Friday, August 27, 2010

Take me Home, Country Roads

Inspired by my mom's geocache find at Virginia Beach, we boys decided to try one in Richmond that had been ranked the most challenging of the state. On the left, Bob is plowing through the underbrush to find an oddly placed cache, and on the right is where another clue led us. To be precise, the next clue was at the bottom of the pit but I didn't feel super-confident about climbing down the ladder (the thing that looks like broken twigs) so we called it a day.

Bob showed us a deserted hydroelectric plant and we had fun exploring it, as well as the surrounding area.

The island that we were on however, did hold a different sort of treasure for me. It had been used 150 years ago during the civil war as a POW camp for the confederacy. Normally, historical trivia like that doesn't mean too much to me, but Dad told me that my great-great-grandfather, Daniel Showalter (my namesake) was taken prisoner for refusing to fight (he was a Mennonite) and could have been among the prisoners on that island. The picture below shows where the prisoners were held; actually, the long shelterhouse wasn't around at that time, but the prisoners were just left out in the open field shown below, exposed to the elements and with almost no food or water. Apparently they couldn't escape because they were so weak and there were constantly armed soldiers positioned over the field. Again, I'm not exactly sure where Daniel was held prisoner, but I had a little conversation with his spirit; I figured it was time to adopt at least one Korean custom (talking with one's ancestors).

For dinner, we went to the pizza place in Richmond again. The same one that showed up in the last blog entry. Actually we didn't. We only went once, but I can't remember which night it was on, so I split the pictures between the two blog entries. In any case, the important part is that I can't lose any of the trademark jump photos.

As you can see from our car display, the temperature had cooled down somewhat from the raging 109 degree heat of the previous days...
Too baked to head back to the beach, we settled instead on the gorgeous (and shady) Blue Ridge Mountains.
Of course, being in the shade alone wasn't quite cool enough, so we ventured out on a hike to find what was described as the tallest falls east of the Mississippi. When we found it, it was majestic indeed (although it was actually spread out over several waterfalls so we couldn't take it all in within a single view. However, it's remote location devoid of busloads of tourists and parking scammers certainly made it more my style than Niagara Falls.

After noticing that there had been so many deaths from people climbing on the rocks that they had put up a scoreboard style counter, we were very careful to stay off of the rocks.
One of the things that has been so fun this summer has been the unlikely merging of two of my passions. The research I'm working on is a blend of mathematics and rural areas, and the latter part has inspired me to renew some of my awareness of a connection with nature. Not that I've ever lost it, and I hope I never do, but there are definitely times in my life where I unfortunately get caught up in the so-called "pressing issues" and overlook the beauty around us.

This hike along the waterfall in particular was a prime example of one of my words, frexline.

It also had its romantic moments!

This next moment was not frexline, but I have felt an ever-deepening bond with my brother-in-law Kiwi.
Speaking of bonding, there was some female bonding going on also over the week. Mom got Heather and Joo colorful matching attire from head to foot.

Of course I had been camping before, probably a hundred times, but never before with something as cool as the Busaru. Bob, with no former mechanical knowledge, took the engine out of a Subaru and installed in the rear of a Volkswagon Bus. He then proceeded to deck the Busaru out with Christmas lights, a reserve battery, a passenger eject button and a host of other little surprises.
Mom was putting in the hands (engine?) of the Busaru as soon as she discovered it had a little stove and that Bob had brought along some coffee.

Kiwi (or his food) had his breakthrough moment when Bob entrusted him with the port-a-pot (otherwise known as a shovel and TP)

That freed him up to carry on with more typical camping activities like scrapbooking in the light of the campfire.

Before we left the next morning, Joo and I took a final walk out to the lookout over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Then we said goodbye to my family, goodbye to the month-long road trip, and goodbye to the Busaroo, but not goodbye to the mountains since we have our own little corner of the Appalachian foothills in Athens :)

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