Travel Story: Mount Trashmore

Sixty eight steps lead to the very top of Mount Trashmore. The climb is high and daunting at first. Comfort tells you to stay at the base of the park, perhaps just sit in your car and not attempt the steep ascent up the mountain. Sitting on 165 acres of land in Virginia Beach, Mount Trashmore was transformed from landfill to travel destination. Developers dumped trash and covered the landfill with topsoil to create the park we see now. This juxtapose exemplifies the struggle experienced when one first visits the site. Climb the steps? See what’s at the top? Explore what’s on the other side? Curiosity scratches at you, begging you to find out. So you go.

First-timers huff and puff their way up the steps. But, joggers and runners fly past at breakneck speeds. Further up the steps, more can be seen than just the parking lot and murky lake that sits at the bottom of the mountain. Just as the cold, pre-spring air begins to freeze your lungs, the last step is taken and the top of the mountain is reached. And you are surprised at what you find.

It’s like a depiction of Heaven. The sky seems so much closer. The clouds are within reach. At sunset, everything is brighter and bolder. And up high, it’s much colder. Up high, the world “down below” seems so different. To the left of the park, the highway is filled with thousands of speeding cars. Yet, you fail to hear the honks and loud noises from the traffic. Being up above the fast-paced world gives you a sense of peace and quietness. The wind blows and lifts puffs of dirt around your feet. Groups of runners can be seen tackling the winding perimeter of the park. They glow vibrantly in their neon greens, pinks, oranges, and indigos. Flocks of geese and ducks populate the park, hoping for families to drop bread pieces into one of the various lakes Mount Trashmore offers. In this haven in the midst of a very busy beach town, life is looked at from a different perspective. Time slows.

From the top of the mountain, a colorful little “city” on the other side of the park is spotted. This city is actually a children’s playground. Blues, reds, and yellows bring additional color to the park, especially before the grass returns to its bright green color. Not many children are found playing since the air is so brisk at this time of day. Yet, a good imagination helps understand what the park is like during the warmer months. Children shout and laugh and swing on the playset. A special area is dedicated to noise makers, like plastic bongos, so that kids can create their own musical masterpieces. Yet, this playground isn’t just for kids. I wanted to badly to grab hold of the singular merry-go-round toy and spin myself into oblivion and embrace my child-like spirit. So I did. Again, Mount Trashmore proves to be a catalyst for seeing things from a new perspective.

Mount Trashmore hosts many events throughout the year. The summer carnival draws people in with its sparkly lights and Ferris wheel that can be seen from the highway. The sky shines bright during the darkest hours of night during their annual Independence Day fireworks display. Crowds flock to concerts or have picnics with their loved ones. Young love blossoms and marriage proposals are made. Even on quiet weekdays, visitors fly kites and enjoy yoga on the lawn. Yet, Mount Trashmore overcomes the status of a mere park. It stands as a symbol of renewal in Virginia Beach. No remnant of trash or landfill is left, except for the name itself. Freshness and originality encompass the park. Go. Find your newness. When one park-goer was asked her favorite thing about the park, she responded, “The fact that it is a beautiful, big pile of trash!” Truly, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.