Butterflies in November?

The leaves are still hanging on some of the oaks and sycamores in Virginia. We passed through four states in the last few days. The I 81 corridor takes you from Pennsylvania to Maryland, through a corner of West Virginia and then Virginia to those pillared mansions (they remind me of funeral homes!) and perfect four board horse fences that seem like they are out of a movie. It’s a busy corridor but the cats are becoming more accustomed to the traveling. They liked Chambersburg, Rocket even went out and sat on the picnic table for a few moments before slinking back inside. Brave, brave Sir Rocket we are calling him.

The traveling mewberries soaking up the first rays of sun

I wasn’t sure if the new cat tree would survive without tipping over but so far has been very steady and a place of refuge for Gamora from the wild boys, ok, Rocket, he’s the Loki, the mischief maker. I wandered around the nearly empty campground in the morning, listening to the new bird sounds. We were out in a big open area but many of the campsites were under the beautiful sycamore trees.

I approached a young woman changing the lit sign out front by the road, closed for the season, see you April 1st. She had plain clothes on and a bonnet, I thought perhaps the campground was run by Mennonites, she had the bonnet, but drove a golf cart, not Amish and later I read this is a big Mennonite farming area, why not run a campground, they espoused family values. I’d spoken to her on the phone she said. I was asking about an alternative route South to the I 81 to avoid Chambersburg but she shook her head and explained there were two one lane only bridges with humps that trailers got hooked up on, not to go that way, good thing we asked, no one likes getting stuck on a small bridge! Did you know there are websites for US cities that rate their livability and crime? Here’s Chambersburg! That was new to me, I was looking for more information on the Mennonites in the area. Their church was built in 1804 so they have been here awhile!

We have stopped at this campground, Twin Bridge, before but it was sold in 2017 and the new owners here have made significant improvements. I forgot to ask if they would take an overnighter going North in March but I can call them in the Spring. I had a long conversation with some colourful locals down at the creek, just a lot of quackery, you can groan now…

Our next stop was in Virginia, Endless Caverns RV resort, resort usually means more expensive…Ha! Our longest jump yet, three and a half hours, we were hoping the Mewberries were up to it. They were champs, only a bit of complaining as I broke out lunch, outraged no doubt that were were not stopping! Located off the I 81 in New Market I’d booked two nights here, we were ready for a non traveling day. Mike had to get his telescope mirror packed up and returned to Zambuto Optical in Washington State to be recoated so we thought we’d do that here, and send a big box off for Michael’s cousin’s son who was studying acting in L.A. and didn’t want to pack the 60 lbs (I KNEW it was heavy!) back to Germany, then back to Los Angeles. The trailer is now significantly lighter!

Mike wasn’t impressed by my rendition of Country Roads by John Denver, wrong state he said, but Shenandoah I replied! Ok, this is the Shenandoah Valley, not river, whatever! Very polite check in, camp host took us to our site, we back up to the forest, nothing could be nicer except a ban on leaf blowers;) Ok, people have to work but…cats don’t like them! Rocket went and hid under the covers, very scary noise! But he did finally go out once the clean up crews were done for his first walk! Nervous, but we got him out. Groot and Gamora were waiting at the door with glee and trotted back into the forest on their leashes to sniff everything, now this was a good spot they said! Chipmunks, squirrels the size of small dogs and birds!

Berries, berries, everywhere! A bird paradise!

It was nice to hear the familiar sounds of Red Bellied and Pileated woodpeckers. Even a Downy was foraging at a popular tree with seed pods. A Cardinal and Mockingbird flew past into the berry bushes and white throated sparrows flitted about in the berries as well. It was camera time! The sun was out after our trip into Harrisonburg to the UPS store, Kroger groceries (the carts are enormous! No small ones, I could fit a pony into one!) Lowes (looking for a single electric burner, left ours at home by mistake, I’ll get into that later) then Walmart, ugh, but found the burner, Verizon for a sim chip then home, to photograph the birds! Time ran out to see the caverns, but as we’re going to Carlsbad in New Mexico, hey, I’ll survive!

Yes, I really love these Red Bellied Woodpeckers. I was so sad when the pair didn’t come back to Long Lake. Maybe this Spring. Such striking birds and they really talk! I ventured out on one of the “nature” trails that runs around the campground. Most people we saw were driving around in golf carts, yes, this nation is WALL-E! Have you seen the movie? It reminds me of when the cruise/spaceship arrives back at Earth carrying all of the humans who evacuated Earth 700 years earlier. The people of Earth ride around this space resort on hovering chairs which give them a constant feed of TV and video chatting. They drink all of their meals through a straw out of laziness and/or bone loss, and are all so fat that they can barely move. Yup…the golf cart gangs of earth USA are here, and they are real! I discovered why I didn’t run into anyone on the nature path, no motorized vehicles allowed and it was rough. I don’t think anyone has been back there walking for awhile. It was actually a good workout, lots of steep uphill climbing in the carpet of oak leaves, lot’s of stumbling on my part, I shouldn’t walk looking up into the trees. I came across a beautiful Pileated woodpecker, I heard him first but the best birding was right behind the trailer. It felt good to move after sitting for four days!

Walking through the oak and sycamore forest it is apparent there has been a big wind event in the last few months. Trees are down everywhere, upturned root balls and broken branches, trees snapped off mid way. It wouldn’t be the best spot to be in storm! I sat behind the trailer after my walk and caught a glimpse of red in the berry bushes, a male Cardinal was foraging there. I followed him about, trying to get him in a patch of sun, he did finally sit still for a few moments!

Our time is changing this Sunday, tomorrow, a Facebook friend posted Don’t forget to set your clocks from sunshine and happiness back to misery and despair this weekend, made me laugh, thanks Debra. It was dark at 7:30 this morning here still so maybe it’s not a bad thing. Rocket was curled up in bed with us, he says he likes the King size bed, good for him to stretch out between us! Big Baby! As I sat watching the birds some movement caught my eye, another oak leaf falling I thought, but no, a butterfly landed on the cedar close to me, a butterfly in November I thought, pretty special. Find the small bits of beauty around you my friends and hopefully don’t despair too much with the time change! Saludos amigos!

A small bit of beauty! A butterfly in November!

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