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  • Robert Henning

Day 6: Down the mountain and Pam's Jam

Hi everyone! I’m Robert, and I'm blogging about our day zooming down the mountain from Shenandoah National Park to our unforgettable stay among the eclectic community of Shannon Farms, on June 6th. We awoke with the sun and prepared for the day, our first at a proper campsite. As we had breakfast consisting of a mix of sweet and savory oatmeals, we took in the crisp mountain air. It left dew on our packs, which attracted what looked like a festival of slugs on Franklin's backpack. We cleaned up camp and hit the road.

As we rode, we had a significant downhill portion, which was exhilarating: our top speed was over 40 miles per hour. As we took photos by scenic bluffs, I reflected on the song “Country Roads”, which references the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah. While we were only in Western Virginia, not West Virginia, my sense of curiosity tied to the song as it was sung at summer camp felt a sense of closure. After our trip down the mountain, though, we had to deal with some punchy inclines on our way to Shannon Farms near the town of Nellysford.

Eventually, we made it to the gravel road that would lead to our stay for the night. Our host, Pam, is a member of Shannon Farms, an intentional community nestled by the Rockfish River in a valley amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains. Shannon Farms has around 50 members who collectively own the land and have monthly meetings as a form of self-government. She gave us a tour of the property, which has fascinating architecture and several interesting features. A highlight was the outdoor performance area, which has brought large crowds from the Charlottesville area and folk performers like Dave Mathews. After the hot day, a few Spokespeople even swam in the man-made lake at Shannon Farms. We rounded out our tour by picking fresh blueberries and looping back to the group house with our dinner.

Over dinner, we learned more about Pam and Shannon Farms, then we explained our workshops. Pam has lived so many lives, from being a Nascar Tech to an MD-PhD candidate to her primary career as a nurse, medical researcher, and community leader. In her retirement, Pam fosters animals and leads organizations that protect primates, which includes frequent trips to organizations across Africa. As we explained our workshops, Pam had so many questions during the 3D printing explanation and was very impressed. She was so excited by the 3D printing that she even found a printer to buy! Pam saw the value in 3D printing for a place like Shannon Farms, which takes steps to be self-sufficient with its operation. Her lifestyle of adapting one’s lifestyle to their means, not the means to the lifestyle, made me reflect on my own experience of minimizing my lifestyle for Spokes. Someone else is happy with less than you have; gratefulness brings joy.

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