Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Splendid Day, A Most Spectacular Drive

A view from the Skyline Drive
Alma Jean and I took the day off yesterday to enjoy a fall foliage tour. Thunderstorms had been predicted for Tuesday, the date we had chosen before knowing what the weather would be like, but our day together turned out to be almost spring-like instead--warm, balmy and with only an occasional brief shower. Perfect.

We began our trek with a leisurely drive through Timberville and then further north on rural roads to Lebanon Church, where we took Rt. 624 toward Winchester to browse some antique shops and enjoy a soup and sandwich lunch at the Back Seat Cafe.

From there we traveled Highway 522 south through some more maple-red dotted landscape to Front Royal and to the north entrance of the Skyline Drive.

I had almost forgotten how breathtaking the fall scenery is along this historic highway, the construction of which was completed in 1939, the year I was born. Yesterday's mix of sunshine, at times a hearty breeze, along with some occasional clouds and a shower or two made that part of our day truly unforgettable.

Not only did we find ourselves thanking the Creator for the day's feast for the eyes and blessings for the soul, but I also felt grateful for the leadership in Washington years ago that created the Shenandoah National Park and built this one-of-a-kind road for our enjoyment. I also found myself thanking the hundreds of workers who did all of the difficult and dangerous labor that resulted in a highway so beautiful, complete with stonework that reflects truly fine craftsmanship.

One wonders whether our divided nation could accomplish a similar project today as was undertaken then, in part to provide work for hundreds of unemployed men during the Great Depression.

I also found myself feeling sad for the trauma of hundreds of mountain families being forced to move from their homes in the thirties to make room the Shenandoah National Park. Couldn't more of them been allowed to stay if they wished, perhaps to preserve some Appalachian culture along with the preservation of the mountain land that was their home?

Hard questions, but we certainly owe them some serious thanks as well.
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