Thursday, December 2, 2021

Devil's Bathtub Hike

How's everyone hanging in with the tail end of 2021?  I hope you all are doing well. We are still here and fine - the boys are homeschooling again this year because of the continued pandemic, so that is keeping me busy (on top of continuing with teaching psychology).

I have a number of things I want to share from the past year, but I need my tech savvy fifteen year old to help me get the pics off my phone and onto my computer.  In the meantime, here's a start:

Back in June we took a few days to do some activities around the state of Virginia that we've always wanted to do, but never had the time.  We wrote down all those things on a list, and then took family votes for the top five activities.  We managed to fit in so much good in just five days.  

One of the top ranked choices was a trip to Devil's Bathtub.  Years ago I saw images on Pinterest or somewhere, and couldn't believe it was in my state.  Way down in a corner though.  In fact, in our rambling drive to get there, we tipping across into Tennessee for a few minutes, before passing back over into Virginia.  We managed to find the trailhead though.  


It didn't disappoint.  We found two rope swings and any number of lovely (but frigid) swim holes along the route.  The actual bathtub was just a little bit further back on the rocks (which were rather slick).  


All except Pierce and I took the plunge in the deceivingly deep bathtub, which judging from the whoops was also freezing cold!  

We had to make quick hiking to get back to the car, because there was a massive storm brewing that we were trying to beat.  We just barely made it - only a little damp from the rain.  

If you did something you've always wanted to do this summer, let me know what it was in the comments!  

Friday, January 1, 2021

Moving on from 2020

 It's hard to know where to start with 2020.  It certainly wasn't the year that anyone expected.  We made the most of it, though, because really - what else can you do?  

While I haven't written on my blog, I did do some writing this year, and had articles published in Chicken Soup for the Soul - The Magic of Dogs, All Creatures Magazine (Nov/Dec issue), and Backwoods Home Magazine (Nov/Dec issue).  

Cort and Reid graduated from elementary school in May - they did a drive thru graduation and it felt a little bittersweet that their elementary school, which Pierce started in Pre-K, would no longer be a part of our lives.  One of the biggest changes this year brought for us was that we decided to homeschool the boys for the 20/21 school year.  It was a little terrifying to pull them out of school, but it's been going well, and they seem to like it.  Depending on how things are going with the pandemic, perhaps they will be able to return to public school next year.

Paul and the boys built a tiny cabin on our land.  I even helped a few times!  They hewed all the wood from fallen trees on our land.  They are hoping to build another at some point. This one has three bunk beds inside it.  It was still in progress in this picture.  


In 2020 I read 173 books (it was a great year for reading).  A few favorites include Why We Sleep, Running with Sherman, Caravan (Dorothy Gilman), The Adventures of Robin Hood (Roger Lancelyn Green), The Thing About Jellyfish, Wolf Hollow, Around the World in 80 Days, The Cook and the Gardener, Boy's Life (Robert R. McCammon) and The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street.

 I ran 1051 miles this year.  This was up from the previous couple of years in which I struggled so much with Lyme, but still not at my typical mileage of 1200+.  I'm still getting there - but was happy to break a thousand miles this year!  

I had a decent garden this past year.  I just yesterday picked some kale - I have a few greens left (but not many).  I've already ordered seeds for 2021 and am eager to see what the growing season will bring.  

Kids and animals are all doing well.  I hope if you're reading this, that all in your family are also well, and that your 2021 is happy and healthy!  


Friday, January 3, 2020

A Trip North and Happy New Year

I just got an email from the twins' teachers asking for baby pictures to be used in their graduation ceremony this spring.  As in graduation from elementary school.  Which means I will have THREE middle schoolers next year.  Of course all the best baby pictures are on the blog, so here I was looking at old posts and I figured why not write a quick recap for 2019?

Last summer we went camping in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  I've wanted to make this trip since reading about it on someone else's blog years ago.  It's gorgeous up there and so much cooler in July than Virginia.  Reid sprained an ankle, so we ended up taking the COG up to the top of Mount Washington.  It was quite an experience! 

We also did a number of shorter hikes around the White Mountains.  And we took a day trip to Portland Maine, where we rode the mail ferry around to various islands and had lobster for lunch. 

The boys have continued to play music - here's a picture of them playing Old Joe Clark with the Junior Appalachian Musicians at a festival this past fall. 

My running wasn't the best this year - I've continued to struggle with some health complications, likely related to the lyme disease from the summer of 2018 (I do feel I finally have a doctor that is knowledgeable and helpful).  I ended up with 981 miles for 2019.  I'm disappointed about being 19 miles short of my minimum running goal, but am hopeful this next year will be much better. 

I read 107 books this year.  I was behind for a while - so I wasn't sure I would meet the goal.  Favorites included the Truly Devious series, The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise, Shadow Divers, The Weight of Silence, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, Where the Forest Meets the Stars, Call Your Daughter Home, The Sun Does Shine, The Traveling Cat Chronicles, The Distance Home, The Honey Bus, Lassoing the Sun and The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. 

I hope you all have a great 2020! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

A Sense of Wonder

Sometimes in your life you stumble upon a place so magical that you are struck with a sense of wonder.

Last weekend we took a hike to a place called The Channels.  It was almost three hours of driving, a portion of it far off the beaten path, to get there.  But I had discovered an article about this hidden gem a month ago and knew we had to make the trip.

Three miles of well maintained trail, all up, to get to these slot canyons.  We saw an abundance of wildflowers the whole way, and barely any other hikers.  You know you are almost there when you reach the old fire tower.


I cannot begin to describe how fabulous The Channels were.  It didn't feel like Virginia.  It felt like the American Southwest.
The rock formations go on and on.  You can explore for hours.  The twins were deep into crevices, but I stayed in more habitable areas.



I have to say, this is one of my most favorite places, my most favorite hikes, that I've found in Virginia.

As for Pierce and Paul, they explored a little.  But they spent much of the time trying to get a SOTA contact on the portable ham radio at the summit.
I hope everyone is having a marvelous spring, and enjoying their own sense of wonder in nature.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

2018 Wrap Up

Looks like I haven't posted since last July.  I don't have much to say, but here's a few fun pics from the last half of the year (and yesterday).  If you follow me on Instagram, these will be repeats for you.
From this fall's GoFest festival.  This is the outdoors focused festival in Roanoke. 

We got a new puppy.  I had a pic of him and Pierce at the vet from when we first got him at 7 weeks old, but when I uploaded it Blogger kept turning it sideways.  But here he is being bratty, having thrown his ball in my coffee because he wanted to play fetch.  He's an Australian cattle dog/blue heeler.   
 
Cort was an elf in his school musical.  He also played a newsboy in a community theatre production of Gypsy last fall.  This picture is coming up sideways too.  I'm just going to leave it. 
 
 
We went to Fairystone state park with my brother and his family over Thanksgiving.  Here's a picture from the area by the dam, following a hike we did.

 
We got 15 inches of snow last month.  This is A LOT for us.  Cort made an igloo.

 
Yesterday we went to Smith Mountain Lake state park to start off 2019 with a hike.
 



It was mild weather for January, and we had fun on the trail around Turtle Island.  I usually do a wrap up post for my books and running each year.  Last year I ran 679 miles.  I broke my running streak of 536 days last June, when I got lyme disease.  It's been a long recovery and I'm running short distances a few days a week and trying to rebuild my stamina, even so many months later.  Last year I read 124 books.  Standout reads were The Stand, Far from the Tree, Educated, and Where the Crawdads Sing.

Thanks to those of you who checked in.  Wishing you all a happy 2019! 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Roanoke Gargoyles

When visiting other cities, I always like to track down gargoyles on older buildings.  But Roanoke has a couple of gargoyles, too, standing on either side of the street.  Some people would call these grotesques, because they aren't on a building a do not have spouts.  But most of the folks around Roanoke speak of them as the gargoyles.
 They are kind of off the beaten track.  You really have to want to see these gargoyles to find them. 
I suppose they were meant to keep evil out of the neighborhoods.  A lady that lives nearby tends to them if they get any damage.  I'm glad they are still standing - they have so much character. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Udvar Hazy National Air and Space Museum

Reid in Pierce are smitten by all things aviation, so we took them to a branch of the National Air and Space museum that is located outside DC, near the Dulles airport.  It has a huge observation tower to watch planes taking off and landing.  The boys were going crazy running back and forth from side to side, trying to see every plane.

They did a number of flight simulators.  There were several different types to choose from.

Of course, one of the highlights was the Discovery space shuttle.  We enjoyed watching a video of its last flight.

With two hangers and the tower, this is a huge museum.  We spent about 4 1/2 hours going through it. 
It was much less crowded than the Air and Space museum in DC, which was also nice (plus, the boys had been to the one in DC before).  Being Smithsonian, admission is free.