This visit was followed by lunch at the Virginia Diner. The diner is a great place the have some interesting Virginia style food, and our current all time favorite: Peanut pie! It seems that Guy Fieri from Food Channel's Diners Drive-Ins and Dives visited the diner for the first season of the show. The Virginia Diner also sells lots of peanuts and it is a great meeting place. That brings you to the economy of the area. Driving around, you see agriculture and forestry; that's basically it. Agriculture includes a lot of peanuts and pork, although I understand peanuts are somewhat on their way out and being replaced by cotton, corn and soybeans.
After lunch we visited a natural area that is managed in a different way than many of the woods here in Virginia. The photograph below shows you what I mean:
Very rarely do you see a savanna type forest as you see in this photograph. This type of forest (vegetation) is somewhat more prevalent further south, but even there it is on it's way out. This vegetation is a typical example of a stand that is frequently burned. Yes you can see some of the scarring on the trees, but pines can and will survive it, at least when the fire does not get too hot. All the needles on the ground will burn up, giving grasses a better chance to get established. Moreover, most of the broad-leaf species do not like fire and they are suppressed. The photo below somehow show this as well. The area to the left appeared to have been burned last year while the area on the right-hand side of the trail was burned a few years earlier. You can see to invasion of the broad-leaf species such as oaks and gums.
It is amazing what the reintroduction of fire did to the area. Our guide told us that he has never seen a fox in the area, while at the same time we stopped to admire some rare birds and carnivorous (flesh eating) plants. In all, this again shows the result of humans modifying the environment we live in. Whether it is killing wolves or suppressing wild fires, the environment changes as a result of these modifications, often with unintended and unanticipated results, all the while doing it thinking we are doing it for the benefit of humanity. It was an exhilarating day and we learned a lot.