Dwight Peck's personal website

A visit to the USA, summer 2013

More annual lakeside fun in the Northwoods

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

A long weekend in Virginia, USA

We've come down from National Airport in DC to a "Microtel" in Culpeper, joined the next day by daughter Alison and 'son-in-law Mark' (that phrase seems so strange!) for a hike down the White Oak Canyon in the Shenandoah National Park, and here we go.

Government interference in Our Freedoms. We'll have to leave our horses here.

A gentle path on a peaceful, sunny afternoon, 12 September 2013

Local views. At one point, strolling along sharing our Lindsay Graham imitations, we disturbed a black bear at the top of a tree and watched him scramble down and scamper off in a panic. (Lindsay Graham has that effect on a lot of us.)

Catching up on the news. (Alison joined us in Wisconsin two weeks ago, but there's a lot to talk about anyway.)

Alison, Kristin, and Mark in consultations

Crossing the White Oak River

The White Oak, such as it is

-- Line up in order of altitude and smile.

(photo by Alison)

An outcrop below the first falls

The falls

The camera

Taking turns

Mark (and Kristin) (photo by Alison)

We continue down towards the second falls

-- Everyone line up over there, and count off by threes. Now.

Lunchtime (great sandwiches from the Thyme Market in Culpeper) (photo by Alison)

We're bolting back up the mountain as the storm sneaks up on us nearly overhead.

Racing to beat the storm . . .

. . . entirely unsuccessfully. Off the Skyline Drive we go, and after a good informal dinner at the Copper Fish in Culpeper (same management as the Thyme deli), tomorrow we'll follow Alison and Mark down to Charlottesville.

Settling in and catching up on the news

Our plans for today

First, a tour of Mark's and Alison's place of employment

Then, a drive out to the Wild Wolf Brewery on the Rockfish Valley Highway

for a late lunch or early dinner in the "biergarten"

And then farther west to Staunton, Virginia (for the Shakespeare)

Staunton (pop. 25,000) was settled in 1732 and, what's more, was the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson, whose presidential library persists. (Your hometown can't make that claim.)

It was, back in the day, also the home of the Western State Hospital, famous for its eugenic sterilization, lobotomies, and electroshock 'therapy' (now a condominium)

The main street, anyway, is quite interesting. We're waiting for the ASC theatre to open.

Main Street (vere West Beverley Street) [Full disclosure: six years later we returned to the USA and bought a condo in this town.]

The touring Shenandoah Shakespeare Express settled in Staunton in 1999, and was renamed in 2005 as the American Shakespeare Centre, a name which indicates its welcome preoccupation with the plays of Shakespeare AND his contemporaries as well as its educational and cultural contributions in a variety of other roles. (That's not the theatre in the photo.)

A decorative tourist bus -- it's a Hometown Trolley brand, the "Mainstreet" model.

The local cinema theatre. (Visulite is a local company with a couple of film theatres.)

No photos were permitted of the ASC's 300-seat Blackfriars Playhouse -- I honor that wish, so I had to steal something off someone else's website (the Frederick House hotel, in fact). The theatre was built in 2001 as a replica of Shakespeare's Kings Men company's indoor theatre, used by them after 1608, and (having studied the matter in the past) it looked to me like an excellent reconstruction. When I was in school, one of the handful of studies of Elizabethan staging that we had to memorize ad verbum was Andrew Gurr's Shakespearean stage 1574-1642 (1970), and from various signs one infers that his work (and perhaps advice) has been influential here.

We saw Troilus and Cressida, which is not a very good play, but the ASC company made it delightfully seem like one. They were great -- particularly the energetic Allison Glenzer playing Thersites.

A Festival of Macs (I was reluctant to reveal my Samsung)

Now for another hike. This is the Humpback Rocks Visitors Centre, operated by the US National Park Service, about 10km south of the north entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway. 15 September 2013.

The site also features a farm museum (a little like our Ballenberg Open Air Museum on a smaller scale) . . .

. . . where today everyone's gathering for some sort of bluegrass musical festival. In the 1950s, evidently, a number of historic (ca. 1850) structures were reconstructed here to form a "Mountain Farm" exhibit.

The Visitors Centre and open air museum explore Appalachian mountain farm life from 1850 to 1950.

By all the signs, it wasn't easy.

We're wending appreciatively through the museum grounds to the Humpback Gap carpark to begin our upward journey.

That is our objective, the little knob of the Humpback Rocks . . .

. . . zoomed, now with little people sitting up on top of it. Us, too, soon.

The longer but gentler trail winds round the back, and we're on it. We'll take the shorter but steeper trail down (several knees might better have done that in the opposite order).

This either is also part of, or leads to nearby, the Appalachian Trail for hikers that runs about 3,500km from the state of Maine to Georgia, created in the 1920s and '30s (all my experience with the AT was in New Hampshire).

Gentle elevation gain, pausing for Kristin chatting with the real estate agent on the cellphone.

We've topped out on the ridge, and we're descending a bit now to the Humpback Rocks.

We should have booked ahead.

The Humpback Gap carpark below

Neighbors on nearby Humps

Kristin, Alison, and Mark stake out a place on the beach.

360° views

Mark chronicling our summit experience

Kristin sorting out our splendid sandwiches

Alison and Mark

Awaiting my sandwich (photo by Alison)

Lunch is over, time to pack up

Our summit party

Kristin in Virginia

Our steeper downhill track begins with a little uphill

American history (pioneer spirit, perseverance, self-sufficiency [or "juche"]), right here before our eyes.

And a musical festival just warming up. And on our last day in Virginia . . .

. . . Kristin found our dream house in Crozet near Charlottesville. We made an offer . . .

. . . but got outbid. (Whew.)

Many thanks to Alison and Mark for their hospitality, and to Marbeth in Leesburg . . .

. . . for her hospitality and wise legal advice as well.

"Home then. Home" (Virgil, Eclogues)

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 30 October 2013, updated 17 February 2020.


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