Friday, July 12, 2013

A Tempestuous Trip to Blandy

On Sunday afternoon, I drove out to Blandy Experimental Farm, a really cool name which conjures up all kinds of images in one's imagination, but in reality is an arboretum owned by University of Virginia. I'd wanted to visit in the spring and hike around the grounds but that wasn't an option with a busted toe so having a few free hours I grabbed the car keys and set off.
Website is here.
My first impression was superb, a beautiful old building in front of me as I approached up the gravel drive and then plant beds with a couple of green houses and right by the parking lot a herb garden. But the best thing of all was there were hardly any visitors. As I stepped out of the car all I could hear was birdsong and within 2 minutes I'd seen mockingbirds and bluebirds a plenty
I started walking down a path but heard a loud continuous droning and looking up saw a huge bees nest. They were being very busy and oblivious to me thankfully, so after watching for a few minutes I decided to save that path for later and go the other way.
I walked about half a mile or so and came across the pine area. I'd noticed that the skies were a wonderfully ominous dark grey and for some reason with the coniferous trees it felt like the set of a Harry Potter movie. I kept walking hoping I'd find somewhere to hang out and shelter if it rained, I didn't want to turn back so I kept going. And my persistence did not pay off. I'd lost sight of the buildings and really didn't know how far I'd walked when the first large plops of rain started dropping, slowly at first but then hammering down and almost soaking me before I could head for cover under, yes, some large trees. The thunder and lightning kicked in so I carefully chose the shortest tree which had a large overhanging branch and snuggled in underneath with my back to the trunk trying to keep my camera and iPhone dry in my backbag.  But I still got wet, and knew I'd get even wetter if I tried to run for it. An SUV rolled by and I ran out from my cover but they didn't see me so I went back to my tree. After about 10 minutes the rain eased off a little and I decided to bolt through the trees and across a grassy field to where I hoped the car park was. I guessed right and arrived back to Stuart thoroughly drenched but thankfully my electronics were OK. I noticed that there were a few cars still parked and so I drove around the perimeter slowly wondering if anyone else might be in the same predicament as me. I didn't see a single soul.
I regretfully left the arboretum with the rain still thundering down but will return soon, it's a wonderful place.
I could barely see the road or vehicles on the drive home, the rain was torrential and I actually aquaplaned going up a hill which left my heart in my mouth. I was very relieved to get to Marshall where amazingly the storm hadn't yet hit. But as I got out of the car, feeling cold and damp, the heavens opened and gave me another warm soaking before I could get to the front door. After getting cleaned up and putting on nice warm dry clothes, Kota and I watched the storm while Rosie cowered under the bed from the thunder. She's gradually getting better with the storms but will be a while yet before she's as nonchalant as Kota.
When the storm had passed I went outside for a few minutes to get some photos. I was back indoors within half an hour. I'm sure hoping after getting soaked for the past two weekends that this coming weekend will be a dryer time. Fingers crossed!

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