Thursday, August 18, 2016

Celebrate Virginia's state parks -- Visit!

                   We've had some unique experiences at our state parks. Whether it was camping in the mid spring (it was cold!) at Natural Tunnel State Park or getting a great view and jumping in the pool at Breaks Interstate Park, there is a lot to offer for those wanting a relatively inexpensive, natural vacation where you can relax a bit and reflect if you want.
     This year Virginia's state parks are celebrating their 80th anniversary and welcome state and out-of-state residents alike. I've seen a lot of Claytor Lake State Park lately, but then, I volunteer once a week there in the summer at their nature destination, the "discovery center." Claytor also has a generous lake for canoeing and fishing or lying on their beach, and many state parks have the same thing, along with camping possibilities.
     We've had more than a few memorable experiences with them. At Hungry Mother State Park in Marion, we took our young sons on a trek that wound past the lake and into the woods, to where a few huge pines stood. We were told the pines were planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, which seemed reasonable. The hike back to our tent was not so reasonable; we wound up carrying  our youngest son, who was barely two years old then. They probably enjoyed going to the beach and playing with sand the most.
     Fairy Stone only the spouse and I have visited in recent years. It has a "dreamy, religious" theme to it. Supposedly these wood fairies or elves became sad about hearing that Jesus had been tortured, beaten, and died on the cross. So they wept and their tears formed cross like stones. Actually, scientists believe a certain geologic process in the Blue Ridge mountain ridge of Virginia, in the area that became the Fairy Stone State Park, pushed up stones, many of which looked like crosses or part of a cross shape. The shape was prominent in staurolite crystals, but finding a cross shaped stone is another matter. I bought a "fairy stone" necklace while there; I still can't tell if it's a rare stone or plastic.
     Each state park in Virginia has its "own" legend or tale to tell, which I'm sure other state parks have as well. I'm planning to camp soon. Getting out in nature away from the cares and hustle and bustle of the city is okay with me. It's time to get out and enjoy the woods!

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