Virginia Quilt Museum and Shenandoah National Park (Skyline Drive)

Virginia Quilt Museum

On day four of our trip, we started at the Virginia Quilt Museum in Harrisonburg where we had booked a “White Glove Tour” in addition to the regular admission to the current exhibits.

A White Glove Tour is a presentation of quilts brought out especially from storage. Paula, the curator of the Virginia Quilt Museum, and Judith, the museum’s manager, led us on an amazing journey back into quilt history, bringing to life the quilters and the times in which they created these masterpieces. The quilts ranged from very early “broderie perse” quilts through homespun quilts to Victorian Crazy quilts. The time passed so quickly that we were quite surprised when the last quilt had to be folded up...

Virginia Quilt Museum

For the picture above, I had to cheat a little: It was actually taken in September 2006 on one of my previous trips (unfortunately, the weather was not as nice this time as in the picture...)

The regular exhibit changes regularly and usually only a small selection of the museum’s quilt is on display. Never the less there was still a lot to admire: a collection of old sewing machines and, of course, the library! When I am in the area next time, I will spend one entire day here even if the only thing I am doing is drooling over the framed quilting stencils cut from cardboard and reminding us that there was a life before plastic laser-cut quilting stencils...

After the visit to the Virginia Quilt Museum, we needed sustenance which we procured in Front Royal which would also be our entry point to Skyline Drive part of the Shenandoah National Park.

Front Royal

The gazebo right beside the Front Royal visitor centre

Front Royal is an attractive town with a lot of shops and restaurants on Main Street. The group dispersed to look for lunch. I was with a little group who went to the Tavern right beside the visitor centre where we had an excellent pub lunch.

The bus

Our bus, partly hiding the Front Royal visitor centre

After lunch, we drove up hills and into the clouds of the Skyline Drive.

We made our first stop at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Centre.

Dickey Ridge

Here, we enjoyed the first scenic view of the Shenandoah Valley and the adjacent Massanutten Mountain.

Stunning View

As you can see from the photo, we did not have a five ridge day (on a five ridge day, you can see five different ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains which would take your view almost to Kentucky). But still the scenery really is stunning!

At the Dickey Ridge Visitor Centre, several trails invite the eager tourist to do some hiking. To accommodate as many different physical abilities as possible, we chose the Fox Hollow Trail. The Fox Hollow Trail is a pleasant and not too demanding trail that leads to a derelict cemetery and takes about 1 hour.

Fox Hollow

The 45 minute version of the hike doesn’t allow you to exclaim over almost every colourful leaf or tree as we did. But would want to miss this for the sake of 15 minutes? ;-)

Fall Leaf

And wouldn’t the picture below be a wonderful inspiration for a landscape wall hanging?

Shenandoah Forest

After our walk we continued south on the Skyline Drive. It was interesting to experience how much difference it can make on which side of the ridge top you are driving. When we were driving east of the ridge top, we didn’t even bother to stop at any of numerous scenic overlooks. All we would have had on our photos would have been fog. We were literally driving in the clouds that day! Although this has quite a romantic ring to it, we preferred the overlooks west of the ridge top which allowed us views like this:

Hills and Trees

It is quite incredible how fast time flies when you are travelling! Soon after our last glimpse of beautifully coloured hills and forests, we had to leave the Skyline Drive and head back to  Harrisonburg.

Some of the group still had enough energy to go to a (rather small) shopping mall to do some “normal” shopping. The rest had either a picnic style dinner in the hotel lobby, or went to a diner right next to the hotel to have burgers and fries together with real truckers (a big truck station being situated right between the hotel and the diner ;-).

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