The Shenandoahs were the first place I explored when I moved to DC, when I took Tashi and Lamar there for a camping trip one summer weekend before I even met Florian. And there have been many trips since then, including the one where Fozzie learned to swim and one very early in my relationship with Florian where we went to see the autumn foliage and discovered this great natural spring where people were filling up big jugs with spring water.
So the Shenandoahs have a very special place in my heart.
This time, we took off late after Florian taught a class and got to our favorite road--state road 678 through the George Washington National Forest--and found a parking area to stay for the night in the hippie/soccer mom van.
We woke up to a chilly, overcast morning and after rinsing our faces in the freezing North Fork of the Shenandoah River, took off on a little hike .
Fozzie felt the best way to cross the wobbly wooden bridge was to get it done as fast as possible,
While Lamar and the humans had a more gradual approach.
Across the bridge there was a historic log cabin restored by the Forest Service, which Fozzie loved.
Then there was a nice flat trail along the river.
The day was gradually warming up, but still not what you would call toasty.
I always wonder about dogs who can't resist going in the water, even when it's frigid.
Do they experience the cold differently than we do?
And you could imagine, looking over the bridge into the deep water, what a great place its going to be to swim in the summer.
As is usually the case on our trips, I would have been happy to stay in this area and explore the many trails but Florian wanted to go farther afield and see what else we could find.
For which I think Fozzie was grateful, as he loves to be in the car. He has several preferred ways to ride, which include smashing against the inside of the back of the van whenever we pass another car, mailbox, lamp post, or person;
and on my lap, either with his head propped on his front paws, which rest on the front dashboard,
or with his head and the entire front half of his body leaning out the window, ears flapping in the wind.
It definitely gets pretty heavy to have him there, but most of the time I enjoy it.
We saw some very cool sights on our meandering drive toward Backbone Mountain, the highest point in Maryland. At 3,360 feet it is not that exciting to a native of Switzerland and a former resident of Oregon and New Mexico, but we still thought it would be cool.
We got lost on our way there though, and decided to head back towards home before it got too dark.
On our way back we came upon the Tuscarora Trail, which I realized, the last time we went there, was the place Florian and I came on one of our first outings together when we'd only been together a couple of months.
It was really cold then too, and as I remember it Florian had just bought a new tent and in typical Florian fashion he wanted to set up his new toy and check it out.
So we set up the tent, sat in it for five minutes and ate beer cheese from Trader Joes, then packed up the tent and hiked out.
This time, we spent a bit more time as there was still some sun at the top of the trail and some gorgeous views over the mountains.
I don't sleep much when we camp in the van, and it's not always comfortable to be exposed to the elements and living in cramped quarters with two big mutts, but we always come home feeling refreshed and reinvigorated.
How do YOU regenerate in times of political stress?