Monday, September 1, 2008

Morris Cabin

On Thursday after work, I threw my bags in the car and hurtled towards the Shenandoah National Park to spend a few days with a new friend in a primitive cabin which had no running water or electricity. Dusk was approaching and it was pouring with rain as I parked the car and after hefting my backpack onto my shoulders with other bags attached by bungee straps, I picked up my cooler and another bag of food and started the trudge uphill to the cabin half a mile away. I slid a few times and stopped for breathers but finally found the cabin perched on the side of a hill.

After being introduced to Kristen and Sir Archie of Fairfax, a rat terrier, I unpacked my few clothes and food offerings and suggested opening a bottle of wine. We chatted amidst candles and small lanterns and read other peoples' experiences from the cabin journal. We discovered from literature in the cabin that over 500 homes of mountain people had been acquired through eminent domain to create the park which was officially opened in 1936 by Roosevelt. Our cabin had been the home of Waymond Morris and his family and was built in the late 20's.
The following morning we set out hiking to explore the area and the view below is from the Conley Cabin.

The house below on the left is Morris House and on the right is Boxwood Cabin, both of which are derelict.

The barn below was Waymond Morris' barn.

Insects were in abundance and we had great fun inspecting the stone walls around the cabin at night with flashlights to see who resided there. Small snakes, snails, moths and caterpillars lived amongst the crevices and we heard a nearby owl hooting. Journal entries had sightings of black bears listed and also mouses in the cabin, but we saw neither.

I loved the photo above with the sun playing on a fern, and took many shots of cobwebs hung with crystal dewdrops.

The chimney stack below was once part of a house but is now the local hangout for black snakes. There were plenty of them basking in the sun on the stone ledges and one in particular had the

glazed eyes of a snake about to shed his skin. There were a few discarded skins lying around, one of which I had to keep as a souvenir.

Behind the cabin at the end of a path is a clawfooted bathtub which sits among wild flowers and trees. A natural spring fills the bath at one end and it overflows at the other to continue its path down the mountain. The tub came from UVA and many famous people have bathed in it including Churchill and W H Auden. The white enamel interior was covered in green algae when we arrived but after reading the cabin journal and discovering many before us had cleaned it up, we dutifully followed suit and scrubbed until it sparkled. For some reason, I kept being drawn to this tub and took many photos, this one at night time. I never bathed in it as it was icy cold, but did dunk my head in until the freezing water caused my skull to ache.

Another 'duty' was to keep the firewood replenished. Inside the cabin was a wood stove and an oven. We cooked on the oven one night and wanted to restock the wood, so spent an hour or so splitting and sawing logs. I only managed to cut one finger with the saw so was very pleased as I had envisioned needing a lot more bandaids than the first aid box held.

On my last day at the cabin, I visited the snakes at the chimney again, scribbled an entry in the journal and trotted out to the bath tub to snap another couple of photos, and then Kristen and I went out for lunch. We saw a sign that directed us to Crozet, which was the home of Crozet Pizza and voted 'best pizza in the world' by National Geographic. Thinking it would only take 10-15 minutes, we turned onto the small road happy to be filling our hungry tummies with such splendid food. An hour later, after looping up and down mountains, rumbling through small settlements, exclaiming in delight as we passed The Waltons Mountain, and then having to stop at a tiny gas station for directions, we finally made it to Crozet, and waited not too patiently for another 20 minutes while our pizza was prepared. We drank beer from a brewery nearby and drooled as we sniffed the aromas from the kitchen.
At last the pizza arrived, with fresh spinach, vegetables, garlic, pesto and peanuts. and anchovies on my half. Scrumptious!

Later as I headed home, looking forward to a hot shower, I hoped I would get to see the cabin and that bath tub again in the not too distant future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You do the GREATEST things for fun Miss Debby! I am envious! Although I am not into camping or creepy crawlies...your snake phote was GROSSSSSSS! Love ya, Heidi in Minnesota