Category Archives: Virginia

Visiting Virginia’s Newest State Park

Aquia Creek

Last Friday, as I have for the past few years, I decided to #optOutside rather than hit the stores that morning.  I had wanted to visit the newest state park in Virginia:  Widewater State Park.  The morning was chilly but there was little to no wind so it wasn’t bad wandering around the park.

The park is small.  And it is a little difficult to find. I would suggest reading directions on the Virginia State Park’s site or using Google Maps.  The other map services didn’t have quite the right location. Once you arrive you end up next to the Potomac River and Aquia Creek.  If you like water, this is a great park.  There is a location to launch a boat and, when it is warmer, it will have paddling available.  When we entered the park I noticed there were no envelopes available.  Also, I did not see any park rangers working so there was no way to pay the fee.  Hopefully, they will have envelopes in the future because I always want to pay my way at State Parks.

Once we parked, I noticed there was also no large map on a sign anywhere.  It made it difficult to know where the trails were. Thankfully, we had seen one on our way in and walked to that. It is a short trail at only 1 mile.  It is currently the only trail available in the park. It winds by Aquia Creek, into a small wooded area, next to a pond, and back to the parking lot.  We also went off trail a bit just to get some more steps into our day. 

Looking back at the map online, I see that we could have driven to an alternate location on the Potomac River. I would have liked to do that as we did see two eagles fly overhead. Maybe we could have seen more over on the river. 

Overall, the park has great potential. It was completely quiet.  My friend and I were the only two at the park.  When it warms up, however, I think the park will be busy.  Hopefully they will add more trails to the park because the land is beautiful.  When you get a chance, I definitely suggest heading out to check out the park.

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Lands Run Falls

I was happy to have Indigenous People Day to get out for a short hike. I asked my daughter to go with me and she actually agreed to wake up early and go. This was exciting because it has been over a year since she’s gone hiking with me.  I told her we wouldn’t go too far and it would be pretty.  Check and check.

We woke up at 5:00 am to get to an overlook by sunrise.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) there was a lot of fog.  Since we would be in the North District for Shenandoah National Park for our hike, the overlooks were few and far between on the east side.  They get better as you head south in the park.  I found one and we waited. Finally, the sun came up and illuminated the fog.  I had not brought my 18-200 mm lens and wish I would have for this morning.  I could have gotten a better shot of the fog against the mountains.  My wide shot was okay but sometimes zooming in is also good in landscapes.

foggy sunrise 2

Morning Fog

morning

Overlook Illuminated

We drove back towards our hiking location as I worried about the sun being too bright for a waterfall.  As we started down our path, I was happy with the cover and the fact that the waterfall was located on the west side of the trail. This means the light wouldn’t reach it for a couple of hours.  The hike to Lands Run Falls is very short. It took us no more than 10 mins or so to reach the falls (or the first part of the falls).  Some fall colors were showing and leaves were scattered around the rocks.  This made for great photos.

I am normally alone when I hike but having my daughter with me allowed me to crawl down the rocks. She handed my tripod to me and I took photos from further down. I debated going farther down the rocks but they were slippery and there was no way my daughter would know if I fell (the falls were that loud).  I took some shots and whistled loudly.  Thankfully, she appeared.  I handed her my tripod again and climbed back up the rocks.  As I climbed up, I knew I wouldn’t have made it alone.

waterfall

Towards the bottom of the first drop

cascade2

Cascades at the top

The falls were really pretty.  I think that if we had continued down the trail we would have come to more falls but I kept my promise.  We hiked back up to the car.  The whole hike took about an hour. Super short and sweet.  On our way home, we traveled through the Virginia countryside.  My girl is a lover of small, quaint towns. We drove through The Plains, Virginia and on towards Loudoun County.  We had a wonderful time chatting and driving slow.

I get to go back to Shenandoah soon and I’m hoping the trees are popping with color. Fingers crossed.

Dominion Defends Controversial Decision to Bulldoze Entire Appalachian Mountain Range — The Peedmont

Have you been following the Pipeline that is going to be going through the Appalachian Mountain Range as well as Blue Ridge Mountains (I don’t know if they are one in the same, technically). The pipeline isn’t necessary and will totally ruin how the area looks. The pipeline will also run over/under/through the Appalachian Trail. If you haven’t read about it or are unaware, please make yourself aware. If you care about the area at all, it is important to call people and make your voice heard.

RICHMOND, Va. — Claiming the decision was made with the best intentions, Dominion Energy is standing by their controversial commitment to completely destroy the Appalachian Mountain range. According to Dominion spokesperson Richard Deanders, the demolition of the entire mountain range, which includes famed national parks such as the Great Smoky Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley, and […]

via Dominion Defends Controversial Decision to Bulldoze Entire Appalachian Mountain Range — The Peedmont

Spring Time Babies

It is spring now and that means sports for me.  My son has soccer 5 days a week and my daughter usually has 2-3 softball games a week. Yes, it keeps me busy.  Usually, when my son is practicing soccer, I’m trying to run. It has been a bit tough with the winter-like weather we’ve had. I have bad asthma and so cold weather isn’t my friend (and neither is the pollen count this week).  I still manage to get out and walk though.

I noticed 4 weeks ago that there was a mama goose who had nested at a pond at the soccer fields. As I approached the pond one day, the male honked and honked. I couldn’t figure out why he was in such an uproar. Finally, I spotted the female with her head down trying to hide.  It was quite remarkable.

Over the next 4 weeks, I kept watch. I would go and see how she and the eggs were progressing. I never saw her partner again but she would be there. Head down. Hiding. And even just this past Saturday, I stopped by.  As I photographed blue birds, northern flicker, hawk, and other birds I noticed she was still on her eggs. And then it happened. This past Tuesday I arrived and there was the family. Did I bring my camera? No. Of course not. I stood there and watched them and debated going home for it.  I don’t live too far and knew it wouldn’t take me too long. I also figured I could return the next night with it.  I finally decided to go and ran back to my car.

I returned and did my best to photograph the little cuties. There were 8 in total.  I noticed one egg hadn’t hatched and so I figured they had to just be hours old.  The cuteness was almost overwhelming. I kept texting a friend with that exclamation. I finally looked at my camera and my heart dropped when I noticed I hadn’t changed my aperture. Ugh! I reviewed some shots and yes, they were out of focus as the depth of field was too narrow for the distance.  I fixed that and managed to get a few decent shots. I really wanted ones of them swimming.

Last night, we went early so I could show my son the goslings. They weren’t there. I figured they would be there for the next couple of weeks. I hadn’t anticipated them going elsewhere until the babies could fly.  I was bummed (and incredibly happy I had returned for my camera the night before).  As we drove back to his soccer field, I looked at a pond closer to the main road.  And there they were. How did they get there?  It is a mile from pond to pond. The new pond has a fence all the way around it.  I was perplexed. And a bit sad because I really looked forward to watching them grow.

Here are a few shots to enjoy! Click to enlarge.