Slowing down

Slowing down

We took some time to slow down amid a busy September last weekend.

Busy is just that, busy. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we are achieving, accomplishing. It doesn’t automatically mean that we are being productive or growing or stretching. It just means busy.

We’re still figuring out the balance. The rhythm. Of this new life, new home, new phase.

We walked down to the neighbor’s the other night and sat in their living room as the rain pounded down and just talked and talked for hours. Husband and I walked home in the dark, dodging the last of the rain drops. It was late, but it felt good to be making connections, making time, being, talking.

In an effort to make some of that time for ourselves, we took off for the mountains last weekend. It doesn’t happen nearly as often as we would like, but our little mountain excursions help bring us a bit of sanity, of slowing, of breathing, of being. It’s good for us.

A few photos and a few thoughts from our trip…

Sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Our campsite at Sherando Lake State Recreation Area

So green at the lakes

Thistle

Hiking Humpback Rocks Trail

The view from Humpback Rocks Trail

The pup made it to the top too

Enjoying the view, Blue Ridge Mountains

Adventure: DC (take 2)

Adventure: DC (take 2)

Apparently it’s a February tradition, we make a whirlwind weekend trip to DC to visit family and see the sights. I wish we could do it more often, but once a year is better than none. This time, we hit the National Zoo, Eden Center (for Vietnamese food), a couple REIs, LL Bean and Ikea, and Scott’s Run Nature Preserve.

National Zoo

National Zoo

Vietnamese food

Family

National Zoo

National Zoo

Scott's Run Nature Preserve

Scott's Run Nature Preserve

Scott's Run Nature Preserve

There’s so much more to do and see in DC. I can’t wait for the next visit…

West Virginia Finds

West Virginia Finds

When we travel, Husband and I love to find a few antique stores to visit. We are always looking for a new item to add to our collection and a good deal. (FYI, Virginia Beach is NOT the place to get a deal on antiques.)

We tried both Hinton and Beckley, W.V., without much luck, but on our way home from Bluestone SP, we stopped in Lewisburg and found a few stores way out of our price range, and one right in it.

So we brought home these two small finds to add to our collection:

For our bedroom, a sheepskin rug (which I’ve been wanting for about a year now). Most our things are in storage, and the furniture was just kind of plopped down wherever it fit, but this is what our room looks like right now:

Our bedroom

And the new sheepskin (currently accenting an antique trunk we found in Ohio):

Sheepskin

And, for Husband, a well-worm ammo box:

ammunition box

Ammo box

We might stand it on end and place a piece of glass on the top for a small side table. Or maybe use it open as a planter. Or a shelf. Who knows how it will end up, but we liked it. So, those are our latest finds!

Adventure: Bluestone SP

Adventure: Bluestone SP

Cabining in West Virginia

From the day we arrived and took a deep breath of fresh mountain air at Bluestone State Park in West Virginia:

This is perfection. Right here, right now.

I sit quietly in a one-room cabin in the mountains of West Virginia. It’s cold outside, and the chill pierces the room every time the door opens. But a cozy fire in the stately stone fireplace keeps us warm. I love watching the flames flicker, adding even more to the soot that has for many years stained the tan stone.

Knitting by the fire

Husband is grilling steaks and mashing potatoes as I sip hot tea and watch Jane Eyre. The puppy is curled up on the bed, which is covered with a well-worn, well-loved quilt once purchased at an antique store in Amish Country.

Quilt

In this place, I feel peace. I am at rest — all of me. My heart, my soul, my mind. The concerns and responsibilities of our life are just melting away and leaving behind a purer version of myself. Giddy and grinning, I made a dash for the door when we first arrived, excited beyond belief that we had finally arrived. Arrived at stillness. At quiet. At peace.

Peaceful

I know it won’t last, in a few days we will head back to our real lives. And I remind myself that that isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it is the “realness” of our lives that make it worth living. The messy relationships, the heartbreaking work, the dreams and aspirations. Without them, I’m not sure what life would be. But for the next three days, we’re here. Just here. Just the two of us. At peace.

So tonight, I’m looking forward to a tasty meal. A roaring fire. Perhaps even a hike in the coming days.

Cabin

The way we celebrate

The way we celebrate

Husband and I celebrated three years of marriage last week. Certainly, it’s not long compared to my parents’ 36 years or my grandparents’ 60 years, but each and every year is something to celebrate.

I love that we are still new to this. It’s an adventure unlike any other and we are navigating it and enjoying it to the best of our abilities.

So to mark the completion of our third year, we chose to do one of the things we love best: camping.

We packed up the truck, the pup and a weekend’s worth of food and took off for the Blue Ridge Mountains. This is one of our favorite places in the whole world. Given the choice, we would move to the mountains in a heartbeat. (But there are little things to consider that keep us where we are, like employment.)

It was three days and two nights of bliss, just Husband, the pup and me. We hiked, we photographed, we made campfires and cooked delicious meals. The things I love to do, like reading and knitting are oh-so-much better done by lamplight in the great outdoors.

We even saw a black bear (I’m sorry to say I didn’t get a photo because it was only for a moment…then again, I’m glad he didn’t stick around).

Happy Anniversary, Husband. I hope and pray each year is even better than the last.

Sherando Lake

Camping

Collecting firewood

Hiking

Trickling waterfall

River rocks

Ginger

Tree bark

Cooking Thai curry

Campfire

Leaving home

Leaving home

Flowers

In some ways it seems I’ve been leaving home for most of my life.

My first experience was just after my 10th birthday. I distinctly remember looking around my emptied bedroom, gazing out the window, and uncontrollable tears started to flow. I was about to leave behind everything I had ever known. My home, my school, my friends. I was devastated.

But children are resilient and I bounced back pretty well, making a new life for myself as I attended public school for the first time and made new friends.

I left home again at 17, this time with less trepidation and a lot more excitement. I spent the summer before college living with my brother in Santa Barbara, Calif., and working as a nanny for my newborn niece.

Soon, it was on to college and the fulfillment of a long-held dream–to live in Montana. It wasn’t long until I knew that Billings was now my home, and the friends I made there were added to my family.

Each summer of my college years was spent in a different location–New York, Ohio, and Illinois. And upon graduating, I took up residence for a short while in Indiana before heading to Ohio where I started my very first full-time, career-oriented job.

Just over a year later, I left the home I had created and the friends I had made there to start a new life in Virginia.

Since moving here, I have lived in three different zip codes, soon to be four.

You’d think by this time I’d be used to leaving home.

But this house? I’ve lived here for 28 months. The longest I’ve lived anywhere since I was 17. It has become home unlike any of the others. And leaving? It’s hard.

I know a new chapter awaits us. And I am excited to explore and discover all that it holds. But this leaving isn’t an easy one.

Adventure: Cabining

Adventure: Cabining

Is cabining a word? It should be… because, really, what else could so accurately describe a rainy weekend tucked away in a rustic cabin along Glade Creek in West Virginia? Cabining.

Our favorite cabin

In Virginia Beach, Spring is in full swing. The flowers are a blaze of color, trees in full leaf, and all kinds of growing things are reaching for the sky. Our garden grows more verdant by the day, tiny seeds burst into green spindles, pushing up out of the rich ground. Spring is lovely.

But traveling to West Virginia last weekend allowed us to go back in time three or four weeks and once again watch the wonder of Spring as brown, dead-looking trees begin to sprout the tiniest, brightest green buds. And here and there a tiny wildflower turns its bright face toward the sun. That too is a beautiful, lovely sight.

The West Virginia Mountains

There’s something charming and elusive about a rainy weekend tucked away in a cozy cabin. We had reserved Cabin 8 at Babcock State Park–a favorite.

Babcock is a heritage that I’m just now learning about. Husband and his family have stayed at these beloved cabins for years, sometimes this group sometimes that. Sometimes hiking, sometimes rafting the New River, sometimes exploring the tiny town of Fayetteville. My first time here was when we were engaged, family came from all around–Virginia Beach, Washington D.C., Binghamton NY, Wooster OH–his family and mine, together for the first time, planning our wedding and getting to know one another. It was during that trip that I learned my father had often vacationed here as a child himself, coming up with his parents and sister from the suburbs of DC for a weekend away. See? Heritage.

The mill at Babcock State Park.

Path to Cabin 8

To reach Cabin 8 you have to walk a winding moss-covered path from the narrow road down to the bottom of the ravine where the cabin is tucked in right next to the rushing Glade Creek. The cabin was originally built by the CCC boys (Civilian Conservation Corps) in the 1930s, made of logs and chinking, with a great stone fireplace. In fact, although electricity, a tiny bathroom, and small kitchenette have been added, the cabin is still heated solely by the wood-burning fireplace. This is why we love Cabin 8.

To Cabin 8

To Cabin 8

Cabin in West Virginia

We didn’t mind the chill and the drizzly rain that defined the entire weekend. Really. In fact, we rather enjoyed it. It meant that we spent most of our time inside, in that snug little cabin, relaxing in the rocking chairs as a warm fire crackled in the large fireplace. This was bliss.

Rocking chairs in front of the fire.

Making cinnamon rolls.

We spent the majority of our time reading, writing, baking cinnamon rolls from scratch–in other words enjoying the beautiful things of life. But we did manage to get out a little. We stopped in the small town of Fayetteville to visit a favorite outfitters there, and explored a few back country roads. We chose a short hike that turned out to be quite the workout (2 miles of vertical trail–down, then back up).

Rocky Trail

Swinging bridge in West Virginia

Hiking Rocky Trail at Babcock State Park.

Hiking in Babcock State Park

Rushing creek

Hiking in West Virginia.

Swinging bridge

It was Husband’s birthday, so we also did a little antiquing with some money I had set aside just for him. We bought a shabby table and five almost matching wooden chairs. I’ll share more about that project as it comes along.

We also spent one night camping at Crabtree Falls Campground, a discovery from last year, and thankfully this time it did not rain several inches. And we visited a favorite antique shop, an outfitters in Waynesboro, and The Cheese Shop where we loaded up on all our most used baking goods–bulk flour, oats, brown sugar, yeast, cinnamon, butter, raw honey and, of course, our favorite Birch Beer. We only pass through here about twice a year, so we stock up.

Celebrating Husband's birthday.

In all, it was the weekend we needed–away from the grind of everyday life, a chance to renew ourselves, our relationship, our energy. Just enough time to begin missing out puppy and our own comfortable home. And so when we packed up it was with promises to return to Cabin 8, hopefully soon. And long off dreams of someday having our own little mountain hideaway, a rustic cabin near a lovely stream. Someday.

Cabin weekend

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