• Kaitlynn Stone

An Unexpected Loudoun County Safari Ride

Updated: Jun 6, 2019




I love the way it smells after it rains. It wasn't until just recently that I found out that it isn't the rain that creates it, but a specific oil that plants release post-rain. It especially happens after a particularly long dry spell, which is what we've been having this spring so far. The rain had definitely cooled the temperature down and Rob and I were going to take advantage of the incredibly beautiful day. The sun had been peeking in between the clouds all day and there was a very light breeze which made the leaves dance on the trees.

We didn't really have a plan for the day except we knew we wanted to drive somewhere with the windows down and music blaring. Finally we decided that we would take a drive through the rolling hills of one of the nicest neighborhoods either of us have ever seen: Beacon Hill.


It's always inspiring to see these enormous mansions, sitting on huge plots of lands and overlooking beautiful Loudoun landscapes. I mean, one can dream right?We set out on what would normally be an uneventful drive, but we soon found out that today's adventure would be anything but ordinary. Little did we know, that we would be embarking on an authentic wildlife safari.



It all began when we started noticing deer. But like, A LOT of deer. Almost every property we passed were occupied by deers, both big and small. We slowed down to take some photos but I think they caught sight of us and ran away unfortunately. It was just crazy to see that many deer in one place, but since the neighborhood is wooded throughout, it doesn't seem like a bad place to hang out as a deer. We also agreed that it had something to do with the fresh rain—maybe there was better food or they needed to stretch their legs?


It was the same way with rabbits. I know that there always tends to be a large amount of bunnies come spring time when all the little babies are born, but come on, we saw one almost everywhere we looked (if you looked hard enough). These guys were a little harder to get pictures of because of their size and tendency to hop away at a moments notice.



What we saw next, we almost didn't believe. There was something in the road ahead of us and at first I thought it was a rock. No, a boulder. Rob could have sworn it was some trash. As we approached, we realized that this was no freakin rock, it was the largest snapping turtle we had ever seen IN OUR LIVES. Guys. This thing was prehistoric af. I mean, how can you not believe in dinosaurs if you've seen turtles??! DID YOU SEE THE CLAWS?!?!


Soon it became very clear that this turtle had absolutely no intention of moving, so we knew we needed to take it upon ourselves to do the right thing and save this guy. I was terrified of even getting near this guy—I've heard stories of people getting their hands taken off by snapping turtles. Rob pulled over and ran to grab a large stick, our plan was to kind of push him across the road. Being such a big guy, he was heavy and reluctant to move, but after some incentive and some sideline cheering from me, we finally managed to get him to safety.


We went back to the car, still in complete shock as to what we had just saw. Our conversation revolved around this turtle for a good five minutes before I screeched at Rob to stop the car immediately. I had seen something along the side of the road that I was hoping I didn't see, but needed to check out regardless. At first I thought it was just a piece of tire rubber or a construction hose, but when I saw it move again I knew for sure that this long black shiny thing was a GIANT SNAKE.


WHAT?! How often do you see a giant black snake just casually along the side of the road. If I thought I was scared around the snapping turtle, I nearly lost it when I realized that this was a potentially dangerous snake that would have no problem sinking it's teeth into me or wrapping itself around me. Obviously they're more scared of us than we are of them, but I couldn't help but go into flight mode and think of the worst possible situations. We lingered long enough for me to snap some photos and snap back to normal.


Once this new friend began to slink away, we returned to the car, still in complete shock as to the day we had. Just when we thought it was over, the universe decided to show it's sense of humor. Though the other animals we saw were exciting and wild, they're actually quite common and can be found all around our area. I've seen turtles and snakes before but not very often do I see a GIANT QUAIL sprint across a residential road and into the brush at full speed. Yeah, you read that right.


I'm so thankful that Rob was thinking fast and managed to grab a photo of the majestic bird before it disappeared. The feeling was equivalent to what one may feel if they caught a glimpse of the tooth fairy or easter bunny. I've heard of quails but I never thought I would see one in action. And it was the most hysterical thing I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing.


That split second was enough to pinpoint what it reminded me of and the comparison is uncanny. If you guys have seen the movie UP! then you already know that this was a real life Kevin, in the flesh (or, feathers?)


At the end of our ride, we concluded that we had just been on an authentic, self-guided Loudoun County safari. It was one of the most bizarre car rides I've ever had and I certainly won't forget this day.


What's the craziest animal(s) that you've seen in or around your area?

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