I’m back online after a wonderful week spent without the Internet at my friend’s barn in Virginia. Every year, I get to spend a week with my horse and his friends, a bunch of quirky chickens and a few sweet (and mischievous!) cats while my friends go to the beach in North Carolina. It is a lot of work, but such a great experience! After doing this for a few years, I have grown to love the solitude and quiet time that this vacation gives me. The barn is tucked in the woods and surrounded by just a few houses and other farms. It is very secluded compared to my life in suburbia! At first, it was a bit scary to live in such a remote place, but I have quickly learned to enjoy it. I think of this time as a retreat from the routine of daily life and I make sure to spend time relaxing and enjoying all the creatures in and around the farm. I also get to give a lot of extra attention to my sweet horse Socrate.
This year’s stay did not disappoint. I read a few books, watched a few movies, visited some old favorite spots and tried new ones. My favorite day was spent on the front porch while the rain was absolutely pouring down. It was one of those days where you're glad to wear jeans and a sweater because it's so damp and cold. I could have stayed there for days with my herbal tea reading all the books in the world...
I spent time in two different parks during my Virginia stay. My first outing was at Franklin Park, a regional park in Purcellville, VA, and my second outing was at one my favorite Virginia spots called Shenandoah River Campus at Cool Spring Battlefield, a 195 acre piece of land located in Bluemont, VA. Currently under the stewardship of the Shenandoah University, Cool Spring Battlefield park offers many recreational opportunities. There are over 5 miles of paved trails for hiking and running, a few benches and picnic areas and access to the Shenandoah river. Since the park was recently made public, the park rules are still changing. It seems that Shenandoah University is still in the process of developing its policies and programs for the park. So far, the public is not allowed to bring boats and kayaks to the river, but you can swim and fish without too much trouble. I have tested that theory several times! The park is also a good area for birding and looking for butterflies. It is also a great area to find snakes. During my last visit, I made my first encounter with a good size northern watersnake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon).
I went to Franklin park on my first day in Virginia. I wanted to try a local coffee shop and a new pizzeria in the area, so I decided to tackle all three at once. Have I mentioned that I may have overachiever tendencies before? Let’s change the subject. :-) The coffee shop was great, but expensive (4$ for an iced tea!), the pizza was just okay, but the views at Franklin park did not disappoint! Although I had been to the park a few times to ride the trails with my horse, I had never been there on foot and I wanted to check out its possibilities for hiking and viewing nature. There are about 3.5 miles of equestrian and pedestrian trails in the park. The trails are not very secluded at times as they border various playing fields. For you fishers out there, Franklin park has a catch-and-release pond that can be used during the summer. There are several docks surrounding the pond for easy access to the fish.
There are many picnic areas that are really cute and functional. I ate my pizza at a picnic table found near a small gazebo. What I liked about the place is that all the picnic tables and gazebos were really far from one another. This is really great as you can feel a sense of privacy and can enjoy your friends or family’s company in relative peace and quiet. The most wonderful part of my picnic was the great views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
I decided to do things a bit differently in this blog post. I have had several of you asking for more pictures in my posts. What do you think? I would love to hear your comments and be honest! I'd love to share more pictures, but I don't want to detract from the information I would like to give you. My goal is to share enough pictures to give you a sense of place and offer just enough information to pique your curiosity and let you decide if you'd like to visit the place. Please take a moment to let me know what you think! I would very much appreciate it.