The trail to Front Royal

Keeping with the mountain theme of this trip, we made a short detour to the Pocono Mountains to visit with a former colleague and great friend. It is wonderful to touch base in person and enjoy a comfortable evening with a long time friend.The Shenandoah Valley and the Smoky Mountains are also like old friends. We stopped in Front Royal, Virginia which sits at the north/south fork of the Shenandoah River. It is a base for all kinds of outdoor activities including hiking the Appalachian Trail (another theme of this vacation), as well as visiting some Civil War and Cold War historic sites. One such site is now the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Today, the sprawling property is used to breed endangered animals. A few times each year, it is open to the public and you can meet scientists from the National Zoo and the Smithsonian and you can see cheetahs and other rare species of birds and animals roaming the grounds.In the past, the property was a US Cavalry installation; the US Department of Agriculture used the grounds to breed cattle. The most surprising use of the area was when the US government covertly stockpiled survival gear and established a bunker and relocation establishment for the Secretary of State during the Cold War. The government assumed there was time to escape after an atomic bomb dropped! Just hearing about all of this has increased my desire to return on one of the days that the public is allowed to visit. There will be a complete report when that day arrives.

We did enjoy a funky restaurant, the Blue Wing Frog on Chester Street in town. The food was delicious, all locally sourced and prepared from scratch with love. There is a great sign which explains in clear terms that you are what you eat.The first torrential rain storm we encountered on our trip kept us from taking Skyline Drive, the only public road that is in the Shenandoah National Park..spentbreakfastofAppalachian Trailtravelstocompletejourneys.were at breakfast with us because had also been altered becausestorm.

used Waynesborostartingwere thrilledthethe foliageandwildlife.

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