Aidan says goodbye to Summer at Shenandoah NP's Stony Man Overlook.

I couldn't narrow it down to just one pic!

I often have a monkey on my back - the banana just makes it more clear!

Aidan downs a bottle on a little isle below a waterfall in White Oak Canyon.

Aidan examines a flower.

Some exciting photos from Aidan's birthday party weekend...

Here Aidan demonstrates entropy very clearly.

Aidan had an adventure of a birthday in Baltimore with lots of family!

Aidan walks in the footsteps of Jefferson at UVA.

After being chauffeured to the heights, the little lord decided to take his morning constitutional, without his cane or frock coat due to the heat. Oh, and I think I need a Steadicam...

Once Aidan has a real guitar, the multi-platinum records will be rolling in! He already dresses the part...

Behold Aidan's throne, from which he issues his imperious decrees!

This is Aidan, signing off. Good night!

I'm fairly sure that I've seen Aidan take more than ten steps, but I've never actually had the camera ready. Here are a few...

Full-size collage

I spent the 4th of July with Aidan in Shenandoah National Park, rather than in the heat of DC for all of the Independence Day frenzy. Aidan and I got into the park just before 11AM, and drove rapidly up Skyline Drive. One of the first vistas to the East was magnificent, and I used this opportunity to take a few photos of the landscape and Aidan. He really seemed to enjoy posing on the wall!

We then got back into the car, and drove south to the Skyland area, about 40 miles into the park. Aidan I geared up, and I was soon hauling him up the short but steep Stony Man trail, a 1.75 mile trek to the park's second highest peak. On the way up we saw a few doe, and then we were awed by the magnificent panoramic vista. I soon had Aidan sitting up on a large, flat boulder (nowhere near the edge!) for some photos in this wonderful high place. We also enjoyed seeing a few raptors soaring effortlessy in the winds blowing onto the pinnacle. And on the way back down, Aidan got to chat up a park ranger!

After the hike carrying burly Aidan, I was feeling pretty hungry. Fortunately, the old Skyland resort is still operating, serving tourists food and drink at good prices. Taking advantage of Aidan being asleep in his stroller, I sat at the bar next to some bikers and had a beer and quesadilla. Then I stopped at the gift shop to pick up a shot glass, when I noticed a thin book on waterfalls in the park. I looked for one nearby, and found a short hike to Rose River Falls only a few miles south.

Though tired, I got ready for another hike. This short 1.3 mile trip down a gravel fire road led to a marvelously verdant, steep, and narrow waterfall. I enjoyed the view, but was not looking forward to the completely uphill walk back to Skyline Drive. It was over soon, but just as I began to see cars passing through the trees, I noticed two hikers looking into the brush beside the trail. I soon saw for myself what they were looking at - a black bear cub moving towards me on the trail! Nervous that the mother might be near, I watched the bear for a few minutes, and snagged a few photos. Eventually the bear moved deeper into the trees, and I decided to leave quickly. It was exciting to see a bear in the wild, but I'm quite glad I didn't see any others!

After this, I wanted to relax a bit, and I was still hopeful to see a sunset. Thus, I parked my car at the vista called Spitler Knoll around mile 48, and stayed for a few hours. The sky got dimmer, but the sun didn't really penetrate the thick clouds very well. The view was more peaceful rather than epic like I'd wanted, but it made for good relaxing. Aidan fell asleep in the car and slept for more than an hour, while I waited outside until it got too cold - who knew this happened during a Virginia July?

Eventually a graceful doe came out of the woods and crossed the drive just in front of us. I broke out a long lens and watched her ambling through the meadow before the distant blue mountains. This was a fine way to end the day! I was hoping for grand views, but I ended up having some interesting wildlife encounters that I won't forget.

I felt that it was time to leave, so I began the long trip back. We left from a middle park entrance onto US 211, and I saw some more new parts of Virginia as I drove home. And I didn't miss the fireworks - we saw more than a dozen large-scale displays as we drove east. I'm glad that there is such stunning natural splendor so close to home.

We tried to go beach camping last week, but all we ended up with was this photo of these cute folks...

On the Summer Solstice, Aidan enjoyed the sunset by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge while trying to eat grass.