On the weekends Gregg and I pick a day to go for a ride, and on Sunday we pointed the nose of the car in the direction of the Shenandoahs. We have several favorite places we enjoy and one of them is Big Meadows along Skyline Drive. I have posted about it several times and just like all the places we like to go to, no matter what time of the year we visit, it is as if it is the first time. We find it absolutely beautiful. To get there we usually drive by the Old Stone House in Manassas. There is a traffic light more often than not we have to stop, and I took this photo when we were waiting for the light to turn to green.
This photo is looking past the building and you can just make out the old well with the handle sticking out.
The next shot is looking up towards the town of Manassas but we're not heading in that direction today, as we will be driving straight through the traffic light towards Warrenton and Sperryville.
At another traffic light we stopped behind this lovely old car. I always have my little camera ready to grab, which I keep in the slot of the passenger door. You just never know what you will come across. For the sake of privacy I changed the license plate and it doesn't really say "RDTRIP". That's just a bit of whimsy on my part. I couldn't think of anything clever to put on it.
We followed it for a while before it headed in another direction. I find myself loving these old cars much more than the modern ones and dream of having one of my own. I don't think that will ever happen but it is nice to dream isn't it?
After almost two hours we found ourselves at Big Meadows. I can't tell you enough how much we enjoy it. We were here in the earlier part of the year after it had rained heavily and it was pretty soggy. It didn't stop us from walking all over, we just avoided those parts as best we could. We didn't have that problem today and everywhere was lush and green with lots of pretty vegetation and wildflowers.
The sky was also a pretty blue with lots of those puffy clouds that I love to look at. I feel truly at peace walking across the meadow and Gregg will often remind me to stop, breathe in deeply and smell the air. My nose isn't the best at such things but I catch the scents of my surroundings as best I can. I often wish I had the keen nose of a dog because I bet they would have a great time. Those scents would tell quite a story on this meadow I'm sure of it.
I always hope for a deer sighting but keep my expectations low to avoid disappointment. They are one of my most favorite animals to observe and to take photos of. We were again in the middle of the day and we didn't expect to see any. There was a gentleman we had passed who had been making his way back to his car. We asked him if he had seen any deer. He hadn't and said they were probably still lying down in the underbrush, it being as early as it was.
I content myself with taking photos of wildflowers, with the hopes of getting a bee in focus. I have such a hard time with them and I am always telling myself I really do need to find out more about the settings on my camera. One of these days I will follow my own advice.
I not only love the wildflowers but since I got interested in photography I am slowly developing a love for their busy visitors.
In the meantime because of my dillydallying, Gregg is getting further and further ahead. He is on scout patrol and I, as usual, have my head stuck in the wildflowers.
A family passes me and they have small children with them. Grandpa notices I am knee deep in the undergrowth and jokingly asks if I have seen any snakes. I replied that if I did I would be sure to take a photo of it. By the expression on his face I am sure that wasn't the reaction he was hoping for. One little boy around five years' old asks me, "What are YOU doing?" and he has his hands on his hips which he probably learned from his mother, remembering the days when I used to adopt the same pose and say the same thing to Brad when he was the same age. This little boy was so comical I laughed and said, "I'm taking photos. What are YOU doing!" He was so startled that I had answered him back, his eyes got wide and he ran off to catch up with his Daddy and Grandpa. His mother answered me instead and said, "Being nosey!" at which we both laughed and I said, "Me too!" Meanwhile in this photo you can make out Gregg who is heading in another direction towards the thicket of trees. His scouting patrol is about to pay off.
Gregg is the best spotter, just look what he found. I had my zoom lens so I wasn't as close as it looks. She was resting in the shade far away from prying eyes, except mine of course. The deer at Big Meadows are used to people. She was aware and her ears were checking me out along with her eyes, but she showed no signs of agitation. She just stayed there comfortably and I know it sounds silly, but I always thank the animals when they allow me to take their photographs. I got off a few shots before I said my goodbyes.
We saw her little one foraging nearby but we didn't bother him as he was more skittish and we didn't want to make him even more so.
It was time to head back to the car and I had mentioned to Gregg that I would dearly love to take a photo of a cricket. If he saw one would he please let me know. I had seen bright green ones and they were too fast for me but I was determined to find another as I don't give in easily. My dear husband's eyes truly are much better than mine. It wasn't long after that he found this beautiful spider. I think I have seen his kind on other blogs described as an Argiope? But I really am not sure and will have to check.
Okay, so I wouldn't want him crawling on me but I do think he is a beautiful specimen. Another insect I have become interested in since I developed this love of photography.
Added note: I found out that this is a common black and yellow garden spider, otherwise known as Argiope Aurantia. You can find out more about him here.
When we got back to the car Gregg found cobwebs on his clothing. They were pretty strong and looked like we could have used them to stitch on a button!
The next thing Gregg saw was this pretty butterfly on the path. He's enjoying the challenge of finding things for us both to photograph.
We end our afternoon by stopping off at the small restaurant near the visitors' center and have a late lunch/early dinner. It is quiet and we sit by the window. I looked at the photos of bears on the walls and I asked our waitress if she had ever seen any on the meadow. She hadn't but had heard stories of sightings and added, those are rare. Shortly after our conversation we noticed a deer munching on the grass and he was joined by several others. They again took no notice of the people who stopped to take photographs, and even ignored two Dachsunds who came within feet of them. The Dachsunds were very quiet and just stared at them. We ate our meal enjoying the scene. Gregg said the grass must be tastier on this side of the road. They after all had the whole of the meadow to dine on.
This little one posed for the last photo I took as we drove out of the parking lot. I had seen her standing on the incline and was wondering where her mother was. She must have gotten a little too far away for the fawn's comfort as I was surprised to hear her make a very loud and prolonged bleeting sound. It reminded me of the lambs I used to help bottle feed years before at a friend's farm in England. It was so endearing. It wasn't too long afterwards that her mother came back and off they went into the woods. We couldn't have had a better ending to our afternoon at Big Meadows.
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