My husband and I vacation in the Shenandoah for the quiet, the scenery, and not the people. Definitely, not the people. My favorite trip was when we were forced to slow down and savor the flora and fauna. (See here.)
However, last month’s trip might tie with our favorite because of the people. We like the off-season, but peak season means ranger-led programs. We went to as many as possible, and so did others.
We had meaningful conversations with strangers—conversations that continued at the next trail or gift shop or parking lot meeting. Fun conversations. Serious conversations. A 2021 through hiker dubbed us Father Shenandoah and Mother Shenandoah because we gave her our biased opinions about waterfalls and overlooks instead of hedging.
When we saw her and her friend later, she said they had hoped to see us again. “Had we ever seen a bear?” Yes, a mother and two cubs in 1983, and another in 2009.
I could picture us hugging our new acquaintances if our paths crossed another year or in another park.
Along the way, I am being surprised by enjoying strangers—many strangers.
Who are you enjoying these days?