Friday, July 15, 2011

Route 11 Road Trip -- The Plan

We’ve decided on a somewhat unusual vacation this year. I’m not sure if it’s technically a staycation or not, but it should be interesting. We’re going to travel down U.S. Route 11 from Winchester to Bristol. VA/TN.

Our goal isn’t to travel the entire route (which runs from New York to Louisiana) – just the Virginia section, which enters the state from West Virginia around Winchester, and runs down the Shenandoah Valley to Bristol.

My wife grew up in Abingdon, Virginia and she and her family traveled Route 11 often to visit relatives in Madison County (up near Charlottesville). From Northern Virginia, I recall Sunday family drives down through Winchester, picking up Route 11.

Route 11 used to be a major thoroughfare until Route 81 was constructed in the mid-1960s. 81 parallels 11, and is now a major artery for truck transportation. During our long-distance courtship and after our marriage, we travelled up and down 81 for years.

On our journeys, we always saw the exit signs leading to Route 11, and the small towns it went through, but we seldom had time to stop or explore – we were on our way either to or from Abingdon, and we wanted to get to our destination as quickly as possible!

This time, though, we decided to visit all of those places we whizzed past on the interstate. For me it would be a voyage of discovery – for my wife, a revisiting of the past. So we decided to journey down Route 11, taking our time and seeing what we could find.

And there's another reason, too. The day we start this trip will be exactly a year since we first visited the oncologist, and I found out I had Burkitt's lymphoma. Since then, I've underwent treatment, and everything is in remission. But one of the lessons learned was that one can't put things off forever. So we're going to visit all those places we zoomed past when we didn't have the time. We're making the time now.

The itinerary’s pretty simple. We’re starting in Winchester on Saturday, July 16, 2011 . We’ll meet family in Abingdon either Thursday or Friday of the following week – arriving just in time for the start of the Virginia Highlands Festival.

While we’ve booked a room for the first night in Winchester, we haven’t made any other reservations. We’ll find accommodations wherever we happen to be at night. A leisurely drive down a road, taking days instead of hours to traverse, with no set itinerary or timetable.

I’ve never done a vacation like this before, but it should be fun!

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