Sunday, October 20, 2013
It’s our first breakfast in a Waffle House on the trip. Not my fav, but Lonnie wants a cooked-to-order breakfast before hitting the road. Yaay! We’re going to “Mayberry!” Well, Mount Airy, North Carolina – Andy Griffith’s real life hometown. On the way, we stop at the West Virginia visitors center off of I-77. The front desk tells us we missed the New River Gorge Bridge Walk, West Virginia’s largest festival, by a day. It’s the third Saturday in October each year and everyone is invited to walk on top of the New River Gorge Bridge. There are arts & crafts, food, BASE jumpers, rappellers and gorgeous Fall views. They also offer daily guided tours of the the long catwalk below the bridge that looks straight down 876′ to the New River.
One of the center staffers, Bonnie, is touching up her autumn chalk drawing. She was an art therapist for 25 years and has been delighting visitors to the center with lovely scenes like this. When it comes time to change the chalkboard, Bonnie takes a photo of her seasonal art before erasing it to create another engaging scene for all to enjoy.
We are persuaded to take a detour to see a couple of area falls. We get to Highway 19 and agree that the twisting hairpin turns are eating into the time allowed to get to the Gorge before sunset. The large waterfall requires a 3/4 turn onto a wooden bridge and down a steep, narrow dirt trail. This detour is taking too much time,
so we back up in reverse on the country bridge and then head out to the main road.
There is a brief stop at Kanawha Falls before we arrive at New River Gorge lookout as the sun descends.
The lookout is said to be a 600′ descent into the Gorge.
Leaving the gorge so late is a problem as night falls and Lonnie has to negotiate curving mountainous roads in complete darkness, with the occasional headlights of another lonely vehicle. We FINALLY arrive in Mount Airy and the Comfort Inn looks s-o-o-o good! It welcomes us with fluffy pillows and plenty of space to lay our things.