Starting when my 41 year old son was still a baby we used to travel from NJ to VA every year to celebrate Thanksgiving at a very special place called “Skyland Resort.” It’s a rustic destination spot located on the highest point of the Skyline Drive. (Shenandoah National Park.)
We discovered this treasure when we’d been to Virginia during the summer and traveled down the Skyline Drive just to see what we could see. There are many wonderful overlooks along the Drive that give a marvelous view of valleys and ridges, covered with trees. We also loved seeing the wildlife along the Drive; deer, skunks, foxes, chipmunks and even an occasional bear!
When we stopped at Skyland the summer in 1983, we saw the notice for a Thanksgiving Special; 2 nights, breakfasts and dinners for a very reasonable price, so we made our reservations and wrote it on our calendar.
Skyland has a main building that houses the dining room, bar, sitting area and gift shop. We would hang out in the sitting area on rainy days reading, playing games, just being together.
On beautiful autumn days we would visit some of the nearby hiking trails and march off to see the overlook at the top of the Stony Man trail, or hike the White Oak Falls trail which offers several levels of water falls to visit. There is also a beautiful “all access” trail called the Limberlost Trail. The path has been laid with hard packed cinders so that wheel chairs and other mobility helps can use it.
Once, when our children were older, we took a trail ride. My son had the spirited horse that kept kicking up his heels and trying to bite the butt of the horse in front of him.
On Saturday afternoons we’d drive down to Big Meadow and sit in the rocking chairs in the visitor center. We’d watch the sun go down as the deer browsed in the low bush blueberries that are allowed to grow in the maintained meadow. Every year 1/4 of the meadow is mowed. That way it stays the same as when the Native Americans used it centuries ago. The meadow is so big, that when you view it, it’s a panoramic view.
In the evenings there was live music in the bar and sometimes I would play a song or two while the main act took a 15 minute break.
Weather was always an issue when traveling to Skyland. If the weather was bad, If there was snow on the Skyline Drive, the Drive might be closed and we would not be able to get to Skyland. That never happened, thank you Jesus, but there was a time or two when we were not allowed to leave on Sunday because of conditions on the Drive. After the sun rose high enough to melt the snow and ice we would be told it was safe to travel.
The very first time we stayed at Skyland, we woke up to a world coated in rime ice. Every branch on every tree, even the very littlest ones were coated in ice and, because the wind was blowing, even the little blades of grass had prism bright flags that all blew the same direction!
You know, the mountains have a smell all their own. In the autumn the mountains smell of leaves that have dropped and lay together in a carpet, and the fresh wind that blows off the higher peaks. It smells of wood smoke and woolen hats.
What an incredible blessing Skyland has been to our family! Now that our children are grown and on their own, we haven’t been back. But we pray that we may bring them and their children to spend a Thanksgiving weekend. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful answered prayer?
In 2013 I went on my first short term mission trip. It was to Nigeria.
Nigeria is a place not often visited by missionaries because it is not a safe place.
There is much corruption and lawlessness there.
Our dear friend, Ignatius Umunna invited our church group to come for two reasons; to set up a 12 step program in his church and to take a prayer journey to Lakoja and Owerri, the second being the place where he grew up.
After we landed in Lagos International Airport and were driven to our accommodations at a nearby hotel, we were gifted with beautiful clothes made by a woman in Ignatius’ church. We women received two dresses each and the men with a shirt and pants set.
Sorry the photo is so fuzzy.
The two piece dress that I received was quite form fitting, not what I am used to all, but I have to say it fit me well. The other dress what a beautiful pink muumuu with a wonderful bit of embroidery at the top.
This is Susan, Papa Rod and Darlene,
all decked out for our first morning in Nigeria
As an artist, I’m drawn to pattern and color combinations . The whole time we were there was a feast for my eyes! The fabrics were so vibrant!
Most of the fabric seemed to be 100% cotton, very good for wearing in an equatorial country. There were some that were polyester but they seemed to be more for show than for daily living.
The dresses seemed to be all either muumuus or “mermaid” dresses, tight fitting at the waistline and hip, then fanning out at the knee.
Everywhere we went we saw people in European attire but I just loved the native fabrics! Here are some of the patterns I took photos of the fantastic prints. I came home with a suitcase full! And, you know, I love it so much that I hardly cut into it at all! I was so concerned of waisting it by making some mistake.
But, just last year I was able to bless a charity that makes dresses for homeless and impoverished girls in Africa and other places. That did my heart good! I saved out the ones I loved best.
Lozie Umunna's Dad
I think I like the pattern on Ignatius' brother best. But then again, it might be the green one., or the purple one with the deep purple flowers. That was one of Ignatius' outfits. Oh dear! Which one do you love best?
Twenty years ago I was folk singer. I used to travel up and down the Eastern Seaboard to different folk festivals and sing and play my guitar.
The year that my daughter was 12, we took our mini motorhome up 95 to the Altamont Fairgrounds in New York State to attend the annual “Old Songs” festival.
When I first got the info in the mail for that year’s festival I carefully looked at the dates and sent in my check. (Check? What’s a check?)
We left on the Thursday before the folk festival and drove up to the fairgrounds, about a 5 hour drive. When we arrived there, late in the afternoon, it was obvious that I had done something really wrong. There was no folk festival! There were no cars! There were no arts and crafts booths and there was no music! There was a handy man there, just where we pulled in and he told us the festival was next weekend! Well, I just couldn’t believe that I would make that kind of mistake! And it seemed to me that way back when I got the flyer it had said it would be this weekend “They must have changed the date and not let us know.” I told my daughter.
So, we turned around and headed back home. With another 5 hours of driving before me I thought I’d better get a cup of coffee and seeing a Micky D’s up ahead on the right I pulled up to the drive through. I placed my order and the lovely young woman passed my coffee to me through the window. I had to reach down pretty far to reach it from my high perch in the motorhome. I put the coffee in the cup holder and gently hit the gas.
Nothing happened. I tried again. No budging. I thought maybe the motorhome had stalled, so I turned off the radio and listened carefully. No, I hadn’t stalled. By now there were several cars behind me. I got out and looked up and saw that the top of the motorhome juuuuust fit under the drive through canopy, but not the AC unit on top! I wasn’t going anywhere any time soon!
To make things even worse, the lane that led to the drive through window was a hairpin turn! Seriously? The cars behind me started to back out and around the hairpin, while I stood there looking up and trying to figure out what I was going to do! I got back in the drivers seat and put it in reverse.
Now, I don’t do backing up well, generally speaking, because of an accident I was in years before. But I put it reverse and slowly started backing up.
The absurdity of the situation was not lost me and I had begun to laugh, uncontrollably. I think my poor daughter thought I must have lost my mind! Here we sat in the entrance to the drive through in a situation that neither of us could find a solution to and I was laughing my head off! So I tried backing up again and got about ten feet back and couldn’t go any farther.
Enter my angels! As I sat there bubbling over like an idiot, two dusky young men ran up and told me to get out of the motorhome and they would back it up for me. By that time the other cars had already backed out. No one seemed angry, for which I was truly grateful!
So my daughter and I stood to the side and watched these fine young men back my motorhome out of that hairpin turn and into a parking space in the parking lot! We stood there and applauded! Then they jumped in their car and drove off!
Maybe they were angels. Could they have been angels? Whoever or whatever they were, they turned an awful experience into an event with a happy ending!
The Lord has given me such a gift! In most desperate circumstances I can find the humor. I have the understanding that Jesus is going to get me out of whatever ridiculous situation I find myself in. And there have been so many! So, I just trust Him to solve my problem. And you know what? He solves each one! Thank you Lord, for the day, for the 5 hour trip up and the 5 hour trip home, for the coffee I purchased at Micky Ds, for the people behind me who didn't lose their minds because I was in the way, for my two dusky angels, showing up at just the right time to help two damsels in distress!