I plan far too meticulously and too far ahead. Right now, I've got a lot of the rest of the year already in the calendar.
For those of us who are always thinking ahead, spontaneous friends are of incredible value. And so it was a few weeks ago that I packed up one afternoon and headed to Skyline Drive with another photographer friend, DL. We left in the late afternoon on Sunday with the intent to photograph sunset and sunrise along the famous Blue Ridge.
Beyond that? Whatever came our way would be fine.
Off we go, rainy DC beltways giving way to cloudy country vistas. We grab dinner at a Subway seemingly desperate for patrons. A restaurant bearing Apple Donuts! and BBQ! signs cements itself as the next day's breakfast location.
Welcome to Shenandoah National Park.
Dinner at one of many overlooks. Clouds shifting, settling in the valleys. Rays of sun giving way to deep blue hues. We then come around a corner to see a car facing us in a pull-off. A sudden flash of light illuminates the interior "Was that...?" I start to ask. A second flash.
We laugh ourselves to tears. Friends, turn off your automatic flash when trying to photograph mountains. Please.
Onwards to Skyland. This place is awesome. One may possibly expect squeaky floors and bedbugs and flickering lights from a hotel in the mountains. Such a person would be pleasantly surprised by Skyland's rustic comfort. They've got live music at their restaurant-slash-tavern, which I hope to actually be there to enjoy some day.
In the morning, the clouds are below us. We journey on, back down the mountain. Brilliant sunrise gives way to overcast skies. Black bears and, later, a turkey, pay us little mind as we pass by.
A breakfast of apple donuts and basically anything else one may wish to eat at 8 AM gives way to more conversations about faith, photography, travel plans, the MooMoe, and cultural tides as we orbit the nation's Capital and then find ourselves home again.
This often-rigid soul finds himself grateful for spontaneous adventure.
And as it happens, I'm already planning the return trip.