Douthat State Park, Virginia

Our Cabin at Douthat State Park

When I purchase something over the Internet, I’m never quite sure of how the real thing will look. The one-dimensional photograph never depicts the thing exactly as it is when you can see and touch it for real.  Thus it was so with our three-day stay at a state park in Virginia.
My husband and I are on our way to Washington DC to visit museums there and we are taking a three-week vacation in the process.  We are in no hurry, so decided to look on the Internet for a cabin in a national or state park. I put my finger on the map at about the halfway point and there was Shenandoah National Park in the heart of the Appalachian Mountians of Virginia. I called. They were booked up. My finger moved a tad to the left and there was Douthat State Park.  I called. They had a vacancy.

Robert reading, still in his
sleeping attire

So here we are for two nights and three days in a rustic pristine log cabin built in the 1930s by the CCC, on a tree-covered mountainside with sounds of a fern-lined creek plunging into a lake just below us. Hand-forged chunky doorknobs with iron levers operate the doors. 

The floors creak. Rocking chairs guard the stone front porch. A small fire chases away the 50 degree morning chill. In the afternoon, in this bucolic setting, the air is very warm, maybe 80 degrees or so. Robert sets out first thing on a bike ride through the mountainside park. I set out on a hike down the path to the creek for a wade. I take off my shoes and socks and put my feet into the iciest water I’ve ever felt. Quite shocking, and intensely refreshing.  

The feel of that water propels me into a state of consciousness that I have not felt in a long time. One in which I know in my deepest bones that my mind is clear of work, of stress, of lists and of concerns other than the chill of the water and the sounds of the birds in this particular place and time. 

Downstream, a patient father shows his small son how to fly-fish. The water is so clear I see rainbow trout swimming in the deeper pools below where I stand. The creek flows into a lake further down.  The lake is very deep – 40-50 feet at its center. 
On the second day I take a four-mile hike through the mountains and around the lake, as canoeists float in the distance. The lakeshore is lined with river rocks to prevent erosion, and most of these rocks are large. I see one in the shade and decide to dip my toes in the icy water again.  In my peripheral vision, I see a quick movement. A four-foot long water snake senses my presence and darts from under the rock I’m about to sit upon, then swims elsewhere to find its small minnow and bug breakfast.  Sorry, snake. But I’d rather see a snake than a bear.
Reading, writing, eating and walking. That’s about it. The sounds of the water rushing over large boulders and river rocks, and the lush green that surrounds us, lull us at last into restfulness. And naps. Plenty of naps.

What do you do – where do you go – to get away?

The creek below our cabin


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