With the Japan plans on indefinite hold I took a break from my Walter Mitty lifestyle and on Monday I drove up to Shanendoah National Forest in Charlottesville Monday and cruised down Skyline drive doing day hikes dow all those little trails one passes by. All in all, I hiked between 17 and 20 miles on those trails. I saw waterfalls, bears, (well, a bear) chipmunks , deer, possum, rattlesnakes (2 HUGE ones) redheaded woodpeckers, skunks, raccoons, various types of hawk and the top of Bearface mountain (from the top). Mostly I just hiked and got a bit sunburned, but it was a really nice couple of days. Bearface mountain in particular was quite challenging at points (I suck at heights), but I did get the 360 degree view. :)
I got a hotel one night, in Luray, and considered going to Luray caverns, but just went to the gift shop (they no longer carry bottled cave air BTW....in case you were...wondering). I just drove off and strated hitting the tourist traps along the highways in Appalachia.
There were several cool spots but one of the coolest was the Shanendoah Caverns complex. Besides the blind cave crickets, this bit of American tourist trappage boasts a museum dedicated to the floats used in all the inagural parades since 1948, and several other parades. It seems the owners of the cave are in charge of these too. The owner has also made it his business to collect various bits of eclectica from around the country that would otherwise have been discarded, amongst them are concrete dinosaurs and the worlds biggest cootie (about 47 feet long).
On the way back I stopped at the house of a friend I will be helping do landscaping next week and got a handle on exactly what he needs (It is much less intimidating now). I also stopped in Clifton at another friends and we watched Scars of Dracula....which was just bad....but was compensated for by excellent spaghetii.
Sore, but wired, I then drove the 150 miles or so back to Newport News.
....to find Zarqawi was dead.
All in all a very nice couple o' days. I'm still sore, but hey....