Filed under: Destination Camping & RV Resorts, Entertaining Kids at Camp, Entertaining Kids at Camp, Family Day Trips, Family Weekend Trips, Holidays on the Road, Kid-Friendly Trips, Nature & Wildlife, One-Tank Trips, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, RV Campgrounds, Scenic Byways/Historic Routes, State & National Parks, Tent Campgrounds
Woolly Bears, Fall Camping and Luray, VA
The Woolly Bear Caterpillar found in Virginia is brown on both ends and black in the middle. In other areas, the color of the bands may be reversed. In my neck of the woods, its appearance is one of the signs that fall is near.
Oscar is my 4 year old Dachshund. You may have met him a few months back when he wrote a blog for me. There is no doubt in the world that Oscar is an extremely unique, ruined and goofy little canine. In fact, I often call him “Goofy” rather than Oscar. He responds to either name.
Oscar and I were outside. He wanted to play ball, I needed to fix a loose exhaust pipe on the pick-up. While I was under the truck trying to tighten some very well rusted bolts on the exhaust pipe, Oscar was barking like he does when an intruder enters our property. When I finally was able to crawl out from under the truck to see what was going on, Oscar had discovered a Woolly Bear Caterpillar crossing the driveway. He was jumping back and forth, pushing it with his nose and raising a real ruckus.
I watched his amusing antics for a few moments – finding them extremely entertaining. Then, I picked the Woolly Bear up in my hands and tried to explain to Oscar that it was not an intruder but yet another inhabitant to be expected in his yard.
The Woolly Bear was rolled into a ball – its natural protection mode – so I gently rolled it back and forth in the palm of my hand. I was looking at the brown bands on each end and the black one in the middle (can be reversed) when I remembered a piece from the aphoristic collections found in the Farmer’s Almanac. Assuming I am remembering folklore correctly, if the center band is narrow we can expect a severe winter.
If it is wide the winter will be mild. The center band on this particular Woolly Bear appeared to me to be narrow. Uh Oh – last winter was bad enough with lots of ice and snow – something we have not seen in Central Virginia for some time.
The thought of a severe winter ran a chill up my spine and left a sick feeling in my stomach. You see, I am a spring, summer and fall guy. I hate cold weather. The thought of the camper sitting in ice and snow was not pleasant.
But, wait a minute! The appearance of the Woolly Bear introduces fall. Fall is one of the absolutely best times for camping. The days are crisp but the sun is still warm. This is great weather for hiking, biking or just a long walk without
becoming exhausted by extreme heat and high humidity. The nights cool off rapidly, making the dancing flames and glowing embers of a campfire extremely comforting. Of course, a bag of marshmallows and a long stick make the campfire even more enjoyable – especially if you add in milk chocolate and graham crackers.
One of out favorite destinations in the fall is along Virginia’s Skyline Drive and down into the Shenandoah Valley. Nestled north of Harrisonburg, a few miles off the Skyline Drive, is the little town of Luray.
Luray celebrates Columbus Day Weekend with their Heritage Festival. If you are Country Junkies like we are and enjoy pretty ladies clogging on stage, craft booths, antique tractors and engines, cotton candy and Bar-B-Q Chicken then the Heritage Festival is the place you need to be.
But, like most popular destinations, you need to make your reservations early or the campgrounds will be full when you arrive.
While you are there you must take the guided tour through Luray Caverns. I have visited a lot of commercialized caverns and must say that Luray is among the most awe inspiring of the lot.
If you have some extra time, this is only the beginning of what you can see and do. Nearby are world class wineries offering daily tours and tasting, beautiful golf courses, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, abundant wildlife including real black bears and, of course, the magnificent colors of the trees in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests which surround the Skyline Drive..
WOW. Isn’t it amazing what a fuzzy little caterpillar can do to intensify your yearning to get out for some family camping fun in the fall?