Waling along a creek in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Here I am in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia! My goal is to see all 59 of America's National Parks; Shenandoah makes 43. Wow. The scene above is typical of what I have seen every day, with the exception of blue skies. Lots of gray, cloudy skies and fog as well. Trees everywhere, yet none are in bloom, and the evergreens are few and far between. I don't mind this barren windswept landscape. It suits my mood for this week. I had a lot of grieving to do and the wind screeching through the branches and the rain battering my cargo box, all helped me release my sadness.  
 My campground is so pretty. Most of the time it was nearly empty, with a full house Friday and Saturday. All the wood is wet, so I have a devil of a time starting a fire as some of you well know. I casually mentioned this to a tiny young woman from Siberia, and she insisted her husband come over and help me. I told her no, but sure enough all throughout the day he kept coming over with his paper and sticks to light the fire. I tried to explain that I wanted to wait until evening, and he would leave, smiling and nodding like he understood me. Finally it was evening and I went over and told him, "Now I am ready for the fire." He quickly gathered his friends and now there were three young men all working to start my fire; one from Siberia, one from India and one from Kurdistan." Sure enough I soon had a nice blazing fire to enjoy.  
It was very early one morning when I noticed light streaming through the windows of my Subee. I threw on my coat and Ugh boots and tramped through wet leaves, climbed over logs and avoided the sticker bushes.  The sun was just beginning to show its pretty face so I sat down to enjoy.
In front of the log where I sat, a small trail wound through the trees. It looked like an animal trail, so on impulse, I followed it to see how far it went. That's when I saw the white blaze on the tree! White Blaze means Appalachian Trail. For years I've wanted to step foot on this trail, and walk in the footsteps of those who have completed either some or all of the 2,200 miles. I am proud to say I have one mile under my belt!
The early morning sunshine  does such wonderful things to barren trees on the A.T.
In the morning it has been pretty slow going for me, so it was well after noon by the time I finally arrived at the trail down to Dark Hallow Falls. To my surprise, "I would rather be in some Dark Hollow, where the sun refused to shine," then just about anywhere else.
I think these may be the only flowers I found during my stay here in Shenandoah. They are only about 1/2" big, so I had to get down on my knees to take this picture, then I had to pray so I could get back up again.
This gorgeous pool made me want to jump in and swim, but the 40 degree weather changed my mind. Never saw anybody fishing on this trail, but did see some on the other trails, one man in particular who caught two brook trout.
Beautiful "Dark Hollow Falls!"
On Saturday evening the campground was kind of noisy, so I grabbed my camera and drove up to Big Meadows. The wind was blowing across the dormant meadow, the crickets were chirping like a million tiny aliens, and the sun was dying in soft color over the landscape.  
It made me happy to sit and listen to the wind howling around me and watch the brilliant sky change color.

That would be my pretty little Subee reflecting the sunset; she is a fine traveling companion, the best ever, and she only complains once in a while.
Such a glorious sight; such beauty, such majesty. Praise to our Creator for painting this stunning picture with His hand.
One afternoon it was cold and cloudy but not raining. I jumped in my Subee and found an unmarked trail that aroused my curiosity. It led me past this meandering creek, where the woodpeckers, robins and blue jays were flitting about, yet I couldn't move fast enough to capture any of them on film.
If I love anything, its reflections in the water. I think they are amazing, especially when I stumble upon one without expecting to, like this one.
It was late afternoon when I embarked on what I thought was a 1.5 mile hike into Whiteoak Canyon.  Very rugged, wild scenery that overwhelmed me with a feeling of awe and wonder.
The hike turned out to be nearly 5 miles, a feat that was difficult for me but worth the effort. Whiteoak Canyon is filled with deep pools of water, red rock cliffs, huge jade green boulders and the rushing creek.
The trail was fairly simple, but had numerous rocks, tree roots, and bumps that made it nearly impossible to avoid tripping. Must learn to watch where I am going!
At times the water moved slowly, creeping down the canyon like a lazy old woman.

Pools of water, moss and slick rock, made going out on the rocks very slippery, but I simply had to get out there. I was super careful not to stumble and go sliding over the cliff with the waterfall.
The first of many cascading waterfalls in this canyon. It was at this point that I turned around and headed back  up the trail. Even though it was extremely exhausting for me, I made it all the way down and all the back way up, without giving up.
On my last day in Shenandoah it rained all day. I drove up to the Lodge and sat in the lobby working on my blog and drinking coffee. About 3pm it stopped raining so I packed up and drove home through herds of deer roaming the forest, crossing the streets, and literally owning the place. My windshield wiper fell off, and I panicked and drove straight to the gas station. The nicest country man fixed it, with a toothpick, I am not kidding. God is good.
 My firewood was protected from the rain with a tarp, so immediately I started a fire and made some soup and hot milk for dinner. The campground was empty except for me and one guy next to me and one guy at the complete opposite end. The fog rolled in and created the most eerie atmosphere, almost like you should be whispering, although I had no one but myself to whisper to. But my sister does it all the time, so I guess its alright. Love you Judy!
As the sun set, the fog glowed kind of pink, it was weird. Beautiful but weird.
May God bless you and keep you and may He give you the strength to keep pushing forward, even when you want to give up. Susan Little

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Washington DC

Cherry blossoms blooming at Mt Vernon, the home of our first president, George Washington.  By the way, that is the name Eva gave the turkey that roams through her back yard!
No resemblance I am sure.
David and Eva walking the wall at Mt. Vernon,
 Eva, Lindsay, me and David, standing in front of  George Washington's estate.
We toured the home, the grounds, the slave quarters, and the gardens. I have a thing for arches and love the way they reveal the view of the Potomac River in the background.
  Over the years, the Washington estate fell into disrepair and was saved from ruin by the Mt. Vernon Ladies' Association. They purchased the property in 1858, and to this day, are still restoring the estate to its original grandeur.  
One of the reconstructed slave quarters on Mt. Vernon. As many as 8-10 people lived in these one room houses. When President Washington died, he freed his own personal slaves.
One of President Washington's horse drawn riding cars.
David and Lindsay gave me the grand tour of DC on their very own bicycles! We parked the car near the river and started riding.
That would be me riding the bike, and no I didn't fall!
Me, David, Eva and Lindsay down in Washington DC seeing the sights. What an exceptional trip. Made me so proud to be an American.
 The cherry trees in DC, a gorgeous sight when they are in full bloom like this one.
 David, Lindsay and Eva having fun in front of the Washington Monument; and no David didn't drop Eva or Lindsay!
 David and his friend, a guy who is a bit stiff, but David likes him anyways.
 The Native American Museum in DC had this tribute to The Day of the Dead, celebrated by people groups the world over.
Mr. T-Rex resides at the Natural History Museum where we saw some rough and wild stuff.
 A very sad reminder at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial.
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have little." FDR
 Bald Eagles on the Potomac! I think this is the female, and I do believe they mate for life.
 I think this is the big, bad kind of guy.
 The pair, casually sitting in the tree overlooking the Potomac river. So exciting to see them. One day I hope to actually see an eagle's nest. I hear they are pretty huge.
 The Jefferson Memorial. A very profound moment in time. Made me cry.
President Lincoln, the man who freed the slaves..... how awesome is that!
That would be me at the Lincoln Memorial standing in front of the Gettysburg Address; a speech given by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
 At the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, a line taken from his speech, 'I have a Dream', is carved into the stone. "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope."
That would be me, climbing up to the Petrified Wood display in front of the museums.
Wasn't quite sure if I would slip, but I didn't! Oh yeah.
I made it!
Quartz is one of my favorite rocks and here I am, standing in front of the hugest display of quartz I have ever seen!
David, Lindsay and Eva in front of the fountain at one of the Museums.
Me on the Potomac; the sidewalk is flooded just like it was at Congaree National Park.  
Built to honor George Washington, the United States' first president, the 555-foot marble obelisk towers over Washington, D.C. It is scheduled to be reopened in May of this year, after a 2011 earthquake damaged the monument.
The World War II Memorial; stunning, amazing, touching, beautiful. Definitely the best. Every state is represented, as well as all the countries that fought on our side.
Thank you to all our soldiers who have fought to keep our country and our people safe.
God bless you and keep you, each and every one of you.

Copyright©2009 Susan Little, All rights reserved. Use of photos requires written permission.