Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Friday before last was one of our ELA meetings in Richmond. So after being crazy sick Mon-Wed (yes that is including the 4th of July = no fireworks for me) I headed to Richmond with a bag full of cough drops and hoped for the best. This was the first session where we had the entire day to work on our class project. All in all I think it went pretty well, and although we have a long way to go, it is going to be a pretty amazing thing (more on that later). So after a long day of working we stopped by Legends for a drink and went to a cute little restaurant for dinner. I was staying with M so it was nice to just get to enjoy the night rather than be rushing back to Norfolk. The next morning she had to make a stop on the way to the river house so I decided to go on alone.
One of the Architects that runs our ELA program has a river house up on the Shenandoah River and was gracious enough to invite us all out for a weekend of food and camping. I decided I would spend my extra time Saturday going through the Shenandoah National park. I have always loved national parks, and even inspired to be a park ranger one day when I was younger, so this was a special treat. I decided to go ahead and just start driving down the Skyline, which is a windy road that goes along the top of the mountain range with overlooks along the way
After a few stops at the overlooks for pictures and sketching I decided there was no way I was going to come to the park and not go hiking. The weather was just too perfect not to get out of the car and enjoy it. Still being a bit sick, I was nervous, but determined. So I changed in my car and headed down the White Oak Canyon trail to the falls. The trail map said beginner to moderate so I didn’t think it would be too bad. Unfortunately, my stubbornness was a bit stronger than my common sense in the fact that I was still recovering from being sick so I did have to stop a few times because I was dizzy and coughing too much to hike on. The hike itself was 2.3 miles down and 2.3 back. The way down wasn’t too bad because it was downhill, but the way back was a bit more difficult climbing up the rocky trail. Since I had been going crazy from sitting on the couch for the previous week, I was happy to push myself a bit. The falls were gorgeous (I didn’t take a camera but here is a pic I found online) and the weather couldn’t have been better. I didn’t make it down to the bottom of the falls because I was short on time but have definitely added it as a place to come back to.
After getting back to the car I headed to the river house. It is down in the valley so the drive down the mountain was amazing. I arrived to find the rest of the crew setting up camp and getting ready to eat. We sat on the porch looking over the river and told stories of the day’s adventures. One of my classmates had a run-in with two bears while they were hiking on a different trail in the park that morning, so I was kind of happy I hadn’t had a similar experience hiking by myself.
Then we ate. Our hosts had spent all day smoking a pork shoulder, which made for an amazing bbq dinner. With bbq being one of my favorite foods and being super hungry from not eating for a week I was pretty excited. Dinner was perfect then we all hung out for a bit and then those camping started a fire. I walked out and visited for a while before coming back to the house and setting up my sleeping bag on the screened in porch. It isn’t usually my plan to come camping without a tent but because of being sick the week before I wasn’t able to really prepare like I would have wanted to. The porch was perfect though. It was just barely chilly outside and when I woke up to the view of the sun coming over the mountains over the river I was kind of glad I came a bit ill prepared. That morning I packed up and headed back to Norfolk where I immediately took a shower and a nap. This weekend was just what I needed. A little mini camping vacation to get me away from the stresses of everyday life.
It has also inspired me to plan another trip in the fall and take hope back there. I have always been in love with hiking and camping and I realized it has been way too long since I had been. I’m not sure if I will go on my own or see if I can get a group together, but either way I have to get back out into the woods! Maybe it is the Girl Scout in me, or the little girl that wanted to grow up and be a park ranger.
Monday, July 11, 2011