2023-06-16 Fort Valley Road – VA

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo - Coccyzus americanus
I boondock camped in Fort Valley, near Strasburg Virginia, and enjoyed the local birds there.

I left the Trucker’s Rest Area south of Strasburg Friday morning. I had plotted a course for breakfast a few miles away. Later, I had a campsite in my sights called Elizabeth Furnace Campground in Fort Valley. But because of a technical problem with my GPS guidance system, I overshot my planned exit by about 15 miles. I eventually found Marshall Virginia, and had breakfast at the Marshall Diner. I later learned the owners here had purchased the Strasburg Denny’s, and converted the facility to the Strasburg Diner. My wayward guidance system has now been fixed, but sometimes getting ‘lost’ has benefits. Often such mis-direction can lead me places I might have otherwise missed. 

After enjoying my meal, I back-tracked my way to my intended destination, and found the Elizabeth Furnace Campground. Fort Valley, where the campground sits, lies in a small range between the North Fork and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. I needed to empty and fill my holding tanks, so before I settled into a campsite, I used the campground’s facilities to take care of business. While I was at the dump station, the camp host approached me and asked if I needed any help. I was managing my way past a rinse water system that wasn’t 100% functional, but I had a nice long chat with the host. Most of the good campsites were taken, but there were a few that could have been enjoyable. But there was a 100 foot high canopy of trees preventing my satellite internet system from functioning. 

I had passed several trail head parking areas on my drive to the campground. Frustrated with the limited internet, I headed back down the way I came, planning to investigate my options. I eased my way into one of these parking areas. There was a large enough gap in the canopy and a level gravel area to provide me with the accommodations the campground could not. But I was grateful for the use of their dump station.

I could hear birds calling and singing from the forested area surrounding the parking area. So I broke out my camera gear and spent most of the afternoon with the avian denizens of these woods. When I tallied up my prizes from this visit, I’d met Carolina Chickadees, a Downy Woodpecker, Ovenbirds, Red-Eyed Vireos, Tufted Titmice, White-Breasted Nuthatches, and a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo.

Saturday morning I drove away from Fort Valley and headed to Strasburg. I plotted a route to a couple of promising birding locations southwest of town. But with yarns to spin from Friday’s bird meetings, the parking area next to the Strasburg Diner held the promise of a safe-haven where I could work on my stories.

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