No Fancy Name
Thursday, February 24, 2005
what beautiful places have you seen?

I was reading about the beautiful places Denise has visted, such as Guam, the mountains of Baguio, Florence and so on, and I got to thinking about the places I've seen. I've driven across the country so many times—the high road (80), the middle road (40), the low roads (30/20/10)—and seen a lot of lovely landscapes, but my favorite places of all are in Virginia.

This photo is taken from 20 Minute Cliff, aka milepost 19 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here's a 360-degree virtual tour and if you happen to click on this link you can almost see the exact spot from where I took this photo. If you step over the left-hand corner of the wall and look down the valley, that's the view.

Over the wall, which you can't see in this photo or the virtual tour, is a large white rock—the top of the cliff. The cliff face itself is a straight drop down. It's not terribly high—I've walked to the bottom and looked up (not being a climber, I've never climbed up the cliff, but people do). The cliff is so named because in the summertime, the setting sun hits the cliff 20 minutes before it goes down behind the mountains. So, back in the olden days the farmers in the valley below would know when to start packing it up and heading back to the homestead.

I went to college not too terribly far from this place, maybe a 30 minute drive. We'd spend a lot of time up on the cliff, reading and what not. Seriously. I don't ever recall drinking up there or anything of that sort. We read. In fact, the day before the majors' exam, a few of us took our Shakespeare/Chaucer/Milton and hung out all day on the cliff. I don't think we actually read all that much, but it was less stressful than sitting in the library.

I have another favorite place, and it's also in Virginia. Thing is, I couldn't tell you where—but I could drive to it. I don't have any photos of it, unfortunately. It's somewhere in the middle of this map, which you'll see is a map of nothing, but somewhere in there is a nature/science kind of summer camp (that I never went to, but the person who showed me this place did). If you walk through the camp, then past the houses (which often have mean dogs not on leashes) and across a creek and up a path maybe a mile or so deeper into the woods, you come to a large rock. If you climb down the rock, you'll find yourself at the top of a natural waterslide. Just a little one, maybe 20 feet long, but it empties into an absolutely crystal clear pond that's about 10 feet deep. It's a very small place, but it's beautiful.

I've been to many very pretty places and seen much larger instances of natural beauty, but these two tiny, out-of-the-way smidgens of nature are my special places.

What are yours?


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