Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch & Shenandoah Valley Back Roads – September 9, 2017

We had a lot to do around the house, but it was one of those beautiful, sharp-focused, low-humidity late summer days when it was simply too pretty to be inside.  I was interested in checking out a fabric warehouse just south of Harrisonburg, Virginia (with the idea of possibly finding fabric for some upcoming projects at school), but as with most of our day trips, the journey is as important (and as much fun) as the destination.

Before we set out on this impromptu adventure, I learned that an open house associated with the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch on Afton Mountain was happening.   Members of the Wildlife Center were going to be there with some of their resident hawks, plus there would be exhibits by various wildlife and birding groups.  It sounded like a good first stop–and it was!

The Wildlife Center had brought a Kestrel and a Broad-Winged Hawk.  What gorgeous birds!!




Wayne isn’t holding the Kestrel (with a short little arm), but from this angle it almost looks like he is. 😉


If you go to this page of the Wildlife Center’s website, you can read about Edie (the Kestrel) and Grayson (the Broad-winged Hawk) and learn how they came to be education animals for the Center.


The exhibits were interesting, too.



When we drove down the mountain to Waynesboro, we turned north on Rt. 340 towards Grottoes.


And once we reached Grottoes, we turned west on Rt. 256.


The expression, “Make hay while the sun shines” was being played out in many, many fields in the Shenandoah Valley.


When Rt. 256 intersected with “The Valley Road” (Route 11), we turned north and drove through Mount Crawford.


Next, we went took 257 West towards Bridgewater College.  Things change–a lot!–in 35+ years, but it was nice to pull into the parking lot behind Dillon Hall.  I spent 4 years at Bridgewater, the last couple of them in the corner room on the first floor. 🙂

From Bridgewater, we turned north again, this time on Rt. 42.  And yes, that’s a sign that cautions drivers to be on the lookout for horses and buggies.

While we didn’t see any horses on this trip, Dayton, VA is still home to a number of Amish and Mennonite families.

Whenever we’re in this part of the Shenandoah Valley, we always stop by the Dayton Market–and on previous trips we have seen buggies parked in a special area in the parking lot!


I’d venture to say that some of the Amish/Mennonite families were shopping here earlier in the day. 😉

After stocking up on some herbs and spices–and lunch at Hanks–we made our way back to Rt. 11 via another scenic cross-through (Huffman Drive).

We found the fabric warehouse across from the Rockingham County Fairgrounds, but unfortunately I didn’t find the types of material I was looking for.  The store is a super resource for people doing upholstery and draperies, but there aren’t as many choices for apparel or purse fabrics.

After visiting Shenandoah Heritage Market (another collection of shops, similar to the Dayton Market), we started for home.  We drove back down Route 11–through Mount Crawford and also through Mount Sidney.  Ah, if these old homes and businesses could talk, given all the history they’ve witnessed….


Just before Verona, we chose another “road less traveled” and went east on Rt. 612.  Driving east or west, it’s one of our favorites.




We stopped at the Crimora Park, just to spend a little time by the South River on this delightful day.


As always, Wayne enjoyed photographing the colors, reflections, and patterns in the water–capturing and documenting a brief moment in time and space….


And as we often do, we paused to “bless the waters” of the river…


Ripples of peace, love, and healing.


Like most of the rivers in Virginia, the South River has been contaminated by industrial and/or agricultural pollutants.


While the DuPont company will pay $50 million in a settlement (news article from 2016 here), residents of Waynesboro question what–if any–help will be offered to their community (news article from 2017 here).

The environmental impact of this (and other) damage to Virginia’s waterways is an ongoing concern.  In addition to changing the songs of birds and in some cases even their color (click here to read an article in National Geographic), the effects of mercury contamination are moving up in the food chain.

Why do I mention this?  Well, partly because we consciously choose to honor, affirm, enjoy, and share the everyday wonders that we see, despite–and sometimes because of–the ugly truths that sometime lie just below the surface. (And on this particular day, we were also well aware of the fires, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, solar flares, and health challenges that so very many people around the world are facing.)

Through purposeful, focused intent–as well as through our actions–we try to contribute, at least in some small way, to positive change.

The need for clean air, clean water, viable seeds, and healthy soil is something we have in common with every other person on the planet–regardless of nationality, ethnicity, politics, or geography.   If everyone were to get outside, get involved, and genuinely care about the natural world, perhaps by working together we could ensure that the scenario portrayed in the cartoon below by Tom Toro would never become our reality…. (You can click on the picture for a larger view.)

With all of these thoughts on our minds, we left Crimora Park, drove back down Rt. 340 to Waynesboro, and then east on Rt. 250.  Instead of following it all the way down to the flat land, we detoured on Rt. 6 and twisted and turned our way down Afton Mountain on another favorite back road.



After driving through the little community of Avon, we made the turn onto Batesville Road, enjoying an even slower pace through forests and fields on the unpaved road.



Yes, there were still things on the “to-do” list when we got home, but hey, things do (eventually) get done.  We are always, always thankful for opportunities to explore, experience, and celebrate a beautiful day.

You can follow our route through this interactive map.


This entry was posted in Adventures & Travels, Animals & Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.