A blog dedicated to the pursuit of all roads in the United States except Interstates
Sunday, October 4, 2009
The Byway That's A Bypass
Here are two views of one of the roads I take to avoid Interstate 81. Note the complete lack of traffic. I had ample time to turn around and take the second picture before a car showed up. This road, which I take north out of Pearisburg, has three numbers: VA secondary 635, WV 17, and VA secondary 600. (the road passes through Monroe County WV for about 13 miles. That section is bumpy and not maintained well). The lower end of it is a beautiful drive along Big Stony Creek. Much of it is in the Jefferson National Forest. It reaches a T intersection with VA 311. I take a jog to the left for less than half a mile, then turn north again on VA 18.
Every time I drive Route 18, I vow to correctly count the number of bridges across Potts Creek. Every time I get a different answer. It’s somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen. 18 leads me to the old industrial town of Covington. There’s still a big paper mill there, but not much else, except for some fast food and a couple of motels.
From Covington, it’s back to civilization on Interstate 64. However, I consider that stretch of 64 to be an “honorary back road,” as there’s very little traffic on it. More than likely, I’m out of time by this point, so I have to make a beeline for I-81 at Lexington VA.
However, if there’s time, I’ll take VA 42 instead. That’s a beautiful drive through Goshen and Craigsville, and on to Staunton. It parallels the old main line of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. If it’s a Sunday, Wednesday or Friday, and the right time of day, I may see Amtrak’s “Cardinal” train. I’ve ridden it along here many times too. Both road and railroad pass through an agricultural valley and reach Staunton. If I’m going on north, I can get back on I-81. If I do, I’ve missed the heavy traffic around Roanoke by taking my long bypass to the west. I’d say it adds an hour and a half to my trip. If I have time, I’ll take it, if I don’t, I’ll bite the bullet and take I-81.
Or I can stay on Virginia 42 or the parallel US 11. Both routes go due north, parallel to 81.