It had been more than a year since our last trip to visit family outside Charlottesville, VA, so we packed the car—and by car I mean new minivan, because, yes, it actually happened—and drove northwest until that unmistakable blue of the Blue Ridge Mountains rose into view. When we weren't watching the girls play games, swim and weave bracelets with their older cousins (read: heroes), we meandered along idyllic backroads and wound our way through Shenandoah National Park a few times. This gentle, rolling swath of country makes my heart happy.
Above: Sunset over the Shenandoah Valley from Shenandoah National Park.
Below: Farmland around Harrisonburg and Charlottesville. Views from Shenandoah National Park. Racing around the Charlottesville downtown pedestrian mall.
I came across this tiny country chapel last year and had to stop by again.
A sprawling farm outside Harrisonburg.
It's always tough to get the girls to bed when we travel, so I had the brilliant idea to head back up to the park with Nora to catch sunset over the valley. I figured she would fall asleep on the drive, I would get to watch and photograph the sunset in peace, then would drive home and transfer her to bed. Right. She didn't sleep a wink and spent the evening free-climbing the stone wall at the outlook. But it was a much funnier and more memorable experience than if she'd fallen asleep like she was supposed to. Isn’t that how life always pans out with kids in tow?
Goodnight, Blue Ridge.
I'm Julia Soplop, writer and photographer. I believe there is something profound in bearing witness to moments of joy and pain in others’ lives. My husband, three girls and I live outside of Chapel Hill, NC. You can read more about me here.