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. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

A Day in Baltimore, Part 2

You may remember a couple of summers ago I took the boys to the Edgar Allan Poe house in Richmond.  There is also a Poe house in Baltimore.  It's located in a seriously scary neighborhood (like so bad I didn't want to stand outside to take a picture), but we decided to brave it briefly.  This is the attic bedroom of the tiny old house.

After we headed back towards downtown so that we could visit the Poe graves (there are two markers).  This was the boys' favorite part of the day.  The cemetery is mostly 18th century and is so interesting.

There are graves and catacombs all throughout the churchyard.  It was fun exploring.

Here is the newer Edgar Allan Poe marker.  It's on the corner by the street and has easier access for visitors.

Isn't it an unusual cemetery?  And the graves were willy nilly all over the place. 

Here's the original burial place for Poe.  You can see that visitors have left tokens at the stone recently. 

There are a number of prominent people who were buried in the cemetery.  Historical markers are dotted throughout.

And then look at this section - it actually tunnels under the church.  There are even graves located beneath in the crawlspace. 
It was a memorable ending to a full day.  And all three of the boys loved this cemetery the most. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

A Day in Baltimore

We headed north for a couple of days last week.  We spent a day in Baltimore.  I wanted to take the boys to the National Aquarium.  Here they are petting horse shoe crabs and stingray.

There was also a tank full of jellyfish to pet.  Even though we got there right when they opened at 9 am, it was still busy.

I've always like these fish.  They seem friendly and kind of have a smiley look to them.

In the Amazon section.  This aquarium is huge and wraps around and around.  There is so much to see.

Maryland is well known for its crab cakes, so we had to take a break from the aquarium for lunch at Phillips.

Only Reid will eat crab cakes (despite Cort's drawing).  But he was suitably impressed.

After finishing up the aquarium, we found a fun playground.  Tunnels and merry go rounds.

And stretches of music making instruments.  We spent some time hanging out here. 
As fun as it was, none of this was the boys' favorite thing we did in Baltimore.  Any guesses as to what was?  It'll surprise you.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Beating the Heat with a Waterfall and a Mine

I've blogged about hiking to the Cascades before, but it was about 7 years ago.  We were overdue for a visit.  It's always much cooler there.  We left at around 6:30 in the morning to get an early start. 
 It can get crowded at the Cascades, but we timed it right and there weren't many people around.  It's a two mile hike to get to the falls.

 I have never been there when the water was warm.  Even though temps all week had been in the mid 90s, you can see from Cort's face that the water was shockingly cold.

 The falls are higher than they look in the pictures.  This one of Cort at the base gives you a better idea of their height. 

I fell on some wet rock steps on the hike back and busted my elbow.  While I tried to clean it up with a first aid kit, the boys discovered butterflies all over.  Here, Reid had two that landed on his hands. 

Aside from the crash down the steps, it was a fun hike.  Afterwards, we took a massive detour to go to the Beckley Coal Mine Expedition.  I had fond memories of a visit there with my cousins when I was a kid.  Here are the boys getting ready to ride down into the mine.
I think the boys were impressed by the history on our tour.  They asked a lot of questions.  It was a full day, but one we all enjoyed.