2022 Life Logs, Day 157: Country Roads
Date: Monday, June 6, 2022
Weather: Bright and Sunny; High 80, Low 54 degrees F
Location: At Home in the Gate House at the Monroe Institute, Faber, VA

Today was all about driving country roads. We drove only 14 miles of the 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but in those 14 miles we had wonderful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley. Just as we entered the Parkway, a black bear crossed the road in front of us. But something was wrong. This bear was having a very bad hair day which made Coco think he looked like Dracula. He looked nothing like the plump, furry black bears in photos that make you want to hug them. Later in the day, we discovered the problem.

After seeing the bear, we stopped at the Dripping Rock parking area and got out for a short hike on the Appalachian Trail. The name literally comes from a dripping spring emerging from a rock right off the parking area. Signs warn to boil the water, but we watched a number of Appalachian Trail hikers wearing sturdy hiking boots, carrying big backpacks, and using high tech walking sticks. Ziggy looked at me and said, “Don’t you think that is a bit of overkill for a 1.7 mile hike?” I smiled and explained that these hikers were going much further, maybe all the way to the state of Maine. He simply could not understand why people would do such a thing. We did half the loop trail and Z and C thought that was long enough! I always find myself in awe in the beauty of the delicate blossom and Coco shared my awe.

On we drove to a visitor center where we had a picnic lunch and then on to the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Rockfish Gap where we switched to the Skyline Drive. The Skyline Drive is in the Shenandoah National Park, so we had to stop and show my National Park Card to continue on. I started talking to the ranger and asked him what our chances were of seeing black bear in the next few miles ahead. His reply was surprising. He said that black bear in the area all seem to have mange, some with no hair at all, and are very sickly. They are basically in hiding, so I guess we were lucky to see one mangy black bear. I didn’t ask what is being done to help the bears, but I do hope something is being done. We drove a few miles to the first Shenandoah Valley overlook and then headed back to the Blue Ridge Parkway to hike part of the Humpback Rock trail, a 2-mile loop trail that leads to a rocky summit via a very steep trail. There is a 4-mile trail to the summit that is much gentler, so we did a bit of that, took a side trip on the Appalachian Trail, and back to the van.

It was then time to head home to visit with Justin and Jo who are not in sessions from 1 pm to 4 pm. We didn’t get back until almost 3:30, but the 4 pm session didn’t start on time so the kids got a bit of extra visiting time. We then went home to have some relax time, write in our journals, and have dinner before I drove Ziggy and Coco back up to the Retreat Center for an overnight with Justin and Jo. I am here in the Gate House by myself tonight, but will pick Z and C up in the morning when our Virginia adventure will continue.

I talked to Heather tonight. They had a good time with Shadow this weekend and he is now with Sheri and Meghan. Jonah’s band concert was tonight. She said Jonah looked the role of a bass guitarist and the band and jazz band sounded fantastic. She reported that Ollie had a great weekend camping with Jed, Sam’s soccer team won their game on Sunday and won their division, Jonah made the ACI soccer team for next year, and Heather really enjoyed hosting the team she works with who all live in different locations around the country. It was the first time she had met the team that works for her in person. The only downside of the weekend was that Heather and Shadow came home from a walk, both covered in ticks. Yuck. But other than that, it sounds like all is well at home.

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