One of the benefits of being the Information Manager for State Parks is to be aware of the many events that take place at all of our parks.All too often I comment to my wife that we should go to this event or that event only to have something else interfere with our attending.You may click on any photo to enlarge for a much better view.
Last week I became aware that there was going to be a Civil War encampment at Sky Meadows State Parkwith two groups of re-enactors. Being very interested in the Civil War I told my wife that we really needed to head up to the park on Saturday and “to heck” with other interruptions.
This was our first visit to Sky Meadows and I found that it is just like all of our parks, UNIQUE and having things not found anywhere else.Sky Meadows is located just 7 miles off I-66, in Delaplane.As soon as you get off the interstate you realize that you are in a different world.The scenery is outstanding and, for the wine connoisseurs, I don’t think I have ever seen so many wineries in such a short distance.
When you get to the park you start up hill and soon sit high up and overlook a wonderful vista of meadows and ponds.No wonder Isaac Settle decided to build here.Although the park doesn’t offer cabins or standard campsites or swimming it has much more to offer.It does have primitive camping, more than 12 miles of hiking trails, fresh water fishing, bridle trails, history and a wonderful view from just about any place you decide to have your picnic.I was told that the Appalachian Trail runs along one of the ridges and that many folks will be sure to hike it for a mile or two so they can say they have hiked the Appalachian Trail.The park is also a wonderful place for bird watching.They have a brochure with over 170 species of birds that can be seen at the park at different times of the year.
The programs provided during the day were very informative and we found those presenting to be very knowledgeable. We were first provided a wonderful tour of the Mount Bleak House by park interpreters Bud and Trish. We learned that during the Civil War two of the Settle (the family living there at the time) sons actually rode with Mosby’s Rangers. There is a copy of a photo taken in 1865 with 7 of the rangers, including one of the Settle boys, standing at the back of the house. Bud even told us a story about sounds he heard one day that just may have been a ghost. Who knows?
Re-enactors from the 10th Virginia introduced us to the dress and equipment of what the local militia would have used as they prepared to join Jackson on his way to the 1st battle of Manassas.We were even treated to a firing demonstration.
Re-enactors from the 1st Maryland portrayed some of Mosby’s Rangers and gave an interesting presentation about their dress and equipment.They also explained the different types of saddles and tack used for the horses.
Later in the day we were treated with a presentation about some locally found wild animals.We got to see a box turtle, a flying squirrel (well he actually stayed hidden in his house) a very friendly possum, an owl and a red tailed hawk.During the presentation a blue jay decided he would join in when the owl came out.Blue jays do not like owls at all and it seems one was sitting in the tree above us.The entire time the owl was being shown the blue jay sat in the tree “yelling” at us. Old Mr. Owl didn’t seem to “give a hoot” though.
I was really impressed that at all programs, when asked if there were any questions, the visitors were not shy in asking many questions.To me it shows the quality of the presenters is strong which helps generate additional interest and questions from the audience.The children really loved the animals and were not shy in answering questions asked of them, of asking their own questions and in touching the animals that were made available to them.
I’m so glad that we took the time to travel the 3 hours from our home for a great day.We plan to visit Occoneechee this coming Saturday to take in the Native American Heritage Festival.Another story, for another day.
I can’t complete this article without commenting about the park staff. I didn’t see one staff member without a smile.They love their jobs and they show it in everything they do.