Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Skyline Drive, Virginia

Last Saturday Gregg and I took a drive out to the Shenandoah's.   The weather was a bit iffy, sprinkles of rain here and there but it didn't really come to anything. Though the skies were a bit grey we still had a lovely ride.

On our route we drove by Dinosaur Land but didn't think of stopping.  We know of it because our son and daughter-in-law visited a while back and showed us their photos.  They enjoyed it for the time they were there. You can take a look at the dinosaur site here if interested.  It seems to be a fun place.

We don't usually go to Front Royal to get to Skyline but Gregg felt like a change. It's been a while since we have been to this town.  We had stopped at a traffic light when I took a photo of this pretty church.

It is the Front Royal United Methodist Church.

We were at another traffic light when I took this photo of the old Coca-Cola sign.

It wasn't long afterwards before we were on Skyline Drive and we stopped at Dickey Ridge Visitors' Center.  After a quick look around we took this photo with the self-timer.  I propped my pocket camera up on a wall.  We need more photos together and I am taking a leaf out of Betsy and Debbie's book.  We are always so busy taking photos of each other or of our surroundings, we sometimes forget it's important to get pictures of the two of us, so thanks ladies.

There were a lot of people on our drive, and a lot of dogs. I always have to get at least one photo of a four-legged friend.

In the photo below you can see some of the programs they were offering that day.  Enlarge the photo if you need to, in fact you can enlarge any of the photos for a more detailed look.  

I read a few neat things as there is a nature room inside the center, like why you don't find many antlers in the forest.  That would be because the mice eat them, not only mice but other rodents, and porcupines, and other animals no doubt.  Antlers are a great source of calcium and other nutrients, like vitamin A.  

Also, when the baby deer are born, not only do they have great camouflage with their spotted coats, they are also born without scent.  In fact the mother for a while tries to avoid as much contact as she can because she doesn't want to attach her scent to the baby, as she knows this would attract predators. So, when you come across a fawn on its own you don't have to worry that it has been abandoned, because more often than not their mothers will eventually return to feed them. The fawn instinctively stay very still until its mum returns.  

The leaves were turning, that's the reason the skyline was so busy that day.  They were having some kind of fall festival next weekend.  The way things were going we think the leaves may be passed their prime by then.  If the sun had been out they would have looked more vibrant but while we were driving along in parts, the leaves were cascading down like rain and it was really neat driving through them, magical in fact.

Grey skies but still pretty scenery.

The nice thing about the drive is that there are many, many overlooks you can pull into, seventy five of them to be exact.  Skyline Drive is located in the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains, inside the Shenandoah National Park.  It is 105 miles long and was built at the height of the Great Depression, designed to give much needed jobs to many who desperately needed them.

Another self-timer picture, thanks to the wall that made a pretty good tripod.

Here's part of the map of the Drive.

By the time we got to the Elkhorn Visitors' Center it was time for lunch.  This was the first day that I felt I needed a cardigan and my legs were cold as I wore capri pants that day and no socks.  We sat outside at the picnic tables as there was no seating inside, but there were people around and it's always fun to people watch.  Can you see the lady sitting on the hillside with the dog?  

I haven't seen a Doberman in a long time.  It brought back a memory of a lady who was a neighbor when I lived in Devon long before I met Gregg and moved to the States.  She was from Germany originally and she would often stop and chat with my family when one of us was in the garden, always with the Doberman at her side.  It is a nice memory.  I can see the lady's face in my head but I can't remember her name.  However, when I was thinking about her dog I remember she called her Gretchen.  It was nice seeing Gretchen's lookalike sitting on the hill.

I enjoyed that little shop.  It had all kinds of necessary things on sale for campers, that you don't get to see in other stores.  Like for instance a tick remover gadget, yes I know but that really got my attention.  I had never seen one before.  

We had a hankering for a snack on the way home and I bought some caramel corn, except that it wasn't the caramel corn that we know.  I picked up what you see in the photo below. They knew what they were doing those marketing people.  I hate to say how fickle I am but I was attracted to that bear and did not pay attention to the ingredients, which included chocolate and cinnamon along with all the other things.  Maybe people who like chocolate and cinnamon together would have enjoyed it but the flavoring wasn't our cup of tea sorry to say, and definitely was not Gregg's as he has no love for cinnamon. We thought it was going to be the regular kind of caramel corn we buy around the 4th of July.  It wasn't!  Oh well, next time I won't be taken in by a cute funny bear.  You all know how much I love bears but what am I five?  Next time, check ingredients first and try to ignore packaging.

Its purchase does have a nice story.  The gentleman behind the counter was a really sweet guy.  I handed over a ten dollar bill thinking I would be getting some change, but this cute little bear cost $10 plus 49 cents.  What?  A little steep to say the least but what the heck.  I didn't have my purse with me and only had the ten dollar bill.  I said I would go and get the change but his reply was don't worry, you can have it anyway.  Wow I thought, what a nice man, a hero not because of the 45 cents but because of this small kindness. I thought that was pretty special. It doesn't take much to do a good deed but not many people think about it and when it is done it is phenomenal. Being forever the policeman's daughter  I went out and got the 45 cents and dropped it in the change jar, gave him a big smile and again said thank you.  He gave me a big smile back, said your welcome and off I went.  It left me with a feeling that people are real nice up there.

And talking about bears, no we didn't see any but Gregg chatted with a man who worked for the park service.  He said he had seen loads of bears and had only been working there for a year.  He then added that the best time to spot any was in June and July during the mating season.  We don't usually come up here during the hot summer months, but maybe next year we will.

We're on our way home.  We had intended to go all the way to Big Meadows, but we realized if we did we would be getting home a lot later than we wanted.  We decided to get off at the Thornton Gap exit, which took us back home through Sperryville.  This is our normal route to and from Skyline Drive.  At Warrenton we had to stop for a train, a really long one that seemed to go on forever.  It was interesting to look at all the different carbeds carrying various goods.  I can understand why people have a great interest in trains.  They are fascinating to watch.  Once we got off the mountain the skies started clearing up as you can see in this photo.

 Here's who greeted us when we got home, no doubt looking for his daily ration of peanuts.....

and of course I gave him some.  I expect he would have enjoyed that chocolate and cinnamon caramel corn too, but I had already given it away by then and I told him it wouldn't have been good for him anyway because he couldn't brush his teeth like we could, so he's better off sticking with his peanuts.  I also told him to go find some antlers in the forest.