Items of Interest: Quaint Drive, Small Towns
(Parallels Interstate 81 through Virginia)
I (Ron) grew up in Southwest Virginia, Pulaski to be exact, and came to Washington in 1963 to attend George Washington University graduate school. I had graduated from Emory and Henry College, which was only a few miles from my home town, so I naturally spent a lot of time on the road between Pulaski and Emory and Pulaski and Washington (all along Route 11).
I have two brothers, a sister, and I had parents, along with a lot of cousins, aunts and uncles back in the 60's - more the reason to spend time in Southwest Virginia.
Route 11, which parallels Interstate 81 from one end of Virginia to the other, was my main road for the long commute - it took nearly 8 hours to go about 385 miles from DC to Pulaski. Of course, I either had to take Route 250 to Charlottesville and Route 29 to the DC area, or drive all the way up 11 to Front Royal and take routes 55 and 29 home (all this was before I-64 between Route 11 and Charlottesville was completed and before I-66 became a faster way to go).
Countryside View Near Covered Bridge South of Mount Jackson
(Click on Photo for Larger Image)
For many reasons, I fell in love with Route 11. I was hardly ever in a hurry in those days and usually enjoyed the back and forth trips tremendously.
Today, a ride along any section of Route 11 takes you back to an earlier, more innocent time when a long car trip meant driving through small towns, growing cities (through the middle of the business section), and waiting for trains to pass.
You are also assured of mile after mile of dramatic and panaromic views of a countryside still unspoiled - and relative comfort in being able to look without an 18-wheeler pushing you off the road.
Even today, you can savor the small pleasures associated with stopping at small restaurants which are not a part of a national chain; but, unfortunately, it's increasingly rare to find that special, unique local filling station that dotted the downtown area and provided "full service" without being asked.
There was even the occasional picnic table where you could pull over and have lunch (McDonalds, eat your heart out!). Overcooked and fatty hamburgers and fries couldn't hold a candle to your packed lunch and drinks. My favorite sandwiches were tuna fish and pimento cheese - both spreads home-made first by my Mother and later by me, using her recipes.
You can travel back to that time (at least partially) by taking a trip out I-66 West to Strasburg where you can pick up Route 11 and begin your journey by heading west toward New Market.
Arguably one of the most pleasant-appearing of the small towns along Route 11, Woodstock is pure eye-candy to those who love 19th and early 20th Century structures, neat streets, and only about 15 miles from the I-66/I-81 intersection at Strasburg.
One of the most charming and useful stores we located in Woodstock is "The Market," where you will find bulk food, dairy products, fresh produce in season, and handmade products, produced by the small farms and businesses of the Shendoah Valley.