The plan for today was to load the family into my trusty SUV, Godzilla, and drive down to Independence, Virginia for the Fall Foliage Festival and Outhouse Olympics. That was the plan. Just as in combat, no plan survives the first shot. Today proved that rule out but we still managed to have a good time.
Our route took us through the Jefferson National Forest on Highway 21. Most of the trip involved crossing Mt. Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia. On top of Mt. Rogers there is a man made overlook on Comer’s Rock. Laura had never been up there and Frankie hadn’t been there since childhood so we planned to make a stop there on the way south.
Turning off Highway 21 we followed Comer’s Rock Rd. 4 miles to the top of the mountain. We were treated to a riot of autumn colors the entire way.
Once at the top we parked the truck and began the climb up the rough hewn rock steps to the observation platform atop the rock itself. Halfway up Frankie realized that she hadn’t recovered as much as she thought from the bug she’s been battling. Laura walked her mother back down to Godzilla and Sam went along to protect Mama from bears. BEARS???? Yes bears….black bears. On a couple of previous visits to the overlook I found bear sign, scat and tracks, and we actually saw a bear running up the side of the mountain once. This is one of the reasons the .357 magnum on my hip was loaded with big game rounds……just in case.
I can certainly understand how the exertion brought about Frankie’s relapse. By the time I made it to the platform I was huffing and puffing…….puffing on my rescue inhaler, that is, as I felt the onset of a bronchial asthma attack. Laura was panting for breath as well but that was mostly due to having climbed nearly to the top before we called her back down to help her mom back to the truck, then jogging back up those steps to catch up with her father before he tripped and fell off the mountain.
As you can see in the two frames above, the view from the top is spectacular. Even with the layer of haze today we could see at least 15 or 20 miles!
Returning to the truck we decided to forego the festivities in Independence and head for home. Frankie said she thought she would be okay if we wanted to take the long way home so we continued along Comer’s Rock Rd., descending the other side of the mountain.
This route took us along a peaceful country road running along the general path of Elk Creek. Christmas tree farms, pumpkin patches and livestock grazing in the fields on both sides gave us plenty of reasons to stop and shoot a few frames here and there.
In many places the road meandered through patches of forest and the smells drifting in the windows were glorious. Sam spent most of the trip with his head stretched out the window as far as he could reach.
The fall colors on the hillsides are just reaching their peak. I hope to get back this way again in a few days, with Laura driving this time, so that I can shoot a few hundred more frames without worrying about wrapping Godzilla around a boulder.
It seemed that every time I took my eyes off the road there was another gorgeous copse of trees, interesting building or landscape just begging to be photographed.
Some of the buildings along the road were obviously abandoned and in various stages of decay while others, though obviously old, were well maintained and still in use.
We only passed half a dozen cars and trucks while covering at least 25 miles along this road, making it easy and safe for me to just stop, frame a shot and fire off a few frames whenever something special caught my eye. Sam also let us know when he needed to get out and “mark a few trees”. Between the two, I stopped a lot!
I’ll close with a final shot of the scenery in the Elk Creek valley but today’s trip was only half done with this scene. The remainder of the trip will be covered in a blog on my other page, Virginia Through My Lens. I hope you’ll click through. It’ll be worth your time……..I promise.