After enjoying another night with Wal-Mart as our hosts we made our way from Staunton back to Waynesboro to pick up the beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway www.bluerigeparkway.org which is where we’d left the end of the Skyline Drive. The drive was quite different to the Skyline. The road was narrower and winding. This drive would be hard work in a large motorcoach RV. I soon concluded that there was no way I could drive 500 miles down this road. Many of the overlooks were constructed where there was no view, and non-existent where there was one. We had decided to leave the Parkway at about milepost 47 and drop down to Lexington on US60. This is an historic town which we wanted to have a look around.
We managed to park the RV on a main road through town and very close to the town centre. We were drawn to a building not far away to find it was the former Washington College now called Washington & Lee University www.wlu.edu which was on our wish list of places to visit. The College got its original name because in 1796 a rich benefactor wished to give money to George Washington and rather than take it himself, Washington asked that the $20,000 be used as an endowment to help the College. After the Civil War the College pleaded with General Robert E. Lee to become its President which he agreed to. He was very successful in generating income and raising its status, and in time his name was incorporated in to the College’s name.
When he died his office below the Chapel, which he designed and had built, was left just as it was when he last worked in it, and remains the same to this day. Beneath the Chapel www.chapelapps.wlu.edu is also a museum and the Lee family crypt. Although the chapel has a recumbent statue of Lee showing him in a restful pose on the battlefield above a vault intended to hold his remains he was not in fact interred in it. Instead he was buried below in the family crypt once it was completed. The remains of ‘Traveller’ Lee’s beloved horse are interred in a plot outside adjoining the crypt, as close to Lee’s body as possible.
After wandering around the grounds of the very pleasant College we made our way to the house of Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson at 8 East Washington Street www.stonewalljackson.org . Jackson came to Lexington in 1851 to teach natural philosophy and artillery tactics at the Virginia Military Institute. This was the only house Jackson ever lived in with his family and he particularly liked to potter around in his garden. Jackson is buried in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, South Main Street, Lexington, built around the old Lexington Presbyterian Church which at the time was on the edge of town, but due to growth over the years is now part of it.
After our very interesting visit to Lexington we made our way back up to the Blue Ridge Parkway rejoining at about milepost 63 and turning north for a few miles to reach the Otter Creek Campground. Having checked it out we decided not to stay. The pitches were close together and very uneven, we would have been sloping badly and I couldn’t even correct matters with our plastic ramps which go under the wheels, so off we set again travelling south down to the Peaks of Otter Campground. This was another State Park campground but it was much better than Otter Creek. We managed to find a lay-by style pitch and before long I’d disappeared in to the woods to find firewood. I’m a bit like a crocodile in these circumstances – nothing is too big to be grabbed and dragged away. Before long The Chef was cooking a stir fry on our portable gas cooker stood on a table close to the roaring fire. We, like other campers, could have purchased bundles of logs from outside the campground but why would you want to when you’re in a forest?
LOCATION TONIGHT: Peaks of Otter Campground, Milepost 86.0 Blue Ridge Parkway, VA (GPS: N37.443646 W79.605164).