So many have been enchanted by this photo, taken in the Shenandoah National Park a few years ago. Here's the rest of the story:
Greg and I -- and our faithful dog Maggie -- were on the road constantly for about 10 years, but in all that time we didn't have much "true" vacation time. Sure, we got to see and do some really beautiful and interesting things, like the time we got to see Michigan's Tahquamenon Falls ... which we caught en route from a music festival in Evart, Michigan to an art fair in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. More often, we sped past historical monument after park after attraction, promising ourselves that eventually there'd be time for a proper visit. One year, however, we found ourselves with an "off" weekend between New York's Dutchess County Fair and Stone Mountain's Yellow Daisy Fesitval. So we treated ourselves to a week's vacation in Luray, Virginia, conveniently located more or less en route from New York to Georgia.
The campground we chose was off the beaten path. It afforded great vistas almost all around; I imagined what a wonderful place this would've been, back in the day, to build a fort, because you could see anyone approaching from below for miles before they actually reached you. The only part that didn't have a view was a sheer rise up to the Skyline Drive and the Appalachian Trail. We were so far away from bright city lights that, on a cloudless night, we clearly saw the innumerable stars of the summer sky, and even the Milky Way. Talk about a getaway!
One day we visited Luray Caverns; another day we ventured into Washington, D.C. Greg's first-ever visit to our nation's capital. True touristy stuff. Mags and I even put in a few miles along the Appalachian Trail. Greg elected to stay behind on that day, leaving us gals to our own adventure.
But my favorite part of our little vacation was a drive along the Skyline Drive and into the Shenandoah National Park. It was a very foggy morning and we found our sightseeing somewhat limited. We still managed to sneak in a "dog friendly" -- and "somewhat-out-of-shape-people friendly" -- trail that led to the remains of a pre-National Park-era farm. Due to the fog, we missed promised views of Signal Knob and the Shenandoah Valley, but thanks to the fog it was peaceful and still ... so still, in fact, that we had a long staring session with a large buck who, though somewhat startled, did not run from us even though he was fewer than 100 paces away. Those are the moments you cherish -- even Maggie seemed to realize that it was somewhat magical, as she did not bark or even strain much at her leash.
I look back now to realize just how magical that experience was, and I feel blessed. There are many, many memories of our years on the road, but it seems that memories of these quiet times are the ones that I cherish most.