Adventure: A Kentucky Cabin

Adventure: A Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky CabinMy brother has a cabin in Kentucky, a small, two-bedroom, *mostly*-finished cabin in the woods. It doesn’t have an address. He needs to call the post office about that. It doesn’t show up on Google Maps, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. It doesn’t have a bathroom, yet. Someday it will. March snowfall has made the road to it nearly impassable, but he has four-wheel-drive and he can pick us up at the bottom of the hill.

Kentucky Cabin

We came from all around — Peter and his family from Ohio, John and his family from Georgia, myself from Virginia, my parents from another place in Ohio. Only one couldn’t join us this year, the brother in Washington, D.C. I guess it’s a city that never sleeps, or takes a vacation.

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Nieces and nephews were everywhere, tumbling over each other in the tiny space. They’re all getting so big.

Islay is nearly 11. I was her nanny when she was a newborn. Hard to believe how time passes.

Ian is nearly 10. He wears glasses now, and looks so studious.

Tessa is 8. I remember being there when my sister-in-law learned she was pregnant with child #3.

The twins are 9, they hang on every word Ian says, fascinated by the boy. Their only brother is 2 years old. It shows.

Sarah is 6. She just wants to be included with the big kids.

And little Peter (little Peter to differentiate from big Peter) is two. Adorable. Precocious. He tries his mother’s patience, but makes the rest of us laugh a lot.

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin

I want to treasure the memories. Islay showing us her gymnastics skills and recently-won medals. Tessa sitting on my lap to play Battleship. Sarah playing Sorry! over, and over, and over. The twins sharing their love of reading with me. Little Peter putting on a “show” (ie. turning the lights out and singing one line of “Let it Go”). Big meals shared around a giant table. Warm fires in the wood stove. So many wet boots, hats, mittens, and snow pants. Knitting and talking and more knitting. Hikes, walks, tromping through the snow. A truck stuck in the mud. Laughter. So much laughter. These are moment to cherish.

Kentucky Cabin

I desperately hope Husband can join us next year at this Kentucky cabin, and my DC brother. To be complete. It would mean so much.

Kentucky Cabin

Kentucky Cabin - Zipline

Kentucky Cabin - Zipline

Kentucky Cabin - Zipline

Kentucky Cabin - Zipline

Kentucky Cabin

{Moments of Inspiration}

{Moments of Inspiration}

“Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them;
for those experiences have left an indelible impression,
and we are ever and anon reminded of them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

So many moments of inspiration this week after spending several days with all my nieces and nephews in a two-room cabin in the backwoods of Kentucky.

So many “moments of inspiration” this week after spending several days
with all my nieces and nephews in a two-room cabin in the backwoods of Kentucky.

Thoughts on Camping

Thoughts on Camping

I came across this recently, which I had written back in the fall when Husband and I went camping last. Reading my own words made me realize that as much as I love hunkering down in my home, I’m developing a bit of cabin fever. I’m ready for winter to be over and warm weather to come again…

I’m going camping. I’m going camping. I’m going camping.

This has been my refrain for days now, looking forward to the blissful 48 hours I get to spend in the mountains, away from life and all its responsibilities. A wet 48 hours to be sure, but 48 of them all to ourselves. And the Giga, always with the Giga.

I think this is my favorite part of camping. Right here. The first night. The tent is set up, firewood is gathered, the pup is settled, Husband is puttering around the campsite adjusting things. I’m sitting by the fire soaking it all in. This.

It’s the anticipation. The “we’re finally here”. The sounds of crickets and frogs and all kinds of amazing things — a sound the drowns out the voices of our temporary “neighbors”. It’s so loud it is overwhelming. And it’s perfect. Because we’re here, doing this. We have the whole weekend ahead of us.

Our campsite at Sherando Lake State Recreation Area

On this first evening, I’m dreaming about sleeping in the tent. In my dreams its just like my childhood, where I slept so soundly cuddled far down in my sleeping bag. The ground wasn’t too hard. The noises weren’t worrisome (I think it necer occurred to me that a bear might visit our campsite, which most definitely happened the last time we went camping). I was a small child, given the shortest spot to lay, by the door or on the step (yes, my “bed” in our pop-up was the step up to the boys’ bed), but it never bothered me. It was never cramped. I don’t think about fitting my 5’7″ frame with Husband’s 6’2″ body and a 65 lb lanky dog in a 2-person tent. In fact, I long for it.

I recollect camping in the heat as a child, just like I remember camping in the freezing cold while in college, but it isn’t quite tangible to me anymore. I forget the sticky sweaty feeling of humid summer camping.

I look forward to waking up with the sun in the morning, somehow blocking from mind that it’s usually the sound of car doors slamming and children squeeling that wakes me at campgrounds. I forget just how hard it is to dress in a compact tent (skinny jeans are NOT the best option here).

I dream about hiking up the mountain tomorrow, about the view from the top and the euphoria of reaching it. I forget that I work a desk job now and am terribly out of shape, that it’s hot and sticky and we don’t have any water bottles. I anticipate the exuberance of the pup while forgetting that she will be pulling my arm out of its socket for at least the first mile or two.

Hiking Humpback Rocks Trail

Yes, the first night my eyes are full of stars. My heart is content, I am looking forward to everything the weekend will bring. Inevitably, it won’t be glamourous. The ground will be hard, the air thick, I’ll sleep fitfully. The hike will be steep, my thighs will burn and I will huff and puff throughout. Cleanup will be a bear. Everything will be sandy and nothing will fit exactly the way it did when we packed it at home. And, more than likely, it will all be soaked by the impending storm.

But when we leave, it will be with a sense of satisfaction. A knowing of having conquered the great outdoors. A rhythm that we only achieve when we get to spend days on end together. A wistfulness from having to leave it all behind. And when we arrive back to our real lives — the messy, over-ful, too busy, hard lives that we live — we will ache to return to our beautiful mountains. We will dream of the simplicity of life there. And we will forget all about the smell of bug spray, the stickiness of sweat, the constant grit of sand between our toes, the hardness of the ground, the reality of our physical condition. And we will wait with anticipation for the next chance we have to embark on such an adventure.

Camping and sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkway

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: 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

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

Linking up with Annapolis & Co.

Beautiful weekending

Beautiful weekending

Husband and I needed to get away this past weekend. Just get out. Away. To something new. To lose ourselves if just for the briefest moment.

But we had obligations here at home.

So we compromised. And on Saturday afternoon we took off for a little adventure–driving up the Eastern Shore.

The day was as wet and dreary as our lives have felt of late. But in it’s own way, it was perfect, beautiful.

The beach at Cape Charles

Sea shell

The pier at Cape Charles

Oyster shells

The beach at Cape Charles

Beach fence

Eastern shore shipwreck

Eastern Shore waterway

And Sunday continued the lovely as we attended the poignant dedication of the baby of a dear friend. We love being a part of true community with our friends here.

Baby dedication invitation

Adventure: DC

Adventure: DC

Husband and I set off on a little adventure last weekend–nothing earth shattering, but a sweet 36 hours away from home. Above all, it is good to see family. The heartbreak of the past few months has made this even more precious to us.

Just being able to say hello in person, give a hug, laugh together, and, at times, cry together, is a balm. After our loss last fall, even DC, a mere 3.5 hours from us, seems too far away. The little ones, all 5 and under, are beautiful reminders of the hope and life that is yet to come. And quiet “adult” time is a solace.

Husband’s sister and brother-in-law are delightful people, generous to a fault, and beyond supportive. Together, we spent a treasured evening sharing tapas and paella at Jaleo, a restaurant by Jose Andres–a real treat for my food-loving Husband. I even got to try some foods I’d never had before and it was all amazing (especially the Endibias Con Queso De Cabra Y Naranjas, if you’re ever there, try it–seriously).

Tapas

We were spoiled to have a gas fireplace in the basement/guest room where we stayed…true, it wasn’t wood-burning, which is what I’ve been craving. But it was warm and the flames deliciously orange. Oh, how I’ve missed the calming solace of a good warm fire…someday we’ll have our own fireplace, someday.

Fireplace.

On Sunday, we intended to have a leisurely day with Husband’s other DC sister, but as the day went on we got more and more inspired. We first went to Great Falls Park and hiked along the top ridge of Mather Gorge. Great Falls is a little strange…only a few minutes outside of Alexandria and within a stone’s throw of Washington DC, and yet it feels like the middle of Montana…

The views of the gorge are just incredible, almost hard to believe this is the same Potomac River that runs so placidly to the Chesapeake Bay.

Great Falls on the Potomac River.

The gorge.

Resting and watching the Potomac.

Husband and I at Great Falls Park.

After a nice hike in the chilly but incredibly sunny great outdoors, we headed inside for Pho (Vietnamese soup…although I actually ended up getting lemongrass beef with vermicelli, yum!). From there we headed over to this great hole-in-the-wall Asian store where we bought beef jerky, dried mango and Thai iced tea. I would definitely recommend anyone going to the Great Falls area check out Eden Center and explore some of these wonderful Asian restaurants and shops.

Food from the Asian store.

From there we headed into DC to meet my brother near his apartment in China Town. We visited over coffee and chai at Busboys and Poets. It was a pretty happening place, with a good menu, lots of fair trade items available, and books for sale. And the apple pie was delicious! The only drawback had to be the loud music, it made our conversation a little hard to hear. In spite of that, though, we got to talk–just talk, for the first time in a long, long time.

I saw my brother back in December for the first time in over a year, did I tell you then that he lives a mere 3.5 hours from me? So, so sad that I haven’t gotten to see him much. But we made it happen, and that makes me happy.

He’s slaving away at law school, busier than ever. I’m so proud of him, and loved getting to hear him talk about what he’s doing and what he hopes to do in the future. It’s so good to be able to support someone’s dreams, to believe in them. And I do. I believe he can do anything. I guess that’s one of the benefits of being the little sister–you believe your big bros are larger than life.

In all, aside from a mild case of food poisoning (first time in my life) and a few closed bridge-tunnels on our way home (do you know how hard it can be to get to Va Beach when both the HRBT and the Monitor-Merrimac are closed? We had to take the James River Bridge…talk about taking the long way home), it was a great little getaway.

Now, if I can just get some laundry done…