Mini Vacation for NNGC

This past weekend, my wife and I attended the National Narrow Gauge Convention in Hickory, North Carolina.

Over the next few posts, I’ll share some of the high points of this mini-vacation.

Due to our mundane working schedules, we had to leave late Wednesday afternoon and return late Saturday night. Thus the Mini Vacation title. We arrived at the Wytheville exit on Interstate 81 a bit after midnight and grabbed some naptime.

We were up and on the road by eight since I wanted to make a small side-trip to explore the highest valley in Virginia, Burkes Garden. Here’s the map if you’re inclined to explore a bit.

On the winding blacktop road that lead into the valley, I grabbed a few shots. Here’s one:

The two-lane blacktop road that enters the valley proper splits at a small bridge next to a dam and a roadside historical marker.

The road to the left is labeled 666.

Naturally, we turned left and followed the loop all the way around the valley. By the way, this road is the only paved road in or out of the valley. A careful analysis of detailed maps show several other ways to access the valley but they are all lane-and-a-half wide washboard gravel trails and the shortest is about ten miles. I had been advised to take them only in good weather and with a ride that didn’t mind getting banged up a bit.

As we were about three-quarters of the way around the loop road, we were passed by a couple of tractor-trailer rigs that seemed incredibly huge and out-of-place. The was even more evident when we got back to the historic marker and bridge. I immediately noticed the stop sign and 666 marker sign were missing!

There were curved black tire scrub marks showing where a big rig had made the wrong turn and had to back up. In the process, they had driven clean over the stop sign and 666 road sign. I’m glad I had taken a photo only a few minutes before.

On the way out of the valley, I grabbed some more shots and here’s the last one I’ll share for today.

If you find yourself on Interstate 81  in southern Virginia and have a couple of hours to spare, I would recommend a little side trip out Interstate 77 and a few back roads.

Do you ever take side trips just for the heckuva it? Ever been to Burkes Garden?

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