Our Mini Vacation to the Appalachians and Virgina Safari Park

Mike and I celebrated our first anniversary of our marriage on Sunday. About mid day we decided to go away for Memorial Day Weekend, even though the weekend was more than half over and we both had a lot of work to do. A few years ago we went to Virginia Safari Park. It had all the elements that we love when we are on vacation, forests, and wildlife. (Even when we go to the shore, we seek out the wildlife preserves as we’re not beach people.)

 We decided to drive down Skyline Drive, which highlights the Shenandoah Valley part of the Appalachians. We stopped at this visitors center to pick up info and a map.

 Shortly after leaving the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center, we came upon several cars stoped and people out on the road and hill with cameras.
 High up in the tree was a cute bear cub
 and below was his watchful mom. Eventually the Park Rangers came along and moved us, which was a relief as a few people were about to be bear dinner as they had gotten so close.
 Mike and I are not hiking people, but we love to drive through the forest, and we love to just pull over and enjoy the vistas.
 We never make hotel reservations on trips, unless it’s somewhere like Montana, Las Vegas, or Atlantic City, we just go to a town that looks interesting, then we check
rates on the internet, then we go to whichever hotel meets are criteria
of stars, cleanliness and price, and ask at the front desk. Sunday night we went to Harrisonburg, Va. Home of James Madison University. I always wanted to see campus where my friend Kathy Slentz went to college. We stayed at the Fairfield Inn. It was nice room, friendly and they had a free breakfast. $107

 Mike and I had been to Virginia Safari Park  drive thru park, once before, and always knew we’d go back. How we found this area is it’s a mid-point between Philly and Charlotte, NC where my mom, and 2 sisters live. Usually people take 95S, but we have no patience for the traffic near Baltimore and DC. The I81 highway is so much prettier too. I take lots of photos of the roadside attractions, none of which I have in this post, maybe in August when I go to Charlotte for my summer trip. The entrance fee is $18 a person, cheaper for kids, and a bucket of food for the animals is $3.50 or 4 for $12. Mike really likes this part of the safari park and he bought 6 buckets. If you don’t want to drive your car through you can ride the shuttle, which you can see in the top of this photo.

  They’re taunting Mike cause well he didn’t have quite a good grip on his bucket
 Don’t feed the zebra’s, they get aggressive and might kick out your window. PS that must be a new rule as the last time we fed them.

No feeding these guys either cause they’re always trying to put their heads into your car window.

The most beautiful eyelashes you don’t have to buy.
They seem so friendly, and hungry

A video posted by Philly ChitChat (@phillychitchat) on May 25, 2015 at 12:44pm PDT
 Mike will be cleaning camel slobber, and kibble & bits out of the car for weeks.

 In the distance you can see the Blue Ridge Mountains.

 Smile. The drive thru takes about 90 minutes, and you can drive through it as many times as you’d like. In between trips you can go to the kids petting zoo which is behind the red gate you see in the background. It’s included in the admission.
 You can pet giraffe’s and feed them too.
  No petting the turtles, but they are photogenic.
Inside the zoo, there’s a cool exhibit where you can walk thru into the bird sanctuary.

  Mike getting a selfie with his new friend. You can buy these Popsicle sticks that have bird seed on them.

 We were worried that he wouldn’t be able to get his head back through the fence, but he did.
 At some point in our trip a friend mentioned that we had to stop by the restaurant at

Peaks of Otter Lodge: Blue Ridge Parkway Lodging

We decided to see if they had rooms, and they did. We got a 2nd floor w/balcony for only $140, as it was after the holiday weekend.

 The food is good, the view is spectacular, and the ladies at the front desk are very nice.

 Loved the rooms too. Mike like the balcony. It’s like that new thing, glamping, it’s rustic but not camping and nature is right at your door, and sometimes inside. Expect to find insects crawling about, flies coming in if you don’t shut the door, and well nature, you’ll be fine.
 There’s a mile path around Abbott Lake and we  decided to take a sunset stroll. That’s the lodge across the way.
 Mike’s new happy place.

 I saw a deer. I was happy. I know some of you reading this are saying come out to my house if you want to see a deer, I’ve seen them in the neighborhoods, but I’m still a big fan. What I didn’t see was Canadian Geese, I should have asked them how they got so lucky.
 Another thing I don’t see much of, the gorgeous star lit night.
 In the morning I woke up to this view from my balcony. The birds were chirping, the bull frogs croaking and the fish were splashing. Peaks of Otter Lodging is about 6 hrs from Philly. There’s no cell coverage, but they have Wifi, so you can send emails, surf the web and post photos to FB

 Then we headed back to Philly, but we drove for about 2 hours on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

 There’s a guy fishing right above this word
We saw a lot of solo bikers on the highways, motorcycles too.
And a few long distance hikers like this guy.
 Next time when I have more time I’m going to stop at some of these quaint towns.


 I was glad we went in May to see Spring in the mountains.
We hope to go back in the Fall. Hope you can make it out there some time soon. It’s really beautiful, and peaceful.