You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
Charlottesville, and a walk round Sherando Lake
This is the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, late May 2019, with a few of the impressive Jeffersonian-wannabe fraternity houses (that's the Sigma Phi in the centre, according to Google Maps).
And across Rugby Street, that's the 'Madison Bowl' playing fields, with more little Monticelloes ringing the venue.
The class trip progressing up Rugby Street
We're here to visit the university's Fralin Museum of Art, often rewarding and always free. It's on Rugby Road facing the Madison Bowl, just 200m (780') north of the Thomas Jefferson statue and the Rotunda.
Some 'art photos' of Pompeii this time, and two other temporary exhibitions that I didn't need to see, but the exhibitions change frequently during the year and, as mentioned, they're free.
To be honest, the Fralin Museum is all to the good, but here's the real reason we're in Charlottesville today.
This looks like a pleasant little village, but actually it's part of an enormous shopping mall, including Trader Joe's.
We're visiting the Sherando Lake Recreation Area, 'the jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains', 2 June 2019, along the eastern edge of the huge George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.
The lake is a popular spot, with campgrounds, a sandy beach, canoeing and fishing areas, hiking trails, and picnicking facilities, convenient for day-trippers from Charlottesville and from towns in the Shenandoah Valley like Staunton and Waynesboro. It's just west of and downhill from the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway and south of little Stuarts Draft, sometimes called 'the warehouse capital of the USA'.
There are two lakes here, the Lower and the Upper, both created by dams -- in fact, there are only two natural lakes in the state of Virginia; any original lakes of the ancient Appalachian Mountains have eroded their ways to the sea long ago, and but for those two, the present lakes are all human-made, originally dammed up for mills and irrigation and in modern times to create reservoirs for hydropower, drinking water, and flood control.
Whoops of gay laughter along the sandy beach swimming area, with complacent ducks in the foreground
We're off to have a walk round the lake. Healthful exercise, and what not.
An excellent walking path -- an excellent running path, too, we would once have said.
A pleasant hour well spent
A dignified little island on the far side of the lake
A brief detour up towards 'The Overlook Rock', and . . .
. . . back down again; we'll leave it for another day.
The Lower Lake, where all the fun is, is only about 600m (2,000') long -- that's the sandy beach at the far end, and we're standing on the dam at the northern end.
The dignified little island again
A nasty scree field to the north, on the Torrey Ridge
Back to the beach. What fun.
Everybody looks so happy today. It's early in the season yet, no hordes of merrymakers.
The facilities, attractive but basic. A gift shop on the near end, and changing rooms at the far end. Classic US national/state park architecture, very nice.
The 'North Fork Back Creek' entering the Lower Lake from the south
Always good advice! Shouldn't be necessary, probably, but in these fallen times, every little bit helps.
We're trekking in to visit the Upper Lake.
And there it is -- significally underpopulated at the moment (it's early in the season).
With its very own dam (upon which we're standing). Soon we're roadtripping off to Wisconsin, a few 'pet-friendly' motels, and chain-restaurant meals, between here and there.