In the Blue [Shenandoah National Park]
Spoilet alert: By the end of this blog post, by the end of my day, I end up…
in a cabin
in the woods
in the mountains
within rumbling thunder,
the lucky pile of wood between two very vocal mocking birds going on and on about something, perhaps the storm coming.
Back on the road, like Willie. And with just one day under my belt, I’m pretty far away. I’m on my way to view The Great American Eclipse within the path of totality, the narrow diagonal strip that spans from Oregon to North Carolina. But there is much to see beforehand, like Shenandoah National Park in Virginia along those lovely Blue Ridge Mountains.
Shenandoah National Park in Virginia by way of Glory Doughnuts in Frederick, Maryland, my first stop after a 4 and a half hour exodus from the tri-state (and that little runt Delaware) area. After viewing their breakfast menu, Glory Doughnuts was a must, and a motivating destination. Besides these doughnuts…
(I got the Cotton Candy one and it was damn fine. And pretty.)
Then, my breakfast sandwich with tofu scramble, Chao cheese, spinach and tomato on Texas Toast. Texas Toast is pretty great as it is just a bigger cut of bread that is all buttery and decadent.
Shenandoah National Park is the most-visited national park, who knew? And lucky me, I was staying in the park overnight… hence the cabin in the woods in the mountains within rumbling thunder. But before finally hitting the hay, I did a lot. Like the Skyline Drive, which is a beautiful scenic route through the entirety of the park. Here are some of the overlook views. Very similar to the Blue Ridge Parkway, same mountain range but farther south.
I did get out and hike. I got to the highest elevation in the park, Hawksbill Mountain, panting and wheezing. At about 2 miles, the high was short but the incline was killer. Especially if you woke up at the crack of dawn and had been driving all day with your body all scrunched. Simply lifting my ribcage off my hips was glorious enough. But then I got to fill and stretch my lungs with cool, mountain air.
The view at the summit was more of the pretty blue and green.
I also had some encounters with beautiful living things that were carrying out their day’s deeds in the seclusion of the woods. Like swallowtail butterflies. I saw some Black swallowtails…
These are some of the most aggressive and competitive courters of the butterfly world. The ratio of black swallowtail ladies to males is 4:1. So males scope and aggressively stake their territories. For more fascinating stuff about the sex lives of butterflies, look into their mating style, Lek mating, you creep.
Some Eastern tiger swallowtails. These are two guys and this seems like a great territory.
And this, which I think is a Battus Philenor.
And then there was this white-tailed deer, which I stood in front of taking pictures of from like two yards away. The deer determined I was not a threat and far less important than the feast that was taking place. But he kept a steady eye on me. A steady big, glassy, black eye.
Dinner at the Big Meadow Lodge offered a vegan option: the Summer Stew with roasted seasonal vegetables, a vegetable stock that was much like a corn chowder, and a scoop of red quinoa. It was yummy. The Skyland Lodge’s restaurant also had a noted vegan option, Addie’s Pasta (rigatoni, seasonal vegetables, fresh basil in a white wine garlic sauce), but Big Meadow was close to my cabin on Lewis Mountain.
I was ready to hit the hay after a very long day. Especially after a ‘real chatterbox’ camper let me know about the impending storm (and a bear sighting!), I was ready to settle in and listen to the night sounds in the woods. Then! I saw the bear cub that was causing the hullabaloo in the Big Meadow campsite. A small cub who looked at my car as if he had been fed from one before. Sorry, bear cub, I follow the park rules, thank you very much.
Goodnight Shenandoah, you are my national park #20 out of 59.