I’d like to first begin this one by saying it was well thought out. Again, one of those moments when I jumped at something because it excited my spirit and seemed totally worth it. One thing about this 100 In a Year Series is taking on the idea of “adventure” in so, so many ways. When you think of adventure, traveling might initially pop in your head, but let me reassure you, going on an adventure could be ANYthing. Think outside the box and let those creative juices flow + flow…
#2 Lay In the Grass + Stare at the Stars
Skyline Resort, Shenandoah National Park (May 19, 2016)
When I first re-started 100 In a Year, I sent the article to one of my male friends and invited him to pick something off my list and with no hesitation he chose this one. A stars + planets enthusiast, he chose #2 for all of the right reasons. So one night, spontaneous as heck — like totally out of the blue, he told me that we should tackle it in the Shenandoah National Park. And I quote, “If we’re going to look at the stars, might as well go all out!”
I got a chance to visit the park on a hiking trip for my 26th birthday and it was AMAZING all packed with stunning, breathtaking views. Completely liberating and so yeah, I was for star gazing there. One thing is for certain (if you’re trying to get into hiking soon), is to purchase some legit, real-deal type of hiking shoes. Along with other sorts of gear, I discovered some pretty cool hiking boots/gear while shopping online to prepare for my first adventure!
Shenandoah National Park extends along the Blue Ridge Mountains in the U.S. state of Virginia. The Skyline Drive runs its length, and a vast network of trails includes a section of the long-distance Appalachian Trail. Mostly forested, the park features wetlands, waterfalls and rocky peaks like Hawksbill and Old Rag mountains. Shenandoah is home to many bird species, plus deer, squirrels and the elusive black bear. Just 75 miles from the bustle of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park is your escape to recreation and re-creation. Cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, quiet wooded hollows—take a hike, meander along Skyline Drive, or picnic with the family. 200,000 acres of protected lands are haven to deer, songbirds, the night sky… and you. The park has over 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Some trails lead to a waterfall or viewpoint; others penetrate deep into the forest and wilderness.
We decided on a date and with no real plans set in place, took a mini road trip up there for… an adventure. On that particular night, the full moon was also in Scorpio (i.e. my sign), meaning that everything was just playing itself out in the most pleasant ways.
If you’ve never been to Shenandoah, you should. It’s an easy, calming trip to take that will leave you gasping for more of the pleasantries the elevated views have to offer. It’s great for anyone hiking, learning about mountains, camping and/or backpacking for the first time (which is how my 26th birthday was spent.)
So we start our trip around 7pm, anticipating the 2-hour winding road scenery, cabin life, dark skies and of course… the moon + stars. Music, food + conversation got us there around 9pm in one piece accompanied by a friendly lady welcoming us at the check-in desk. Being in Shenandoah or the Skyline Resort at night (highest elevation — which is where we were) is crazy dark, like pitch black. There aren’t any lights except for headlights zooming by.
With that being the case, we decided to drive to our star gazing location. Unfortunately, the Scorpio full moon was so bright, it was kind of hard to see the visible stars, but we were able to capture a few while he taught my moon-seeking, crystal loving, gypsy + bohemian wannabe, more about them. Now, we chose NOT to lay in the grass due to daily raining and also: deer. Yikes! Not to mention we had a little scare with a couple of them, but it only added a source of thrill to the trip. I guess one thing we could have considered is bringing along a tent. I’ve heard that Gear We Are provides the best tents, especially for adventures like this one. So I will check into that next time.
In short, great experience! Between my trip up there two years ago to the other night, I was so happy + humbled to have enjoyed everything that the park had to offer. If you live in the DC area, please add this mini trip to your to-do list even if it’s only to get away to clear your head for a couple of days. You will leave inspired depending on your primary source for going. You will be given a chance to connect with creatures + nature and in a sense, reset your life while adding more long and short term goals.