Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Field Trip: Shenandoah & Skyline Drive

I've been remiss in posting about our adventures!

At the end of June (after only 2 weeks of "settling in" from our move from Colorado to Virginia), we piled back in the car and headed to NC/SC to visit family and friends. We took the most beautiful drive down to the Raleigh area (avoiding at all costs I95!).

Leaving on a Sunday morning after Mass, we headed out 234 to Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah National Park. Skyline Drive (and the park itself) were all part of the Conservation Corps projects that FDR developed to help get work for people. Now, there is some controversy about how the government managed to get the land necessary for this project (a Walton's show really showed us how tough that can be on family), but it sure did create a marvelous legacy 75 years later!

We entered the Shenandoah at the northern-most entrance (just off I66) and headed down, slowly, south as the road meanders through the park with lots of switchbacks, 30-35 mph roads, and cut-outs for panoramic views of the valley and the other nearby mountain ranges. After a wonderful stop for lunch at the lodge at Skyland, we continued down to mile marker 60 (but they're working on the road, the drive was taking longer than we expected) and over to I-81.

We had reservations for the night at the Peaks of Otter lodge, that sits on the Blue Ridge just outside the town of Bedford. This lodge is all that a lodge should be -- beautiful setting, inexpensive rooms, great food and a room where they had tons of lincoln logs for the kids to build!

We then headed down to Ben & Noah's Fickle Creek Farm for a too-short overnight visit than on down to SC for family, friends and 4th of July fun!

Back home in Virginia, Kotch had a two-week "logic" class to attend which kept us home-bound and tied to the 10:30-12:30 class time. We were able to go hang with some awesome 4real friends IRL for a nice long visit.

This past weekend, we headed west again ... this time to check out Christendom College for Kotch as she begins the college-admissions process. Christendom, founded by the husband of the woman who founded Kotch's high school, is only 30+ years old (younger than me!) but is a gorgeous, traditional college campus that is solidly Catholic. It sits up on a rise above the Shenandoah River in Front Royal, VA! What a place to go to school!

After viewing the campus and hanging out in the Lions Park in Front Royal (with its awesome castle-park!), we headed again to Skyline Drive and spent a bit of time driving that again, stopping for a picnic lunch at Dickey Ridge and watching a spectacular rainstorm come through the valley. The visitor center has a great exhibit of the Shenandoah and the Blue Ridge as well as the Virginia portion of the Appalachian Trail. The bookstore is fabulous too -- I was able to pick up Common Native Trees of Virginia (I'm sooooooo nature-challenged) and The Undying Past of Shenandoah Natinal Park which will be a fabulous living book for our American history unit this year!

The Shenandoah Park and it's surrounding area is just gorgeous. I'd have to say it's the prettiest spot I've seen (including the Rockies, the Alps and Scotland) and I soooo want to build my dream-cabin in this area. I'm lucky because dh feels the same way!

Now, if we could just sell that bit of house in Colorado ...

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