Luray is famous for the caverns there and its close proximity to the Shenandoah river, valley and mountains. I look forward to coming back some time just to enjoy those things specifically.
We stayed at a Jellystone Camp resort. It's the kind of place you could take the kids and never even leave the campground. There are two swimming pools, big water slides, a pond for fishing and paddle boating, and a huge playground. It's a little expensive if all you're going to do is camp, which is what we were doing. I wish I had looked for another place just for a cheaper price. We were there "off-season" and the water/electric hook up sites were $37 a night. Having said that, it was very well-maintained, clean place and perfect if you're camping with children. We weren't camping with kids, so we could have gone for a less commercialized campground. The other good thing about it being such a family-oriented campground is that there was no late-night camping parties going on.
|Belle and I sitting by the campfire.|
I've not been sure how the dogs behave when we are out on the bikes. This was our third camping trip with the dogs in the last year. In the previous two, we were in fairly secluded campsites during times of the year that are not frequented by other campers. This time, with it being projected to be a beautiful weekend, the campground was pretty full, and the trailers are pretty much stacked up one right after the other. On the first day, I asked the guy that was camped next to us if he could just let us know if the dogs do a lot of barking while we are gone. He was there with his kids, so they didn't plan on leaving the campground. When we got back, he said he didn't hear a peep. I think the dogs think of the trailer as a safe haven. We sleep in there at night with them, so it's a real treat for them, since I don't let them sleep in my bedroom at home. Tanner doesn't really like being near the campfire at night and actually prefers to hang out in the trailer, even if he had been in there all day. Belle on the other hand wants to be as close to the campfire as possible. The neighboring camper was amazed that our dogs don't tear up the trailer while we are gone. They are 12 and 8 years old, so I'm guessing age helps there. His dog was only 5 months old.
So, we headed out for our first day of riding. The goal was to be back by about 5 p.m. for reunion festivities. On this day, we were riding through the top of Virginia, catching Shenandoah, Frederick, Clarke and Loudon counties. I plugged in a 140-mile round trip on smaller roads, no interstates.
|We saw this Dinorsaurland on our route. Had to stop for the photo op.|
Steve had mentioned how he and friend had planted the tree next to the shed when it was just a baby tree. It had actually grown from a small acorn in their front yard in Maryland, and they dug it up when it was a couple years old and brought to the Aldie farm and planted. He provided this picture from back then, probably 1976 or 1977 or so. The following picture shows the difference.
Steve also remembered carving his name in a tree along with a childhood friend. We found the carving still there in a beech tree. It's a little difficult to read as it was carved in 1976, but it was still there.
|Steve actually climbed the tree to get to it. He took a picture with his phone once he was there.|
|His name, Stephen, is circled at the top, then 1976, then it says, "from here I can see our shed." His friends initials "TK" are circled to the right. Pretty cool.|
|From the tree you can still see the shed.|
|The Ruffner generations enjoying dinner at the VFW in Luray, Va.|
We still had two more counties to get to complete Virginia, but they were about 150 miles away from Luray, which would have made a 300-mile round trip. That's a little far for leaving the dogs. So, we decided to pack up and head to Charlottesville and find some shade to park in for the dogs while we go out and get these two counties. We found a nice park with shade and perfect area for parking. We took up about 8 spots, but it was not a full parking lot anyway. We unloaded and I plugged in a route that was about 119 miles total to get Buckingham and Cumberland counties.
I discovered a feature on my GPS which I really like and will use a lot more when we do day trips, the shortest distance feature. The GPS is defaulted to the shortest time, so there are generally larger roads. When I changed my route to shortest distance it dropped about 8 miles but added about an hour of time. Hmmm, interesting. The only problem is that you do have to really pay attention to the GPS because there are a lot of turns when you select the shortest distance. This route took us on some really small roads with no lines and even a few dirt roads.