An accidental drive.

Blue Ridge

I went to the Washington & Lee Mock Convention today. Or, at least, I went to Washington & Lee. Turned out I’d mixed up the two days’ schedules, and by the time I arrived they were stacking up chairs and sweeping the floors.

Determined not to drive three hours for nothing — and hoping the minimize the feeling of being a complete dunderhead — I spent some time strolling around their downtown. (I last visited Lexington two and a half years ago). Wanting to visit a slice of Virginia that I don’t see often, I decided to take a meandering route home. I started by heading north on Route 11, which parallels 81. (Little-known fact: Route 11 runs clear from New Orleans to the Canadian border. There’s a drive I’d love to take.) Then I headed east on Route 56, a twisty route that took me right up one side of the Blue Ridge and down the other. That was a beautiful drive — what a great route. It’s unchanged since it was first established in 1930 — it’s been repaved every so often, but that’s about it. The mountains enfolded me almost like they do down in Southwest Virginia. I passed very few cars, and the sights were just amazing. I’ve hitchhiked that route a few times, but this was my first time driving it.

Then I got onto Route 6 and headed for Howardsville, the southernmost point in Albemarle and one of the few bits of the county I’ve never visited. It’s where a pair of roads meet up with the train tracks and the James. There’s a general store, and that’s about it. From there I took a wandering route north to Charlottesville, watching as the landscape gradually changed around me, the pine turning into winter-bared limbs and the rolling Piedmont hills into mountains.

All in all, not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

4 replies on “An accidental drive.”

  1. I love that drive!!! The first local sightseeing drive I can remember taking my wife (then girlfriend) on after we met was up over VA 56.

    As a kid I spent parts of a few summers at a camp located along 56, just east of Montebello.

  2. When we first moved here, we drove down near Howardsville to visit a community in Schuyler called the Quarries that was just starting up. It is a development set up to be an “eco-village” where we were considering buying land. It didn’t work for us at the time but we sure enjoyed seeing that part of the county.

  3. Lexington’s such a beautiful small town; I strongly considered Washington and Lee when I was looking at colleges, and while I think I eventually made the right decision to go to a slightly-larger school in a slightly-larger town (one with more than a one-screen movie theater) it’s a great place to visit for a day if you want to go someplace a little bit quieter.

  4. I may be a bit biased, having grown up there, but the drives around Lexington in Rockbridge County are among the prettiest in the state. I highly recommend a trip down Rt. 39 through Goshen Pass and on to Bath County and Warm/Hot Springs next time you’re in the area.

Comments are closed.