Today was a gorgeous, mid-60s autumn day here in the Old Dominion. So after Mass we headed out for adventures, ending up (after a drive around and a visit to a community playground) at Prince William Forest Park .
This is one of those parks built in the 30s through FDR's Conservation Corps job-creation. This was land that had been farmed and left for centuries since the first colonists came to the area in the 1600s. The problem with farming back then: they didn't understand the need to rotate and allow fields to "rest". The land was played out and people left; then new folks would come a few decades later and the cycle continued. By 1930, only small farms remained and much of the land was gradually reverting to the gorgeous deciduous forests we see now.
In 1933, the CCC worked on reforesting the area. By 1941, the CCC had built roads, bridges (the one pictured above is over Quantico Creek), dams, and five rustic cabin camps (and from mid-April till mid-October, you can rent these same cabins - now wired with electricity). Today, the park's more than 15000 acres contains over 35 miles of hiking trails, 20 miles of biking trails and camping and fishing facilities. We can't wait to do short camping trips to this area -- only 15 minutes from the house and yet so completely "out there".
We had such fun -- dh did a bit of nature study with us on the trees by teaching the kids (and me!) about identifying the bark, leaves, and size of trees. We collected lots of acorns, hickory nuts and colorful leaves from the maples, oaks, and poplars.
Here's the nature table String Bean designed for her family ... the table cloth really brings out the glorious autumnal colors.