Fun fact; Shannon’s mother named him after the Shenandoah River. It is the perfect namesake for this adventure, outdoor, river and mountain loving man. It fits him perfectly, like a prophecy.
On a recent trip to Maryland to visit some of my family, I knew Shannon would be shlepped around with my cousins and I for a few days, so I wanted him to have the opportunity to pick some things to do on the drive up. First was Smoky Mountain Knife Works just outside of Knoxville, TN, where we beheld one of the most disturbing outdoor scenes in existence…..
As we’d be going through Virginia, Shannon suggested that we drive the Skyline drive through Shenandoah National Park. The drive is 105 miles, at about 30mph, and therefore took about 3.5 hours. It was incredible in mid-October!
We entered the park in thick fog, about 9am, and the park ranger who took our $30 fee and gave us a park service map, told us that the fog usually starts to burn off around 10 or 11. Having the fog and the clouds made for some spectacular scenes against the colorful foliage.
We leapfrogged with a father/daughter pair who we saw at almost every stop for an hour or so. I offered to take their photo, as they were struggling for selfies, so they returned the favor for us.
We drove through vibrant, colorful landscape, and in between, stopped at the overlooks to take in the spectacular views. Also, The Appalachian Trail meanders through the park, and we decided to find a spot to stop and walk on it for a minute.
After about an hour and a half, we stopped at the Harry F Byrd Visitor center for a break. Here, the “Iron mike statue” is one of the 76 total erected to honor the men who served in the Civilian Conservation Corps. This statue was erected in 2006.
Every single gift-shop item had a black bear on it. Also, there was a park ranger standing outside, of the visitor center giving a lecture on bears. As we walked past, we heard, “If you wake a bear from it’s hibernation, it will immediately die”. That’s what the man said, but we imagine that may have been a stretch. Evidently, there is a high likelihood of a bear sighting on Skyline drive? Not so much with the fog….
As we pulled out of the park through the town of Front Royal, Virginia, we checked the time. We had enough time to make a brief stop in Washington D.C. before meeting my family for dinner in Maryland. Shannon had been there in 2018 for a work trip, but I had not been since 1986, on a family trip to see the same family members we were heading to meet this time. On my last visit in the 80’s, we’d been to museums and a few landmarks, but I had not gotten to walk through the National Mall. This seemed like the perfect activity given our timeframe. We parked right on the road in front of it, and paid the parking meter for 1 hour.
Walking through the National Mall, we saw the Washington Memorial, the WW2 Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, reflecting pool, Vietnam Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial off in the distance
As we were getting out of the car, Shannon asked me if I knew that the squirrels that roamed around the national mall would eat nuts out of your hand? I did not know this! I’d made a large bowl of Chex mix with peanuts and pecans to take to our family gathering. We pulled some nuts out of the mix and put them in our pockets. I know there are a lot of mixed feelings about squirrels, but I thought these were pretty cute:
- Side not – not all of the squirrels would come up and eat out of our hands. The ones that did ran right up to us like they knew us. I love animals, and I even enjoy the ones that gross people out like Possums and mice. I think it’s so much fun to hold and pet the tame ones. Shannon is this way and so is his entire family. Shannon has taken in and rehabilitated a raccoon, a grey fox, and many others including a chipmunk named Scott when he was in the 10th grade. Scott used to go to school with him, and there was only one teacher who wouldn’t let Scott into her classroom. Scott had to hang out in the locker during that class, and would crawl into his classmates lockers as well. Afterward, someone would say “Hey, Shannon- here’s Scott” and Shannon would walk down and collect him back into his shirt pocket. His sister has taken in and rehabbed orphaned baby squirrels. He told me that once she’d released them into the wild, she could walk out into her back yard and click her tongue and they’d come and sit on her shoulder to be given treats as well. I loved feeding these squirrels..
When we got back to the car, 15 minutes after the hour was up, we had a $100 parking ticket. We never saw the first meter maid/man, nor did we see any police vehicles, but evidently they’re monitoring it pretty closely. You have been warned.
Next, we traveled on to the historic town of Frederick, Maryland to see my wonderful family, but let me tell you a little bit about Frederick:
Beginning in November each year, there’s a very cool event called “Sailing Through the Winter Solstice” (linked there). There is a large creek that runs through town called Carroll Creek, and each year from November through March, there are beautiful, illuminated, small-scale sailboats on display. In warmer months, the project is turned over to one known as “Color on the Creek” (Facebook page linked there), meant to enhance the aesthetic of the creek as well as the water quality, but the water Lillies and other water gardens are beautiful. *Disclaimer – we were visiting in the time between either of these events, but I’ve seen many photos and have heard all about them many times, and I can assure you that it would be a worthwhile endeavor to stop by if you’re in the area. They are worth checking out.
Frederick, Maryland “Frederick is a city in western Maryland. It’s home to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, with immersive exhibits on battlefield medical care. The Schifferstadt Architectural Museum is a 1750s German colonial house with a heritage garden. Rose Hill Manor Park & Museums includes a manor house, a log cabin and a children’s museum. To the northwest, Gambrill State Park offers mountain trails and overlooks. ― Google”
We walked past the “Barbara Fritchie House” , which I’d never heard of.
Another interesting thing in Frederick, MD, is the Claire McCardell bronze statue. When we happened upon it on our walk, I’d never heard of her either. The Claire McCardell project (linked there) “Claire McCardell was an American fashion designer of ready-to-wear clothing in the twentieth century. She is credited with the creation of American sportswear.”Wikipedia
In addition to having an incredible community “vibe”, Frederick has more local breweries (linked there) in a 5 mile radius than anywhere else I’ve visited, except maybe Ashville, NC. On Friday nights, locals will head to one of these establishments, many of which overlook the beautiful Carroll Creek and surrounding parks. Local Food trucks come out as well, and it’s fun to sample the different food fare while trying out the different beers. We met up at the Attaboy brewery and taproom (linked) and had a delicious cheese steak and some old bay fries from @thegaragemd. And for those not familiar with Old Bay – it’s linked
We made it over to Annapolis for a day to attend the sailboat show again for our 2nd year in a row! Here is Last Year’s Post with many more details about the show. But here are a couple photos from this year:
Maryland blue crabs (with lots of Old Bay!) are a traditional, nostalgic event for our family. We ended our time in Frederick, MD with a delicious and fun steamed crab dinner
A fun trip, start to finish!