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For three hours, the wind scoured my skin, abraded my eyeballs, pushed, shoved and bullied me. But then, what did I expect on the Parkway in March. But was it worth it? Depends on your yardstick.

I’d offered to try to get some pictures for the editor of Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway High Vistas newsletter. The cover article in the upcoming issue will be on the sorry financial plight of the national parks, the Parkway in particular, of course. Did I have any pictures of picnic grounds, visitors centers and such in my archives? she asked, and the answer was no.

But this seemed like a good excuse to have the beautiful road pretty much all to myself. Did I get what she needed? I’m not at all certain. This weekend, maybe I’ll show you one or two I think might be useful for her purpose. Did I have a good time on my little solo “assignment” before meeting in town at 6 at Jeannie Oneal’s to talk about the Floyd Writers Room at the new motel? You bet!

This image doesn’t do justice to the size of the trees, their windswept austerity, or the steepness of the slope where they grow across from the Rocky Knob campground (which, by the way, remains severely cluttered with ice-storm damage–branches everywhere–a real bonanza for the first campfire builders!)

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. i’d like to see the other photos you took…..i LOVE the parkway. it used to be just a 25 minute drive from us in carolina. my favorite stops were water rock knob and devil’s courthouse. i’m not very familiar with the virginia side of the parkway.