(A June 2009 post from my old blog)
I have always associated mountains with my mother. Maybe it is because Mom planned 9 out of 10 of my childhood vacations around the mountains. Or maybe because I could see the elation that snow-capped peaks brought to her. Especially since the acrophobic, motion-sick, Calcutta-sick me wasn’t much of a hill-person, I would curiously and stupefied-ly watch out for what my parents got out of these high-altitude monsters!!
(Wondering how I became me? Well…without much ado, let me just gut your curiosity by saying– every now and then, I see my parents in my reflection, much to awe and sometimes to concern and infrequently, amusement; but I guess this happens to a lot of us, most commonly to the best of us here.)
So going back to mountains, when I was planning my Mom-weekends for this summer…for some reason I came up with mostly sea-sides or water-bodies (and I live on Erie) except for a Colorado weekend… and I thought– ‘well, she would have really loved the hillies!’ So when I planned our Maryland-DC-Virginia getaway, I thought why not? The Atlantic had to make way for the Appalachians…Virginia Beach had to give way to Shenandoah! And man, was that a good decision! We deliberated about Monanghela (West Virginia) but at the last moment decided to skip it … and instead make most of the stars at hand a.k.a. Shenandoah (Native Indian word meaning ‘daughter of the stars’)
On one hand when we were really taking out scopes of diversity from this trip, someone had better plans for us. The dull cloudy skies of crabby Maryland gave way to lovely sunshine as we hit Front Royal, Virginia.
From there on we were cuffing weather patterns that changed every hour. During that 104 mile drive, the plushest greens that were swathed with sunshine this moment, changed into dark lime colors the next, with a depth that only sudden stormy showers could bring.
That strange musty smell of wet dirt and storms that wift them to your nose remind me of home and of Kalboishakhi-s.
The leaves dithered and turned back on each other, producing a myriad of multidimensional green maze that lured you into the depths of wild trails. John Muir’s “the mountains are calling and I must go” made perfect sense.
The azure and white playful sky would in moments give way to pitch-black low-lying dark clouds that swarmed from hill to hill, showering on some, simply hovering on some others. Moist clouds flowing in and out of the car and touching your shoulders like the hills were breathing down on you.
Wildflowers in every shade of lilac, pink and white, blue and yellow. Blue birds and red jays and butterflies.
Purple ranges overlooking the rivulets glowed orange in the setting sun….
and the blue ridges, ah! The Blue Ridge. Layers of symmetry, like the globe was ‘marble printed’ in three pastels and a brown : ) A lot like my mother– Peacefully dynamic. Enormously humane. And ethereally big; bluer and bigger than all of us here.
…And a reminder of how much more there is to see.
I have lived in Pennsylvania for some time and driven through the Alleghenies for more times than I can count, in all 4 seasons and everything between them and don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of the Alleghenies…I swear by her beauty….but lets just say, maybe I never stopped there long enough to ‘smell the roses’, so I’m not in a position to compare.
I have never been to the Monanghela-s or the Smokey-s either; when I do, maybe, I can give a more compehensive ‘trip-advisor-ly’ note than this anecdote of sheer exhilaration and compulsive adoration about the Shenandoah Valley.
I keep reverberating that it probably couldn’t get any better. However if I am to change something, it would be staying at the forest lodgings…I couldn’t tell you about management or room conditions but if I were to decide based on locations, Skyland it would be. (One quick note: Reservations run out fast)
More pictures on my Flickr page http://www.flickr.com/photos/kolika/sets/72157620541242817/
Until then keep those wheels spinning and smell the paper wings!
Update: On subsequent visits we did stay at the Skylodge and the Big Meadow resorts. Big Meadow is a tad more upscale while Skylodge is big on the rustic. More are wonderful stays and the food and tap at Big Meadows was just plain wonderful. Definitely worth revisiting.