I wish I could say the same for everyone. A mother lost her child in Newport News, near us. Old college friends’ family in upstate New York had to evacuate their house by rescue boat. Within twenty-four hours prior, they had an epic battle to remove a squirrel from their house. It has not been a good weekend for them. They are okay, but their driveway and basement are awash.
Many others had it much worse. A fabric artist’s studio in Shelburne Falls, MA, picked up from its foundation and took a ride down a raging river that had formerly been the street. There is impressive video of that pink brick building before and after its journey floating around the internet. My apologies for the wordplay.
Back in our vicinity, Southside, at Sandbridge Beach area of Virginia Beach, again, there is impressive video and photography of houses ripped apart there around the internet.. It’s my family’s favorite beach to day trip to. The little low lying town next to me was under mandatory evacuation, but a friends of mine stayed while the husband volunteered for Community Emergency Services.
In the meantime, here, I am amazed that Mother Nature can go from this:
To this on the day of:
The day of our safari park adventures, we also visited the deepest caverns east of the Mississippi. As you can imagine, pictures were a bit tough, but I will post about both the Natural Bridge Caverns and Luray Caverns in another post. We had a very big day between the cool caves and more animals and ways to see them than you can imagine.
The Virginia Safari entrance was right with the KOA where we stayed and was only a couple of miles down the road from the zoo we visited the day before. I am a bit link happy today. Of course, for proximity alone, we had to go. We safaried in the morning, caved at midday then safaried in the afternoon.
This post is morning only. I really did choose judiciously from the over 500 photos I took that day. Promise. It was HAARD! Okay?
I am not overwhelming you with these like the llamas overwhelmed our vehicle when we tried to drive in….
There were many wondrous horned creatures from around the world.
I could have played around with the shots in the computer and enhanced color and contrast, but choosing was challenging enough…all of my vacation posts’ photos are straight out of the camera and cell camera.
Excerpts from our day at Panther Falls:
I know, I know, a lot of photos and I promised I wouldn’t, but Panther Falls was my favorite adventure of the trip.
And Honey and Toots.
An old school playground
This was a giant slide with the old metal steps made of the letters: AMERICAN, like the slide in my old neighborhood as a little kid. It took her about the whole week for Toots to actually descend the giant slide without my climbing up the ladder and walk her back down in my arms.
Toots and Captain Comic playing together and having fun.
And the Natural Bridge itself, carved out of the mountains by glaciers.
That’s not dirt on the photo, it’s a hawk that swooped under the bridge.
Captain Comic takes a cue from Mr. Cynic.
At the end of the trail, we found a nice cascades area that was quite calm and relaxing. We actually didn’t make it to the end where The Lost Springs are. We decided our end was here.
We were surrounded by butterflies, lots of kinds, but mostly various Swallowtails. This was a Red-spotted Purple Admiral, even though it was black with blue like a Black Swallowtail. I looked it up at the gift shop in a book of butterflies after our hike.
Toots was so happy to have her big brothers back, and she wanted to keep up with them. But she fell on her way to this little cave tunnel in the mountain side that Mr. Cynic found.
More adventures next week, I’ll keep the shots to a minimum. Panther Falls and Crabtree Falls were big ones that almost did in poor Bertha.
We are rearranging the boys’ room again this weekend, taking the giant shelf beds out and moving in some bunks. A lot of furniture disassembly and assembly to ensue, right after I take a landscaping class at our local garden center.
The boys have grown. Captain Comic may have surpassed me or is about to, but we are not telling him. Please don’t tell him. I will ne’er hear the end of it.
We took a spontaneous approach to this vacation, and the following day as we head toward the Natural Bridge area of Virginia, our campsite destination, we made another detour to Luray Caverns. I’ll post about about those sites later.
After the caverns, we traveled the rest of the way and made it by evening to the campsite at the KOA. I have mentioned before that I like the KOAs. This one was more modest than the Super KOA where we stayed with just Toots and Lucy about six weeks ago, in Harper’s Ferry, WV. Anyway, we set up camp, and basically collapsed after campfire.
The first morning we decided to go to the Natural Bridge Zoo. They had a lot of exotics there: baby tigers, lemurs, DeBrazza monkeys, etc, but mostly we enjoyed feeding the animals we could feed. All the kids really got a kick out of it. So did Honey and I.
I have a lot on my mind.
So this morning, Toots and I took a breather, and just played in the sunshine. I think it helped me to not obsess quite so much, sort things out a bit.
It’s also our last day of Toots only. Tomorrow, we retrieve Mr. Cynic and Captain Comic. Mayhem will return to its usual full capacity.
So for now, some quiet girl time.
I walked the dog.
Across the street and up the bend of the mountain side a bit was the ruins of the old Episcopal Church. I guess the Catholics lasted a bit better in Lower Town.
Here’s what to see along that lower road way above. What angles up in front of the ruins along the wall is more of a little foot path that has been paved for tourists.
We had lunch and more ice cream then headed back to KOA for the afternoon. Toots wanted to bounce and a while later Honey took her to the pool while I stayed at camp with Lucy.
Close to dinner, Toots was tired, it was a big day.
Camping is serious business.
“Aah, I can’t do this.” She wanted to help me build the campfire.
I am amazed at what kids find to do when there is apparently nothing to occupy their minds. Toots made a game of holding a specific rock between the bottoms of her feet.
A college friend I had not seen in twenty odd years lives near Harpers Ferry in Maryland, and she stopped by camp bearing fresh grown veggies and loads of fun conversation about things long ago and what’s going on now. Great to see her.
Later in the evening, Toots was positively melting into her little blue seat by the campfire. She had asked me before what my favorite part of camping was, and I reminded her of it as I answered her again, that this, sitting by the campfire under the stars is my favorite part of camping. I asked her what her favorite part was. “Camping.” She said with finality. I eeked out of her that that meant sleeping in the tent in sleeping bags with Mommy and Daddy and Lucy.
Toots also had tons of fun with kids around the campground. These two were our neighbors in a popup trailer. Toots loved running around, especially with the girl who is not quite a year younger than her, and taller.
This rock was a major part of their play, situated between our camps. No, Toots is not dead below. She is “westing on da wock.”
We had many adventures and loads of fun. Some of it was ambitious, but mostly we relaxed and enjoyed being us together in nature and away from home and the TV and all other screens. Even though there was a promise of wifi access, it was spotty at best. We were better for the inconvenience regardless. It was the most refreshing thing to my spirit I have done in a long long time, though, three days later, I am still exhausted, but it’s the best kind of exhausted, similar to postpartum euphoria. I am elated, though I’ve been through a very hard physical task, in heat and storms, and little sleep on the ground. I loved it all.
We’re doing it again near the Natural Bridge area of Virginia next month with the boys. Life is good. Bring natural bug spray.
Adventures in family fun Thursday through Friday:
First we drove the boys to the parental switch drop off with their dad in Wilmington DE. It’s always mixed feelings, goodbyes to the boys for a solid month, a quiet month, a month without their squabbles or their laughs and hugs. Then we headed to Harpers Ferry, WV and so did a storm. Here’s its approach as well as ours.
We managed to set up camp, cook eat and clean up dinner before the rain came.
Appalachian Trail, Virginius Island, Lower Town, Ice Cream, Train & Rivers
Virginius Island Ruins, The old Pulp Factory.
Here we are at the confluence of the Shenandoah River into the Potomac. Lewis & Clark supplied themselves and headed west from here into a new world, as far as the European Americans were concerned. I found the historical note “They bought tomahawks and other supplies” amusing.
John Brown’s Slave Revolt didn’t work out so well in 1859. But I bet it served to plant the seeds of hope and fight into the slaves for what followed. This little building of his has a long and odd history because of its association with him. He was hanged nearby, too.
This place is so full of nineteenth century history I can’t even write about all of it here, even the railroad to west. They still run regular freight trains through the mountain of Maryland Heights. (look at the map above)
We pulled into camp. Thunder and rain was so heavy, there was zero visibility and Lucy shook on my lap til I thought she’d shake herself out of her skin.
We sat there for quite some time while our tent got drenched after making through the night before’s storm pretty well.