A few days ago a polished RV rolled in and parked across the road from us at Shenandoah’s Big Meadows campground. The kernel of news here is that it was navigated by a reader and frequent commenter. The Mayor was talking telecommunications with some pop-up people two sites down when she noticed a young lady looking at the Red Sled and Kat’s Cradle with marked curiosity. When Pink and I emerged from the ‘Stream for walkies, this gal strolled over with a big smile (yo dog, that don’t happen every day) asking “Jackson?” “Yes, how did you know? “I’m Georgia Jen. Your rig looked familiar, but Pink sold me.”
We broke bread with The Nealys Thursday night. The menu was spring mix salad with balsamic vinaigrette, potato soup, and Kat’s bread pudding with bourbon sauce. We had no bourbon and asked Jen to bring some. We asked for a jigger; she misunderstood and told her man to bring a cup. He figured that would be some delicious sauce so he brought a bottle.
The lovely and charming Jen has a husband, Deas, who is quite the raconteur. He regaled us with stories of hiking, crazy dogs, nude beaches, and a life story echoing John Lennon’s Watching the Wheels (“no longer riding on the merry-go-round, I just had to let it go”). Like me, Deas was (he probably still is) a CPA, who for much of his career slaved for a Big 4 firm, later for a family of wealth and means. That was then, which enabled this and now. We have both moved on to happier times. Check out their blog Nealys on Wheels.
In case you missed or forgot it, here’s a link to Lennon’s tune about early retirement. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MmCMPqK9v0
Shenandoah was designated a National Park in 1926. Local Chamber of Commerce types wanted it for tourism. Cal Coolidge loved trout fishing so much he built a camp here, and was easily persuaded. The West had the big National Parks; the East deserved some too. Congressional Republicans passed the designation, then refused to budget funds for its development. Private citizens and the State of Virginia bought the land and gave it to Uncle Sam. Meanwhile Hoover started a road project called Skyline Drive across the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Along came the Great Depression and FDR, who quickly set up the Civilian Conservation Corps. FDR’s Tree Army employed 10,000 men from 1933 to 1942 at SNP. Private contractors got work too, typically operating heavy equipment. This was an early “shovel-ready project”. There were several CCC camps along Skyline building Shenandoah. One camp went up on the Big Meadow.
A brief thunderstorm rolled through bringing the best thunder I’ve ever heard. In most places nearby lightning sounds like seven to ten crackling 16th notes played mezzo-piano followed by an accented fortissimo half note. Yesterday’s thunder rang on and on like a dozen fortissimo whole notes tied together. You weren’t in the band or choir? Translation: each thunderclap rolled on and on for three to seven seconds, bouncing around the valley. It was a spectacular sonic experience.
Wayne Hancock and I “sure love thunderstorms and neon signs”! Check it out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY5QqvMkFpc