With a trip over the past four days completed, I’m inching closer to completing the Commonwealth Quest, Craig Fifer’s challenge to visit every municipality in Virginia. Wanting to get the Eastern Shore under my belt, I spent the weekend there with my wife (with a detour for a picnic lunch in Charles City County—check). The Eastern Shore is comprised of two counties, Accomack and Northampton. I’d been to Accomack as a kid, on a trip to Chincoteague with Boy Scouts, but never Northampton. Getting the Eastern Shore means either driving up to Annapolis and back down the shore, or southeast to Virginia Beach and heading across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. We opted for the latter, to enable the Charles City visit, spent a couple of days exploring the Eastern Shore (which I recommend), and headed home via the northern route, with a one-day stop in Woodstock/Luray in order to visit the fascinating Fort Valley. Which is not a municipality, but it sure feels like it should be.
That brings up my county count to 78 from 76, and my city count unchanged at 35, for a total of 113 out of 134. This leaves two areas of the state that remain to be visited: a small cluster of counties in eastern Southside and Southwest Virginia.
The counties in Southside are Brunswick, Dinwiddie, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, and Nottoway. (Imagine a triangle with Farmville on the north and the base defined by South Boston and Emporia, and you’ve got the idea.)
Southwest Virginia makes up the bulk of what I have left, in raw count: the cities of Galax and Norton, and the counties of Buchanan, Carroll, Bland, Dickenson, Lee, Patrick, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Wise, and Wythe. I’ve taken 81 clear to Bristol (and beyond), and I’ve hiked the Appalachian Trail up from Damascus clear…well, clear across the state. But the whole area west of Hungry Mother State Park and north of 81 remains untouched.
There are two other tiny spots in the state near neither of those places: the cities of Radford and Poquoson. Radford is right next to Blacksburg, and it’s a shame that, in a year and a half of living in the New River Valley, I didn’t once go there. And Poquoson is out at at the tip of Hampton Roads, just north of Hampton. On the shore, it’s not on the way to anything, so you’ve really got to try to go there.
It’s going to take a couple of pushes to finish these last two major chunks, probably a long weekend trip for Southwest Virginia and a couple of days for Southside. Radford I can hit up on the way to or from Southwest Virginia, but Poquoson? I’m pretty sure that’s where I’m going to have my photo taken at the border, finishing up the Commonwealth Quest.
Where are you on your 50 states?
I’ve never counted, but surely very poorly. I’ve hardly been west of the Mississippi (save for Texas, Nevada, California, and Minnesota), and I’ve never been to any states in the Gulf. A quick count reveals a paltry 29. And, being an easterner, they’re the easy ones, too. Any fool can rack up the states in the mid-Atlantic and the northeast—the plains states are rather trickier.
Have you visited all fifty?
A good focus for your visit to Southwest Virginia would be to make a trip to the Carter Family Fold in Scott County. It’s a great experience and you’ll hear old-timey music that’s the real thing.
C’mon! You drove through Hampton Roads and didn’t tell me? I would have at least bought you a coffee. I’m not THAT cheap.
Hope you had a good time!
Not sure why Poquoson seems so hard–just off 64 next to Newport News, on the way to Virginia Beach. It’s really pretty there, too!
The coal towns of SW VA are worth the visit. By all means spend some time in Big Stone Gap. Among the locals who made good: A(bner) Linwood Holton, first Republican governor of Virginia in modern times, and perhaps the only liberal governor in state history.
So-named Mountain Valley Republicans are nothing like today’s losers. Former Gov. Tim Kaine, now a US Senate candidate, is Holton’s son-in-law.
When I was briefly his media aide, Lt. Gov. Henry Howell sent me out to interview all the weekly newspaper editors in the southwest. The trip was a great eye-opener. In those days, as today, the only reliable supporters in this state of the national Democratic Party were Charlottesville Democrats and Mountain Valley Republicans.
Well, we hauled ass through Hampton Roads on the Friday of Labor Day weekend to try to get through the tunnel before fellow vacationers got out of work and joined us in the traffic nightmare that is that is Route 64, and still got stuck for an hour. I don’t think I’ve ever worked up the nerve (or planning skills) to stop to see anybody in Hampton Roads.
I think it’s because the couple of times a year that I go through there, I’m always thinking oh, man, I’ve got to get through here before some military base lets out or rush hour stops or starts or something. So the idea of taking a side-trip seems like transportation-planning suicide. :)
45 states (only a few left in the middle) and now I have to sit down and figure out how many Virginia Counties I’ve visited
If you’re doing the Carter Family Fold, the Floyd Country Store and the Stanley Museum in Clintwood are both must-see.
44 states. #45 (Montana) comes next month.
I’ve been to Floyd a few times—the Country Store for dinner once—but never Clintwood or anywhere near there. As a big bluegrass fan, I’ve definitely got a few spots in mind for SWVA.
I would like to invite you to Clarksville in Mecklenburg County, it is on Route 58 on Buggs Island Lake, you will not regret it.
Also on Rt 58 in Mecklenburg County is the Boyd Tavern, a must see place, I will give you a tour of the Tavern.
Coincidentally, I planned a vacation to Clarksville last spring! I wound up unable to take it—I can’t remember why just now—but I walked away convinced that I should go in July for the Lake Festival. Clarksville has lots of good lodging options, it’s near lots of other interesting spots (like Boyd Tavern :), and the town itself has a lot going on. There’s no doubt that I’ll be staying the night in Clarksville when touring that portion of the state, and I won’t be shy about asking for a tour. :) Thanks for the offer!
Great! I look forward to seeing you and showing you around.
Lake Fest was good this year, a great event.
Keep up your good work. A beacon of sanity on the internet.
This is an awesome idea, Waldo! I need to sit down and see how many I’ve got…
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