This past weekend we briefly said goodbye to the mountains of Appalachia and pointed our car east toward the historic Martinsville Motor Speedway in Virginia’s southside region. With the NASCAR touring series scheduled to kick-off the month of April with competition in the Old Dominion, we game for the opportunity to watch some of the hottest and intense racing on the circuit.
Traveling along US Route 58 from western Virginia to Martinsville provided us with a course that showcased a part of Virginia that has largely remained unchanged for the better part of a century — a silent time capsule of a forgotten way of life in the mountains of Dixie.
Amid the picturesque farms, rolling hills, rickety country stores and the general feeling of “this is the one place in the world I’d love to move to tomorrow if I could”, was an unexplainable peace and happiness that can only be achieved via the backroads of rural America.
Not long after passing through the Meadows of Dan, home of the iconic Mabry Mill, the two-lane J.E.B. Stuart Highway turned upward and soon we found ourselves climbing to an altitude of 3,000 feet.
To our south was the unmistakable knob of Pilot Mountain in nearby North Carolina.
As we reached the top, we came upon a roadside overlook with the familiar name of “Lover’s Leap”, offering a north facing vista toward the city of Roanoke, overlooking the headwaters of the Dan River..
According to the Virginia officials, the steep mountainside cliff owes its name to an Appalachian-style Romeo and Juliet love story.
“In the 1600’s, the Indians inhabited the Blue Ridge Mountains. White settlers started arriving and began clearing land to farm. Conflict arose between the Indians and the settlers. Legend has it that the son of a settler saw the twinkle in the eyes of the Chief’s daughter, Morning Flower, and was immediately love-struck. The couple began to meet secretly and their love continued to grow. The young man and Indian maiden were threatened and shunned. With the beautiful rock and wildflowers as their backdrop, they jumped into the wild blue yonder ensuring they would be together forever. As you gaze out at Lover’s Leap, you can still see the evidence of their love in the beautiful view and hear them whisper in the cool evening breezes.”
Admittedly, this story sounds like there may have been a few embellishments along the way, but one thing that cannot be exaggerated is the incredible beauty of this Patrick County, Virginia, overlook.
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