A Week in the Appalachias: Part Two
It's another beautiful day here in the Midwest! The temperatures have cooled down and the leaves are starting to turn. This means, of course, that Autumn is here and you all know that it's my favorite season. At any rate, it's time for the second part of my week in the Appalachias - enjoy!
Peaks of Otter consists of three mountain peaks: Sharp Top, Flat Top, and Harkening Hill. The park is maintained by the National Park Service and has a modern lodge with a restaurant,
a picturesque lake flanked by a historical building,
a beautiful boardwalk section,
and a couple of campgrounds (one primitive and the other RV-ready). We set up our tents at the campground then hiked down to the lake, around it, over to the National Park center,
and finally around a loop trail right behind the National Park center.
That night, I slept horribly because my sickness had completely clogged my sinuses and I barely got an ounce of sleep. Still, that next morning, I wanted to climb up Sharp Top, the largest and tallest of the Peaks of Otter. If being horribly sick wasn't bad enough, it became clear at this point in time that the torn meniscuses in my knees were re-tearing, particularly the one in my left knee, so hiking was completely off the table. Still, there is a shuttle that will take you within 1/4 mile of the top, so I paid for us to go up.
The views and scenery were incredible but my left knee was in such pain at this time, that I had to let Amy go to the top without me. It was a major bummer and, if I'm being honest, I cried. The whole trip had become an exercise in frustration for me.
At least the views made me happy.
Since it was our last night at the campground, we decided to drive over to a winery we had seen on the map. It's in a Century Farm that got into winemaking.
The farm is called Johnson's Orchards, while they've named the actual winery Peaks of Otter Winery. The winery was unique compared to other wineries I've been to.
The winery area of the farm is in a very old barn.
The samples were smaller - they were served in plastic medicine cups - but you get nine so it was a decent bargain.
After the winery, we were hungry and also wanted to sample some Virginia beers so we headed nearby to eat at Beale's and sample one of their craft brews. I got their Lime in the Coconut, which according to their website: We put the lime in the coconut! We started with a Cream Ale with lactose and lightly toasted coconut and added key lime puree. The result is a balanced tropical daydream that will help you kick off your summer vacay.
The beer was excellent. We were there to eat, so I also ordered Mr. Ward, their Texas-style brisket sandwich. While the beer was great, the meal was not, so that was a disappointment. The brisket was mainly fat and gristle (which is not really edible) and my side of mac 'n cheese was drier than the Sahara desert.
Since the Peaks of Otter is right off the Blue Ridge Parkway, we stopped to check out some of the views.
This was one of them, right before the sun was setting. Gorgeous.
We had always planned our last two days of the trip to be spent in Roanoke, so after our time at PoO, we checked into our hotel in Roanoke.
The next day, we visited some local tourist spots, one being The Roanoke Star. Sitting on top of Mill Mountain, overlooking the city, this neon star is a sight to see at night. I'll have to take their word for it, though, since I was there during the day.
There are some trails you can walk on up here - which I had to skip because I could barely walk at this point. Again, the views from up here were pretty fantastic.
After we visited the Star, we went to the quaint downtown part of Roanoke and went to Three Notch'd, a brewery that makes a variety of beers. I got the Blood Orange Gose while Amy got a craft seltzer that I cannot remember the name of.
We walked around a little bit, and I mean a little bit.
There's an arboretum at the local community college, so the next day, we went over to check it out.
It was neat, but there wasn't a whole lot to see. However, it's free so I would recommend it if you ever get to Roanoke.
After this, poor Amy was itching to do any kind of walking/hiking outdoors, so we drove down to Natural Bridge State Park where I sat inside while Amy checked out the park. This would normally be high up on my list of the kinds of places I love to walk/hike around so it was sad to have to sit it out. Still, here are two pictures that I didn't take of the park building and the natural bridge in question:
I sure wish I could have walked down there!
And so, that wraps up my trip to the Appalachias. While getting horribly sick (a sickness that stuck with me for weeks!) and re-tearing my meniscus really put a damper on the trip, I tried to enjoy my time anyway. The amazing views in and of the mountains while spending time in them was worth all the crap I had to deal with. Still, I will definitely be back one day when I'm healthy!