I knew a repeat visit to Shenandoah was needed before we left this area. We settled on another trip to Big Meadow entering the park at the northern end this time. It was just beautiful. The weather was mild and the views were stunning. Low clouds hung around the mountain eliciting excitement from the kiddos. The wanted to touch a cloud. With hungry bellies, we stopped at the visitors center and sat on the back deck to eat.
Much to the kiddos delight two young deer were hidden in the nearby grasses. We watched them eat, play and hide for a long time before heading into the meadow ourselves. We travelled across the expanse of the meadow searching for wildlife and being rewarded with wild blueberries. The kiddos stopped and picked some berries stuffing them into their mouths greedily. Such fun to find them along the way. Dave and Benton turned back as the gnats were finding Dave irresistible; the feeling was not mutual.
With Eamon and Aine skipping and running along, we hit the forest and made our way back. We found some scat and talked about how we would handle a bear. They thought it was funny that I recommended bunching together, standing tall and making a lot of noise while waving our arms (a little Girl Scout trick). As we returned to the visitor's center, I spotted a buck near the road. he already had quite a few observers already. We moved closer and watched him eat. Aine was so very excited to see a daddy, since "all (she) ever sees are mamas and babies." She also noticed the velvety antlers. I gave them a little lesson on white-tailed deer versus mule deer with a hat tip to my dad. (I also told them GrandDad could tell them more than they ever wanted to know about deer).
When the buck had leaped off, Eamon recommended finding the rest of our family. We started to meander our way back along the road. As I stopped to take a few photos, a gentleman we passed told us to look again. The buck was on the move. I had to laugh a bit at the crowd which turned in a panic and ran as that deer headed straight for the spot where everyone was standing. It ran across the street before reaching a small standing of trees. It turned once more, and we all agreed it looked very majestic standing in the woods.
Our drive out of the park was rewarded with another bear sighting. This time he came so close to the vehicle. I snapped quite a few photos as we watched him uncover rocks and dropped trees looking for food. With his tongue hanging to the side, he ambled right by our car giving us a perfect view of his antics. It was a perfect way to end our day in such beauty.