After we visited Luray Caverns, we drove further into the Shenandoah Valley. At one point, we stopped on the side of a winding mountain road to fill up jugs with spring water gurgling out of a pipe. We stopped at my father-in-law’s friend’s family’s campground to park our car, then carpooled over to Woodstock, his childhood home.
Woodstock is a tiny town with a nearly 360 degree view of mountains. We ate at one of the only privately owned restaurants in town, then traveled a short distance to the church Daniel’s grandfather pastored for several years. We explored the small cemetery in the back. I have always enjoyed the stillness of cemeteries. They put life in perspective and reveal the universality of living across centuries and places. Everyone dies. Everyone grieves.
The next part of our journey required our tour guide to drive up a narrow dirt road with corkscrew turns and no barriers to keep us from falling off the mountain. I was glad I didn’t have to navigate it myself. We saw hang gliders and parasailers at their takeoff site on our way up. We parked the car, then took a brief hike up to Woodstock Tower. A narrow steel structure, it used to serve as a fire tower, but was later opened to the public. It provides a panoramic view of Woodstock and its surrounding towns and landscapes. The cold air numbed our faces, but I didn’t mind.
There are few experiences that can transport me out of the daily – the anxieties, the anticipations, the expectations. Looking out from the Woodstock Tower stands out as a moment I’ll continually cling to for comfort. I felt peace and liberty there. I felt refreshed and acutely aware of my body, of myself. Shutting down my internal dialogue – muting the white noise – and experiencing silence within myself, I looked out, my skin reacted to the chill, I was happy, I was fully aware of that happiness, what it meant, and how long it’d been since I’d felt exactly that way.
I came back to Charlottesville with a brimming-over love for the place I live. I am proud to live here. I love this town and its majestic, natural surroundings.