15, 2007 at 12:58 pm Leave a comment

Petites Gap to Cornelius Creek Shelter – Wildflower Row

On Saturday, I joined a group of six other hikers (mostly from the Charlottesville/Potomac Appalachian Trail Club area) for a hike along the Appalachian Trail. We started at Petites Gap which is Mile Post 71 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We hiked about 7.3 miles on the AT, then we went 1 mile down Apple Orchard Falls Trail to Apple Orchard Falls. From there, we backtracked 0.5 miles up Apple Orchard Falls Trail. Next we cut across Apple Orchard Road 1 mile to Cornelius Creek Trail. We ascended 0.6 miles to get back to the AT. Finally, we hiked 1.6 miles down the AT to the Cornelius Creek Shelter. We ended back up at the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile Post 80.5.

This section of trail had it all– views, waterfalls, wildflowers. It offered so much, it felt like 4-5 different hikes combined into one. Some many features of this section are described below:

View of Devil’s Marbleyard
As we ascended through Thunder Ridge Wilderness, we pass a rock outcropping with a views of Devil’s Marbleyard. It’s quite a different perspective than Mike E and I had a few weeks ago at the Marbleyard.

Devil's Marbleyard
Devil’s Marbleyard from Thunder Ridge Wilderness

Thunder Ridge Overlook
Also accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway, we passed by an overlook near the high point of Thunder Ridge.

View From Thunder Ridge Overlook
View from Thunder Ridge Overlook

The Guillotine
As we neared the summit of Apple Orchard Mountain, we passed under a boulder balancing precariously above the trail.

The Guillotine
Ken, with remarkable faith, sits on top of the Guillotine with the Appalachian Trail below

Apple Orchard Summit
Our passage took us to the summit of Apple Orchard Mountain. At 4225 feet, this is the highest point the trail reaches in some time. Northbound hikers would have go to 1000 miles to New Hampshire to reach a higher elevation. Meanwhile Southbound hikers would need to go 600 miles.

Summit sign at Apple Orchard Mountain

Ridges At Apple Orchard Summit
View from summit of Apple Orchard Mountain

Apple Orchard Mountain was named for the trees at the top. They are not apple trees, rather they are red oaks that have been twisted and deformed by wind and ice. To the locals, the trees appeared to be a deserted orchard. Thus the name.

Namesake of Apple Orchard Mountain
Namesake of Apple Orchard Mountain

The summit sports more than trees and great views. An FAA air traffic radar tower is present up there as well.

FAA Radar Tower
FAA Radar Tower at top of Apple Orchard Mountain

Apple Orchard Falls
Our side trek took us to beautiful 150-foot Apple Orchard Falls.

Apple Orchard Falls
Apple Orchard Falls

Black Rock Overlook
One of our final stops of the journey was Black Rock Overlook which provides outstanding views, including Peaks of Otter to the left.

Ridges from Black Rock
Layers of ridges visible from Black Rock

Peaks of Otter (Flat Top) from Black Rock

Last, but not least, our hike provided us with a steady stream of wildflower viewing opportunities. The Appalachian Trail Guide to Central Virginia describes this section well.

This area is famous for its spring flowers– acres of large flowered trillium, being crowded by mayapple, as well as a showing of bloodroot, showy orchids, large-flowered bellwort, mountain lily-of-the-valley, blue cohosh, and rattlesnake plantain (an orchid).

However, we met a thru hiker named Biker Barb who improved upon the guidebook’s description.

It is like walking through a botanical garden.

Biker Barb was right. Our journey provided such a variety and high quality of specimens, it very well could have been a botanical garden.

To Be Identified — Chickweed?

Mayapple which has a single stealth bloom underneath a broad leaf canopy

Jack in the Pulpit
Jack in the Pulpit

Two of the thousands of trilliums on the trail

Pink Lady Slipper Orchids
Pink Lady Slipper Orchids

To Be Identified – Spiderwort?


Mountain Laurel
Mountain Laurel

It was a wonderful and fulfilling journey. Many thanks to Jere Bidwell for organizing this trip and inviting me!!!

Additional Links
Many, many more pictures on Flickr
Kevin Myatt’s article on Apple Orchard Falls for the Roanoke Times
Thunder Ridge Wilderness Area

May 20, 2007 at 10:52 pm 11 comments

Sharp Top and The Sweet Escape

In the privacy of my own journals, I’ve had some harsh words about Gwen Stefani’s solo career.  I’m a bit too lazy to look up the exact passages, but I believe I used words such as “drivel” and “trash” to describe what I perceived to be a marked decline from her No Doubt work. 

Welp, it seems that I have already changed my mind!  I’m sooo into that The Sweet Escape song.  It instantly puts me in a good mood and is a wonderful soundtrack as I travel to trailheads for an adventure.  I’m especially fond of singing along to the high-pitched “Wooo–hooo, wooooo-hoooooo!” parts, though don’t bank on catching me doing that at work.  That only occurs when I’m driving alone or with the dogs (I’ll also make an exception for Carolyn.  That’s the  type of relationship I have with my sister– I can sing offkey as loud as I want without forfeiting her love).  Given the amount of enjoyment I’ve gotten from The Sweet Escape, I’m glad my strong opinions were limited to my journals. 

As I mentioned, yesterday I hiked Sharp Top at the Peaks of Otter.  Here’s another tidbit about that mountain.  It was once believed to be the tallest mountain in Virginia.  It turns out that is far from the truth– Mount Rogers is 1,864 feet higher.  Not only that, but Sharp Top isn’t even the tallest mountain in the Peaks of Otter.  The mountain right beside it, Flat Top, is taller!  I’ve often found amusement at that misconception, even though I could easily fall for the same optical illusion.  Sharp Top with its pointy peak does appear to be taller:

Flat Top on the left is 4001′, while Sharp Top on the right is only 3865′

Unlike my Gwen Stefani rants, the thought that Sharp Top was Virginia’s tallest mountain was not confined to local lore or private journals.  Nope!  That mistake was recorded in stone… literally!  In 1851, a stone from the summit of Sharp Top Mountain was used in the construction of the Washington Monument.  It was engraved as follows:

From Otter’s Summit, Virginia’s Loftiest Peak, To Crown a Monument to Virginia’s Noblest Son

When it comes to documenting mistakes, I find journals preferable to the Washington Monument.  In fact, I’m going to make it my lifetime goal to keep my mistakes off the Washington Monument.  I would say all monuments in general, but I had a vivid memory as a small child disposing of a booger on the Lincoln Memorial… so that option is kinda unobtainable.  I got to stick with what’s feasible. 

Journals – yes.  Washington Monument – no.  Lincoln Memorial…maybe.

March 12, 2007 at 12:01 am 9 comments

Apple Orchard Falls… er… Sharp Top!

Yesterday, the closest CCS has to a CCS Hiking Club went out for an outing.  James Ingerson and I met at CCS and embarked on a trip to Apple Orchard Falls.  There was only one problem:

D’oh.  Closed Road

The Blueridge Parkway was closed north of Peaks of Otter.  Luckily, we just happened to be in the vicinity of a number of great hikes.  We decided to head up to Sharp Top instead.  Sharp Top is a short hike (1.5 miles one way), but it has a lot to offer.  It has a solid incline.  You ascend ~1340 feet in 1.5 miles.  When the going gets rough, I think about Thomas Jefferson  He ascended Sharp Top in 1815…when he was 72 years old!  If he could do it, I suppose I can suck it up.  🙂 Sharp Top sports a number of view opportunies including the summit with a 360 degree view and Buzzard’s Roost.  Finally, if you are feeling adventurous, you can visit the wreckage of a 1941 plane crash (N 37° 25.665 W 079° 36.398).

Stacy, the dogs and I checked out the plane wreck and Buzzard’s Roost a few years ago.  Yesterday, James, the dogs and I went to the Sharp Top Summit.  Some shots from our outing:

Jimmie on rock stairs near the top.

James poses like a founding father at the top

More Pictures and Links
My Sharp Top Photos on my Flickr site
James’ Sharp Top Photos (scroll to the bottom)
B-25D Crash Information
Sharp Top Article from Roanoke Times

March 11, 2007 at 10:03 pm Leave a comment

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