Spring Break ’17 – Shenandoah Valley

Not only was spring break a full week this year, it is likely the last lengthy spring break for our kids. Maryland put down hard rules on school calendars going forward. With this in mind, my wife and I scoured VRBO for a place in the Shenandoah Valley for a little trip. We found what appeared to be a cute little place off the beaten path, pet-friendly and with solid reviews.

We loaded up the family trusckster (puppy included) and pointed the vehicle southwest toward the Shenandoah Valley. We had a pleasant drive down I-81 with the mountain views out our windows. On the way to the house, we wound our way along the South Fork Shenandoah River.  The rural homes were a mix of nice places to junkyards with homes alongside. We turned off the riverside road onto an unsealed road and the hair began to rise on the back of my neck (bad experience once before with a VRBO home we could not reach due to a steep, slick driveway). The road quickly became a rutted dirt road at a fair pitch. This time, the van battled up the hill with spunk. There were a few stretches where we spun tires but we were delivered to our Shenandoah pad.

The small place was nice and just far enough from everything that Jimmy Hoffa’s body likely was buried at the ramshackle house next door. Seriously, this place was in the middle of nowhere with nothing around but the sketchy house 50 yards away. The little cottage was clean, stocked with snacks, loaded with DVDs, offered a great view from the deck and a doggie door leading to a fenced yard.👍


The first morning we set out to find a breakfast spot. Restaurant searches all pointed to the Hawksbill diner. Although nothing to look at from the outside, this old, cozy, cash-only diner had off the hook vittles. The food was so good that we actually went back for dinner a few nights later. Let me tell you, its hard to find a restaurant that meets the pickiness of our party of five, but this place did the trick. If you find yourself near Stanley, VA, be sure to look up the Hawksbills Diner.

We also stumbled upon Flotsies Ice Cream joint in Luray, VA. Again, a very unassuming place tucked in a gas station parking lot. I had the super yummy Nutella Crunch Flotsie (like a DQ Blizzard). I’m a sucker for anything Nutella or hazelnut. The three boys all jumped on the Oreo heavy desert (pictures below as evidence).


The day before we left for this adventure, Griffin and Tracy spent the day at the hospital.  Griff woke with a sore and swollen knee that tests showed to be early Lyme’s disease.  Fortunately, it’s treatable with antibiotics.  For this trip, our outdoors adventures were going to be limited cause our little man could not put much pressure on that puffy little leg bender.

Since we were literally carrying Griff around, we did a driving tour of the scenic overlooks along Skyline Drive.  Before we set out for our scenic drive, we swung by Gathering Grounds coffee joint in the town of Luray.  Tracy and I were jonesing for some decent coffee (the not so clean Keurig at the pad was not cutting it).  Let me tell you, we got decent coffee and then some; the mochas were outstanding.  The fellas said the hot chocolate and pastries were ‘lit.’  As Ferris Bueller once said, “I highly recommend it if you have the means.”

I’m not sure if it was luck or good planning but we ended up touring one of the better sections of the mountaintop road.  We covered about 30 miles of Skyline drive and stopped at about ten awesome overlooks.

The whole week leading up to the trip Griff repeatedly asked about doing some type of rock digging.  I think the fact that we were going to be in the mountains and near the Luray caverns he was thinking mining.  You know how a seven-year old’s mind works.  Fortunately, the borderline amusement park that is Luray Caverns had one of those buy a bag of dirt with ‘gems’ places.  Who knew washing the dirt off rocks could be so fun😜.  Well, I knew it.  I secretly love doing these things too.