Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Trip Through The Shenandoah Valley

Recently, we make a trip down to Winchester, VA to visit with 200+ Goldwing friends of ours. While there we had a chance to do some exploring. A group of us rode down to Coleen, VA to visit the California Sidecar Company. They build trike conversion kits for all types of motorcycles as well as Escapade Trailers and of course Side Cars.

The ride down to the factory was very nice, there’s nothing like the site of 30+ Goldwings riding down the road, sort of like an open bag of M&M’s spilling on the floor and flowing down the stairs.

We arrived at the factory around noon. The factory is in a beautiful location nestled in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley with an absolutely gorgeous view of the mountains from their parking lot. Who wouldn’t want to work there? Of course it might be tough to work inside with that view begging from outdoors.

The people at the factory couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating. They provided guided tours of the factory and afterward, a complete barbeque lunch with all the fixin’s. Now that’s what I call customer service.

After the tours and lunch the entire group was scheduled to go for a ride on Skyline Drive on the way back to the hotel.

Well, hubby and I didn’t feel like waiting around, for the rest of the group to be ready to go so we decided to head off on our own, besides we had our GPS so we were confident we could get back to the hotel. We were also getting tired of the group thing and wanted to go off exploring on our own for awhile. It was a great group of people but I can only take group rides for so long.

We headed out of the factory and made our way onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. We got to Skyline Drive and paid the $10 fee to enter, if you have an annual national parks pass that will get you in too.

We’d heard a lot of good things about Skyline Drive and were excited to finally be able to ride it and see what all the fuss was about. It wasn’t long before we were winding our way along the road enjoying view after fabulous view of the Shenandoah Valley. Pictures just don’t do it justice. There are Scenic overlooks all along the way where you can stop and enjoy the view because if you try to enjoy the view while riding you’ll probably end up off road. I had to constantly remind my husband to watch the road and not the view! I told him I would enjoy the view for both of us and take plenty of pictures so he could enjoy it later.

As beautiful as Skyline Drive is, you certainly can’t be in a hurry to get anywhere. The speed limit is 35 mph the whole way, and it is strictly enforced. 104 mi at 35 mph takes quite a while to complete. We were very happy we had left the big group behind and went off on our own. It was much more relaxing and enjoyable to go at our own pace. Although the pace is slow, the weather was perfect and it was a beautiful, enjoyable ride. Skyline Drive is a fairly technical road that features a lot of sweeping curves both up hill and down with a few switchbacks thrown in just to keep you honest. We don’t have many roads like that in our part of New York so my husband was a little out of practice, but by the time we were done, he had gotten a rhythm and we were humming along. It’s a great road to practice your riding skills. It’s a perfect road for the co-rider because there’s lots of scenery to enjoy along the way.

About halfway through, there is a place to stop with a snack bar and souvenir shop as well as a gas pump. We were happy to see it because we forgot to bring extra water with us and ours had run out. We also got a couple of commemorative pins to add to our collection.

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful, more beautiful scenery and windy roads. The trip was not unlike my trip to the Grand Canyon a couple of years ago. When you first see the Grand Canyon it’s absolutely breath taking, but after you’re there for an hour or so it gets old. For anyone who hasn’t been there Skyline Drive is one of those “must do” roads on a motorcycle, it’s a great way to just kick back and take a nice leisurely ride through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.

By the time we headed back to the hotel, it was after 5:00 so we decided to stop for dinner along the way since there wasn’t much right by the hotel. Once we got back into Winchester, we were beginning to wonder if we’d find anyplace to stop, when we say a Goldwing trike parked on the street below a sign that said “Cork Street Tavern”. We both decided right then and there, that’s the place for dinner.

So we parked the bike and headed in. It was a quaint dimly lit tavern, with a pretty good dinner crown and a busy wait staff. We elected to sit out on the patio which was surrounded by 10 ft walls all the way around so it was nearly enclosed but there was no roof. It would have been nice to have a view of the street to watch the world go by as we dined but it was nice just as well.

The menu was fairly standard tavern fare, a few dinners and some pub sandwiches and traditional sides. My husband had a ruben and I decided on the grilled salmon on croissant (my lame attempt at eating healthy). The food was excellent, the service was great. We’re definitely going back next time we’re in town, and we’re bringing friends with us.

All in all we had a great trip to Virginia. It’s always nice to add states to your “States I’ve visited list” and to make some new friends along the way.