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2006-11-21 - 3:03 p.m.

Went to Shenandoah National Park this past weekend. We stayed at a place called Skyland Resort, which is a camp built in the late 1800s and added to since then. It was at 3,600 feet, which is, for me, high. It was cold and nice. We had sweeping views out of our window and slept in a bed made for two football players. It was wide enough for four pillows.

We saw lots of deer. On Saturday night, we went to The Taproom and drank Killian's. The band was called Shen Fine. They were Shen OK, and played lots of Gordon Lightfoot and Irish ballads and since one of the guys was a retired middle school music teacher, also lots of audience-participation songs. Since last call was at 10:30 (and also clearly indicated on the sign advertising Shen Fine), after we paid our tab we tried to get a six pack to go. The bartender said, "I'll be honest with you. You don't want to do that." And I asked how much and she said, "The cheapest you'll get is twenty dollars." We bought two Budweisers, took them back to our second-floor room, and before opening the door, saw two does on the lawn. It was so quiet we could hear the munching. After ten minutes, a third joined them. They were brazen, looking up at us every few minutes before returning to the munching. My girlfriend wanted to go down and touch them but I persuaded her not to. She kept whispering, between sips of five-dollar Budweiser, "pretty, pretty, pretty."

In the morning, before going hiking, we had breakfast in the dining room there. The waitstaff was evenly divided between Indonesians and Eastern Europeans. At the table next to us, a middle-aged, wealthy white couple sat down. They wore expensive L.L. Bean-type sweaters and jackets and expensive hiking boots. The woman ordered tea and when the Hungarian waitress brought it out, the lady picked up the tea bag, turned it over, and looked at her husband. "Everything OK?" the waitress asked. "I asked for tea," the woman said. "Is this tea not all right?" "Black tea. Regular tea. This is herbal tea." The waitress checked the kitchen but came back without the black tea. She apologized. Later, she brought out two orders of pancakes. The woman took one bite and, with knife and fork, cut a second. She showed the bite to her husband. "Does that look like buckwheat to you?" The waitress came back and asked if their breakfast was going well. "I asked for buckwheat," the lady said. "I'm so sorry," the waitress said. The waitress took their plates away. The woman looked to her husband and shook her head. The husband shrugged his shoulders and swallowed what was still in his mouth.

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