Complete Flickr set here
My flight out wasn't until the evening, so we had time to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains (as Tracy had wanted to when I got in, but not in the pouring rain). We visited Shenandoah National Park, which is really just up the road from her house. I liked the name-- "Shenandoah" was the nick of a friend of mine. Saw some fall color, but it was really "meh" this year. In fact, near the top of the road most of the trees has already lost their leaves.
We stopped at the visitor center at the top of the hill (er, "mountain") and walked out into the meadow (willfully defying the advice of Bambi's mother). Gorgeous! This almost had me fooled, too: no ticks, no heartworm mosquitos, little poison ivy. The day was crisp and clear with a tiny breeze. I was able to get my dogwalk-fix with Cody who, even at his advanced age, was as dainty and chipper as ever. Once he saw a deer, he was ever-alert for more of the unsavory characters. It was fun to watch him be alert-brave-watchdog again.
There was much adorableness with Tracy's kid and woolybear caterpillers (and trying to remember the old saw about width of the brown ring and severity of the coming winter-- fyi, thin=harsh; thick=mild). Also, milkweed pods: she became fascinated with releasing the fairy people to float away on the wind.
We had lunch at the cafe in the visitors center: surprisingly good fare! Plus, the fudge in the gift shop was of that rare variety that I -love- (it's got some tooth to it and doesn't have that completely smooth, "buttery" texture that is so prevalent these days). I got some. Trip back was filled with wonderful views of the Shenandoah Valley.
After that, off to the airport and home. Unremarkable flight: it got in at just after midnight-- but that was after 3am in EST-time. The drive from LAX was a sleepy blur. And the best thing about coming home: getting the boys bright and early the next day. Stinky, but otherwise unharmed!