VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS …………………… OR IS IT ‘MAYBE IN SOME AREAS….. OTHERS? NOT SO MUCH’. PERHAPS SIGNS AT THE INTERSTATE EXITS NEAR MY AREA THAT READ ‘THIS PART OF VIRGINIA IS NOT FOR LOVERS, KEEP DRIVING.
I am being silly above. Though we all know hidden inside a joke is a hint at the truth. Honestly, an hour or two drive for me has a few things that are attractions, ex: Dixie Caverns, Natural Bridge, or Mill Mountain Zoo. These attractions aren’t listed under the Top Vacation places, such as The Great Smokey Mountains or Daytona Beach. The truth is I love visiting The Smokey Mountains because of the attractions stretching from Seiverville to Cherokee at the Cherokee Reservation.
I live in a place just like this though. I’m maybe two hours away from the Tennessee border, and if a person drives the 30 -40 minute drive from my home way up in the mountains, then you will be traveling along the Blue Ridge Parkway and that is the scenic route to The Smokey Mountains. The 30 minute drive is more to do with traffic because a bridge crosses over the river that runs through my town, just a town over. When you drive across the bridge, perhaps a little before, you are leaving my county, Pulaski, and entering Montgomery County. Put another way, Montgomery County = VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES. For now we are going to stay in my county, Pulaski County, and one of the most enjoyable attractions close to home.
Claytor Lake State Park is a man-made lake that is in Pulaski County in the town of Dublin, Virginia. Taking back roads from my house, it’s maybe a 20 minute drive to the entrance of The State Park. The park is a gorgeous area and has so many sections that are appealing. Camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, and several other things to do, such as picnic or cookout for an occasion. I actually celebrated my 1st anniversary of being married at this park, when I was married way back in 1996. Great place to have birthday parties, reunions, fourth of July picnics and cookouts, and just about any other occasion a person wants to throw together. I worked for a dining area during the 3 years of marriage, that was on the outside of the park entrance but ran a boat on the lake. Basically, people would pay to take a cruise on a small boat around the entire lake while they ate, held a meeting, drink. This did get shut down while I was working for them. The owner was fine that I was serving alcohol at age 19 when the law said 21 and turns out other things that weren’t legal.
A Hot Air Balloon is a big deal when the summer months are on the way. Usually during the first week of May a festival is held at Claytor Lake Park, with vendors from various companies, food, games, competitions such as fishing, and taking a ride in a hot air balloon, which I have not done yet but plan on doing next year. The Water’s Edge Meeting House on the lake is a wonderful place for weddings, receptions, meetings and other special events. This weekend the lake is hosting The Great American Backyard Camp Out. They have a good show for the fourth of July in what they call the Independence Day Campfire-Works.
I have not attended any of these events, though I can’t say why exactly. I do plan on attending the Back to School Beach Bash . This is held before the swimming area is closed down and has volleyball, beach games, sand sculpting contests, and other fun. The swimming area of the lake is my favorite part. That is where my friends and I usually go. The waves from the wind and boats on the lake, the sand, the feel of everything is like a beach, minus the salt. I love to lay in the sand and tan. Of course, since I have had children, the relaxing in the sun doesn’t occur too often. They want me in the water. Then my oldest daughter will be 11 next month, has learned how to swim very well, but insist I go to the diving board with her. Although there are lifeguards, many adults, not a far distance, and many other reasonable things that don’t work with her when telling her she can go alone. I’ll watch. lol I swim like a fish but I have thin blood, so I stay cold. Naturally, the lake gets colder the further away from the sand you go.
So, as far as a hot spot goes in my area, this pretty much covers the spring, summer, and fall events. The summer and swimming being my thing. If getting married at a huge State Park Gazebo is your thing, you couldn’t pick a more beautiful place. There are cabins, areas for campers, boating docks, the store that is open from Memorial Day until Labor Day that sells gasoline, snacks, boating rental slips, fishing license, and about anything else a person may need if just camping. Plenty of bathrooms and there is a laundry mat 3 miles away from the lake. The laundry mat is with hotels, in case a person is interested in getting married but camping and cabins just aren’t in the plans.
A little history: Claytor Lake was formed when Appalachian Power Company built a dam on the New River in 1939. This is the largest of the power company’s 12 operating hydroelectric plants. Local citizens expressed in early 1944 the idea of opening a state park at the lake. The idea took off in 1946 and the park was built and now has 472 acres, some of which houses wildlife. The lake itself occupies 4,500 acres, 21 miles long. If you want information on lodges, cabins, camping, and even some hunting options, you can visit this site here: http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/cla.shtml#specialfeatures YA’LL COME BACK NOW, YA HEAR? WRITTEN FOR MAMA KAT’S WRITING WORKSHOP PROMPT.