Saturday, October 26, 2013

A friendly oasis in the middle of the Blue Ridge Parkway

 
October 19-22, 2013
Galax, Virginia
Deer Creek Motorcoach Resort
 

 
Almost two years ago, we met a couple who owned an RV lot in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  We always knew this was an area we wanted to see and they made the area even more attractive to us by talking about how much they loved their place at Deer Creek.  They gave us a brochure and a coupon for three free nights to check it out.  As this was early in our full-timing experience, I had never seen a park so pretty with outdoor kitchens, little cabins, and what they described as a strong sense of community. Checking this place out rose high on my list.  Last year we had intended to come this way but when we were in Knoxville, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast and dumped plenty of snow in the Smokies and Blue Ridge Mts.  We headed south to Florida a few weeks early and put off the trip to this area.
 
Fast forward another year and we finally made a plan to come this way. The distance from the Finger Lakes region of New York to Galax, Virginia is about 550 miles miles so we planned an overnight stop at a Walmart in Harrisonburg, Va—over halfway.  (Not much to report about our Walmart stay.)
 
We called ahead to make reservations at Deer Creek explaining our association with Gordy, a previous owner, and the coupon.  (We actually have several of these coupons as they gave them out at the Tampa RV Show as well—plus they are available on their website.)  I talked on the phone to the owner and developer, Barry, who was incredibly welcoming, so we set up our three-day stay a few days in advance.


 
Deer Creek opened about five years ago as an owner only property exclusively for Class A and Class C motorcoaches, bus conversions, and vintage buses. Sounds a little exclusive but everyone in the park we met seemed quite down to earth and friendly.
 

 
The day we arrived was football Saturday and there were several campground tailgates going on with lots of rooting for Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia college teams. It also happened to be Barry’s wife Laura’s birthday and someone in the park was hosting a big party which Barry encouraged us to attend.  How fun!There were probably about thirty people there with a big spread of southern style food: pulled pork, mac ‘n cheese, baked beans, biscuits, and a potpourri of desserts. For a while, the owner of the lot, John, disappeared to grieve Georgia’s loss to Vanderbilt. Poor guy.
 
It’s not always easy to feel right at home with such a large group of strangers but this was an exception. The folks here really made an effort to get to know us and engage us in conversation. I hardly even saw Vic the whole evening. As we were leaving, Laura, the birthday girl whispered in my ear that we should join them for after dinner birthday drinks by the fire at another lot near where we were staying.  We did and it was quite pleasant. This owner had a double outdoor gas fireplace so everyone had a place around the fire to stay warm on this clear and chilly night (40s) with a full moon rising. (Did I think to bring a camera or cell phone to take photos?)
 
We learned more about the resort—there are seventy lots with seven remaining to be sold. Most folks spend May-October there as the elevation is 3000 ft. so it stays relatively cool here all summer. The park is only one mile from the Blue Ridge Parkway near mile marker 213. This development was Barry’s first RV park but he has another one, Bear Creek Motorcoach Resort, about thirty minutes away and is in the process of building a third motorcoach resort near Punta Gorda, Florida which is scheduled to be open in the fall of 2014.  Owners may rent out their lots on their own but not many do as they tend to be here during prime time. In terms of amenities, there is a lovely cabin-style clubhouse with an exercise room, miniature golf, fishing pond, and nine-hole par three golf course.  Socializing seems to be the main activity if our first evening here is any kind of clue.
 

 
Day two took us on our first drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We had the dogs with us as I learned that they allow them on the trails—unusual for a national park.  Our first stop was at the Blue Ridge Music Center where we were lucky to find live music. The setting just seemed to call for the sound of a fiddle and banjo. This group was part of the center’s Fall Heritage Series: free Sunday afternoon concerts celebrating the music of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
 


video

It was cool enough outside to leave the dogs in the Jeep while we checked things out.  First we sat and listened to the music for awhile, then toured the free visitor center and museum display.  What a lovely introduction to the Blue Ridge and its notable musical history.
 








 
 
 


From here we took a hike with the dogs on one of the trails near the Music Center.  We had hoped for a little more fall color in the leaves, but the setting was still beautiful and the crisp autumn air invigorating. I love the sound of leaves rustling under my feet.
 




 
When we returned to the resort, we visited a little more with Barry and Laura and a few others while walking the dogs around the park.  We learned about the New River Trail State Park which you can access in Galax. The park is the longest state park in Virginia with a 57-mile bike trail that follows an old railroad right of way with four different tent camping areas along the way. We made a plan to bike about ten miles of it the following day.
 

 
We have not been biking in way too long but this was a perfect way to experience the beauty of the trail.  The day was cool and sunny—the only drawback was the headwind we faced on the return part of the trip.  Here is a little photo sampling of our afternoon on the trail.
 

 





 



 

 
Our three days here sped by.  There was much more to explore but forecasts for colder weather keep pulling us southward. We are grateful to our hosts, Barry and Laura, for their genuine hospitality. We actually expected a sales pitch, but if we were in the market for this kind of place, it would honestly sell itself.  Next up: Asheville, North Carolina.
 








6 comments:

  1. Wish you'd let us know. In Harrisonburg you were close enough to come to dinner. We'd love to have seen you.

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  2. What a wonderful, beautiful three-day stay. The surroundings are gorgeous!!! Not often do the owners extend such hospitality.

    The Blue Ridge Music Center looks so cool. I love the poster advertising the Hill-Billies....lol

    Awesome trail! Thanks for sharing the autumn color.

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  3. That's a nice park and looks like a beautiful area to explore. It looks like the trees are getting pretty bare. I hope you'll see more fall color in Asheville. If you get a chance to visit Mt. Mitchell, it was probably our favorite place in the Asheville area. Despite the cold nights, we're still not ready to head back to Florida. Still too hot.

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  4. Thanks for sharing...the resort looks a lot like Portal! Beautiful sites! I know the pups had a great time hiking! And what a beautiful bike trail. Autumn is such a fun month...love the weather!

    Can't wait to hear about Ashville.

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  5. We stayed in the poor side of Deer Creek...haha! Our Discovery MH Group had a small rally there which we couldn't attend. They said the park was nice so when we were heading south we decided to stay few days. We were the only ones there for our last two days. We had no idea about the Resort side or I most definitely would have been there. We did walk through there and everyone was very friendly. Very nice resort:)

    We loved the Blue Ridge Music Center! We sat and listened to the music for the longest time. There must have been ten people jamming. One of the men listening went to his car and got his guitar and joined in...very cool! The center is full of lots great info.

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