Rode my Super Glide up to Waynesboro Sunday along with friends from the Roanoke Valley Harley Owners Group to participate in a gathering of HOG members from all parts of Virginia.
The trip back gave me an excuse to head East on U.S. 250 to the Blue Ridge Parkway and start at mile marker zero for the ride back to Floyd, Virginia. I try to ride the full length of the Parkway at least once a year so a trip South to Mile Marker 165 at Virginia Route 8 would be a good start to the riding season.
As expected on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, a number of cars and motorcycles traveled the Parkway. At Rock Point overlook, several people stopped to look at the place where a madman with a shotgun killed a popular Charlottesville radio personality and wounded his female companion. No one knows yet why Ralph Leon Jackson of Stuart’s Draft is believed to have gunned down Timothy Davis. Maybe we’ll find out at the trial.
Within the first 20 miles, I met two Park Rangers headed northbound and passed a third parked at an overlook — more of a presence than you usually see on the road this early in a season and probably a response to the murder at Rock Point.
I stopped at an overlook to take in the view. A young couple in a sports car eyed me carefully. Every time another vehicle pulled into the overlook, they turned and looked. The couple shot at Rock Point were watching the sunset and had their backs turned when the shooter opened fire.
My Parkway ride came to an end at mile 63 — the intersection with U.S. 501 just past the James River bridge. Park Rangers blocked the road and turned drivers away. They wouldn’t say why. With my Parkway ride aborted, I headed down U.S. 501 and then turned East on State Route 122 and headed for Bedford and stopped for gas and a snack.
As I sat at a picnic table outside the mini-mart, I thought about the couple watching everyone who pulled into the overlook. For them, a trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway had become a time to be nervous. Anybody could be a murderer.
For many of us over the years, the Parkway has been a refuge from the trials and tribulations of daily life, a place where the peace of nature overcomes the violence of man. As a teenager, I parked at Rocky Knob with dates. Most of my sex education came at that overlook.
But violence is always lurking in peaceful places. Hikers have died at the hands of murderers on the Appalachian Trail. Someone killed a young couple from Virginia Tech in Jefferson National Forest last year. That murder remains unsolved.
Literature handed out at visitors centers on the Parkway and at national parks remind visitors to beware of predators. That literature talks of predators like bears, coyotes, bobcats, etc.
But the most dangerous predator of all may walk on two legs.
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- Murder on the Blue Ridge Parkway (blueridgemuse.com)