Shenandoah National Park Day 1

Last night was a long night, hot and humid and the trees dripped making it sound like golf balls were hitting the roof.  I woke at about 4:30 AM when it got a little cooler.  The woods around us were filled with fog, and they looked alien, like they make scenes in a southern mystery movie but I was too tired to take a picture.  I’ll remember it for a long time.  Sometimes the mind is a better camera than one from Nikon.

While I was in the process of getting organized to leave, we received a very nice call from Betsy.  She and Pete had just gotten in from Pittsburgh and were preparing to leave for Pensacola, Florida.  They had a great time and accomplished all they set out to do.  They also had a great time with family.

Shortly thereafter, we got a call from my sister who lost power in the later portion for the storm that made driving so interesting for us the preceding night.  She indicated that there were trees down and power was out all over her neighborhood.  Sometimes it’s n ice to slip away and miss excitement. She indicated that she would contact Kitt to get a generator.

We toured Fort Frederick, watched a nice black powder demonstration and visited the gift shop. After we left Ft.Frederick I tried to obtain some free WiFi.  We connected without difficulty in Pennsylvania, but here east of the Blue Ridge Mountains there is none.  It’s all protected.  I suppose that the NSA is too close and everyone is paying attention to the Millennium act, but I couldn’t even connect to the local KFC.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Neither of the GPS units, the Garmin or the Microsoft Streets and Trips seemed to know where the northernmost entrance of the Skyline drive was, so we entered at the Thorton Gap entrance. PhbbbbT! So we missed the Front Royal entrance and in turn and missed about 30 miles of the northernmost portion of the Skyline Drive.  I was trying to follow the signs and I just didn’t see them.

We finally got on the parkway and enjoyed the scenery.  The temperature cooled to about 73 degrees and the humidity seemed to go down.  I was transported back out west, but not.  We have taken some awesome vacations and this one brought me back to that same feeling.

Sometime in the afternoon after the umpteenth stop at a vista, I started noticing strange noises from the transmission and shifting linkage.  I hope I hope that we haven’t found the reason the previous owners got rid of the RV.  Time will tell.  A quick check the owner’s manual revealed that the transmission is a sealed unit.

While we were at the crescent Rock Overlook we met some musician hikers who became misplaced.  We gave them directions, provided some cold water and chatted, A percussionist, and no, I didn’t make any comments like “what can you tell a percussionist? Not much”.  They stated that they were performing at Andre Previn’s place for a concert.  The other three musicians were a trumpeter, a clarinetist and a harpist. I was fresh with the harpist and asked to see her fingers.  She knew what I was up to and wile she showed them to me said that she works on keeping them soft all the time.  I said that I always heard that a harpist could poke holes through a door with their fingers and two of the four shook their heads animatedly.  It was the first time I had seen a harpist fingers and I expected harder bugger calluses.  Her fingers were only calloused where she touched the strings, strong, petite beautiful fingers with thin long calluses as if she had been burned.  I felt bad afterward that I asked, but I could tell from her hands that she was very good and very dedicated.  I hope that she didn’t mind.

Less than today was the visitor’s center and big metal where we arrived 5 minutes before closing.  Louise checked out the gift shop and found me a nifty hat for ShenandoahNational Park – lightweight cotton, made in China, of course.

Just prior to the camping check in point saw a black bear cub, so we’re 100% for visits to ShenandoahNational Park for wildlife and seeing bears.  Like we really have to travel outside of out town to see bears.  The first time I was at Shenandoah National Park, was in the 60’s, and I have a recollection of my dad hitting one of the stone walls in an attempt to pull over when we a mother bear and two cubs.

The ranger at the check in station for camping was very nice; she originally had spent some time in Yosemite during the winter.  Lucky woman I suppose.  She said that she met her husband there.  I wonder if the two facts are connected? She gave us all the stuff we needed for finding the site –apparently one of the few that has a view to then west.  Checking on line has its benefits. While we were checking in, we saw twin fawns across the street from registration booth.  We also pulled in behind a car licensed in the Cherokee Nation.  I looked close, it was real, expired in November 2013, but I didn’t take a picture – wouldn’t be right.

We got set up in no time at all once we were at the site.  The site is far from level.  We are at Big Meadows, E183, and the view is as nice as I anticipated.  The Appalachian Trail is less than 100’ west of the site, just down the slope.  We put out the awning, set up the chairs, the table, the outdoor wireless speakers and the grass carpet lit the candle and we were in hog heaven.  Some cool refreshing beverages, life is good.

The charcoal grill gave me trouble.  Last time the fire started, burned and was out before I was ready to cook.  Tonight it just wouldn’t go.  While I was trying to start the charcoal, the embers in the outdoor fire pit sprang to life on their own and that fire started to burn.  Sometime life is contrary.  Louise and I fanned it and it really just sat there.  Eventually they were done and it was dinner.

The steak, albeit a little tough, was cooked and tasted great with the baked potato, sautéed onions and steamed whole green beans.  While we were eating a white tailed deer walked up to the table and stopped about 30’ away.  Very strange.  The poor deer didn’t stay long as the neighboring kids, dogs, and neighbors rushed to our site like it was the latest media event.

As I was eating dinner, I contemplated the concept that it’s always nice when you have a dream and work hard to make it possible, and then one day, there you are in the middle of it and it’s better than you could have imagined.

Louise washed the dinner dishes, the smell of burning garbage wafted in from an upwind camping site, and I composed.  It should be a good night, the humidity is dropping, along with the temperature, and there is a niece breeze.  We have families as neighbors, so there will be no raucous college parties to crash later tonight. Good sleep awaits.