Cory: We went to Shenandoah National Park to see the Fall leaves.
Lark: Fall leaves are on the same level as looking at rocks. Why do you want to watch leaves fall?
Cory: It is not that the leaves are falling, although they are. It is the colors of the leaves that folks want to see. The reds, golds, yellows, and browns. So many varieties! It looks like a watercolor painting!
Lark: Watercolor painting? What are you talking about? Have you been hanging out at the art museum with Mom? Leaves, smeaves. They are dead. And on the ground getting soggy in the rain and holding ticks. And boy did Shenandoah have ticks. Little teeny tiny ones.
Cory: Yeah, some ticks, but they are part of Fall. Besides, we take medicine to keep ticks off of us.
Lark: We better give some to Mom. She was freaking out.
Cory: Let’s just talk about Shenandoah, ok? Shenandoah was founded in 1935 as the 23rd National Park. It wraps around Skyline Drive, which was planned for motorists to enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains. Skyline Drive is 105 miles long and has 75 scenic overlooks. Over time, the park was expanded to include 196,000 acres of once privately held land. In 1976, Congress designated over 40 percent of the park as Wilderness, giving the land the highest level of government protection available.
Lark: But, still, wilderness or not, we didn’t see a single bear even though there were signs all over the place warning about them. We did see a lot of deer in the campground, but Dad wouldn’t let me go after them.
Cory: We camped at the Big Meadows Campground. It is a big campground with lots of trails that leave from it. You can even hike the Appalachian Trail from there. You could stay a whole week and not get to all the trails. There are 500 trails in the park!
Lark: Yeah, but it is complicated figuring out which ones we could go on. Some trails say no dogs and then, lead right into a trail where dogs can go. We finally figured out that there are fire roads that intersect with the dog friendly trails. Mom said there were a lot of dogs on the trails marked “no dogs” but we still had to stay at home. Mom is not a rule breaker. At least not yet.
Cory: Mom, Dad and our sister of the heart, Christina, hiked down to Dark Hollow Falls. It was steep with lots of stairs. At the bottom, they figured out an easier way to get out by following a fire road. There were lots of dogs on the fire road and no signs saying, “no dogs.” That’s how they figured it out.
Lark: There are always ways to get around the rules. Just leave it to me to find them. Leave? Leaf? Get it?
Cory: Bad joke. Anyway, then, Mom and Christina took us on the Big Meadows Trail. There was a nice flat asphalt trail that ran around the edges of the meadow, but Christina is an adventurer, so we walked on some deer trails through the meadow.
Lark: Actually, I am the adventurer. Christina asked me which way I wanted to go. I just followed my nose to the deer poop.
Cory: And to the ticks. The meadow had lots of ticks. Mom got some down her shirt. That cut our hike short.
Lark: Like I said, freaking out.
Cory: One night, Mom, Dad and Christina went to Skyland Lodge for dinner. Mom said it was really yummy and they had blackberry ice cream for dessert.
Lark: And didn’t bring home a single bite for us.
Cory: I doubt you would have eaten any ice cream. Remember how you kept complaining about the cold? It was really windy and damp. Even too cold to enjoy a fire. Mom had to put your coat on you. Wimpy little baby.
Lark: Hey! Who are you calling wimpy?
Cory: If the coat fits wear it.