August 2, 2023 Last night, we wanted to see the Full Sturgeon Moon. We learned that it is called the Sturgeon Moon because sturgeon were most readily caught during this part of the summer in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain. Here in Virginia, the moon was supposed to rise at 9:08, so we started going outside to see it then. We are in an open field, but our view to the east was blocked by trees at the horizon. The moon was not visible until about 9:30 when it appeared above the trees as a huge, orange globe. I tried to take a picture with my camera, but it couldn’t capture the orange color. What it did capture with my zoom lens was the details on the surface of the moon. It was amazing!
There is a second full moon this month on August 30 and it is a Blue Moon. We’ve marked it on our calendars to view it at home. We left the campsite at 11:00, but decided to tour the campground and have a look around. The campground has 5 campsites with charging stations for electric cars.
There are two covered wagon campsites. Each campsites has a swing, grill, and shared access to the bathhouse. They have heat and air conditioning.
This campground has one of the nicest pools that I have seen at a KOA campground with a waterslide and splash area.
The Family Fun Center contains a small cafe, a batting cage, arcade, and bowling alley with 3 lanes. Bowling costs $7 which includes shoe rental. Outside there are 2 playgrounds, an area to pan for gold, miniature golf, a basketball court, and the fishing pond. They also have an outdoor stage for music. No wonder families love this place!
We left the campground and jumped on I-81. We exited on Highway 52 to Stoney Fork Road. It was a 30-minute drive through the beautiful Appalachian Mountains with fabulous views of the surrounding area.
Stoney Fork Road is 16.2 miles of twists and turns on a winding road with many S-turns.
It is also a Virginia Scenic Byway! Big Walker Scenic Highway passes through national forests and private land. It provides a view of mountain vistas and historic farm homesteads.
What a fun drive it was up Big Walker Mountain!
We came around the bend to see a doe standing along the side of the road. We stopped to take a picture of her.
We were quietly watching her when her young fawn emerged from the bushes.
They ate together for a few minutes and then crossed the road in front of us. They looked at us safely from the other side of the road and we moved on.
We reached an elevation of 3,405 ft. at our destination of Big Walker Lookout.
Big Walker Lookout is the highest point on Big Walker Mountain. Big Walker Mountain is named for the explorer Dr. Thomas Walker who discovered the Cumberland Gap and built the first cabin in Kentucky. There is a 100-ft. metal tower that you can climb for $8 which provides a panoramic vistas. On a clear day, they claim you can see NC, WV, and TN and today was pretty clear. I don’t have a fear of heights, but I draw the line at climbing a tower like this. (The reviews I read also said that it is in need of repair.)
I wasn’t about to take a chance when they have 2 observation decks that look out in two opposite directions. This one had a view of the patchwork of farmland. It was awesome and clear enough to see far off into the distance. I didn’t want to lean too hard against the railing though. It felt a little wobbly.
The other observation area looked off in the other direction over the Jefferson National Forest Wilderness Area.
Also at the top, we found the Big Walker Country Store.
The outside wall was covered in license plates from all over the country. There was even one from Wisconsin.
We went inside to discover that there was a soda shop which had ice cream and fudge. There were also gifts and souvenirs of all kinds. They offer free music on weekends with their special events like book signings and local arts and crafts demonstrations.
We looked around inside the store at all the interesting things. There was something for everyone.
Outside we saw was this L-O-V-E sculpture which celebrates the beautiful mountain and forest views, trails, handmade crafts, and old time music that originated in this area. There are 300+ LOVEworks sculptures throughout Virginia. People are encouraged to build their own LOVE sculpture. After all, Virginia Is For Lovers as the state slogan suggests.
Before we left the area, we saw this roadside marker that explains the formation of Wythe County in 1789 and how it was named for George Wythe, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
For our drive home, we returned on Stoney Fork Road and enjoyed the twisty, winding road for the second time that took us into Wytheville.
The town was established in 1839 and has a lot of historic buildings. We drove through downtown on Main St. to check it out. The one with the giant pencil outside on the left was an office supply store.
As you might know by now, I like old buildings and interesting architecture. These are some of the interesting buildings we saw along Main St. On Church St., we saw at least 5 different churches. It was a great name for the street.
We left town by going down 4th St. where there were many historic homes. Here are a few. They each had one of these special signs in front of the home with their address on it.
We took I-81 back to the campground and got back around 1:30. We sat outside and enjoyed the cooler day we were having. It never got up to 80 today and there was a nice breeze. The skies were sunny until 4:00 and then the clouds moved in. The winds picked up too making it feel cooler and caused our awning to automatically roll up, so we moved inside. We had a later dinner and had to start our walk in raincoats since it began to rain lightly. We got back to the bus just in time before it started to rain harder. I doubt we’ll be able to see the moon tonight with the cloud cover. It continued to rain even as the sun popped out of the clouds before sunset. We leave tomorrow for 5 days in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN. We have spent more time in Virginia on this trip than we ever have before and enjoyed every minute of it. We will definitely return to this area and this campground if our travels ever bring us this way again.