Day 1 – Monday – July 18, 2011
0600 Alarm goes off. Wake up just as it gives up and stops beeping.
Fold laundry. Repack suitcases. Shower and get dressed. Wake kids up. Finish loading car.
0845 Help Alexis load Moses in the car for his trip to the vet.
Take pictures outside.
0909 Finally we are ready to leave. Our beginning mileage on the odometer is 86,884. Big Trip 6 has begun.
0912 At the UPS store to drop off the box of cable boxes. The car is so full I almost had to drive with it on my lap!
0916 Gas $3.82/gallon
0935 Leaving McD’s, breakfast and coffee in hand. Darby does not like it when we all eat in front of him in the car but he’s going to have to get used to it!
0950 Stop at the Manassas rest stop so I can figure out exactly where I’m going and get Jo set. I think this is the first time I’ve ever stopped at the Manassas rest stop. Usually just drive right by!
1009 Snack box is cracked open for the first time.
1020 Driving through Warrenton, off my usual path. This place has really been developed a lot!
1033 See a vulture perched atop a dead deer in the median. Guess he’s staking his claim on lunch.
1055 Shenandoah National Park
1111 Our first stop on Skyline Drive is the tunnel overlook. Very hazy today so we can’t see clearly in the distance. Still a nice view though.
1118 Pinnacles Overlook.
1137 Elevation 3.680 feet – highest point along the drive
1141 Timber Hollow Overlook. At the overlook there is a sign that says the Appalachian Trail is only 50 yards away. Cool!
1200 Franklin Cliffs Overlook
1210 Big Meadow Visitors Center. The kids see deer as we pull in but I missed it. Other than birds and insects, I have seen no wildlife along the drive today. I was really hoping to see a bear! I let the kids go into the visitor’s center to look around. I tell them to come back in 5 minutes. 15 minutes later I see them finally come out of the exhibit area then go immediately into the gift shop. Another 5 minutes and they finally come back. Another water break for Darby and we’re back on the road.
1253 See deer crossing the road.
It has been so amazingly quiet out here on the drive today. Not a lot of traffic. And when you are driving by with the windows open it is just so peacefully quiet out in the woods.
1:07 p.m. South River overlook – our last stop in the park
1:38 p.m. See the first cornfields.
2:30 p.m. Stop at Hardees for lunch
3:07 p.m. Arrive at Natural Bridge. Tickets are expensive. We walk down the many steps to the path. Already Darby is hot. Hike to the bridge. Hike a little farther to the Monacan Indian Village. Darby won’t drink from the water bottle or from my hands. Afraid he will get heat stroke so we head back without seeing the salt mines or the waterfall. Bridge was cool but not nearly as great as all the billboard hype. Ryan comments that we always look like a bunch of city slickers when we hike on vacation. Gave the kids 5 minutes again but this time also gave them my watch. They arrived back outside just in time!
4:23 p.m. Leaving Natural Bridge.
5:45 p.m. Arrive at hotel. Thank goodness because I am so tired today. Darby drinks a lot of water. Kids watch t.v. while I walk Darby and call Grandma and Mom to confirm plans.
We leave Darby in the room alone while we go across the street for dinner at Shoney’s. I think he stayed awake the whole time we were gone but he was good. We stayed with Darby for a little while then hit the hotel pool. After swimming and showers, we all watch The Incredibles on tv before bed.