I’ve grown up in the Shenandoah Valley. That means that every which way I turn I see mountains and each of those mountains has a National Park on it. I can look in front of me and see George Washington National Park and then turn around and look at Shenandoah National Park. I have fond memories on Skyline Drive which is in the Shenandoah National Park. This upcoming week, April 22 through 26, you can visit Shenandoah National Park for free, in celebration of National Park Week.
My first hike was in the Shenandoah National Park, my first real camping (actually the only place I’ve ever been camping) trip and it’s one of the places I have a LOT of great and funny memories with my wonderful dad. I plan to make some great memories with my kids there as well…we have already started with some things and I can’t wait for more!
Funny Story #1: My dad would take me up on Skyline Drive to have picnics or to camp a lot. It is always at least a few degrees cooler up there so when it was too hot down here, we’d head up there to cool off a little. If you’ve ever eaten outside you know how bad the flies, gnats and one of my fears….bees, can be. It can really ruin a picnic or evening meal on the campsite if you are bombarded by the bugs. So my dad come up with a “solution”. Put the cob from our corn on the cob a couple yards away from our table and let the bugs have at it. We called this “feeding the flies” and my dad still mentions it to this day. I remember us having a good laugh by throwing our food to the other side of the camp site. But honestly, it worked. The flies went to the food that hands weren’t swatting over. Don’t worry, after we were done eating we’d clean up after not only ourselves, but the flies as well 😉
Funny Story #2 (possibly the funniest): I don’t remember how old I was, but I couldn’t be older than 5 or 6 years old. I remember riding with my dad and talking about wildlife. The subject of bears come up and he asked me what I would do if we saw a bear. I told him I’d look and keep going. He told me he’d pull over, go and talk to the bear and then put him in the car with us and take him home. I’m serious, not a minute or two after that conversation, what do you think we saw? Yep, a bear crossing the road. What does my dad do? He pulls the car over to the side of the road so he can get a better look. In my 5 or 6 year old mind I thought he was going to do what he told me. I started to panic and said “NO! Dad…keep going. Don’t pull over….please keep going!” He never got out of the car, but we did sit there and watch the bear. I was relieved when we didn’t go home with a bear in our backseat.
Fast forward 20 years and while taking the kids up on Skyline Drive, no sooner than we got on the road we saw a bear on the opposite side of the road. Jeff was driving so he pulled over. Me with my photographer genes (thanks Dad!) started getting out of the van to take pictures. Jeff goes “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!!” Duh…taking pictures. He told me I could take pictures from inside the van. Below is one of the crummy pictures I got from inside the van….thanks Jeff :p
I have already started memories with my kids. We’ve taken a hike through Big Meadows and watched the deer. My best friend and I took our dogs and the kids to Dark Hollow Falls and while it took longer than we expected and ended up coming back up the trail in the dark…we met friendly people who had a flashlight on their phone and helped us. Every time we’ve been up there, we enjoy ourselves.
I look forward to making many many more memories. We actually have plans to hopefully get a cabin up there for a night or 2 this Spring/Summer to “camp” for the first time with them! I hope the weather cooperates on a day Jeff is off so we can take advantage of the free admission this upcoming week. If you are ever in Virginia, or if you live in Virginia and have never been…I encourage you to visit Skyline Drive on Shenandoah National Park. It’s worth it. Plenty to do. If camping isn’t your thing, they have other lodging options. They also have a couple of restaurants up there if you don’t want to cook out. There is plenty to do and amazing views to boot!