Front Royal VA to Christiansburg VA
14 Mar 2011
|Well today started early we were up, hit the gym and had breakfast all before 9am but had only made it a kilometre down the road by 11am as we were checking out the main street in Front Royal.
After the obligitory coffee in the local shop and a purchase of some upholstery fabric at a bargin price of $3US a metre (this being for a chaise lounge project we have at home), we hit the road to explore the Shenandoah National Park.
The park extends south along the Appalachan Mountain range with the Shenandoah Valley on the western side. The Skyline Drive runs along the ridge of the park providing views over the valley as it winds along the mountains and gaps.
With a speed limit of 35mph it was a pleasant drive along with the different animals coming out to warm themselves in the sun. Up in the park it was quite cool dipping down to 0 degrees in places and rising to a balmy 3 degrees in the sunshine.
After covering 70 miles in the park we dropped down into the valley and stopped at Harrisonburg for a quick wander around and book the night’s accomodation.
After a quick bite, it was back onto the road and the drive down interstate 81 to Roanoake to check out a huge shopping mall and get some fuel.
The police here have some great cars, Roanoake Police have Chargers which look pretty smart although we have seen a couple of Camaro Highway patrol cars in other states that would take some beating.
Any way we wandered into Valley View Mall about 5:30pm and had been there only five minutes when all the doors and shutters were being slammed shut by the shopkeepers. Next thing police came from everywhere with guns drawn, and we were ushered into a jeweller’s shop along with the staff and a few other clients, still a bit bewildered with what was going on.
After being locked into the shop we found out from the police that there had been reports of a man with an assault rifle in the mall. We had to wait for about 1/2 an hour while the mall was locked down and the SWAT team arrived before we were escorted out of the shopping centre by two armed police.
One of the police outside asked who we were and where we were from, when we said from Australia this made him smile and he welcomed us to America.
We then had to walk around the whole police perimeter to get back to the car that was on the opposite side of the mall. At only a few degrees above freezing we were only too happy to reach the car
It was just like you see on TV, police cars, SWAT vans, TV crews and more police than you could imagine all running around doing this and that. We have never seen so many bullet proof vests and guns anywhere else. See link for news story http://www.roanoke.com/news/breaking/wb/280021
All indications were it was not as serious as it looked however we did find it a bit over the top, but as the policeman said ‘better safe than sorry’. At least it provided some entertainment for an couple of hours or so.
We grabbed a soup and roll at a Panera Bread shop opposite the mall and hit the interstate about 8:30pm with the area still thick with police. It was still 60 km to our hotel in Christiansburg near the Famous Blue Ridge Parkway drive that we will get into tomorrow.