Blue Ridge

I went down the Blue Ridge Parkway to pick up Alex in Harrisonburg. He wanted to come back to see his friend Colin, who is moving to Oregon, and to pick up his amp. I don’t mind driving down to get him. It is a pretty drive; we get good mileage on the hybrid and I can listen to NPR or my audio books. Gas is cheaper outside the Washington metro area. You get it for $2.39 a gallon in the Shenandoah Valley; the best you can do in Northern Virginia is $2.69. 

Lots of the turnouts are under construction with signs that our stimulus dollars are a work. I saw lots of such signs, lots of barriers and lots of port-a-johns, but no workers. I suppose it put people to work setting up the signs and port-a-johns, but we might have hoped for a little more actual construction.

The Blue Ridge is very pretty. You can see why they were called blue ridge. It is almost all secondary growth. They cut most of the trees off during the 19th Century  Some was done for agriculture, but a lot of the wood was used to make charcoal for small steel and lime production. There are still lots of place names in the hills with forge or furnace in their titles. Farming was not very profitable with the thin and soon eroded mountain soils and most of the farmsteads were abandoned. The hillsides reverted to the thick oak-maple & tulip poplar forests you see in the pictures. Actually, at the time they were oak and chestnut forests, but the chestnuts were wiped out by a blight that came in 1904. I am hoping GMOs can bring them back.

It was a little hazy when I took the pictures yesterday. They would have been better today, since the wind left over from Hurricane Earl cleared the air.  Today is beautiful weather. We are getting into the nice fall weather, IMO, the best time for Virginia weather. October is usually the best month.