We stayed on the Shenandoah River, in a little town called Shenandoah, not too far from Shenandoah National Park. At least I only had to learn how to spell one word.
We were on a river, of course, because all four boys wanted to fish and canoe and otherwise frolic in the water. I am perfectly content to knit while they do, so it is a win-win situation.
We did a whistle-stop tour of Virginia history in that area, including three Civil War battlefields, the University of Virginia, Robert E. Lee's Chapel and Monticello.
The boys now have a deep understanding of the man memorialized in the statue above. Quite unplanned, we ended up visiting:
- the first Civil War battle he fought at (Manassas/Bull Run) where he got his nickname;
- the college he taught at (Virginia Military Institute) where his taxidermied Civil War mount still stands;
- the college where he met and married his first wife (Washington & Lee University); and
- the only house he ever owned (with his second wife, in Lexington).
They could go on Jeopardy and demolish any category with Stonewall Jackson as the subject.
When we weren't learning about Virginia history, we were hiking in the National Park. My favorite spot was this abandoned Episcopal mission. We could just make out the stone entry steps and the outline of the stone building. We were unable to locate the cemetery, though we discovered later we were looking in the wrong place.
The building in the picture was the residence of the mission workers. For some reason, it was not destroyed like most of the residences in the park. It brought home the expense of building the park to all the people who lived there prior to its inception, who were forced off the land against their will.
In all that hiking, we came across deer, birds and an amazing variety of beautiful butterflies, but luckily no bears. We saw this young one on Skyline Drive from the vantage of our car.
All in all, a relaxing and informative vacation. Hopefully it primed the boys' brains for the start of school in less than three weeks. They were glad they don't live in Virginia, though, where they noticed that school starts this week!