Saturday, July 30, 2011

July 4th trip to southwestern VA

As long as I can remember, my dad has dreamed of someday owning some property in the mountains somewhere, where he could build a family vacation home close to the Appalachian Trail and retire to a life of hiking, fishing, and playing with his grandkids.  Well, that dream just got a little closer for him -- my parents recently purchased a property in a lovely and remote corner of southwestern Virginia!  It's still undeveloped (currently rented out to a farmer to pasture his cows), but my parents have all kinds of grand plans, and are really excited about slowly implementing them over the next several years.

So over the 4th of July weekend, we took a flying trip down to meet up with my parents and brothers and spend a couple days in Hillsville, VA.  We were only there for a couple days, but it was such a fun time!  The last time my family had seen Joshua was over Thanksgiving -- i.e., before he was even walking.  It's incredible what a difference seven months can make...  :)  My parents were continuously marveling at how fast Joshua can run, and what a funny little personality he has.  He invented a game to be played with my brother Eric and my dad, where he would reach across the table for a high five first from Eric, then from my dad.  And then he invented a game for my mom, where he would squat to pick up gravel or sticks or other little objects, then look for her and share his spoils with her.  SO cute!

Our trip started with dinner at the Old Mill at Mabry, which has an old water mill and some walking trails.  Joshua totally led the way in exploring the area.  :)

Then the next morning, we drove over to visit my parents' new mountain property.  And by "drive," I mean off-road over hills and fields, briefly getting stuck at the bottom of a particularly difficult hill, but finally conquering it with our rented all-wheel-drive Jeep and making it to the top.  (And by "we," I mean David -- thank you, honey, for taking on that stressful task!)  My parents are thinking of building at the top of that particular hill, which would give them some really beautiful mountain views -- we can't wait to see how it all turns out!

And then later that day, we went on safari.  Because that's what one does when one visits southwestern Virginia, of course.  ;)  My mom found a brochure for the Fort Chiswell Animal Park, a really cool zoo/conservation area, where you can take a guided bus tour through the 45-acre park and interact with camels, water buffalo, zebras, and so many more animals.  Joshua was entranced -- even though he was hot and tired, he was still super excited every time an animal approached the bus.  What a fun family excursion!

And one of the many videos we took of Joshua on safari!  (More can be found in the 2011 Videos gallery of our SmugMug.)

What fun memories!  We're looking forward to many more down in this little corner of the country!