Guess who’s back! (That exclamation point is a total lie. We’re all actually really bummed to be home, but that’s a post for another day.) We officially survived – and, dare I say thrived – for 22 days on the road as a family, and we have a ton of memories and photos to show for it. Since we’re back in the land of dependable WiFi and constant streams of electricity, here is part 1 of our road trip recap featuring our first stop at Shenandoah National Park!
Last summer, Luke and I decided to make a “Family Bucket List” goal of visiting all 59 of the National Parks before Marleigh graduates high school. This summer’s grand adventure was planned with that goal in mind as we checked our first two off the list – starting with Shenandoah. It worked our perfectly that Luke’s uncles were also planning a family camping trip for Shenandoah and invited us to come along! We stayed at Big Meadows Campground, which was beautiful and allowed us to get up close and personal with the nature of the park, as the deer literally ate the grass behind our camp site and the bears wandered in the trees on the paths up to the lodge.
We took advantage of a couple ranger-led programs while we were there, our favorite of which being the bus ride down to Rapidan Camp, Herbert Hoover’s presidential getaway in the woods. Marleigh made a new “friend” while we were there, a beautiful monarch butterfly who fluttered on her finger for a solid 20 minutes! She lovingly named him Arlo and was very sad to have to leave him behind when we left the camp.
A lot of our time at Shenandoah was spent hanging out as a family with Luke’s aunts and uncles, having nightly bonfires, and walking or biking around the paths to and from the meadow for walks and ice cream. We hiked up to the top of Hawksbill Mountain (the highest peak in the park at over 4,000 feet) and walked a ways down the Appalachian Trail. Luke checked in with work at the lodge a few times throughout the week and I was grateful to have an entire week “off the grid,” as my first true vacation from work in over a year!
After 6 days in the mountains of Virginia, we packed up the camper and truck and headed north to (what we thought would be) Hershey, PA. After a couple unforeseen circumstances, we ended up skipping that stop altogether and gypsied along to a different destination. Stay tuned for more on that in the second part of our road trip recap, coming soon!