We sure enjoyed our short stay at Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and will definitely stop and visit this fabulous park again. But it was time to leave Kentucky and move into the state of Virginia with our next stop being Bristol Virginia! Virginia, you say? Bet you thought Bristol was in Tennessee… well it is. Bristol, Virginia is the twin city of Bristol, Tennessee, and home to the Bristol Motor Speedway NASCAR racetrack.
To get to Bristol we drove a little over a hundred miles through some very scenic countryside until we hit Interstate 81. Once we got off the interstate we began to look for our next park, Sugar Hollow Campground located in a city park called Sugar Hollow Park. Now finding the park wasn’t hard but getting to our campsite was a bit of an ordeal. Between the road construction at the park’s entrance and the skinny and partly dirt road into the park (along with all the low branches) you could tell that not a lot of big rigs come here. But we managed to get in and got settled into site 31 which was just fine for our two day stay even though it took a bit to get level.
We got all set up, finished lunch and then went over to see the Bristol Motor Speedway. We were fortunate in that the Speedway had a Fan Day promotion when we went so we got to watch lots of NASCAR drivers test their cars on the track for an upcoming race.
The track seats 160,000 people and is dubbed the "world's fastest half mile." There are two races per year on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit and two races per year on the NASCAR Nationwide Series circuit. They also host one race per year on the Camping World Truck Series circuit along with various other racing venues. The track was built in 1960 with its first race held in July 1961. It has also been named one of the loudest NASCAR tracks in the country and we can certainly believe that! Man was it LOUD!!!
The next day we just went to the downtown area and strolled around. The main road is called State Street and it is interesting in that the state line between Virginia and Tennessee runs right down the middle of this main street. We stopped by the Visitor’s Center Bristol that has a huge guitar out front. Bristol was recognized as the "Birthplace of Country Music," according to a resolution passed by the US Congress in 1998 but hey, what do they know…
We picked up a walking tour brochure and one for a tour to see their art in public places. Bristol is a neat little town with a nice farmers market that we lucked into visiting. We scored some beautiful garden grown tomatoes along with some perfect red and yellow bell peppers and fresh corn. Love those farmer’s markets! There are several interesting murals downtown and a nice park where they have weekly musical events during the summer.
We enjoyed the Historic Downtown Bristol walking tour but I have to wonder if they shouldn’t eliminate their Art in Public Places Walking Sculpture Tour. Now I know art’s beauty is in the eye of the beholder but the art sculptures here lacked a lot to be desired. There were some art pieces in town not on the tour that I thought were much nicer than most of the weather beaten pieces that were on the tour. Nonetheless, we had an enjoyable day and finished it off by visiting a newly opened brewery in town, Bristol Brewing Company. We had visited one near the Speedway the day before, (Holston River Brewing Company) that was much better than this one was.
Next we are off to Christiansburg Virginia to visit nearby Blacksburg and Roanoke, Virginia…