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User Content => Road Trips => Topic started by: 1995hoo on January 02, 2017, 12:31:27 PM

Title: Our Christmas roadtrip to Primland (SW Virginia)
Post by: 1995hoo on January 02, 2017, 12:31:27 PM
For Christmas we drove down to Primland, a resort in southwest Virginia located roughly between Stuart, Meadows of Dan, and Ararat. I had asked for comments here on how the roads were likely to be down there because I didn't know whether snow might be an issue, but it turned out to be a reasonably warm and rainy weekend to the point where fog was the far bigger issue than anything else. More on the weather in a bit.

Any trip in Virginia for us is going to involve covering some familar territory early on. In this case I planned to use US-360 on the trip down in order to cross off some remaining segments there and to revisit some areas I had not driven through since the 1995 to 1998 timeframe. We left home mid-morning on Friday, December 23, and promptly heard on the radio that there was a big crash on southbound I-95 in Stafford County, which meant I decided to take US-1 south to Massaponax to pick up I-95 there. No big deal, we've gone that way many times. Happy to see the very old BGSs just south of the Rappahannock are still in place and still label US-1 as "ALT US-1." Picked up I-95 and headed to Richmond and I-195. The odd thing about that road is that I'd travelled it many times on Amtrak's Auto Train, which runs down the median for a good chunk of the road, but I was missing a large part of it by car. Finished that off but decided it was too much of a hassle to deal with the last piece I needed for the clinch because of where the offramps are, so we simply continued down the Powhite Parkway. Strange road. I'd been on a small piece of it before, but this time we took it all the way to VA-288. The interchange with VA-150 is of a strange design. I assume it must pre-date the highway-speed E-ZPass lanes. It struck me as not a particularly safe layout because you have people coming from the E-ZPass lanes who want to stay on the parkway criss-crossing with slower-moving traffic coming from the cash lanes and wanting to exit left onto VA-150. Also somewhat annoyingly, the highway-speed E-ZPass lanes become the exit-only lanes at that interchange. I'm sure it's all a case of retrofitting an existing road and probably arranging things based on where the bulk of the traffic goes. Beyond that point, it felt like a rather old road. I hadn't been through there before. The final toll plaza does not have highway-speed E-ZPass lanes and its transponder reader reminded me of some of New York City's facilities in that I pretty much had to come to a complete stop before the arm went up. I was a little surprised to see that sort of thing at a mainline Virginia toll plaza.

From there we took VA-288 one exit to the south to pick up US-360. In another thread on this forum, someone (I think cpzilliacus, but I may be wrong) was talking about how it would be useful to have the Powhite Parkway extended southwest to US-360. Given that it was the Friday before Christmas and US-360 passes a bunch of shopping areas just west of VA-288, I found myself agreeing with that comment, although looking at a map now I can't help but wonder whether there would be environmental issues with the reservoir there if a highway were extended.

US-360 is a very relaxing drive. Most of it had a 60-mph speed limit except on the Keysville bypass where it's 65. Almost nobody on the road. While I had not been to Meherrin since 1995, I remembered it seemed like there was always a cop either there or in Green Bay. Sure enough, someone had already been pulled over through Meherrin. We exited to drive through Keysville on the business route to find lunch. I can't say as I had missed much by not using that business route in the past! After stopping at a Burger King and noting what time it was, I decided I wouldn't be too chagrined if I failed to clinch the business route and we got back on the main highway. Down near Scottsburg, we encountered the "STATE/US" signs for the intersection of US- and VA-360. Those had not been there 20 years ago when I used to pass through that area somewhat regularly. (Picture is from AARoads going in the other direction.) I had to wonder to what extent people still get confused anyway because I'm sure many people give directions without specifying "US" or "State" or "Virginia."

(http://www.aaroads.com/mid-atlantic/virginia360/us-360_eb_app_va-344_360_01.jpg)

Nothing terribly eventful from there on past Martinsville, although I found it a bit interesting to note how there are a number of very large Rebel flags flying along the US-58 bypass of Danville. I wonder what they're protesting (I guess I could look it up, but I don't care that much). I'd been to Martinsville Speedway before, but everything beyond there was new territory. Once we exited the Martinsville bypass to continue west on Route 58, the road was even more deserted than US-360 had been. I eventually had to stop on the side of the road to answer nature's call and I found that someone else apparently felt the road was REALLY deserted: There was toilet paper with brown streaks located near where I stopped.

The road from Stuart up to the turn for Primland is a fun, interesting mountain two-lane segment of US-58. I enjoyed it. As a practical matter, if they ever want to widen that to four lanes it's going to be very difficult due to the terrain and I can't help but wonder if they might have to go a different way. At the top of the mountain, there's a nice "wayside" with a scenic view; unfortunately, the graffiti taggers have hit it. There's a "bear crossing" sign just past the wayside, but I didn't get a picture of it because just as I got back on the road a truck came around the curve behind us and I nailed the accelerator.

(http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c378/1995hoo/Road%20sign%20pictures/Christmas%202016%20226_zpszbi0qekm.jpg)

(http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c378/1995hoo/Road%20sign%20pictures/Christmas%202016%20086_zpsp3jx9yd3.jpg)

When I had asked about Primland before, froggie noted that Google Maps appeared to need some updating in the area based on where the roads run and the construction of the golf course. You turn off US-58 onto secondary route 610, Busted Rock Road. Two miles later, you come to a guardhouse and a gate. The resort covers 12,000 acres and there is another gate some 14 miles down the road to the south.

(http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c378/1995hoo/Road%20sign%20pictures/Christmas%202016%20092_zpsmhxe7zku.jpg)

Beyond this point, it's not clear to me who maintains the road. It doesn't look like one VDOT maintains based on the style of guardrails (more in the nature of parkway guardrails), the lack of striping, and signage posted by the resort. The resort refers to the road as "Didier Primat Parkway," named for the resort's founder, and there are no route markers anywhere. It's another six or seven miles from the gate to the main lodge. We were not staying in the main lodge and when we pulled up, they already had my name (the guard had called ahead) and they told me my Acura sedan would not be able to handle the drive to our lodging and they gave me the keys to a Ford Escape. They transferred our luggage to the SUV for us while we checked in and then one of them led us up to our lodging in the Golden Eagle Tree House. To say we drove up a gravel road might be giving the road more credit than it deserves, but it certainly requires four-wheel-drive. It's a single-lane gravel track through the woods. I don't have any pictures in the pea-soup fog, but Ms1995hoo took one as they were leading us and then two night-time shots later. The reflector posts were essential, although the roadgeek in me couldn't help but noting that they put the yellow posts on the RIGHT and the white posts on the LEFT. (The reflectors didn't help a whole lot in the dense fog. Couldn't see that far. I just went slowly and focused on the edge of the path in front of us.)

(http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c378/1995hoo/Road%20sign%20pictures/Christmas%202016%20229_zpstdsxo7k2.jpg)

(http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c378/1995hoo/Road%20sign%20pictures/Christmas%202016%20244_zps4siltfkn.jpg)

(http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c378/1995hoo/Road%20sign%20pictures/Christmas%202016%20243_zpsueqbhhtq.jpg)

Per what froggie had noted, the roads around the main lodge are quite different than what Google Maps shows. See marked-up map below. The yellow line is an approximate location for the gravel road (Tree House Lane). The three tree houses are located roughly where that line ends.

(http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c378/1995hoo/Road%20sign%20pictures/Primland%20roads_zpsanxshvi0.png)

Typical scene along the main road, Didier Primat Parkway, is below. This was somewhere betwee the main lodge and the south gate. The part between the lodge and the north gate is more heavily treed.

(http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c378/1995hoo/Road%20sign%20pictures/Christmas%202016%20254_zpsdxosh3nc.jpg)

For those interested, this is what I mean when I refer to a tree house. In the second picture, it's in the background (at the top of a 2,000-foot drop down to the Dan River):

(http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c378/1995hoo/Road%20sign%20pictures/Christmas%202016%20033_zpsipaibgvs.jpg)

(http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c378/1995hoo/Road%20sign%20pictures/Christmas%202016%20381_zpsbpkjwabu.jpg)

(http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c378/1995hoo/Road%20sign%20pictures/Christmas%202016%20051_zpsiwnfhrif.jpg)



For the trip home on December 27, we headed back out the north gate and made a left on US-58 west to Meadows of Dan, where we took the business route to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Again there was nobody on the road. It was raining lightly and Mabry Mill was closed, so I simply pulled over for a picture opportunity and then continued on our way.

(http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c378/1995hoo/Road%20sign%20pictures/Christmas%202016%20084%202_zpsnepgttsg.jpg)


Took VA-8 up to Floyd and then, based on recommendations here from froggie and hbelkins, I took US-221 up to Roanoke. The descent down the mountain into the Roanoke area would have been a fun drive in dry weather, but it was raining, and since I hadn't been there before it meant I took it more slowly than I might have in the dry. Still, a fun descent and a pleasant drive with no traffic. Not as empty as US-360 and US-58 were, but anything beyond Roanoke feels empty when you're used to Fairfax County traffic! Picked up VA-419 across to US-220, which becomes I-581. I had not been on I-581 since July 1998 when I was in Roanoke for the bar exam and I was mildly surprised to note that the exit numbers carry directional suffixes (4E/4W style of numbering) instead of the A/B/C style you see elsewhere in Virginia. No pictures, too much traffic, although I might have dashcam captures later.

I-81 was what it usually is. I don't much enjoy that road. We decided to exit to see Natural Bridge because I had never been there. Well worth it. If you look closely at the top of the image, you can see a fence. US-11 runs over Natural Bridge and I guess the fence is probably there to prevent people from stopping to try to take pictures and such. The walkway under the bridge is in a state park with an $8 admission fee.

(http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c378/1995hoo/Road%20sign%20pictures/Christmas%202016%20405_zpsx69o1uvy.jpg)

(http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c378/1995hoo/Road%20sign%20pictures/Christmas%202016%20208_zps4lnoe3mc.jpg)

Afterwards we stopped a few miles up US-11 at the Pink Cadillac Diner for lunch. Somewhat cheesy place (note Elvis looking out the upstairs window), but the food (I had a French dip and fries) was better than I expected.

(http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c378/1995hoo/Road%20sign%20pictures/Christmas%202016%20093%202_zpsentbtemt.jpg)

From there, I half-heartedly got back on I-81, but north of Lexington there was a VMS warning of a wreck that had one lane closed north of the northern end of the I-64 concurrency, so I decided to exit at the southern end of US-340 and follow said route all the way up to Front Royal to complete a clinch of all of US-340. For some reason I had thought it was a four-lane road, perhaps because the part I had been on most often in the Shenandoah Valley was the US-211 concurrency near Luray, but it's in fact two-lanes. Moved pretty well, though; I set my cruise control just over 60 mph for most of the drive. I'm sure it took longer than the all-Interstate route would have, but it didn't feel any slower.

Funny thing is, the trip down was right about 325 miles. The trip home? 320 miles, even with the very different route.
Title: Re: Our Christmas roadtrip to Primland (SW Virginia)
Post by: froggie on January 02, 2017, 03:27:04 PM
Quote
The interchange with VA-150 is of a strange design. I assume it must pre-date the highway-speed E-ZPass lanes.

Correct.  Dates to when the Powhite was extended west of Chippenham (VA 150) ca. 1989.

Quote
The road from Stuart up to the turn for Primland is a fun, interesting mountain two-lane segment of US-58. I enjoyed it. As a practical matter, if they ever want to widen that to four lanes it's going to be very difficult due to the terrain and I can't help but wonder if they might have to go a different way. At the top of the mountain, there's a nice "wayside" with a scenic view; unfortunately, the graffiti taggers have hit it.

That wayside is more commonly known as Lovers Leap.

The US 58 corridor study that I've seen (dated 1991) suggested that a 4-lane US 58 would bypass Lovers Leap to the south.  Then, about 2 miles east of Lovers Leap (where US 58 turns more or less due south for a spell), the corridor would continue east-southeastward, following a ridgeline down, then meet VA 8 about a mile south of VA 57.  VDOT would then upgrade/widen VA 8 from there down to US 58.
Title: Re: Our Christmas roadtrip to Primland (SW Virginia)
Post by: 1995hoo on January 02, 2017, 03:36:44 PM
Yeah, we saw the sign on the way up that says "Lovers Leap Wayside" (I'd have to look on Street View to confirm whether there's an apostrophe).
Title: Re: Our Christmas roadtrip to Primland (SW Virginia)
Post by: 74/171FAN on January 02, 2017, 04:54:47 PM
From there, I half-heartedly got back on I-81, but north of Lexington there was a VMS warning of a wreck that had one lane closed north of the northern end of the I-64 concurrency, so I decided to exit at the southern end of US-340 and follow said route all the way up to Front Royal to complete a clinch of all of US-340. For some reason I had thought it was a four-lane road, perhaps because the part I had been on most often in the Shenandoah Valley was the US-211 concurrency near Luray, but it's in fact two-lanes. Moved pretty well, though; I set my cruise control just over 60 mph for most of the drive. I'm sure it took longer than the all-Interstate route would have, but it didn't feel any slower.

Funny thing is, the trip down was right about 325 miles. The trip home? 320 miles, even with the very different route.

I clinched the part of US 340 from I-64/I-81 (Exit 213) and US 11 through Stuarts Draft to I-64 (Exit 94) near Waynesboro the night I graduated from VT.  It was 4-5 lanes from Stuarts Draft northeast to I-64, and I remember it having many more stoplights than I would have expected.

It was kinda a celebratory clinch, as I had always wanted to clinch that part of US 340 (as it is a cut from the I-81 to I-64 route from Roanoke to Richmond), but I had taken US 460 too many times since I was from Prince George.  US 460 had truly become boring to me by that point (though my friends had been saying that for years).  Personally, I do not know if any of my VT friends knew that US 340 practically went from I-64 to I-64 at its southern endpoint.   ;-)

Title: Re: Our Christmas roadtrip to Primland (SW Virginia)
Post by: Mapmikey on January 02, 2017, 05:51:00 PM
Quote
The interchange with VA-150 is of a strange design. I assume it must pre-date the highway-speed E-ZPass lanes.

Correct.  Dates to when the Powhite was extended west of Chippenham (VA 150) ca. 1989.

Quote
The road from Stuart up to the turn for Primland is a fun, interesting mountain two-lane segment of US-58. I enjoyed it. As a practical matter, if they ever want to widen that to four lanes it's going to be very difficult due to the terrain and I can't help but wonder if they might have to go a different way. At the top of the mountain, there's a nice "wayside" with a scenic view; unfortunately, the graffiti taggers have hit it.

That wayside is more commonly known as Lovers Leap.

The US 58 corridor study that I've seen (dated 1991) suggested that a 4-lane US 58 would bypass Lovers Leap to the south.  Then, about 2 miles east of Lovers Leap (where US 58 turns more or less due south for a spell), the corridor would continue east-southeastward, following a ridgeline down, then meet VA 8 about a mile south of VA 57.  VDOT would then upgrade/widen VA 8 from there down to US 58.


VDOT has apparently revised what will happen east of Lovers Leap.  The 2011 Environmental Assessment has it following existing 58 pretty closely all the way to VA 8.  See page 11 at http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/resources/Salem/58_DEA_Patrick_Final.pdf

The project website by the contractor has no information on specifics of that phase.

There is no apostrophe on the signs:
(http://www.vahighways.com/waysides/wayside_loversleap3.jpg)

SR 610 used to be maintained 2 miles further that it does today.  Maintenance now ends 1.97 miles past SR 637 (since back to at least the late 50s).  So Primland roads might utilize some of what used to be SR 610...
Title: Re: Our Christmas roadtrip to Primland (SW Virginia)
Post by: 1995hoo on January 02, 2017, 06:33:19 PM
Interesting on that last point because the gate is (according to maps, anyway) immediately past the intersection with 637. I guess that implies VDOT maintains some segment on resort property?
Title: Re: Our Christmas roadtrip to Primland (SW Virginia)
Post by: LM117 on January 02, 2017, 07:35:11 PM
Nothing terribly eventful from there on past Martinsville, although I found it a bit interesting to note how there are a number of very large Rebel flags flying along the US-58 bypass of Danville. I wonder what they're protesting (I guess I could look it up, but I don't care that much).

They're pissed off because the Danville City Council banned and removed all rebel flags from city-owned properties as of August 2015. It's been a very heated issue here, to put it mildly.
Title: Re: Our Christmas roadtrip to Primland (SW Virginia)
Post by: Mapmikey on January 02, 2017, 08:23:12 PM
Interesting on that last point because the gate is (according to maps, anyway) immediately past the intersection with 637. I guess that implies VDOT maintains some segment on resort property?

ahhhh... delving deeper, the 2015 traffic log shows maintenance stopping at SR 637 (my message was based on the 2004 Patrick County map). 

Up through 2005, traffic logs showed two more segments past SR 637 adding up to 1.70 miles.  The segment in between was literally labeled "1.47 miles from maintenance dead end"

Also, confederate flags are not being flown as a protest in rural Virginia.  They are quite common out in the countryside and have been the entire 20+ years I have had experience driving outside Northern Virginia...
Title: Re: Our Christmas roadtrip to Primland (SW Virginia)
Post by: 1995hoo on January 02, 2017, 08:42:23 PM
I've seen Rebel flags here and there for years. It's just that these are MUCH bigger and more prominent. Sounds like LM117 has a sense for what's up.
Title: Re: Our Christmas roadtrip to Primland (SW Virginia)
Post by: LM117 on January 02, 2017, 11:34:04 PM
I've seen Rebel flags here and there for years. It's just that these are MUCH bigger and more prominent. Sounds like LM117 has a sense for what's up.

These two articles should bring you up to speed if interested.

This one tells about the large rebel flags that went up along US-58/US-29 and the reason behind it.

http://www.wdbj7.com/content/news/Worlds-largest-Confederate-Flag-is-coming-to-Danville-387878102.html (http://www.wdbj7.com/content/news/Worlds-largest-Confederate-Flag-is-coming-to-Danville-387878102.html)

This is the latest of the legal battle that the City of Danville won.

http://wset.com/news/local/virginia-supreme-court-again-rejects-confederate-flag-appeal-in-danville (http://wset.com/news/local/virginia-supreme-court-again-rejects-confederate-flag-appeal-in-danville)
Title: Re: Our Christmas roadtrip to Primland (SW Virginia)
Post by: spooky on January 03, 2017, 10:43:31 AM
I visited Natural Bridge way back in 1980 at the age of 7, but the pictures look exactly as I remember it.

I much more recently ate at the Pink Cadillac diner on the drive back from TN after Thanksgiving.