shenandoah valley and national park highlights

I’m finally getting to recap my adventures from last week, when my boyfriend and I drove on down to Luray, Virginia for 5 days (well, really it was more like 3 plus travel days). It was a great trip, but I haven’t had a second since I’ve been home to write about it. So, I’m going to sum it up in photos.

the park


Jewell Hollow Overlook


The valley below, a landscape altered by man (I try to imagine what the mountain would look like if the national park had not been established).


Cloudy day


Don’t fall in!


Lewis Falls


Mountain laurel, one of the fragrant flowers pervading the mountain air (honeysuckles were rampant outside of the park, delicious!)


Volcano-like cloud

the wildlife


Three black bears on the roadside, a mama and two cubs


A lone black bear


One of two young bucks on Skyline Drive


Wild turkey, Skyline Drive


Ducks on the Luray Greenway, a nice little path running along the Hawksbill Creek.

We also saw 3 bald eagles, a couple of great blue heron, and many other birds on a kayaking trip (didn’t want to tip the kayak and drown the camera).

the farms


We were surrounded by them. Seemingly idyllic pastoral Americana, but many were Cargill farms. (If you’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, you may have just shuddered).


This farm was literally in our backyard. Our little cottage at Piney Hill B&B was just steps from this fence. Unfortunately, we learned the hard way that my boyfriend is allergic to hay. Acchhoooo!


Hellooooo!


Oink oink (Virginians love their pork).

the food


Breakfast delivered to our doorstep every morning.


Joshua Wilton House in Harrisonburg, VA. One of the best meals we had on the trip. (The other was at Ivy Inn in Charlottesville)


They served Polyface Farms products, like this pork loin and the chicken in the background. If you’re not familiar with farmer Joel Salatin, check out his books or website.


Ice cream! (without knowing the origin of the dairy, probably not the most sustainable dessert we could have had)

the storm


A big storm’s a-brewin’


Take shelter, Dorothy!


“Safe” inside the cottage


Not just golf-ball-sized hail, a tornado less than a mile away

the caverns


Luray Caverns, much more interesting than I expected


Grand illusion


For scale, check out the people at bottom right of this pic


Drapery formations or as they called it in the audio tour, “bacon” (can’t get away from the pork products)


Please don’t fall on my head!

the history


One rainy day, we visited Monticello (took the house tour, but couldn’t take photos inside).


We’re finally coming around to rainwater harvesting after all this time.


Thomas Jefferson was quite the horticulturist. This is the restored garden and orchard.


A plantation tour gives the slaves’ perspective.


TJ’s laboratory


This bee seems right at home.

coming home


It was good to come home to a thriving indoor vegetable garden.


After all of the rich Southern food, I was more than ready for some fresh veggies. Thankfully, we got home just in time to visit the farmer’s market to stock up on some delicious seasonal produce.

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