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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Into the Woods

I should preface this post by saying I love nature - as long as at the end of the day, I can go home and take a hot shower and get into my wonderful bed in the air conditioned/heated (depends on the season) house.

When I told my Nanny that I was planning to join my family on a weekend camping trip, she looked at me incredulously and said "you - you're going camping?" and when I said yes, she threw her head back and cracked up. So...yea...

When I told my friend Nickolee that my family was going camping, she was wildly excited for me, assured me I'd have a wonderful time and told me how much she loved camping. She also said I needed to give her "play-by-play" updates on how the weekend went. So...inspired by that request...my twenty-four hour adventure into the wild (yes, I only made it 24 hours)...



Friday, September 4th at 4:45 PM: The adventure begins. It's already sprinkling rain as I wind my across the valley toward Luray. Watson is thrilled to be riding in the car...he has no clue what awaits him...

Friday, September 4th at 5:30 PM: I have arrived at the entrance to Shenandoah National Park; I buy a season pass to the tune of $40...the ranger is grumpy. He doesn't seem so thrilled to see that someone else is buying entrance to the park for a whole year...
Deer descending on the camp sites to see what they can find.
Friday, September 4th at 6:15 PM: I arrive at Big Meadows Lodge. It is semi-foggy, semi-moist out and there are people everywhere. Who knew camping was such a big deal? Watson and I emerge from the car and Watson is delighted to be in the midst of nature. This will pass...
Watson was on high alert, closely watching the deer & their movements...
He says "hey - get me off this tree!"
Friday, September 4th at 6:45 PM: Dinner is served! Hamburgers, hot dogs and sausage dogs grilled over an open flame with chips and baked beans (also cooked over an open flame) for sides. I don't know if all the fresh air is already going to my head, but I'm ravenous. I won't disclose what I ate but I will blame my hunger on only eating 1 bite of hamburger and half a plate of cheese fries for dinner the night before...
My dog, sitting at the picnic table - because he's convinced he's a people.
Friday, September 4th from 7:30 PM to 11 PM: A fire has been built, there is much chatting around the campfire and marshmallows are pulled from the trunk of the car (where they must be kept because - bears) and roasted. Once the sun sets and the fire begins to pop, Watson is markedly less enthused about camping and spends a large portion of the night trying to drag me back to the car.

11:15 PM: Our campsite neighbors arrive late in the evening and proceed to pitch their tent in the dark...and one of their children is wailing. Oh Lordy... I'm SO thirsty but I refuse to let myself drink anything since I dread the thought of hiking to the bathroom in the middle of the night...
Doing my best to light my marshmallows on fire - I succeeded. 
Friday, September 4th at 11:30 PM: Finally, to sleep. My air mattress seems just fine; I feel much too close to the edge of the tent "wall" and I feel certain some night creature will rip open the tent and abduct me. Happily, Watson settles into his bed and seems to be calm after spending the past 4 hours with his heart beating out of his chest...

Saturday, September 5th at 1:15 AM: I awake...what woke me up? Oh, that's right! In spite of the fact that I denied myself water...I have to pee. You know what else woke me up? The rain battering the "roof" of the tent. So, walking to the restroom is out of the question - I'm not walking a downpour.

1:20 AM to 5:30 AM: I struggle to go back to sleep...it's hard to sleep well when you really have to pee and the sound of rain doesn't exactly help...

5:30 AM: Someone is moving! I realize my Dad will be making the long dark walk to the restroom and since it seems the rain has stopped, I jump on my chance. The fog is so thick there could be a bear two feet from us and we'd never know it - yikes. While in the bathroom I hear an ominous sound - it has started to rain again and the "walk" back is a stumbling sort of jog that leaves me getting back into "bed" with moist clothes. Yay.
Did you say there were bears around here??
Emily, fancying herself a toast chef. Her style? Blackened. Ha-ha!
Saturday, September 5 at 7:20 AM: Who gets up this early on a Saturday*?? The answer would apparently be everyone if you're camping...and because of the rain all through the night, the whole campsite is wet. And the trees are going drip...drip...drip... And the huddling under the canopy over the picnic table in semi-moist clothes...well, I'm not wild about it. Thank goodness the bacon and cinnamon rolls are tasty...
Who knows what could be moving through that fog?
A pup & a "bear" surveying the scene...
Saturday, September 5th 7:45 AM to 9:45 AM: A whole colony of females have crowded into the bathroom at the camp; somehow they all manage to either look extremely fresh and well rested or have that camping chic vibe going for them. I; on the other hand, look like my hair is a mess and I am gross. Okay...maybe I don't necessarily look that way, but I feel that way. I "freshen" up, try to do something decent to my hair and yes...when we get back to the campsite, I sit in the front seat of my car and put on make-up. I am NOT an animal people! Geez!

I pass time by going walking with Thing One and Thing Two, trying to peer deeply into the fog and hope it "burns off" and just sitting on the semi-moist seat of the picnic table and playing with Amelia (also known as Thing Three).
Rain drops everywhere on Saturday morning...*sigh*
A mid-morning walk with Thing One & Thing Two.
Saturday, September 5th at 10 AM: We head down to the amphitheater to watch a talk on birds of prey. There was supposed to be a raptor on display and I get visions of grandeur...Chris Pratt and small dinosaurs....alas, there is only a screech owl and it can't even come out of it's crate because of the dampness in the air. Oh well, I did learn quite a bit about owls and get to snap a picture of one... 

...Also, I'm kidding about the dinosaurs. I'm goofy...I'm not stupid. ;)
Investigating the old school typewriter on display at Big Meadows Visitors Center.
With a representation of one of the many CCC workers to call the mountaintop their "office"...
In the wilderness, you have to nap wherever you can...
Saturday, September 5th at 11:30 AM: We (being my, my parents and Things One and Two) pile into my car and head up to the Visitor's Center for what we think is supposed to be a talk on animals in the Shenandoah National Park...but it turned out to be about...birds again. So, we quietly (ha-ha, yea right...) snuck into the Visitor's Center and quietly (hahaha - still, yea right...) looked at all the displays and took in the vista of Big Meadows across the street. Kids are funny y'all...but they usually aren't quiet.

Saturday, September 5th from 12:00 Noon to 1:30 PM: Back to the campsite we went, for lunch! Thing Two went to take a shower...in the showers that required quarters to work; are you kidding me? We are out in "the nature" and you can't just let us have showers for free?? I think that's a crime, but I'm spiraling. After a hearty meal of sandwiches, grilled cheese (made in cast iron thingys...over the fire...) and chips, we all piled back into the cars and headed back to the Visitor's Center.
We'll ignore my dirty hair (gross) & look at the cute kiddos...
Posing with Thing One & Thing Two at the Rapidan Camp.
A river (stream) runs through it...
Saturday, September 5th from 1:30 PM to 2:00 PM: The six of us pile into a small bus with the chattiest park ranger I have ever encountered...seriously, this woman talked for the full thirty minutes it took us to drive from the lodge to Rapidan Camp. Non-stop. I don't know when she breathed... I will say this though, Thing One and Thing Two listened the entire way and sat by one another without so much as a peep. It was pretty fascinating.
Just doing a little trout fishing...
An outdoor fire place, just sat down in the midst of nature.
The Brown House - "cabin" of President & Mrs. Hoover
Saturday, September 5 from 2 PM to 4 PM: We tour Rapidan Camp; the Presidential retreat of Herbert Hoover, set in the valley of the Shenandoah National Park with streams flowing all around. President Hoover loved to fish and liked the sound of running water to surround him - which sounds pretty nice to me. Herbert Hoover and his wife entertained numerous dignitaries as well as friends at the camp and the National Parks service has preserved it for the use of history! This camp was the precursor to Camp David!
The sound of water tumbling over rocks was constant...
Do these things freak you out? They do me...
These two - always with the posing.
Learning about history is apparently tiring...
Saturday, September 5th from 4 PM to 4:30 PM: We board the bus for another bumpy return trip to Big Meadows Visitor Center. Learning about history while camping is obviously exhausting because Thing Two falls asleep so hard that he drools. Bless it! Thank goodness Thing One has good photography skills!
Thing Two couldn't handle all the excitement.
Big Meadows
Saturday, September 5th from 4:45 PM to 6:15 PM: Watson and I decide we've really had our fill of the great outdoors, load up our bag(s) and head down the mountain. I enjoy the gorgeous views, meanwhile Watson is apparently so exhausted by the past 24 hours of excitement that he sleeps the entire ride home...as in, sleeps in one position and never moves!
The view on the way down the mountain(s).
It's still warm in the valley but Autumn is poking it's head out on the mountainside.

So - there you have it. My 24 hours spent in the woods, doing my best to rough it like a champ and for the most part....failing miserably. Suffice it to say, an outdoors woman I shall not make. Thing Two asked on Friday night "why would anyone have a camper???" and I immediately responded with "why would anyone NOT have a camper???" and he just shook his head at me.

Sorry kid - I'm almost thirty-one and I know what I like. If I'd done this ten years ago, maybe I'd have still been trying to figure out who I was and what I liked...but not anymore. I like the "finer" things in life...and by finer things, I mean a warm bath, a cozy bed, electricity and keeping nature outside where it belongs. Oh well - I get points for effort, right? Ha-ha!








*Probably a lot of people get up at 7:20 AM on a Saturday...but I am single, have no children and therefore you would be hard pressed to find me awake before at least 8 AM on a Saturday morning. Truth.*

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