I've been sharing some of my experiences at Virginia State Parks for a couple years now and during this holiday season I felt that maybe a more personal blog article was in order.
From a young girl to a beautiful young lady from our first experience at Bear Creek Lake State Park in 2008 to the most recent at Occoneechee State Park in 2014
If there were ever a catch phrase to use about Virginia State Parksthat would be it in a nutshell "coming home".
I asked the fans/followers of the Virginia State Parks Virginia State Parks. Most of those who wrote about a special time or memory with a family member, some of them now "gone over yonder" and who touched their lives in a way no one else could, at a Virginia State Park. Virginia State Parks was the tool, or a better term may be "facilitator" for that special memory to occur. In other words, Virginia State Parks helped make it happen!
Why do I love Virginia State Parks?
Living in Virginia I find there are not many public places, especially along bodies of water for us to enjoy. While a river may be called a "blueway" meaning no one can own the river and it is open for recreation, they sure do own all the land around the river, making it inaccessible to most of us.
Virginia State Parks are not ruled by some wealthy land barren that buys up land and allocates use of them by privileged few, much of this land is donated by people just like you and I who realize the value in public places. Then handed over to the Department of Conservation and Recreation as a state park to oversee and manage.
Each one of my favorite Virginia State Parks sits along a body of water, whether it is a mountain lake, river or even along the Chesapeake Bay (the largest natural bay in the world). I have been granted access, like the elite child of some rich land barren to use these places to my heart's content.
This is why I call Virginia State Parks "coming home"
When I am at these breathtaking and diverse state parks, I feel like I am not only invested monetarily, but physically invested with a part of myself.
I hike the trails as my sweat cascades over my brow, it drenches my shirt and my muscles cramp as I strive to get to the end or the top for the view as my reward.
I photograph the wildlife in every season, when and where they can be found, and real wildlife, not animals trapped and caught to be viewed behind the bars in a zoo. A bear was seen on the road coming into Fairy Stone State Park, how cool is that? A river otter, an egret, a raccoon…
I laugh as funny things happen, they really do happen unexpectedly at a Virginia State Park as you are allowed to wander and be free and have fun!
I cry when it is all over and I have to pack up and go home. And I cry when I look back at the photos taken of the good times had, and then years later as my children are now grown and flying the family coop. The photos bring back s'more memories:
There we are making s'mores on the campfire together, there we are swimming and screaming from the milfoil touching our foot, there we are pitted one against the other trying to outride on the bike trail, there we are.
What have Virginia State Parks done for me?