Sunday, October 25, 2015

Skyline Drive

Just 13 miles from the Fenton Inn the Blue Ridge Parkway ends at Interstate 64.  Heading north across the bridge, the road now becomes Skyline Drive and continues to wind through the mountains.   

Here we are at the south entrance to Skyline Drive.  Unlike the Blue Ridge Parkway there is a nominal fee for entry, per car.  Seniors and those with National Park passes can get in for reduced or no charge.

The sign explains the military importance of the mountain passes during the civil war.   Following the mountains north, there are a number of battle fields easily reached from Interstate 81, including New Market Battlefield near Luray, Va.

We stopped at a store/restaurant near Loft Mountain.  It is a basic sandwich and French fries kind of place, but they did have soft-serve ice cream cones that the kids enjoyed after a short hike.


Milkweed blooms with a bee having a snack.

Here is a milkweed pod with the latex based sap that resembles milk.  While the plant is toxic to many animals, the Monarch butterfly caterpillar eats this plants leaves for breakfast lunch and dinner.  The milk weed grows in many roadside meadows in the mountains but is becoming more rare in suburban area due to mowing.  As a result, these little meadows are key to the long term survival of the Monarch butterfly.  While they do migrate from Mexico to Canada, this migration often takes several generations, thus requiring the milkweed spots along the migration path to allow the sensitive life cycle of the caterpillars to keep the migration going.  Any break in the migratory path might be the end of these majestic butterflies.   We saw no caterpillars, and while we found several adult butterflies, getting a picture proved nearly impossible.  But do not despair, since you can spot a Monarch butterfly here at the Fenton Inn. One of the protected milkweed areas is Reeds Gap that is only half a mile  from the Inn.  

A view from a scenic pull over.

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