Shenandoah National Park, Great Meadows

Early morning rain shower had everyone scrambling to cover up and take in.  I left out the chairs, table and firewood from the night before, so I put up the awning low and moved the firewood and went back to bed.  It was much better than the middle of the night scratching on the table outside.  I was sound asleep when I got up and took care of that, so I have no idea what was going on then.

For breakfast we had pancakes and bacon with coffee OJ, we do know how to start the morning.  Had to run the generator for the pancakes, but it was only on for a short time.  We seem to be doing OK with propane usage.  Since we rely on the propane for refrigeration, hot water and electricity, and have never been out this long before, it will be interesting.

We left see the world and left chocks on ground for easy set up when we return and left the table and chairs all set up. Drove to the Lodge, got wireless, did some necessary work and checked the email.  Left the Lodge and went to the Great Meadows Meadow.  It was nice and reminded me of the grasslands out in South Dakota but with a twist.  There were a couple of deer browsing in the meadow and they paid no attention to us.  It was difficult to get a decent picture as they were more interested in eating than in looking around to see what was going on.  Obviously no coyotes in this area.  Why does suburban New Jersey seem more wild that a National Park?  There are more black bears, larger than anything I’ve seen here, coyotes, deer, raccoon, opossums, in out town and our backyard is flush with chipmunks.

There was a fire crew and an invasive plant crew working in the meadow on locust.  The fire crew was cutting and stacking locust for an autumn or spring burn and the invasive crew was spraying.  At the end of the walk, we checked out the camp store, saw nothing of interest at a reasonable price and then toured the visitor’s center.  The Park Service walked a fine line in making the presentation, but essentially what happened at the formation if the park is a substantial number of people were making a living, and not a subsistence living, and were screwed by the state of Virginia who threw them off the land in a bid to have a large western style National Park designed to bring millions of people to Virginia.   Virginia made deals, reneged on the deals, or estimated the value of the land on the low end threw off the residents and turned the whole thing over to the Federal Government.  Does this still sound familiar?

While in the visitor center Louise found a trail book and a 2 mile trail to hike.  We additionally determined the name of a flower that resembled a lily we saw in GlacierNational Park.  Drew a sketch for the ranger, and found out name of flower – ‘fly killer’.  It’s also a lily that the locals dig up, chopped and poured milk and sugar or honey on.  The flies loved it, drank the liquid and died.  Back in the day chemical warfare.

We took the hike to LewisFalls.  It was really humid, not too hot, but the type of weather where the water just ran out of you. We were both quickly soaked with perspiration.  On the trail we discovered that the Falls always run reliably because the treated sewage outflow from the camping section and the lodge and cabins is the major contributor to the falls. Ironic huh?  On the way there were some outstanding fungus specimens.  Plenty of Indian Paint Pipe, some white coral looking things, bright orange plastic looking things and something that looked like a pale flower.  The falls were better looking than we could get a look at.  They constructed a viewing platform so you could get a peek, but there was foliage in the way and you couldn’t see the bottom portion.  The falls are advertised to be 88’ tall, but I think they are taller. Certainly twice the height of DarkHollowFalls.  There was no trail to the bottom and we were done, so we took a leisurely stroll back to the RV.

We wanted to go to dinner at the Great Meadows Lodge, we ate there last time we visited, so we parked in visitors center lot, took showers, and got cleaned up for dinner in the RV.  This thing has it advantages.  Off the lodge, there was a fifteen minute wait so we took in the scenery on the balcony.  There I found my trusty, reliable Canon camera was broken, apparently as a result of a mashup with my closed pocketknife while in my pocket. Bleah!  The dinner was excellent and the service was good. We started with a nice greeny salad with blue cheese dressing, followed by fried chicken dinner with sweet potato fries, cole slaw and nice bottle of ‘Shenandoah White’.  The cole slaw was made with red cabbage and granny smith apples, all locally sourced.  It was delicious. I pointed out handprints on the chestnut planks in the ceiling to our server, a nice lady Rita, who had been there for 14 years, she indicated that she was more concerned for the patrons than the ceiling but was kind and found it interesting.  One of the other servers contributed that the structural beans are oak while the sheathing was the reclaimed chestnut.  As we were leaving, I looked for bootprint I spotted the first time I was there, but could only find a heel print.  The staff was amused, I was happy.

Since we left the leveling boards in place, it was easy to get back in to the campsite and get the RV level.  I made a camp fire, and the wind was blowing steady, so the fire had encouragement and the smoke blew away from us the entire time we sat there watching it.  It was very enjoyable sitting there in the peace and quiet watching the fire, and when we were tired, I extinguished the fire, went to bed only to be awoken during the night by a shower, so out went the awning and the chairs and grass were moved.