I recently took my kid crew (Charlie, 8 and Brandon, 14) on a weekend trip to historic Staunton, Virginia.
Along the way, we broke up the road trip with various pit stops.
One such detour was Shenandoah National Park, which at the time of our visit, was stunningly overloaded with breathtaking autumn visuals of the Shenandoah Valley as far as the eye could see.
As we rolled past the park’s entrance after paying the entry fee, the kids and I quickly got schooled about Skyline Drive’s magnificently expansive nature.
This education was immediately grasped once the kids and I unfolded the accompanying map, which indicated the park stretches across 150 miles and gets as high as 3,680 feet (at mile 41.7 on Skyline Drive, according to the National Park Service and which we never reached).
This scenic detour into the park hadn’t been intended for such a long expedition. And we were unprepared without any camping or hiking gear, nor had we eaten lunch beforehand.
So the kids and I decided to just drive around for about an hour or two and see how’d far we’d get.
Needless to say, an hour or two of driving along Skyline Drive can’t even begin to scrape the surface of just how much there is to see, explore, or do while there.
Yet, the kids and I managed to stop along several gorgeous overlooks along the way,.
Lucky for us, each overlook we stopped at visually over-delivered with its own blend of endless mountain tops and lush valley lands.
At some of the stops, the clouds were so close we could almost reach out and touch their billowy-ness with our fingertips.
The highest point the kids and I reached was 2,190 feet but I can’t remember the overlook’s name.
At that height, and even at lower levels, our ears had been popping and popping.
Most notably, Charlie complained about her ear drama the most, saying the “ear thing” was getting on her nerves. Sigh. So much for enjoying nature 😉
We eventually left the park and went on our way but later, while alone in my own thoughts, I wondered about how it would be living up so high above sea level.
I was sharing a bit about our Skyline Drive travels with my aesthetician friend, who comes from Bolivia, a few days later and she happened to share an interesting nugget about her own travel experiences back home.
“Mayra,” she explained, “that’s why when I fly back to Bolivia, I prefer landing at ANY airport other than the airport at La Paz (the Bolivian capital).”
“Why?” I asked with great curiosity.
“Because,” my friend replied, “La Paz is about 14,000 feet above sea level so when we land there, I always have a very hard time breathing and my head is spinning.”
Omg, I had no idea.
I was flabbergasted to learn that international travel detail 🙂 and wondered how people lived there, given that my kids and I were struggling with ear-popping drama at 2,190 feet. I can’t even imagine life at 14,000+ feet!
But my friend said people there just get used to it.
I’m sure that’s true but over the past few weeks, I’ve just been thinking about this and wondering if I’d ever be find myself that type of situation where I’d have to get accustomed to living so high above sea level. I hope not lol but I guess one never knows.
Luckily for me and so far in my life, I’ve not yet had to work through such a challenge.
I guess I’ve been feeling so fortunate to live where I currently live, which for now is Hamilton, Virginia because Hamilton is only 509 feet above sea level 🙂 according to this elevation tool I found online.
At 509 feet above sea level, my ears feel wonderfully fine 🙂 and I can breathe the air just great. I’ll gladly take 509 feet of elevation any day over life at 14,000+ square feet!
At any rate, overall my scenic detour to Skyline Drive with the kids was visually amazing and proved to be a wonderful time. I’m so glad we got to see what we saw and that we could spend our trio time together.
In case you’re interested, the entrance fee for Shenandoah National Park is $30 (at the time of this writing) and is good for up to seven days. FYI only.