Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Carrie and Matthew Come to Visit

Saturday August 29 and  Sunday August 30 , 2015                             Most Recent Post:
Lewis Mountain Campground                                                               Excitement on the Northernmost Part of the Shenandoah AT
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia





We’re feeling pretty lucky. Carrie and Matthew are visiting us for the second time this summer.  Last time they visited we were in Big Meadows and they stayed at the lodge.  You can see that post here.

Today as before, they arrive for breakfast and we eat it in the screened tent on the picnic table.  Carrie sits up when David brings the camera and blocks Matthew out of the picture.  Too funny.  Of course I have no pictures of the delicious chocolate chip oatmeal pancakes.






After breakfast, Carrie and Matthew walk up to the camp store to check into the cabin they have rented for the night.  Carrie and I both think it’s much cuter than the room they had at the lodge.  That’s not to say that none of the lodge rooms are cute but you really do have to pick carefully to avoid the old motel atmosphere. 




Each cabin has its own sheltered picnic table, bear box and fire pit complete with chairs for sitting outside around the fire.




The cabin is one room with bath paneled in beautiful knotty pine.  It has a wonderful rustic character.




Carrie tries out the bed while Matthew changes shoes from sandals so we can hike down to the Rapidan Camp.



Father/daughter picture on the porch.



As we are leaving  to go hiking, I catch a shot of this Red Admiral butterfly on the door mat.  Now that’s a real welcome mat.





The last time David was down to the Rapidan Camp he took the bus with the tour since we weren’t sure about his hiking back up this trail with the advent of the heart blockages.  With his medications seeming to work well, he’s game to try.  Of course everything here goes down hill first.







In the lead, Matthew spots this busy group in the tree to the left of the trail.



I zoom in and get them at their work before hurrying on by.  I’m not afraid of many things in the wild but stinging insects are on my list due to the reaction I get when stung by anything.  The nest really is a work of art though.






We’re finally down far enough to cross the Mill Prong River which combines with the Laurel Prong at Rapidan Camp to form the Rapidan River.  Matthew is in the lead, followed by Carrie, me and then David.  this enables me to catch Carrie and Matthew going across and then get David coming from the other side.







Queen of the rock!  That’s my girl!   Sure glad she’s not too grown up to have some fun.



More river crossings.



Which way?  That way?  He asks.  Well it’s clear no horses are allowed on this one so we’d better take that.  We know all too well about horse trails.




Through the trees, We catch glimpses of falls on the river.



Then we come to Big Rock Falls where we stop and enjoy.





We enjoy it from all angles.





Back on our way, Matthew rock hops across.



The rest of us take the rock bridge.   Hiking order has changed.




We hear something splashing and look back to find two horses and riders enjoying the pool and falls.




Both horses continually paw the water and splash it up.  I’m not sure if they are cooling themselves off or perhaps see their reflections in the water.  The horses keep this up for quite a some time.  We can hear the splashes long after we have moved on.







Still headed down hill, I find a huge tree to hug.  Good vibrations!


And then it’s back up but still along the river.


When we come to the camp, we can see the week-end tour bus that David took has arrived.  Tours are done twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday, at least this year.

We walk into the area and pass one of the 3 buildings still standing from the original 17.  This was the cabin President Hoover’s body guard and his doctor shared. It is now used by the park volunteer in charge of other tours today and on the other days as well as overseeing the area.  If you’d like more detail about the camp and its buildings, see my first post on it, from early June, using this link.



We walk over and join the tour group for a bit of history.


We leave them and move on to the Hoover summer white house, known as the “Brown House”, where we take a much smaller tour given by the woman of the volunteer couple.  No cameras are allowed in the house so there are no pictures; although in my previous post I did sneak some through the windows once I was outside.  Check the link in the previous paragraph.


Following the tour we move over to what is known as the Prime Minister’s Cabin.  This cabin has not been restored with furniture as it was at that time, but instead has numerous exhibits about the Hoovers and their lives and good works.  It really updated my opinion of Hoover who is known for being the president at the time of the Great Depression.  It’s true that he lost the election because he did not believe in using the government to lift the country out of the depression and most people felt then and many still feel that the government had to step in.  However,  both before, during and after his presidency, Hoover did many very impressive and helpful things.



Lou Henry Hoover designed the Rapidan Camp and would not allow trees to be cut so the buildings were built around them.  The most obvious sign of this is the holes in many of the roof overhangs to accommodate the trees.  I have to wonder though if the closeness of the buildings and possible damage to the tree roots is why so many of them are no longer around 86 years later.  Or perhaps they were not long  lived trees although the holes appear to have accommodated pretty small and thus younger looking trees.


The guys head back on up the trail after a shorter visit to the Prime Minister’s cottage.  Carrie and I go back to see the front porch of the brown house and the outdoor fireplace where many “official pictures” were taken during Hoover’s tenure here.  We take some official pictures of our own.  Notice the hole from the absent tree over my head.  clearly the floor of the deck has been replaced.  I continue to wonder what happened to the trees.



Official fireplace photo.


Hiking back up the trail, we are both a little worried about how steep it is and how David is doing.






But he is fine.  The big news of the day is that on the way back Matthew and David see a black bear.  They were much further away than this.  I’ve cropped the pictures so we can see him.  The last one is a little blurry since he’s on the move.  For those worried about us and the bears, we continue to believe what we are told by the rangers and naturalists here, that black bears are rarely dangerous unless provoked or surprised in close quarters.








Carrie and I are happy that David has had no trouble but bummed we weren’t with them when they saw the bear.  David and I have lost track at this point of how many bears we’ve seen this summer.  It’s always such a treat.

Before dinner Carrie and I face off in ladder ball.  David gets some pictures.  I’m sort of the underdog here and Matthew cheers for me.  Thanks Matthew!





After several rounds the score is still at two big goose eggs. 



And then Carrie starts scoring.  With her twos and threes and my measly ones, I’m falling behind.



But the tables turn when I hit the only 1,2,3 I’ve seen so far.  I just can’t believe I did it. Talk about luck.   Of course after that, I can hardly even hit the ladder but hitting all three sure is fun at the time.   Carrie won one game and I won one so the tie breaker is yet to come.




After dinner of which, of course, I have  no pictures, Matthew sets us up for S’mores.

He and David scour the nearby woods for dry firewood to build a small fire and get hot coals which are best for toasting marshmallows.




David can’t wait for coals and apparently doesn’t mind setting his marshmallows on fire and eating the resulting charcoal black crust.  He must be full of a lot of hot air to think he can blow that flaming sugar ball out from such a distance.


Carrie is laughingly willing to take a bite.


But Matthew knows how to really do this.  Using the coat hanger turned roaster stick,  he turns it around and around to lightly brown the outside of the marshmallow and melt the gooey inside.



I wait for Matthew’s and pronounce his efforts to be perfect. 



We all carry on trying to imitate Matthew with more or less success as he keeps the fire going with small sticks.



We sit around the fire until after dark when they head back to their cabin.  We’re all tired from a fun day with 4.5 miles and over 13,000 steps.  






Today we treat Carrie and Matthew to breakfast at the Big Meadows Lodge.  I had eaten there earlier in the summer and the breakfast was fantastic.  I had lightly scrambled eggs and they were perfect, the bacon and home fries and biscuits were also absolutely wonderful.  So I’m expecting good things here on this Sunday morning. 

Matthew gets the buffet thankfully since he is able to bring me some actually cooked bacon from it.  My lightly scrambled eggs look like they are warmed over from the buffet.  They are dry as a bone.  The bacon must have been waved over the fire at most, not really cooked.  I would have sent the entire thing back if I’d been alone but everyone has their food so I don’t want to hold things up.

After this experience the restaurant is 50/50 for breakfast and too expensive for dinner so I’ll give it a pass despite the lovely dining room.   Of course I don’t think to take any pictures until I am walking away and only David, having a last sip of coffee, is sitting in front of the nearly empty table.  SIGH..….   Seems I caught him in deep thought.


After breakfast, we drive down to Charlottesville where Carrie’s friend Allegra, the daughter of our friends Ted and Lynne who hiked Dark Hollow Falls with us on Monday, is having a house warming.

The house is in the fantastic neighborhood of Key West.  It’s a really lovely house but look at the size of that lawn. Ted says he’s been mowing it while Allegra settles in.  He and Lynne only live a few miles away.  That’s what Dad’s are for isn’t it?   The deck in the back overlooks a lovely pond of which, of course, I also don’t take any pictures.




But I do get Allegra opening Carrie and Matthew’s gift of a really neat bug repeller for her deck.  We bring her a fancy hummingbird feeder but I didn’t get pictures of that.




Everyone gathers around watching Allegra open her house warming presents. 



Allegra is an OB/GYN with a practice in Charlottesville and her boss gives her this soft comfy pillow saying she might use it while she is on call in the winter or staying over in the hospital.  It is a hit!   There is also a matching throw. 




Lots of people wander in and out.  I take the tour of the house but have left my camera sitting somewhere.  I also neglect to get pictures of the delicious food even though I am at the food table several times so there really is no excuse.  But I do manage to snap this picture of Carrie and another friend from high school, Julia.  They haven’t seen each other in a long time.




Since we all have a bit of a drive to get back home, we leave before the party is quite over.  Carrie and Matthew have to go back to work tomorrow and we have to go back to……….well, continuing to be retired.   Boy is that a fabulous job.  Wish I’d done it 10 years before I did.  

On the way out we pay homage to one of the 100+ year old trees for which Allegra is now the caretaker.   This Catalpa looks just amazing in person with its huge trunk and sweeping branches but to get the entire tree, David has to be too far away.  Still it’s a beauty and should have gotten a hug.  What WAS I thinking to miss such an opportunity?




One last picture with my darling daughter and we are all on our way in opposite directions.  They are headed east to the city and we west to the mountains.  We’re hoping to see them at least once more before the end of our time in Virginia.   Thanks for coming again you two.  Remember we still have that ladder ball tie breaker.




  1. always fun when the kids visit...

  2. I always enjoy your posts about Carrie and Matthew visits. David always looks so happy when they're there, and so do you!

  3. Good to see Carrie and Matthew visiting and you all having such a good time! Great pictures as always - nice crops of the bears - seems like they have really rebounded in the past 20 years.

  4. I love the bears too, and am so excited I've seen so many this summer, especially the grizzly!! I will tell you from personal knowledge, the worry about the heart condition never goes away on my part. I just pray the exercise is doing Al so much good and that the medication keeps doing its job. I pray the same for David. Hope to see you guys this winter.

  5. You can't beat family visits. I can't believe how many bears you've seen this year.

  6. Do both the horse and the people trails end up at the same falls?

  7. Great visit:) That looks like a great cabin compared to some I have seen.

  8. What a lovely post! The hiking, marshmallow roasting, etc., seems like so much fun. The cabin room looks comfortable and inviting. I'm glad to see the inside of one after tenting in the campground a couple of years ago.

  9. Glad you guys got to do some hiking and spend some time together! David and Matthew were lucky to see the bear. S'mores you say? Yes please! xxxooo

  10. Family fun is the best!! Hiking, bears, ladderball and smores....about as good as it gets;o))

  11. The picture of you and Carrie shows your happiness, their visits really bring you and David joy.
    Wow, that many bears there! For once you've finally sighted several on these hikes.

  12. Oh, it looks y'all had so much fun. A perfect weekend! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Wow! That was a very long weekend! Nice hike! Yum, love smores:) Neat that you saw the Little Brown House. Hoover had a lot of good to offer. Time with family is always special:)

  14. Looks like a fun time for everyone. Thanks for sharing.

    We have black bears, they walk around and look quite nice. I have never had a problem with them, as they want nothing to do with humans and quickly leave.

  15. What a terrific visit! Love that the guys saw a bear! That bees (wasp?) nest is neat. The ones I see out here are usually more perfectly spherical and smoother surfaced, yours is quite rough on the surface...interesting!

  16. Beautiful shot of the Red Admiral. Yes, horses splash the water up on their bellies to cool down. It used to make me sea-sick when my mare would do it too long :-( Great catch of Matthew rock hopping - I was impressed he was hiking slow enough to catch the hornets' nest :-)))) Looks like everyone had a fun time on the trail and the party. Bummer about the bad breakfast. You'll have to practice your ladder ball for the big championship match!

  17. It was indeed a great and busy weekend- glad for all the visitors, hike success and smores! Lots of fum and memories to cherish.

  18. Look at my outfits in those pictures! Lol! I always forget that my pictures will go public. Haha! Oversized sweatshirt and black socks with flip flops...what a fantastic look that is. So glad my family loves me for exactly who I am ;) We do have such a great time!! That trip was so fun from Lewis Mountain to Rapidan to S'mores to Allegra's. Looking forward to that tie breaker...that I will win ;) Matthew says hi!

  19. Oh...and Matthew says he will root for you again in the tie breaker..lol..thanks so much sweetie ;) Let Pops know I'm enlisting him for my cheering section!

  20. So nice you got another visit before summer is really over. I love that you're (well, not you this time) all are seeing bears and getting pictures too!

  21. Sounds like fun was had by all... So glad that you have had the opportunity to spend more time together. Fun to see the places that we explored too! Thanks for the hints about what to do and see!

  22. Love that knotty pine. So wonderful that Carie and Mathew got to visit a second time this summer.

  23. What a sweet and fun family visit! Your joy shines through in this post. Wonderful mother-daughter photo.


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