Loving Virginia’s Diversity

Virginia is a large and diverse state. The longer we live here and the more we explore, the more I appreciate that diversity.

Geographically speaking, Virginia has five regions. I live in the Virginia Piedmont.

The image above comes from a sorta simplistic educational blog that has a concise breakdown/explanation of those regions.

Culturally speaking, according to this web page, which belongs to VirginiaPlaces.org, “there are multiple interpretations of distinctive cultural regions of Virginia, with inconsistent terms and boundaries.”

The map on the Piedmont section of the VirginiaPlaces.org site, shown below, breaks Virginia down into only three regions. (I like this map because it also includes the counties.)

I’m telling you all of this because I’d hoped to find a simple explanation/definition of the geographic line separating the Piedmont from the Coastal Plain. The coastal region just has a different feel to it. The land is flatter. The trees–more evergreen trees than deciduous hardwoods– are taller and seem to grow closer together.

I’ve been aware of the different feel for years. My brother and his family live in the Hampton Roads region–Suffolk County, I believe–at the lower right-hand corner of the map. Always, when driving from Central Maryland for visits, I could always tell that we were getting closer just by the look and feel of the landscape.

Hubby and I went for a ride on Saturday that was out of character for us. We headed south and east, away from the mountains, to the town of Spotsylvania, which is just east of central Spotsylvania County. Our route took us through the center of Culpeper County and then east and south. We reached Spotsylvania County west of Fredericksburg (sorry if all of these directions are confusing), and that’s about when things started to change.

We were on VA-3 / Germanna Highway for only a few miles. We left Va-3 on VA-647/Revercomb Road, then quickly turned onto VA-610/Eley’s Ford Road. That’s the road that delivered us into Spotsylvania County. It was much more heavily forested than I expected, and although the road was on the flat side, there were a goodly amount of twists and turns, which made for a very pleasant ride.

Overview Map of Our Spotsylvania Ride
Overview Map of Our Spotsylvania Ride

I didn’t have my tracker app running, so there’s no way for you to zoom in for detail. If you want or need a more-detailed look, let me know.

I’d planned this shortish route because Hubby had gone for a long solo ride on Friday AND was coming down with a cold. I figured I’d take advantage of the rare occasion that he didn’t really care how fun the roads were and head to this area that I knew would be flatter and less interesting to capture this one elusive LOVEwork I’d missed on a couple of previous trips.

Spotsylvania LOVE
Spotsylvania LOVE

The sign itself was sort of plain. At least the weather was nice.

A picture-perfect day.
A picture-perfect day.

We both agreed that the ride to Spotsylvania was fabulous, but the roads were all suprisingly pleasant. Spotsylvania County may be in the Piedmont region, but there are definitely portions which feel like the Coastal Plain.

From there, we continued south/southwest across Lake Anna to the town of Mineral (very close to the epicenter of the big 2011 earthquake) and then headed west and north to make our way back home.

As we got deeper into Louisa County on the southwestern side of Lake Anna, which is quite a large and busy lake, it started to feel like the Piedmont again. The town of Gordonsville, which is in Orange County, definitely has the look and attitude of a population center in the Piedmont.

From Gordonsville, we hopped onto VA-231/Blue Ridge Turnpike, which carried us north and through the foothills, roughly paralleling the Blue Ridge Mountains, thus the road is aptly named. That 41-mile stretch of road — the Blue Ridge Turnpike — never disappoints, and is another of my favorite rides in Virginia. One day, I’m going to have to make a list.

Saturday was the first time I’d ridden the entire length of VA-231 from Gordonsville to Sperryville. I’m sorry I didn’t take more pics to share with you all. You’ll just have to trust me when I say that, if you’re in the area, it’s a road worth riding as it winds gently up and over hills, through vast tracts of farmland in the foothills of Blue Ridge, which makes for some amazing scenery.

An older picture captured along VA-231 / Blue Ridge Turnpike
An older picture captured along VA-231 / Blue Ridge Turnpike

All in all, it was a LOVEly day with Hubby.

Spotsylvania LOVEwork
Spotsylvania LOVEwork

14 Replies to “Loving Virginia’s Diversity”

  1. It is nice to live in a state with diverse geography. That is one of the things we love about Oregon too. Do you want ocean? Mountains? High desert? Big Cities? It has it all.

    Sure looks like pretty views and roads you were on that day.

    1. Brandy, could you imagine living in a landlocked and flat state like, say, Iowa?

      Virginia does have its uglier parts, but we tend to avoid those. Maybe “uglier” isn’t fair. Let’s just say more-populated thus less appealing to me, for motorcycle riding anyway. It really was a surprisingly pleasant ride.

  2. Hey, nice little Virginia trivia, Toadmama. Just don’t quiz us later… Damn y’all have a ton of counties (over three times what we have in Utah, according to Wiki).

    Though the land-feel you mention is something you’ve experienced from behind the wheel as well as from behind handlebars, similar awareness is (as you know) something so many motorcyclists mention, especially new riders: the many, various aromas; swift changes in temperature; environmental noises; and such. It seems to be one of riding’s greatest attractions—immersion in the experience of getting from A to B.

    Something I’ve noticed from having grown up camping and hiking in the parched deserts of southern and western Utah and eastern Nevada is being able to smell the presence of water long before seeing it or its evidence. I suppose that this makes sense, as in such an environment, water is the precious element that’s regularly sooo out of place. Usually it’s just a seep from a seam in a rock wall, or a dry wash spring that doesn’t issue nearly enough for flowing, and often it’s undrinkable due to saltiness or taint by other minerals (oh, how the west has battled, and continues to battle, over water). It’s sorta like that sensing autumn thing—you can “feel” it long before you see its results, long before the evidence presents.

    It makes me wonder about the prehistoric natives’ awareness of the elements in their landscapes—oh, how keenly attuned they must have been.

    1. Ryan, there ARE a lot of counties, aren’t there? We’ve only been here since late 2011. I honestly have no idea how many counties there are. LOL. I’m sure there’s a reason why VA has so many counties…

      “Something I’ve noticed from having grown up camping and hiking in the parched deserts of southern and western Utah and eastern Nevada is being able to smell the presence of water long before seeing it or its evidence.”

      That’s something I have never experienced, but I could certainly understand it. I know what it’s like to be able to smell the water as one nears the coast, but then salt water, swamps, brackish rivers and bays all have pretty distinct smells.

      “It makes me wonder about the prehistoric natives’ awareness of the elements in their landscapes—oh, how keenly attuned they must have been.”

      I’ve often thought that, too! Especially when there weren’t so many man-made smells to get in the way.

    2. I like your comment too, Ry. In fact, all your comments are so thoughtful and insightful. And that reminds me, I am off to read your latest comment on my long neglected blog. 😉

  3. I never realized that there was such diversity in Virginia. I’ve only been in a small part of the state as I have relatives in Burke. I’ve only been there and to and from the airport and DC. I’ve never had an opportunity to explore east…

    I am enjoying these tours.

    1. Richard, Burke is in the dreaded Northern Virginia area, which I usually avoid. It’s lovely as far as suburbia goes, but too crowded for me. I only head over that way when I have to. 🙂

      If you ever decide to visit Burke again, tag a week or so onto the visit, rent a motorcycle, and explore. You’d enjoy it, I’m sure. Spring and Fall are best of course. I know you can handle Winter riding, but the destination roads — Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway — often close in Winter due to snow and ice. But there are MANY other awesome roads that would make it worth a visit. And I know a great tour guide that would be happy to show you around.

      1. 😉 I did. People always give me goofy looks when I use it, so it was good seeing someone else use it for a change.

  4. I love all your tour posts, Kathy, and seriously will take you up on your tour guide/margarita finder offer soon! Most of my time in VA has been NO VA, for the dreaded work, and SW VA on a couple wonderful riding trips, but I bet we missed cool stuff a great guide could have shown us. 😀

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