August 27, 2011 – CCC and Hurricane

After watching the morning news we decided to stay in the park.  They are forecasting less than an inch of rain and winds ~ 20 mph (we have had stronger winds in AZ).  So we are now going to stay here until Labor Day (9/5).

Our first stop this morning was the Byrd Visitor Center where we saw a movie on the Civilian Conservation Corps in Shenandoah.  Between 1933 and 1942, 10 CCC camps were established within or near the Park.  During this time more than 10000 young men (18-26) lived in these camps under the supervision of the Army.  They worked on projects directed by the National Park Service and Bureau of Public Roads – building trails, fire roads and towers, log comfort stations, picnic grounds and construction projects.

Here is what they complete in 1938 – Wow!:

08-27-2011 A Shenandoah NP Byrd Visitor Center 005a

And that is just in Shenandoah area only.   There was projects going on all over this country during that time.

During a lot of our travels we have seen many of the projects that the CCC has done and it has always impressed me.  Many, if not most, of those projects are still standing today – over 70 years old – Amazing.

Outside of the visitor center is:

 08-27-2011 A Shenandoah NP Byrd Visitor Center 003

08-27-2011 A Shenandoah NP Byrd Visitor Center 002

This statue is part of a campaign by the National Association of Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni to erect a statue in every state to commemorate the Corps’ work throughout the US from 1933 – 1942.  This is the 32nd state commemoration. 

Here is the listing of the other states – I may have to check them out:


This afternoon as the rain and wind is rolling in, I am at the lodge getting my e-fix and getting caught up on the blog and emails.   I think I am up to date so if I owe you an email and you have not received an answer, please email me again (sorry).    If I owe you an answer on FB, please let me know.  

So we are planning more hikes and tours for next week so stay tuned and stay safe.

August 26, 2011 – Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive is 105 miles with over 75 overlooks.  We have been here numerous times and never explored the area north of Thornton Gap (and very little exploring north of the Skyland Resort). So this morning we took off to check out that area.

Skyline Drive:

 08-26-2011 A Shenandoah NP Skyline Drive 46-21 028 

This is the first time we have been here in late summer – all the other times have been early spring thru early summer.   Each season holds it’s own beauty and August is no exception.

This is the view of Stony Man Mountain.  Can you see the face?   The first indentation is his eyes, the second his mouth.  When we took the hike the other day, the view point was on his forehead.

08-26-2011 A Shenandoah NP Skyline Drive 46-21 004

View from the lookout – you can still see the smoke from the fire at Great Dismal Swamp:

08-26-2011 A Shenandoah NP Skyline Drive 46-21 003

The lookout – the stone walls were originally built by the CCC in the late 30’s:

08-26-2011 A Shenandoah NP Skyline Drive 46-21 009

More amazing views along the way:

08-26-2011 A Shenandoah NP Skyline Drive 46-21 013

08-26-2011 A Shenandoah NP Skyline Drive 46-21 031

08-26-2011 A Shenandoah NP Skyline Drive 46-21 016

Over 400 families lived in this area before it became a National Park.  Most of them lived in the hollows of those mountains and their are still some remnants left.  Over the years we have found different cemeteries and foundations and hope to find more.   I did find out that there is a hike on the northern park of the drive that goes to one of earlier places – may have to check that out – :-).

This is Mary's Rock Tunnel on Skyline Drive – 12’8” clearance – built in 1934.

08-26-2011 A Shenandoah NP Skyline Drive 46-21 023

After our exploration, we headed to Luray for supplies – we ran out of propane this morning on our auxiliary tank and with the storms coming in, we did not want to take any chances.

On our way back, the clouds are rolling in:

08-26-2011 A Shenandoah NP Skyline Drive 46-21 035

We had a few sprinkles when we got back home and then it cleared.   Our neighbors who are from the valley invited us to join them for their campfire tonight – what a great time.

August 25, 2011 – Anniversaries and Baskets

Today is a day of good and sad anniversaries.  My father passed away 17 years ago today – hard to believe it is that long ago.  And my Aunt Mary passed away 13 years ago.  Miss them both – :-(.   But the good anniversary is that I quit smoking one year ago today.   WOW!  Hard to believe it is a year.  Congratulations to me and to all those who have quit – it is not easy.

Today was basket making 101 at the lodge.  Clyde Jenkins was a wonderful teacher and took his time with 10 of us.  The class was advertised as “how to make a Colonial-style white oak basket with techniques handed down through the generations”  and that is exactly what we did.   We started out with chunks of wood and learned how to make the strips for the weaving.   Let me tell you how hard that was.   I have a lot of respect for basket makers who make their own materials.   After “trying” to make those strips, Clyde helped us out and gave us strips he prepared that morning.  

Here is my finished basket:

 08-25-2011 B Shenandoah NP 002

Not bad for a beginner!

While I was in class, Andy was walking around the campground and found these two fellows – the felt is still on their antlers:

08-25-2011 A Shenandoah NP 004

08-25-2011 A Shenandoah NP 009 

08-25-2011 A Shenandoah NP 010a

08-25-2011 A Shenandoah NP 012 

And this evening after our big storm, we took a walk around the campground and found so many more deer – I promise, no more deer photos after this:

 08-25-2011 C Shenandoah NP 013 

 08-25-2011 C Shenandoah NP 032

The fawns still have their spots:

08-25-2011 C Shenandoah NP 043 

08-25-2011 C Shenandoah NP 044

I did find out that in 1926 when Congress authorized Shenandoah NP, there were no deer here due to years of hunting and human activity.  In 1934, thirteen white-tailed deer were released.  Today Shenandoah’s estimated 5000 deer are descended from those thirteen or others that migrated from surrounding forests.   Since there is no hunting allowed in the park, the deer do not fear people.

Another wonderful day that ended with a great campfire.

And I leave you with one more picture – :-):

08-25-2011 B Shenandoah NP 005

Enjoy today – :-)

To my East Coast friends and family – please be careful with this hurricane coming and take shelter.   So far we should be okay – just rain – but we are watching the path on the news every morning and night.   And we will move if need be.


August 24, 2011 – Stony Man Hike

We woke to another gorgeous day!  Gosh, how blessed we are.   The weather has been incredible – mid 70’s during the day and low 60’s during the night – with beautiful blue skies.   So our first item on the agenda was to sign up for another 2 days.   We have been watching the hurricane news and trying to decide what to do.   If it will be severe here, we will head west.  If it is just going to be rainy for a day, we will wait it out and stay another week.   We figured we have until Friday to make our decision.

We hung out a little later than usual this morning.  Our batteries were getting a little low and generator hours are from 8-10 AM and 4-7 PM so we are taking advantage of those times.   

After we shut down at 10 AM, off we went to do the “Stony Man Hike” – another great hike (I truly have missed being on the trail – thank God for allergy medicine!).  This hike had a guide and posts along the way telling us the history of the area as well as information on the plants and animals.

The start of the trail:

 08-24-2011 A Shenandoah NP - Stony Man Hike (2)

Check out this tree that is growing through the rock – WOW:

08-24-2011 A Shenandoah NP - Stony Man Hike (3)

One of the many American chestnut trees that have died from the fungus – so sad – and still no cure:

08-24-2011 A Shenandoah NP - Stony Man Hike (6)

We crossed over the Appalachian Trail – this is the highest point of that trail in Shenandoah National Park:

08-24-2011 A Shenandoah NP - Stony Man Hike (7)

I am in my element – :-))):

08-24-2011 A Shenandoah NP - Stony Man Hike (9) 

These rocks, called GREENSTONE, are over 800 million years old and were created from volcanoes in this area:

08-24-2011 A Shenandoah NP - Stony Man Hike (19)

And the view from the top – WOW!  Isn’t this incredible!   The road in this picture is Skyline Drive:

08-24-2011 A Shenandoah NP - Stony Man Hike (32)

More views of the valley below – 3000’ below:

08-24-2011 A Shenandoah NP - Stony Man Hike (38)

08-24-2011 A Shenandoah NP - Stony Man Hike (42)

Notice the smoke in the above pictures?  I am told that there is a fire in the Great Dismal Swamp and the smoke is covering much of Virginia.

And another little lady greeting us at the end of the trail:

08-24-2011 A Shenandoah NP - Stony Man Hike (49)

Stony Man Mountain is the second highest mountain in the park so between yesterday and today we have hiked the two highest mountains in the park – not bad for 2 old codgers (although I have to say they were easy to moderate hikes – I am not yet up to a difficult one).

I have found out that they have free Wi-Fi at Big Meadows Lodge so that is where I am now – uploading a few days worth of blogs and doing some email.  If you have sent me an email, please be patient – I hope to get caught up over the next few days.  Plus I am being selfish – I don’t want to spend a lot of time sitting in the lodge – sorry.  (Not doing to bad on the e-withdrawal – LOL.)

Tomorrow I have signed up for a basket making class so stay tuned.

Until then, enjoy today!


August 23, 2011 – Hiking and Earthquakes

Another beautiful day in paradise – :-)

This morning we decided to do the Hawksbill Mountain Hike.  The summit of Hawksbill Mountain (4050’) is the highest point in the park but the hike was only 2.1 miles since we are already at over 3000’. The trail:

 08-23-2011 A Shenandoah NP Hawksbill Mountain Hike (2)

08-23-2011 AB Shenandoah NP Hawksbill Mountain Hike (23)

The summit:

08-23-2011 A Shenandoah NP Hawksbill Mountain Hike (24)

08-23-2011 A Shenandoah NP Hawksbill Mountain Hike (26)

08-23-2011 AB Shenandoah NP Hawksbill Mountain Hike

08-23-2011 AB Shenandoah NP Hawksbill Mountain Hike (6) 

08-23-2011 AB Shenandoah NP Hawksbill Mountain Hike (12)

08-23-2011 AB Shenandoah NP Hawksbill Mountain Hike (19) 

The building at the top of the summit – beautiful stonework:

 08-23-2011 AB Shenandoah NP Hawksbill Mountain Hike (17)

And this little lady at the end of the trail:

08-23-2011 AB Shenandoah NP Hawksbill Mountain Hike (31)

There are so many deer here and they are not afraid of humans – amazing.   Andy has seen a buck in the early mornings with a huge rack that is still fur covered.  I have not seen him yet so hopefully before we head on out I can get a picture.

It felt good to be out on the trails again – and I am so out of shape.  (Note to self – start doing a lot more walking – :-).   

A few years ago, Andy and I bought a set of 4 booklets on the various hikes in Shenandoah National Park and one of my goals is to do all of those hikes.  Hmmmm, need to spend more time here.

Andy went back for more wood and then spent the afternoon chopping:

08-23-2011 B Shenandoah NP 002

Just LOVE those campfires – :-)

AND – Did you feel that earthquake – oh my!!!   The motorhome was rocking and rolling!   Hope everyone is safe.

Even Dusty is enjoying himself here (he just loves watching the birds):

08-23-2011 B Shenandoah NP 004

Until tomorrow – :-).

August 22, 2011 – More Shenandoah

When you travel like we do, you wake up in some of the most beautiful places in this country and today was one of those days.   We both were up early and enjoyed the sun rise over the mountains and just the total quiet – lovely.

This morning our first stop was the visitor center for brochures and a side road for some wood.   The National Park is allowing collection of wood if it is down and dead but only in certain areas.  So we found a great place just off Skyline Drive and filled the back of the Tracker.  Yea – lots of campfires.

The rest of the morning we spent doing repairs and organizing.  Last night we blew a few of the fuses for the 12 volt plugs – turns out we had a faulty charger for our phone (which took us a while to realize as we kept blowing more fuses – :-).   All is okay now.   We also had to fix our front shade – it broke and fell down yesterday as we were driving – very scary but all is ok now.

The other thing I did was reorganize our electronic charging area (yep, we now have an area with pockets – :-).  When I packed the motorhome, chargers were put in there willy nilly and after the charging fiasco last night when I had to go thru every pocket, today was organization day! 

Our charging area – the pockets contain all the chargers for the phones, cameras, computers and more.

08-22-2011 A RV 007

My bedroom pockets – these come are real handy:

08-22-2011 A RV 008

My helper:

08-22-2011 A RV 005

While I was organizing – Andy was chopping:

08-22-2011 B Shenandoah NP 001

This afternoon we took a walk around the campground and met a fellow SKP – it was great talking with her.  We invited her to our campfire so she joined us this evening – I just love SKPs.

We also met this gal along the way:

08-22-2011 B Shenandoah NP 005

More scenes along the way:

08-22-2011 B Shenandoah NP 008

08-22-2011 B Shenandoah NP 010

08-22-2011 B Shenandoah NP 013


And what a joy to see these deer wandering through the campsites:

08-22-2011 B Shenandoah NP 020

Did you notice the spots on the fawns?

And another great campfire evening – :-)!