6/12 Appalachia and Shenandoah
After a night in the Jefferson National Forest near Arcadia, Virginia where we did our best to catch the firefly show on (digital) film, interstate 81 took us to the south entrance to Shenandoah National Park. Along the way we stopped to check out Natural Bridge a bit north of Arcadia. I'm sure the stone bridge is nifty and all but don't bother with this tourist trap unless you want to shell out $29 per person. We just took some pics of the cowboy on a dinosaur and moved on.
The Blue Ridge Parkway that we followed for a stretch the day before, continues north through the park but here it's called Skyline Drive. The scenery is hard to adequately capture in the camera as the road winds through the green and peeks out at hundreds of overlooks. The trees here are more dense than the Blue Ridge Parkway further south but all of the winding road we traveled is more hemmed in than it was when the road was built. Farming and logging had removed much of the forest at that time. Now, many of the "overlooks" are entirely closed in by green.
The Appalachian Trail works it's way through Shenandoah and the path crosses the highway at many points. We saw a few intrepid through hikers on their way to some very worn out boots. It made me wish I had the time to try the LONG walk. Then again, I get cranky after two nights out.
While the sun was shining, warm humid air brought out big clouds of flower perfume as we drove with the windows down. We never did confirm what flowers were making the big smell but there were lots of candidates.
Try as we might, even stopping to put our noses in everything along the road, we couldn't pin down the source. I suppose it was a mix of everything at once.
At the Big Meadow Visitor Center we stopped to have a short walk (and visit with the bronze conservation corps statue). The sky was clouding over and it looked like camping out would be bad idea. Sure enough, just as we made it back to the car the sky opened up. Struggling through the waves of rain and making our way slowly down from the ridge we saw lots of very wet hikers slithering to their parked cars. Everyone who was caught out was wet to the socks in minutes. The waves kept coming but the brief breaks between were glorious, with fast moving clouds and short glimpses of sun.... and wet hikers.