The Day I Went to the University of Virginia
I woke up around 7:30 a.m. that Sunday morning and was pleased to see the sun already shining brightly from the small slit of the hotel drapes. I got up, packed my duffel bag and changed to grab a bite to eat downstairs. The hotel’s hot buffet breakfast was pretty good but I made sure to leave some room so I can try the bagels at Bodo’s next door. From the articles I’ve read, this locally owned, authentic New York bagel breakfast joint is a Charlottesville favorite since 1988 and as popular a place as the Rotunda at the University of Virginia. Skip the healthier whole-wheat option and go with the traditional bagel with everything. After a bite of the traditional, I understood why this place has a queue at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning.
The University of Virginia
I was just as excited to explore the university as I was with Monticello. I just love university towns and the surrounding atmosphere. In addition to that, I really wanted to see the Rotunda and the Academic Village, which also have UNESCO designations. Unfortunately, the former was under restoration. It was covered with scaffolding so I was unable to see its wonderful exterior or check out the interior dome. I did, however, enjoy wandering around an empty college campus. I peaked inside the dorm rooms through mail slots and uncovered windowpanes, read the information on the historical plaques and markers around campus, and just appreciated the peacefulness of a beautiful site on a lovely day.
Driving on Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park
I thought long and hard before I decided to go for it especially since I had plenty of time to kill before heading back to D.C., that day. The nearest entrance at Swift Run Gap was only half an hour away from Charlottesville and because I was heading north anyway, it made sense to just go. I wasn’t sure when I’ll have the opportunity again and the weather appears to be cooperating. I arrived at the entrance and as usual, had to document my arrival. I signaled my emergency lights on, parked my car on the service road, and snapped a quick picture. After doing so, I proceeded to the entrance gate, paid my dues and drove towards Skyline Drive.
Skyline Drive is a 105-mile paved road that cuts through Shenandoah National Park and follows the crests made by the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s the only road that the public can access if they want to enter the park. The section I traversed was a mere quarter of the total length of Skyline Drive. I stopped at the first viewpoint and gazed into the valley below. “It really is beautiful up here,” I thought and continued on, stopping at several more lookouts along the way including the one with Old Rag Mountain on my way to Thornton Gap. An hour and half gone, I exited the park pleased that I made the drive and followed my iPhone’s GPS towards another scenic backdoor route that took me back safely to Washington, D.C.