I too have a DSLR camera now... there are pictures. I've only done post-processing on a couple so far, but there will be more in future posts! Thumbnails in the post link to much bigger versions, and are often details from the larger images. Where wallpaper-sized (1680x1050) images work, I've linked to those, but if you want an even higher-res image, I can likely oblige you.
We drove down to Richmond VA over two days, taking a long first day to get to Front Royal VA, then making the second day a pleasant and leisurely drive along Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We left ourselves time for a nice lunch up at the Skyland Resort, and a hike down to Dark Hollow Falls. The Skyline Drive has innumerable scenic outlooks, and is very popular with the motorbike crowd; it's a pleasant road if you have time to savor it, but not the place to be if you're in a hurry. Eating at the Skyland's restaurant feels like having lunch on a screened-in porch, looking out over the valleys and further mountains... it's just a BIG porch. The food is also quite good Southern cookin'. The trail down to Dark Hollow Falls is short, but rather unrelentingly steep; in the heat, it was a substantial effort. We saw a good deal of wildlife (no bears though), and I have some pictures which may find their way onto here sometime.
Once we got to soul_diaspora's parents' place, we stayed there for a week, doing relatively little. We had considered some day trips, but the heat and UV were sufficient to discourage us from staying out for more than an hour or two at a time. We contented ourselves with general short walks, good food, and lolling about. I find a bit of this helps me get out of the working mindset, so the time was not lost!
After that, we went down to Rodanthe NC, on Hatteras Island, where soul_diaspora's mom rented a very fine cottage for a week. The location, view, decor, and comfort were excellent; having tried several cottages on the Outer Banks, this was certainly my favorite. Its only drawback was that being at Rodanthe, it was a fairly long ways from many of the places we wanted to go, so there was a lot of driving; bad us for taking advantage of cheap American gas!
There is lots to do down there, and I have pictures from at least some of it. Just about every day, we spent at least a little while boogieboarding; naturally, neither of us are experts at doing tricks and the waves aren't anything like Hawaii's, but it's fun. Thanks to the vagaries of winds and currents, the water temperature varied inversely with the air's, so it was refreshing all week. Even relatively small surf (waves were running at most about 4 feet in open water) is powerful enough to pound one pretty well on a miss; we've seen bigger surf there, but we're just as happy with the more moderate waves. As it was, I was getting sand out of my ears for about five days after we got back.
We also visited Pea Island Wildlife Sanctuary a few times, soul_diaspora more often than me. I didn't see the red wolf I spotted last time I was there, but I was the first to spot the locally famous partial albino red-winged blackbird; soul_diaspora pretty much refused to leave until she caught a picture! She has posted, of course, many other pictures captured there!
We visited the nearby North Carolina aquarium in Manteo, where we saw some interesting fish (including sharks), reptiles, and this charming fellow and a few friends.
We also took a hike along a stretch of the Alligator River; lots of dragonflies, no alligators. Still, we did see several of the quite pretty Prothonotary Warblers which are known for breeding in the area.
I got up
The food really deserves its own post; besides, this is approaching "TL:DR". For now, it's enough to say: Mexican, steakhouse, seafood... yum.
The trip back was swift and uneventful. We had considered moseying around the Thousand Islands a bit on the second, shorter, day of driving, but by then, we ended up being keener on getting back to home sweet home, and all our friends!
There... an actual post, with "me" content!