The morning started off quiet and grey, and the clouds hovered over the valleys below Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.
I realized after a while that I was looking for bears like I sometimes look for relationships--too hard. Chill, the little voice said. But every time I heard a twig snap behind me, I figured I'd missed something. And at one point, up ahead, I saw leaves rustle and something emerge from the side of the road. My heart started to race. It was going to happen! It was going to be a beautiful moment in nature. It was going to be . . . a hiker. Damn it all. I was having no luck.
So I just drove along, enjoying the incredible number of lookout points (105 miles, 75 outlooks). The haze made for unfortunate picture taking. And I knew as I took 78 pictures throughout the day that few would convey in any way the beauty. I even became lazy and didn't get out of the car sometimes. There were very few other cars, and I would just come to a pause at an outlook, put down the window and snap a picture. Total slacker sightseeing.
Around one corner, I saw a car stopped with hazards on. I'm an idiot and figured they just needed to pull over for a second on this narrow road. Um, NO. They were checking out this view:
Turkey vultures are everywhere along the drive. And as I came up around one open corner, a vulture flew straight up over and just above my car. Very cool. At every outlook, there were usually a few vultures, just circling patiently over the valley.
The end of the trail feels anticlimactic. Rain was starting to set in, I was tired and had a headache going. What's a girl to do? She goes to Charlottesville. ...where she quickly is flumoxed by her naivite in a new town. Tossed and turned from street to street. I think I saw a monument of Lewis & Clark and Sacajawea in a momentary blur at an intersection. I thought I was following signs to the historic district, but instead ended up driving through UVA and then onto rt 29, which has about 47 lanes. But I found my beloved Hampton Inn (I'm ready to be a spokesperson), where for an embarrassingly low price I got a room containing two queens and an office. Even the art is decent. Shameless, Hampton Inn, shameless.