Monday, July 9, 2007

Country mice for a day

Torsten and I used his boss's car yesterday to drive out into rural Virginia, near the West Virginia border. I found this awesome website called, which is basically a directory of natural swimming holes across the US (and some in Canada, too). It tells you where they are, how to get there, what they feature, what facilities they have, whether they're family-friendly, etc. The one we chose was located in the North Fork Shenandoah River in the George Washington National Forest near a tiny "town" called Bergton.

Swimming holes, by the way, are awesome. There hasn't been much rain this year and the water levels of the Shenandoah River are pretty low, but this is a swimming hole! It's a part of the river that is incredibly deep even when it hasn't rained! I have no idea how such things are formed! But it was amazing and deep enough to jump off the really high rocks on the side of the swimming hole. Torsten and I didn't do that, but the local teenage boys who were there did, even climbing up a tree with boards nailed into its trunk for that very purpose so that they could jump from the highest possible point. Behold:

There were only a few other people there, making it a much better choice than a crowded Atlantic Ocean beach. They all appeared to be locals and were clever enough to have brought chairs and rubber rafts so they could lie out on the rocky "beach" without hurting themselves. A couple of them had brought their dogs, who also seemed to enjoy the water. One of them was wearing a life jacket, which I have never seen on a dog before. Doesn't it seem kind of unnecessary for a dog to wear a life jacket? Regardless, it was adorable. See?

The water was very cold, but easy to get used to and warm in patches. The day was perfect and sunny and hot, maybe 95 degrees. Even the car ride down was fun--there was no traffic and the landscape was lovely. Torsten had never really seen southern farmland before, so he was especially impressed. We floated around in the water for a couple hours, watching the kids jump and skip rocks and enjoying the incredible coolness. The water was totally clear; I could see all the way down to my toes. When we left, I was refreshed and felt cool from the inside in a way that an air conditioner can never achieve.

On the way home we passed a goat farm, and Torsten, who loves goats, insisted that we stop. We stood outside the fence while he took photos, and then the farmer caught sight of us and waved us inside. He told us all about his farm, and showed us to the back fields where he had baby! goats! and also sheep and cows, and he let us take tons and tons of pictures. We had been planning to go to the zoo to see goats, but this was about 876514523 times better. It was the perfect end to the day.

Speaking of perfect endings, I leave you with this:

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