My favorite time of day to be quiet with my own thoughts, no matter where I am or who I'm with, is early in the morning, so, when Charlie nudged my hand with a wet nose soon after 6am on our second day in the Shenandoahs, I crept willingly out of bed to take him for a sunrise walk. Despite all the wandering we'd done the day before, I was glad for another excuse to scope out the best spots for wildflowers! As the morning brightened, the air still a bit chilly from the darkness but with the sun warm on my face, I luxuriated over a cup of coffee and my new favorite post-apocalyptic novel while Charlie industriously worked on a marrow bone at my feet.
I was ready, though, and pleasantly surprised, when Jon, the nightest owl of all the birds, appeared on the porch a couple of hours later, fully dressed and laden with plates heaped with eggs and bacon. After our hearty breakfast, the three of us piled into the car and drove down the mountain, back through Luray, and up to Skyline Drive through Thornton Gap. We wended our way along the top of mountains - "Look!" I'd cry. "Don't look!" Jon would respond. - and finally parked so we could set off on a hike through Shenandoah National Park.
Our quite vertical 5 mile trek down and then back up a mountain took us more than three hours and, although we were both sore the next day, was absolutely amazing. We crossed waterfalls, paralleled creeks, and even did a little paddling in the quieter currents! Charlie, obviously, had the time of his life out there. By the time we drove home to our cabin, we'd more than earned our steak and wine!