As most are painfully aware, our government shutdown on Monday. That leaves nearly 800,000 without jobs, and many non-essential government facilities closed. The 400+ national parks are casualties of this shutdown, since they are all under the National Park Service umbrella.
However upsetting this piece of news, I did not expect it would impact our Blue Ridge Parkway plans too much. It is technically an enormous park that is governed by the NPS, but the Parkway is also a road that connects destinations. It is usually only closed for severe weather.
On Monday, I received a surprise email. One of our team had reached out to Parkway officials to find out what would happen in the event of a shutdown. The response was that it would be closed to all traffic, whether that be motorist, cyclist, or other. Reports on the internet (like this one) confirmed this. Crap. This was bad.
Even though the road was going to be closed, there was discussion about whether people could ride. Bikes can easily go around the gates. Cars cannot. We discussed having cars meet the riders at strategic points, but this would have been far from perfect. Since I was planning on being both a supporter and a tourist, this would kill my plans. It would not be much of a vacation to drive on the highway to different parkway intersections.
The deadline passed in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, and the government shut down. I looked for reports of the Parkway gates closing. I heard none. Someone shared a link from Blue Ridge Parkway Daily, a site that I’ve written for, saying that the Parkway road would be open, but facilities were going to be closed. Since that contradicted what were were told, I reached out to Eric. He got back to me that he was hearing mixed things, and he actually took that article down.
Bummer. It was happening. Lo and behold, I get a forwarded email from Eric. According to the Deputy Superintendent, the motor road would be open. He put the article back up, which you can read here. Woohoo! Thank you to the NPS for keeping the road open.
Since the facilities will be closed, this obviously will affect our plans to a degree. Instead of being a major ordeal, it will be a minor inconvenience. We will miss perks like live music from the Blue Ridge Music Center. State Parks like Mount Mitchell will be open, so all will not be lost. We’ll probably have to carry a few extra things in the car and the van. Those are all trivialities.
Hopefully our elected representatives will come to their senses soon, and we can enjoy the complete Parkway experience. We start Sunday, so there’s still time for them to open the visitor centers and all facilities. Even if not, we should have a great time. The government can bicker all they want, but they can never shut down the beautiful scenery.