Riding the Ridge

If you are in need of stress-reduction, a big nature fix, or just a breath-taking ride with an endless view, go out in the Shenandoah Valley. This past Thursday and Friday we did just that–took the motorcycles and left Washington, D.C. behind for a rest at the Tree Streets Inn in Waynesboro, Virginia. We’ve been there before, and the cheer of hosts Bill and Nickie Aldridge and their incredible Revival-style house lured us back.Main hall tree street inn

Nickie and Bill know the area so thoroughly that you get the latest restaurant recommendations, the best breakfast granola (Nickie makes it herself and it’s worth the trip!) and the best scenery information.

We mentioned we were in search of a great-view drive, and Bill didn’t hesitate. Out came the maps and with a few questions (winding roads to give the motorcycles a good workout, not too much traffic, and great views), he suggested a loop of about 200 miles–and ambitious drive when much of it includes switchbacks that test your ability to shift down quickly. Sounded just right. We got on the bikes and headed toward Staunton, a town tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains.rockledge

The trip took us over the Blue Ridge, and up to Monterey, tucked into the Alleghenies. We then drove South, along the brow of some magnificent old mountain ridges where George Washington hiked, to Warm Springs, just five miles West of Hot Springs. We came to the foot of the mountains in Goshen. (“Land O’ Goshen!” is a phrase I remember from my childhood. It was uttered by older people instead of “Dang!” the coarser choice. Hey, it was a long time ago. Goshen is actually a biblical spot, see Genesis 46 for that story.)

The trip turned East to Rockbridge Baths, across the valley floor. The Shenandoah Valley is breathtaking. They don’t make them more beautiful. A few of the left turns require good steering and calm nerves. There are no guardrails and the drop is easily 90 feet to the river below. When we got closer to the river, we noticed fly fisherman, also making the most of a beautiful day.

cowpasture riverWe climbed another mountain as we drove East to Brownburg and Montobello. We turned North to get to Wintergreen and Nelly’s Ford, where we had the best barbecue I’ve ever eaten–and that’s saying something. That review is for tomorrow. Meanwhile, before it gets too hot, grab your motorcycle and a map and take the trip. You’ll come back refreshed and your blood pressure will be lower, too.

–Quinn McDonald is an artist and writer who teaches journal-writing courses. Learn more at QuinnCreative.com