Taking A Slow Road Home From Virginia
WOODSTOCK, Va. — Don’t confuse this little town with its more notable New York namesake. Neither Janis Joplin nor Jimi Hendrix performed here.
Elizabeth and I turned off busy Interstate 81 on Sunday for the slow path home.
Two-lane U.S. 11 runs parallel to I-81. The old route through the Shenandoah Valley is now just an after-thought for travelers.
We couldn’t take much more of the breakneck interstate traffic, zooming at 75 mph, zigzagging from lane to lane to gain a few seconds in the five-plus-hours trip from a weekend at the granddaughter’s house.
Off the interstate, we got up close to the barns, silos and cows on the old road and saw the tulips, azaleas, redbuds and dogwoods in full bloom at the houses. We saw the flooding North Fork of the Shenandoah River and then … Meems Bottom Covered Bridge.
We scooted around “Road Closed” signs because floodwaters had receded.
Off the main road, I spotted the covered bridge span over the river near Mount Jackson. We wheeled around for a closer look. Built in 1892, the 204-foot, one-lane bridge is still open to traffic, a silent sentinel of another age. We had to dodge mounds of corn stalks and debris left by the flooding. I-81 was just over the hill out of sight.
Like Route 66 out west, U.S. 11 is no longer a major transportation corridor. Built along the railroad and the meandering river, the sleepy highway passes through a series of tiny towns from Roanoke to Winchester. The busy Interstate is never far away.
We saw old motel relics, abandoned gas stations and restaurants along the path, casualties of the four-lane racetrack. But we also saw a vibrant countryside of farms and charming little towns.
Edinburg, population 813, has polished storefronts, fresh-painted Victorian homes and an old mill.
We stopped to read historic markers along the highway about Civil War engagements including …