Behold, Virginia!

We went down to Charlottesville to visit my great aunt last week and then spent the last couple of days exploring the Grayson Highlands area in southwest Virginia. It was refreshing to get out of town, although M did have to work for half the week. Working from the road poses its own set of challenges, but at least we get to be all together and we are the kind of people who need a change of scenery (especially if that scenery can include some mountains).

My aunt planned all kinds of great kid-friendly activities, the best of which was probably visiting her friend's farm where they got to feed some chickens and collect eggs, and look at horses and cows. We also visited her local toy store, found a nearby playground and walked her dog. Laurel surprised me by even picking up the dog poop in her efforts to prove to me that she is mature enough to get her own dog. (I must admit, I'm wavering on that one now....)

M did a couple of long runs on the AT. We all drove up to Shenandoah together and my aunt, the kids and I explored the big meadow while M ran. The next day we headed out to southwestern Virginia in search of a remote campground and the Grayson Highlands. I really recommend the Hurricane Campground if you use tents or small trailers. It's about 20 miles from the interstate and some of that is on forest roads, but they were well maintained. Some sites are reservable and some are first-come-first-serve. It was really clean, with big gravel tent pads at each site and a nice picnic table and fire ring. We camped along a creek and the noise from it was very soothing.

The Grayson Highlands is a busy state park, with lots of well marked trails and a visitor center and developed campground. Not really our scene, at least to camp in. But it does offer access to the Appalachian Trail and has amazing views of the surrounding mountains via some easy trail.

When we were waiting for M to show up at our rendez-vous spot on Saturday, Laurel - in her typically friendly fashion - introduced herself to lots of people. "Have you seen my dad? He is a runner. He has a big beard." She squinted her eyes at some distant rocky peaks and spotted a person climbing on them. "I don't think that is my dad, because he is a professional runner but not a professional rock climber." She met some horse back riders and they got off to let her pet their horses. She looked everywhere for the wild ponies, but they had moved to another part of the park just ahead of us. Marko kept calling the mountains "beautiful" and when we were driving on those windy, steep country roads he put his hands up in the air and shouted "wheeeee!"

Whenever anyone asked me what my favorite part of the AT was, I always thought of southern Virginia, but hadn't really been back there since we volunteered for Hard Core in 2008. It was great to see it again, even if just for a couple of days.


Anonymous said...

You are welcome to come back anytime. Sadie gives Laurel a 10 for good dog care and companionship.

Anonymous said...

It sounds (and looks) like you had a great summer with the kids. Enjoy the new school year and prepping for your new camper!! Aunt DC