Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Foggy Shenandoah Mountains

(Another catch up post from Summer Travels)

For as much as I love DC, the heat, all the people, and the expense of traveling back and forth, while leaving the Road Trek tied to the power pole, I was more than ready to move on.
It was definitely time for some nature time.  I answered by playing a little song from YouTube for Hailey, none other than Shenandoah sung by Tennessee Ernie Ford.
I must say she wasn't impressed but it set the stage for me and I could definitely hear Shenandoah calling.

Just a 2 hour drive from Reston,Virginia, We headed out to find cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, a quiet wooded hollows along Skyline Drive, within the 200,000 acres of protected land.  In addition I had emailed one of my favorite bloggers and found out they were staying at the Meadows campground.  Since we didn't have reservations, I didn't know if we would be able to stay nearby but we hoped to meet them during our time in this wonderful National Park.

As we winded up to the Skyline Drive the weather cooled down and we entered a peek-a-boo zone.  Lots of fog with hills and peaks poking through. Pictures would have to wait for better conditions and I wanted to get up to the Meadows to hopefully snag a campsite.  Ever hopeful, we did stop at pullouts hoping to see the views before the pea soup filled in the landscape.   I also knew we would not be heading back north so this was a one shot deal.  We would need to see everything that we could as we drove through the park.  We did get a great lay of the land but no usable pictures.

After arriving at the Big Meadows Campground, we did a drive around to check out for available sites and found several on the same loop as the Brave Motorhome I recognized as belonging to David and Sherry of the Blog, In the Direction of Our Dreams.

One of the advantages of owning a Class B motorhome is the availability of a larger number of sites available since most any site that is level works great.  It works well when you are entering a park with only a few sites to choose from.  Larger camping units are often out of luck since there larger unit may only fit in a few sites.

We quickly picked a site and settled into our site, along with the fog.   David and Sherry were not at home as we settled in but arrived shortly and
Sherry recognized our rig as they drove up in Ruby, their tow-behind toad.  We had a great visit and talked and talked, and talked.....

David took these foggy pics.  At times it was even foggier.  Since there is nothing we can do to change the fog, we embrace it.  The weather made a trip perfect time to spend at the visitor center to learn more about the National Park and the history of the area. Probably one of the best little visitor centers I have encountered.  A great combination of history and geology.

Shenandoah was authorized in 1926 and fully established on December 26, 1935. Before it was a park, much of the area was farmland and there are still remnants of old farms in several places. The Commonwealth of Virginia slowly acquired the land through eminent domain and then gave it to the U.S. federal government provided it would be designated a national park.

In the creation of the park [the Skyline Drive right-of-way was purchased from owners without condemnation], a number of families and entire communities were required to vacate portions of the The Blue Ridge Mountains. Many of the residents in the 500 homes of Virginia were vehemently opposed to losing their homes and communities.

At least the Visitor Center tells the story details of how this park came to be and more history of the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) which was very active in the construction of the National Park . 

Once again the rights of individuals were devalued for the value to  'benefit the greater good'. While some residents were allowed to stay until their deaths, others were loaded up in trucks and moved off the mountain they had long called home.

After wandering around the visitor center it was nearing sunset so we drove to some of the viewpoints near the campground and hoped and prayed for the fog to disperse for some sunset pictures.

 Overnight it rains, and rains and fog, certainly more heavy fog was the result.

In the morning we have visitors to our campsite.  I watch this little momma and her charges and they stop for a little breakfast while I enjoy coffee.

We stop for a little visit with David and Sherry before we head out to see more of the sights before we head out to Nashville.  They suggest a nearby hike and if we can get to Rapidan Camp a visit to the 'Brown House'.  We were able to snag 2 tickets on the shuttle ride and so we headed out after a few pics with our new friends.

It was great to meet Sherry and David in person as I have followed her blog.... In the direction of our dreams since before I sold my house when I first started thinking about full time travel.  Life has a way of stirring up the pot just when you think you know the direction you are going.  David and Sherry and I have all experienced had experience adjusting our life course.  We pick ourselves up and move forward with the next best plan.

So glad we had the opportunity to meet in person as well as blog land!  
Happy Trails, I hope to see you again down the road.

We have so few pictures of Hailey and I together, I included another of Davids pics so that I would have it.
Great job David!  

Our tickets are for 1:00 in the afternoon so we hike to the Dark Hollow Falls in the morning.  The hike was approximately 2 miles which is not a bad length for me....except more than half of it is uphill so it is good that we hiked to the falls first as the ride in the van would allow me a little rest time.

I love taking pictures of the surrounding area.
Especially flowers and landscape as they are stationary and I can take all the time I need.

There were many, many butterflies and as much as I tried the little fluttering devils moved as I took the photo.... This was the best I could do.   

Along the way was a cemetery of previous residents on the mountain.  This one is known as the Cave Cemetery.


 Not only are there family members from times past from the 1800's, there are more current burials in this place.

 On to the falls. There is a lower pool and then a sharp climb up the hillside to the upper falls.

There was a family having a lovely lunch on the rocks around the lower pool.  Thanks to the powers of editing I was able to bring you just the falls.  After viewing the falls, it was a sprint up the path to the van so that we could make it back to the visitor center to ride in the van to our stop at the Presidential Retreat.   One mile steady, but all up hill! Oh, did I feel that!

Our Driver and tour guide for the Camp Rapidan Tour.

Shortly after the Election in 1928, President Herbert Hoover and his wife, Lou Henry established this quiet retreat, know as Camp Rapidan

 The main lodge as it looked when the Hovers used the camp for quiet retreats and the meeting place for World Leaders and friends during the years in the White House that he fondly named Camp Rapidan.

Our guide took us through the modest house and another building still standing at this retreat though no photos are allowed inside the building.


It is not difficult to imagine President Hoover fishing in the River as his wife watched from the porch.  The peace and tranquility that the Hoovers found in this place remain still.

After our return to the visitor Center we indulge in a wonderful blackberry milkshake (Thanks Sherry!  It was MMMMMMM Good!) and head out to the meadow before heading south along the Skyline Drive where we will be stopping along the way to take in more of the views. 


Shenandoah is a wonder Park that I would love to spend more time in.  Sherry and Dave spent the entire summer here.  Sometimes our desire to see and do it all leads us to travel at such a pace that we miss many of the little moments.  I must rethink again how I travel and what is important to me.
I wonder what it would be like to travel and stay......until I feel ready to go.

We had not seen a bear our entire trip.  Until now.  As we drove along the Skyline drive on the southern end we came around to a viewpoint and I recognized the telltale signs....  Tourists out of there cars rushing along the roadside with cameras in tow.


I turned around and saw this cute little fella playing along the roadside.  We pulled over but I remained in the van and got these great little shots.  Far less hair than the bears out west but we were excited to see one this year.

It was fun to sit and watch the little fella scavenging on the hill side.  He rolled over rocks as if they were paper and ate as he went.

He occasionally turned around to watch the spectators.  He looked a bit stressed so on we went.

That's all folks!


  1. So happy to see the rest of the story of your visit. You sure packed a lot into two days and even got really great pictures of the bear. Glad you got to enjoy a blackberry milkshake too. Not to take away from David's camera but actually I took all the pictures you used and am glad you could. Wishing you more happy trails.

  2. Correction noted, Sherry. I loved the foggy pictures. Even though I would have wished for sunny skies, the fog had a mystic all it's own.

  3. What fun to meet David and Sherry. And all the pictures are great so thanks to who took them. lol

    Still having issues getting on my blog. Jo Momslittle runaway