A Skyline Drive Memory

Pig Farm from the Skyline Drive

A dear fellow blogger, Cameron of growing grace farm, wrote about a recent drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway with her daughter. Her post, What Tunnels Can Teach Us About Awareness, is a lovely metaphor about remembering to travel through life with a heightened sense of the world around us … and it sparked a childhood memory I’d like to share.

Cameron’s mention of the Blue Ridge Parkway brought back a childhood memory of my dad. A 1960s family vacation found us on the Skyline Drive, winding along the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, above the Shenandoah River, and through some of the most beautiful countryside in America. At one scenic overlook, Pop pointed out a pig farm down in the distant valley. The white farmhouse had a lazy curl of smoke rising from its chimney. In the sunshine and crisp, late summer air, a slight breeze brought a hint of woodsmoke and further evidence of the pigs far below up to our noses. It was a good, earthy smell. It told us of the family farm, teeming with life below.

The Skyline Drive is over a hundred twisty miles long, and the speed limit back in 1966 was something like thirty-five miles an hour. But with so many sights to see along the way, Pop drove it slowly, with frequent stops for “Kodak moments”. It was late evening by the time we reached the northern end of the route in Front Royal, Virginia. We hadn’t planned ahead very well, with only a bag of butterscotch candy in the car, so we were all very hungry by the time we found a restaurant. I’d never seen grilled pineapple on ham before, but the smoke from the charring steaks didn’t sit well with my over-hungry, eight-year-old stomach, and I couldn’t eat much.

The smokey restaurant didn’t bother Pop in the least, however, and that night he had what he said was one of the best meals he could remember. He had a huge Black Angus steak, but he talked about his baked potato, rubbed with rock salt, for the rest of the trip. When we got home, he looked forward to duplicating that delicious potato for himself.

It’s odd how certain things stick in an eight-year-old’s memory for the rest of his life. My guess is that Cameron’s daughter will forever remember the drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway with her mom, and how all the dark tunnels through those thick, old mountains made her feel on that late summer day, way back in 2012.

All the best,
Rob

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6 thoughts on “A Skyline Drive Memory

  1. You made me think of some of the places my dad used to take us kids. We went to Stone Mountain several times when the only way to the top was to walk. Coming back down it was hard to keep from running. He also took us to Grant Park Zoo where we saw the wild animals in tiny cages, swam in their lake-sized pool and visited the Cyclorama. Dad was a big Civil War fan reading many thick books on the topic. He took us to the beach several times in a panel truck that had no air conditioning. We never ate in a restaurant or stayed in a motel. Thirteen family members went to Charleston, SC once and we slept in the truck or under the truck. I remember sleeping on the floorboard on the passenger side. Coming back we were all sunburned and covered with sand. When I lived in Utah for six months dad took us to the Great Salt Lake then to a copper mine. There’s probably more but that’s what stands out in my memories.
    Eddie Rhoades http://www.bittersweetgardens.com

    • Thanks for sharing those memories, Eddie. Your family vacations in the panel truck have been a little crowded, and may not have had a lot of the creature comforts we all take for granted these days, but it sounds you remember those trips with great fondness. I can sure understand that.

  2. I love Sky Line Drive. My family and I take it every spring on our way to a vacation spot in Massanutten VA. I love how the view makes you feel small : ) I hope my kids retain the memories of “that one long mountain road” as my daughter says : )

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