Monday, September 01, 2014

Camping, a Three Part Story

We climbed a mountain!
Tomorrow marks another beginning of the school year.  Tomorrow marks another year I'm NOT starting with the kids.  Tomorrow is another day I'm going to feel a bit odd about that. 

But, that's for tomorrow. 

Tonight, let's talk about how we celebrated the last remaining days of summer.

Our friends Dann and Karen invited us to go camping with them this past weekend, Friday and Saturday evenings, returning home Sunday.  They have two darling (identical!) twin boys, Noah and David to whom I taught Religious Ed three years ago now.  They're members of the group of three families we get together with every so often, and with whom we love visiting.

We have so much in common with Dann and Karen and our children play together so beautifully (the boys are seven and a half), I knew this trip would be a blast. :o)

We loaded up to head out Friday morning.  Our destination? Peaks of Otter along the Blue Ridge Parkway

I've not been camping since the seventh grade, but absolutely loved it.  B? He was an avid camper and backpacker and was more than ready to get out his gear (and mine! Yes, I have gear--we had planned on backpacking and camping, NOT on having Hannah...so, plans change).  The girls?  They're always game for anything involving getting out into nature and getting dirty. 

May I just say I love car camping?  :o)

We took our time getting there, pausing along overlooks to take in the views and gasp at the beauty of it all. 

So I might have been the only one gasping...but, come on, look at that view!

We arrived to find a lovely ranger awaiting us, to let us know she was NOT a fan of the sites that had been reserved (I have to say, neither B nor I were thrilled with being RIGHT ON THE ROAD, as those sites had been) so she had let Dann and Karen drive around and find two unreservable sites they liked and take those two instead. 

I can't complain.  They did an excellent job. :o)  I mean, look at all that room!  The two campsites were along the bottom of a mountain, with nothing but forest beyond us.  The moment they were free from the van, the girls took off with David and Noah and were soon exploring the wonders around them.  It was delightful!

Meanwhile, B and Karen and I unloaded (Dann was cooking dinner).

Two tents.  Two tents are a good thing.  The girls had the smaller one.  Isn't this a lovely site? 

This is my view of our site from my seat at Dann and Karen's table. 

I wanna go baaaaaaaack.  Just looking at this makes me want to go back RIGHT NOW.

We set up our chairs around their campfire and after dinner it was time for "burning sticks" (the kids all loved that) and roasting marshmallows.

Many s'mores may have been consumed...

Is there anything more lovely than kiddos around a campfire? :o)

Sleep was elusive Friday night.  You forget how all sounds are amplified in the dark and still of night in the woods.  You forget how LOUD the cicadas can be.  You forget how stuffy a tent can be when the breeze isn't blowing and the temps are above normal for this time of year.

I finally fell asleep only to be awakened multiple times by Bean (which is not at all shocking given her tendencies to not sleep when in a new situation), and then by the loud adults in a nearby parking lot.  That parking lot didn't seem at all close by until the middle of the night when all I could hear were car doors slamming, giggling, and later fighting and yelling that I thought for SURE would lead to domestic violence.  EEK!

All of which means this sight of Brien making me coffee Saturday morning was beyond beautiful.

This was the view from the door.  All that lovely misty fog and the little white flowers...:sigh:  It smelled fresh and clean and it was delightfully cool and soon there was coffee and all was well with the world. :o)

We breakfasted and went out hiking a short loop.

It's a good thing it was short, as my boots fell apart!!

See that grainy stuff?  That's the disintegrated foam between the sole and the last.

Seriously?!?!??? Sure, they're 15 or so years old, but they have only about 50-75 miles on them.  The last time I wore them was hiking to the Cascades with Hannah that July Fourth weekend and then, I just couldn't wear them.  I decided it was time to break them out once more, and I was left wishing I hadn't.  I had boots, and I had Crocs.  :oS


This was the repair we managed.

I felt like somewhat like a football player...

We had to do this to BOTH boots. 

Really. 

I was NOT pleased.

We got in another four or so miles of hiking, though, so not all was lost.  Too bad my feet could feel all the pointy jabby stones along the trail thanks to the loss of cushy foam...

B and I were in charge of dinner--steak fajitas!--and then there were more s'mores and marshmallow roastings and playing with sticks and fires.

We ALL slept more soundly Saturday evening. 

B (and Dann and Karen) and I were all grumpy and disturbed by the lovely lady who arrived to camp after 10:30 that evening and spent hours setting up her tent (I swear to goodness it was hours!) with her headlights on bright.  She then turned on some sort of spotlight.  All of which shined directly into our tents.  Oh, and her little guy was really tired and really bored and really noisy because it was dark and sounds carried...

She finally turn off her spotlight around 1:30.  I SO wish I were kidding.  Gr.

We did sleep once her light was off and didn't awaken until after 7:30 which I considered pretty miraculous.

In fact, B and I awoke and got up and found these two still sawing logs. Can you see Lil's hair peeking out from her sleeping bag there in the middle? :oP


I loved just sitting with my coffee (two mornings in a row, thankyouverymuch), listening to the sounds of camp awakening.  There were sleepy mummers and excited children greeted very quickly with a loud "SH!" from their adult-type person.  There were shuffles to the bathrooms (across the road from us) and soft greetings of "mornin'".

It was beautiful and I do believe I could have spent a week and it wouldn't have gotten old. 

Before long it was time to break camp and part ways with our friends.  I put on my doctored boots, we loaded the van and hit the road.

I stopped at one or two more overlooks--really, they're impossible to resist!--and we scoped out future camping options, and wended our way home.

We pulled into the garage just before 7:00 last night with two very dirty and tired little girls. :o)  Isn't that what camping is all about?

There's more to tell, and this is really just Part One of our adventures.  There's simply so much to share and only so much time for me to write.  :oS

Tune in Wednesday for Part Two. :o)

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Sparklies:

1.  There was a pair of does who bedded down for the evening just outside the bathrooms, who were unafraid and would just chill as you walked within an arm's length of them.  Saturday night, they called it a night just up the hill from our tent since their previous spot was now filled with a tent.

2.  Tomorrow is the new year and my life of routine and order will return.  As such, we reviewed our goals for this year, established goals for the school year, and made plans to be as successful as possible.

3.  We visited with GG and Bill this evening.

4.  Last night while I was showering (which really was rather heavenly since there was no showering while camping), B unpacked and put away all our camping items.  How wonderful was that?!?

5.  The girls are both so excited about tomorrow I'm surprised either of them made it to sleep.  We bumped both their bedtimes up--Bitty to 8:30 with the caveat it can be moved back if necessary, and Bean to 7:45.  B and I will meet and have a conference with her teacher tomorrow morning.  She's practically beside herself she's so eager to get to school!

6.  Lil's thrilled with her teacher (as am I, btw) and was thrilled to see the little girl she struggled so much with last year is NOT in her class.  She was also delighted to see a couple of other little girls she says are sometimes not so nice were not in her class either.  I'm praying for a wonderful school year, as the transition from 2nd to 3rd can be so difficult.

7.  Camping.  I swear, my soul felt as if it were covered in a black, gunky sludge, and the time spent with friends and my family out in nature cleansed it.  I have a feeling of lightness and peace I've been missing for quite awhile now. 

8.  College football is back--HALLELUJAH!!!! :oD


Milestones:
Well, here we go again, another new year and no Monkey.  :sigh:  She'd be in the eighth grade.  Seriously.  How is this even possible?!?  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

CW, Anyone?

In a desperate attempt at getting some much needed exercise, the girls and I took a slow, meandering stroll through CW. 

We explored every garden we could.  We "peeled our eyes" (a family story there about that phrase, for another time) for new, different, beautiful and/or exciting things, sights we'd not seen before. 

Or, because I really can't resist a beautiful flower, picket fence or well, I could just, you know, take photos of everything.  To that end, here's our meander, with very little in the way of commentary.




Lil asked if we could stop in at the market place garden.  We found pole beans and peppers.  I was pleased my girlies could recognize them. :o)

Some of the funkiest looking heirloom tomatoes I've ever seen.  They look like a bunch of grape tomatoes all smooshed together.  The nice lady working there gave us one to try.  It was rather disappointing, really. :o(

The nice lady also asked the girlies if they'd like to help water the plants.  They sure did!

While Beanie needed some help with the heavy copper watering can, Lil was gung ho and had it all under control.

I bet this watermelon actually has some flavor.  I find the "seedless" ones they sell are not nearly as sweet and flavorful as those with seeds. 

Pomegranates.



 Cardinal.

Given the vine, I wondered if this was a variety of morning glory.




The wells...they call to me...



I let the girls explore every inch of CW they wanted to.  We don't have our Good Neighbors' Passes this year so we can only do the grounds right now.

This is the community garden kept by the Master Gardeners of Williamsburg. It's rather stunning.



Although these are cropped images, they are unedited.  It was a gorgeous day!




Okay, this one is edited.  They're edited from here on out.

I'd not seen these ladies working outside before.  I was thrilled to see them. :o)


I called it "The White Stag".  Ellie told me it was "The White Reindeer".  Stag & Pear?  Who knows.

*************************
Sparklies:

1.  Sometimes you just need a snuggle with your sister.


2.  As you know, we're HUGE Simon's Cat fans around these parts.  
We watched Simon's "How to Draw _____" videos and Lil drew along. I like the cat's tail pointing towards his mouth. :oP



3.
Strawberry shortcake?

4.
I realize not everyone has seen fresh scratch farm eggs so I thought I'd share. 
They're not always white.  Or brown.  Aren't the blue ones lovely?

5.  I think we may have had our last pool day today.  I think I'm a bit sad.  :o(  It's been such a delightful summer.  Lil starts school next Tuesday and Bean the following Monday.  More on that to come.

6.  Christian Formation also begins soon.  I have a catechists' meeting tonight.  I rather like getting back into the rhythm and groove of the school year.


No milestones.