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The Land

Grandpa & Chloe @ Quail Hollow
(Grandpa playing in the stream with Chloe, just like when I was a girl)

When I was a little kid growing up in Virginia, my father bought 20 acres of land in the mountains not far from the Shenandoah River. He built a small one room cabin wired for electricity, but no running water, and uses it as a refuge from the city, as well as private property for hunting. Mostly there is only deer and very small game, but I once remember seeing a black bear, too.

For my part, I have always had a love/hate relationship with the place. Things I hated: the long, boring drive, the warm weather mosquitos, ticks (my dad actually got Lyme Disease a few years back) and and other insects, thorns, brambles and poison ivy, squatting in the woods to pee, and generally being stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do. On the other hand, I have some good memories, too – of wading in the little stream that crosses the propery, throwing rocks and catching minnows and crayfish, climbing my dad’s tree stand, learning to load and shoot a rifle, wandering the nearby abandoned factory, swimming in the Shenendoah, and getting a Nehi soda and a coleslaw-topped pulled-pork sandwich from the old country store.

Anyway, I hadn’t been back there in probably over a decade and my dad specifically asked to take a trip there during our visit so he could get some photos of him with Chloe. Of course I agreed, and we all ventured up there for the day. This time, the drive went much faster than I remembered and I actually enjoyed seeing Chloe doing a little exploring of her own. I got some great shots using my good camera, too, and look forward to sending them back to my Dad.

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On the way home, after a brief stop at Skyline Caverns so Chloe could ride on it’s miniature train, we decided on an early dinner at the newly built Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. I only mention this because, besides the perfectly fried catfish, it was the first time I had ever tried chocolate fudge Coca-cola cake. I had heard about this old-timey southern specialty, and the moist richness of this cake did not disappoint. As a fan of Classic Coke, I think I may have to find this recipe and make it myself (although it will likely take a few experiments to find the right one – a google search turns up a wild amount of variations). But I think I’m up for that challenge. 🙂