Our friends had two swinging golden retrievers named Astro and Jetson. They were so friendly and eager to play! So I did play with them, as I have a weakness for dogs in general, and large dogs in particular. We dined, excluding the goldens, upon cold cuts, and then hit the road west. We stopped at a tourist rest stop, in which I got dozens of brochures about myriad things I wish for us to see--no doubt far more things than we will have time to see. I am particularly intrigued by how close we are to caves. I am partial to caves. We drove down a pleasant wooded parkway past a world of familiar landmarks from the history books--the Manassas battlefield, for exmample--before arriving at the Shenandoah National Park. We took the skyline drive, which runs along the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, between the piedmont and Appalachia. We stopped to walk about a bit, at a place in which fields of purple thistles were besieged by hundreds upon hundreds of tiger swallowtail and black swallowtail butterflies. I used a throwaway camera to take pictures, but time will tell if the patiently posing butterflies will transfer onto film as more than dots or slashes. We passed by Marshall, Virginia, where a college girlfriend used to live, and I regretted, for a moment, an e mail I sent a few years ago. It's all too easy to remember what didn't work than it is to appreciate the good things in life and past relationships. At some point, after all, what is the point? It's all ancient history, more in need of Pollyanna than Morrissey.
We saw great mountain vistas, a doe deer decamping, and geese on a rolling river. Then we adjourned to a restaurant in the Virginia suburbs of DC called Sweetwater Tavern. We ate roast chicken, drank homebrew root beer, and had the kind of fun conversation which old friends have. We talked of the future project of recording golden retriever barks, and how much easier it is to live in Virginia or Texas than in Los Angeles, although we all liked Los Angeles.
Now I'm in a really pleasant home, my wife having turned in for the evening, watching a TiVO of Stargate SG-1, and the vacation seems to me to be off to a grand start.