The Road Less Traveled

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In general, we are Interstate people.  When travelling, we like to get to our destination as quickly as possible.  But on the way home from a recent trip to New York State, we decided on a different course.

After a stay in Winchester, located at the northernmost tip in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia, we took Route 11 south to Harrisonburg, VA.  We are really glad we did. Route 11 begins in Bristol, VA and we are very familiar with it when we’re staying in Abingdon.  It travels north to Frederick, MD, pretty much paralleling Interstate 81 the whole way.

Route 11 is nicely paved and is 3-4 lanes, except when going through towns

Route 11 is nicely paved and is 3-4 lanes, except when going through towns

Winchester and Harrisonburg are only about 50 miles apart so we had time to dawdle and still get home to Chesapeake before dinner.  The route goes through several small, scenic towns, and has a lot of Civil War markers documenting the numerous skirmishes along the Shenandoah Valley.  Plus it’s home to our favorite potato chip factory!

The first small town we passed through was Stephens City.  Chartered in 1758, it was originally inhabited by natives of Heidelberg, Germany.  It’s quaint in the best way and has a nice, small downtown.

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Probably the coolest aspect of Stephens City is the Family Drive In.  They are few and far between, but this one was showing first run movies.

Looks like a fun place to watch a movie!

Looks like a fun place to watch a movie!

Next we drove through Middletown, and had to stop and turn around when we saw this sign.

America's oldest continuously operating inn

America’s oldest continuously operating inn

According to the sign, the Wayside Inn is America’s oldest continuously operated inn. Who knew!?  We wished we had time to stop in for a tour, or maybe a stay, but we will have to save that for another day.

There are a variety of sights along Route 11 and the views of the Shenandoah Mountains are breathtaking. Pictures rather than words will do it justice.

Woodstock, Va.

Woodstock, Va.

Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock

Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock

Some of the scenery along the way

Some of the scenery along the way

Soon we came to the highlight of the trip.  We don’t eat potato chips very often, but our favorites are Route 11 Potato Chips.  We knew we would be passing by, and we wanted to stop in to watch the chips being made.  It’s a little off of Route 11, but, surprise, we drove through a lovely covered bridge to get there!

A historic covered bridge on the way to Route 11 Chips

A historic covered bridge on the way to Route 11 Potato Chips

The factory is in a nondescript warehouse building, but they make the best chips around. Going in was like watching an episode of “How It’s Made” (but with no cameras) and definitely worth the trip. Plus you can sample and buy all their flavors of chips.

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The unassuming Route 11 Potato Chip factory

Some of Route 11 Chips flavors

Some of Route 11 Potato Chip flavors

Bill with his favorite flavor, Mama Zuma's Revenge

Bill with his favorite flavor, Mama Zuma’s Revenge

Before we knew it, we were approaching Harrisonburg.

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We were a little sad that we didn’t have the whole day to stop in some of the shops along the way and really explore the small towns we went through on Route 11. We will be sure to take this journey again when we can do just that!

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