Shenandoah National Park [July 2012]

Shenandoah National Park holds a special place in my heart and in my memories. It was the first national park that Justin had ever been too, it was the first national park I remembered going to…

I had gone to Acadia National Park in Maine when I was like maybe 9 or 10, but I don’t remember much of it. The only thing I remember was there was this one part of Acadia National Park, and you could only get there during the low tide because during high tide, the path gets covered with water.

Shenandoah was the first stop Justin and I went to on our road trip when I moved from New Jersey to Texas. We were care-free, and just having fun, and didn’t have any worries in the world. We had no idea that a year from this trip was when I would be diagnosed with uterine cancer, have to get a hysterectomy, and we’d never ever be able to have biological children. We had no idea that I was about to live through four years of hell being bullied by a principal at my new school. This stop was the first of many adventures that Justin and I planned to have throughout our lives.

Great things happened during our drive through Shenandoah National Park. A phone call managed to get through even despite the spotty cell service in the mountains, and Justin got offered a new teaching job. He got offered a job at the current high school that he teaches at, and he was super excited about starting at a new school.

Shenandoah was full of promises for a happy future.

Shenandoah National Park was established on December 26th, 1935, and was formally opened on July 3rd, 1936. Shenandoah National Park encompasses part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. The most predominant feature of Shenandoah is Skyline Drive. Skyline Drive is a 105 mile road that runs along the ridge of the Blue Mountains in Virginia. It has 75 different lookouts. It is a two-lane road. The drive provides access to many different hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail. Skyline Drive was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997, became a scenic byway in 2005, and was designated a historic landmark in 2008.

I think travel bloggers, especially those that go to National Parks feel pressured to try to get that “awesome picture” and to do as much as they can within a National Park so they have things to blog about. That’s just not me. Justin and I drove the entire length of Skyline Drive, did no hiking, and I have no regrets. For one thing, it was an absolutely beautiful drive, and another thing, it was July, when we went, and July in Virginia was hot. With humidity, it must’ve felt like it was over one hundred degrees that day. Also, Justin got offered his teaching job that day, so instead of the leisurely three or so week timeline we thought we had to get from New Jersey to Texas, we suddenly had to get to Texas, so Justin could get back in time for his new-employee orientation.

Regardless, our drive on Skyline Drive was beautiful. There were tons of beautiful trees, views of the mountains, wildflowers, butterflies, and it was absolutely gorgeous. From then on, Justin and I were determined to visit as many National Parks as we could, and I think it was at these moments at Shenandoah National Park, and later Great Smoky Mountains National Park, that the plan for our future honeymoon was formed [because I knew from the second I met Justin that he was “the one], we were going to road trip and see as many National Parks as possible, and it’s something we’re continuing even to this day.

I wish I could tell you more about this trip. But it was so long ago. I remember driving through Skyline drive. I remember how beautiful everything was. I remember Justin really wanting to see a waterfall [we didn’t find one here, but we did at Great Smokey Mountains instead]. I remember the heat. I remember sweating. I remember being wowed at every single outlook. I remember Justin’s joy as he accepted his new job. I remember planning in my head, future road trips, and other national parks that I wanted to visit and how we could accomplish that.

But unfortunately this trip was so many years ago, and the details have grown hazy. But that just means that we’ll have to revisit Shenandoah one day.

Next weekend, Justin and I are embarking on another national park trip to visit Big Bend National Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and Carlsbad Caverns for our Thanksgiving breaks. So hopefully, I’ll have more current stories about national parks soon. But hopefully you enjoyed this very brief visit down memory lane 😉

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