Virginia Trip: Part I

It's no illusion! Your eyes do not deceive you! The first installment has arrived!

Quick recap: Janell (my favorite aunt) and I motor off to Virginia for hiking and coasters, and antics ensue. To share plenty of photos and not spend hours uploading into my post, you will find hyperlinks below to Shutterfly for plenty of photo-viewing goodness : )

Day one consisted mostly of motoring through more states than I originally realized -- Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, back into West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. Nothing overly exciting along the way there. Except that I love the runaway truck ramps on the high grades through the mountains. If you never witnessed one, it's basically a cool ramp that Evil Knievel would loft to jump 20 school busses. Or the Fonz would take to jump a shark...

My car was built for the switchbacks of the Appalachians. The first rule of motoring is - you must accelerate through a curve. I don't think Janell liked that idea, especially when she was the pilot, but then again, I'd be nervous if I was in charge of someone else's car who has unhealthy attachment issues with it. Okay, so I'm not a freak, but I am a bit overprotective of my car, k?

Anyway, we arrive at the Skyland Resort inside Shenandoah National time to get dinner at the lodge and of course, get back to our room to watch Lost. Priorities. Then I got hooked a show on TLC about this family of little people who have three average height children and one child who is also a little person. Television. Exotic getaway, huh?

The next day, we get up bright and early for some breakfast and hiking. Remember kids, it's colder at higher altitudes. Pack accordingly. With rain clouds looming, we set off for the Whiteoak Canyon Trail to see some watefall action.

I tried to find a decent map online to post, but nothing having. I hope the pictures on my companion website will suffice for visuals. Needless to say, it was a good hike with gradual elevation change, so it wasn't hostile terrain. Along the way, we ran into an older gentleman (in his 60s, I'd say) and chatted him up about what to expect down below. We later found a bridge and decided to rest a bit. While sitting there, it came to me that it was my birthday. I turned to Janell and said, "I just remembered, it's my birthday today." She's like, "Yeah, I was going to say something this morning and then I forgot. Happy birthday." It was a quiet moment, and anti-climactic, you might say. But that's how I like it...not a fan for pomp and circumstance. Simple recognition works.

Besides, readers, I've figured out how to master the art of aging, and it has nothing to do with Botox, hair dye, oxygen bars, or even jogging every morning. It's about attitude. The most important part of aging is that you do not feel your age. If you have that pegged, you'll do just fine.

As the pictures reveal, the waterfalls were beautiful. It's amazing to actually see how water seeping from spongy soil turns to small trickles, to steams, to eventually 100's of gallons of water gushing by. It was shadowed a bit by sadness -- all the hemlock in the park are dying or dead due to a disease. The whole population is affected, and this trail had quite a few hemlock along the path. Quite sad, but nature has a way of sorting itself out, I guess.

I did a lot of thinking on the way down to the falls. There were huge rocks scattered all about, and I mean the size of Hummers. One rock had several messages carved into it. The usual suspects really -- R + J forever, etc. I wondered why people carve their names into rocks and other things. I think we do it to feel immortalized, but it is the rock that is immortal, not what is etched on its surface. I guess we all want to leave our mark, whether literally or figuratively. Interesting side note, three days later when we were at King's Dominion, this couple behind us were talking about etchings in the wood railing along one of the ride's waiting lines. The girl said she has a theory that when people carve Eric *hearts* Joanna or whatever, they end up breaking up soon after. I thought the connection was funny.

Janell wins for the day's best quote: "I took the road less travelled and it was muckier."

We went back to our room to scout out our next hike, recommended by the front desk clerk: Dark Hallow Falls Trail. Sounds spooky. What it ended up being was a helluvah hike. Steep grade. We ran into the older gentleman again who joked this one was much worse than the last. I joked that he was kind to keep scouting ahead for us. We had a laugh before parting ways again. This trail featured a 70 ft. waterfall that was very beautiful. We were happy to take in the view, delaying the inevitable journey back to the car. Little did I know what was waiting for me...

A blackberry milkshake! We had lunch at this wonderful little restaurant in the park near the Big Meadows Lodge. Misty (our server) was way friendly, and one sight of her serving up a milkshake to another patron sent me into Pavlovian disarray. Simply put, it was one of the best milkshakes I ever had! And this boy...he loves his shakes, so I know.

Stay tuned for more updates. Just to keep you hooked, my sneak preview of what's to come: an even closer encounter with the older gentleman, Chris's run-in with "the law" of Busch Gardens, a stroll through Colonial Williamsburg, one degree of separation with Fabio, my black bear mating call, the "mall" of Ashland, VA, Mystery Hole, nuclear lunch at Arby's with lots of telephones, waiting line fisticuffs at King's Dominion, and my phony British accent.


mr. F said...

I love the new look of your blog and your new BnW pic :-)

Allie D. said...

About fookin time! :)

Beautiful pics, by the way. And an interesting observation on people's name-carving rituals. I have a particular fascination with people who write little bits of wisdom in public bathroom stalls. I once considered writing a story about that, and then I bought a collection of stories by Stephen King called Everything's Eventual, and it turns out the fucker already had that idea. The story is called "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away". It's a wonderful story. Not horror at all.

Anyway, look forward to your updates!

Jonathan said...

Sounds like a trip I would love to take someday. Looking forward to the next post, sounds intersting, to say the least.