Monday we started our day with a sturdy breakfast provided by our hotel (The Hampton Inn – Harrisonburg is really awesome, you guys, for reals) and immediately headed back into Shenandoah National Park for a different hike. This hike was just south of Big Meadows, so we stopped there again to use the facilities and drove back south to Milam Gap Overlook, where we parked. I had worn the brightest colors I could (hey I have a lot of running clothes) so that people could see me coming! Here I am “hiding” behind a tree:
The trailhead for Mill Prong Trail to Rapidan Camp was just across Skyline Drive. We were really surprised to discover how different this trail was from the previous day’s trail: it was quieter/less populated, and instead of many waterfalls (there were a few) we got stream crossings. It was much less steep than the previous day’s too.
At first, the stream crossings intimidated me, particularly the first one. I was terrified of slipping and hurting myself for some reason. Once I got over the first big rock I gained more confidence and didn’t have as much trouble. It was cooler on Monday, too, I never felt the need to take off my obnoxious orange shirt to just wear a tank top.
The trail wound slowly down, meandering back and forth across the stream until we got to Big Rock Falls.
Finally at the end of the trail we reached Rapidan Camp. This was the place Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover spent their summers. Most of the camp is long gone, but a few cabins remain. The Prime Minister’s Cabin (where British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald would sometimes stay) is now a museum and the Brown House has been restored to it’s original design. We couldn’t go inside the Brown House, but peeked through the windows to discover Southwestern style decor.
We spent quite a bit of time in the Prime Minister’s Cabin, however, and I found myself fascinated by Lou Henry Hoover. A thoroughly modern woman despite being born in the latter half of the 19th century, she was the first female geology major at Stanford University, graduating with a B.A. in geology in 1898.
She said that when she was FIFTEEN years old? How cool is that?! She also was the key player in designing Rapidan Camp as well as overseeing its construction. There was even a list of rules for the camp:
Wildlife was much less prominent than the day before but we did see a little frog on our way out!
After the hike out of Rapidan Camp we headed back to our hotel and cleaned ourselves up and headed out to Staunton, Virgina to check out the little town. Unfortunately many things were closed after 5 pm on a Monday, but we managed to find a pho place! The broth at Snapdragon Pho was so good I didn’t need to add anything to it at all.
I ordered the special (steak, brisket, shank, buttery soft tendon and Vietnamese meatballs), because I can’t pass on eating beef tendon, ever. Susan got the steak, and we split steak summer rolls. (What can I say, we’re ladies who like us some beef!)
We wandered around and found the Shakespearean Blackfriars Playhouse, too! Staunton also has an amazing used/vintage book store. I had a blast browsing through all the vintage cookbooks.
We also stopped and got THE MOST AMAZING GELATO at The Split Banana. I had a scoop of amazing hazelnut and a scoop of tiramisu. Sue had a hot fudge sundae with brownie blast and vanilla, topped with homemade hot fudge and handmade whipped cream. TO DIE FOR. They even had a board with a listing of their ingredient sources. Great finds in Staunton!
On the way back to the hotel we weren’t quite ready to go back. It was a gorgeous night, and we decided to drive around check out downtown Harrisonburg. We discovered James Madison University, and decided to go on adventure to find Eastern Mennonite University. I bet you didn’t know that Eastern Mennonite University has men’s and women’s basketball, did you?
Sadly our trip was almost at an end, but we had amazing weather, incredible food and an all around fabulous time while in Shenandoah, and we’re already planning on going back next year.