SHENANDOAH NP - STOP #1

through



TRAVEL DAY - 30.7 miles

MATHEWS ARM CAMPGROUND
to
BIG MEADOWS CAMPGROUND

That squiggly blue line is our route on Skyline Drive


With today's short hop between campgrounds up here on Skyline Drive there is fortunately nothing too exciting to report. We did see a pair of deer just off the side of the road, but not much else as we flew by at 30MPH. So here are a few pictures of Skyline Drive and then we'll talk about our weekend at Mathews Arm Campground.


The obligatory entrance sign photo

One of Skyline Drive's twist and turns

A view of Shenandoah Valley below one of the overlooks

Another view from another overlook


With Thursday being a short travel day and a simpler setup without water and electricity, it left plenty of time for Tricia to get in a half day's worth of work. Our biggest challenge was to keep the trailer batteries charged up so we could use our laptops and cell phone boosters. With the grey skies and heavy cloud cover our 360 watts of solar power was not up to that task. So it was time to bring out the big guns, our 2000 watt Honda generator.

Most parks have rules about generator usage and only certain sites can use them at all, the other sites are inside of a generator free zone. I like these kind of restrictions, having been a tent camper for over 15 years, I have been on both sides of the benefits now. When I was tent camping I hated having a big 40 foot long Class A Motor Home pull into the site next to me and run their diesel powered generator all night so they could watch TV while microwaving some popcorn and sleep in their air conditioned comfort. With these kind of restrictions in place the tent campers can now rest assured that scenario doesn't happen to them. This National Park goes a step further and only allows generator usage from 8-10 AM and again from 4-7 PM. That is plenty of time to recharge the batteries back to 100% so they can last through the six hour mandatory break in usage each day. So Thursday and Friday were work days, Saturday would be all ours to get outside and play.


First off, the Number One Thing To Do in Shenandoah National Park is to go on an amazing hike, maybe to see a mountain view or one of the parks beautiful waterfalls, or maybe to even see some of the local wildlife. We didn't do any of that! Our weekend was filled will rain and wind and bone chilling cold. So what did we do this weekend? We went underground! Just before entering the park there were many billboards along the highway touting the tours in Skyline Caverns. Now while I have been to several caverns when I was much younger, maybe thirty five years younger, Tricia has never been in a cave. That was going to change this weekend.

With the outdoor weather taking Plan A off the table, to go hiking, we switched to Plan B and escaped the weather by visiting a cavern. Now in case you don't know the difference, a cave is one large room underground, whereas a cavern is two or more rooms connected by a passageway. While I must say Skyline Caverns is not very large and it's not the most beautiful cavern either, it was very well presented by the tour guide. He was proud to say that the proprietors have tried to leave the cavern as natural as possible, other than making it safe to offer tours by adding proper lighting and stable flooring, not much else has been changed. It does have one room with a very unique and rare rock formation called an anthodite. They are only found in three locations in the United States and you will see them in the pictures below.


SKYLINE CAVERNS

Going down into the rustic entrance of the cavern
Our tour guide walks well ahead of the small group of patrons to the next highlight
Stalactites hanging from the cave's ceiling
Some rooms in the cavern had a forty foot high ceiling
More stalactites, the most common formation found here
Even more stalactites
Stalactites and stalagmites reflecting in a shallow pool of water
A closeup of the rare "sea urchin looking" anthodite hanging from the ceiling


Until next time
TWO PEAS


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