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Autumn Drives in June, Part 2

The second trip I made – in June – for fall drives – was into West Virginia, along a route that can intersect with the Virginia highlands route as well. One Sunday afternoon I headed out of Roanoke and proceeded to climb four mountains, at least four major ones. It's only a few hours' drive, but it feels like a world away, heading over Catawba, Potts, Peters and Elk and to the edge of Slatyfork, where I stayed at the Elk River Inn and Restaurant and had one of the most delicious dinners I've had in a while (mountain trout spread on crisp bread, an incredibly tender pork tenderloin, macaroni and cheese made with truffles and Gruyere and strawberry/rhubarb crisp for dessert).

In June, it's cool up here on the peaks, and at night the porch is a beautiful spot to pull up a rocking chair and watch the fireflies go mad in the trees, blinking wildly in the shadowy slopes and meadow behind the inn, shining up at the moon. The inn itself is a lovely place to stay, designed in particular for mountain bikers and hikers and other outdoorsy folks, with comfortable rooms, tall beds and extra quilts if needed.

I stayed just one night – long enough to realize I must come back with cook/husband in tow, and ideally on a Thursday night for the live music and homemade ice cream. On the way back, I took detours to the National Radio Observatory and Marlinton's great downtown. My last detour was in Virginia, not far from home – I stopped for a small flock/family of chickens, plus a goose, wandering along 311 in Craig County.

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