Saturday, October 14, 2000

I’ve set up this new diary system, which is more automated than my past diary. With this system, it will be much easier to search through the archives, and I’ll be able to merge this diary with other diaries, should I want to.

Every year, I and my parents try to get up to Skyline Drive, a park in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Today is our day, and we drove up with the puppies in the back of the SUV. The day was as crisp as a glass of cold water; the temperature cool but not chilly.

We left late, and didn’t get to the main lodge until about half past noon. Since we planned to leave just after dinner, we only had a few hours there. We made the most of it by taking the dogs on a couple of very short nature trails around the lodge, then put them in the SUV while we relaxed for a few minutes in the lodge (leaving the windows cracked and the vehicle in the shade, of course; I don’t think they even started panting). Then we brought them back out and sat with them outside the lodge, looking out on the Shenandoah Valley.

The Valley is a sight to behold. It’s as though a quilt made of a hundred different greens is spread out before you, and a dozen miniature model railroad towns have been scattered across it. The landscape is dotted with tiny farms, complete with a red barn and white silos; it’s enough to make you believe that farms come in kits. And surrounding it all are the densely-wooded Blue Ridge Mountains. This is where Stonewall Jackson first made his name during the Civil War, leading raids on Union troops that were hopelessly outleagued in the Virginia woods. This is where deer and foxes still make their homes, unmolested (come up for only a day, and there’s a good chance you’ll see a deer). This park alone consists of 280 square miles of land, 95% of which is native Virginia forest.

All in all, we had a perfectly relaxing time. After putting the dogs back in the SUV and having dinner at the lodge (where prices have increased noticeably — dinners are now USD $10-$20, whereas we’ve been used to all of the prices being $5-$10), we drove back in the light of a full harvest moon that smiled down at us from behind a few whispy strands of cloud.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

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