Saturday, August 26, 2006

I survived!!!

Just got back from an incredible vacation to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. To be honest, I planned this whole trip for Rob's birthday, thinking I'd suck it up and endure some outdoor abuse, but it was truly wonderful. Beautiful. Breath-taking. (A little tiring though!)

I thought I'd share a bunch of photos and a quick synopsis of our trip.


After a long drive, unexpectedly long due to horribly incorrect directions provided by Google Maps and Mapquest, we arrived at Skyland Resort. We had to stop at a few overlooks on the way up Skyline Drive because I don't think I've ever seen scenery quite like it. Skyland was okay. The room was very, uh, rustic. After throwing together our gear, we went out for our first hike.

The first hike we tackled was called Hawksbill and included an overlook at the highest peak in the park. The hike was 3 miles long, and the book we had recommended doing the 2 mile gradual incline and a steep decline coming down, but we somehow missed the entrance and started with a steep 1 mile incline instead. I know I'm out of shape, but I thought I was going to die. Not literally, but you know. Rob was racing up the trail and I could barely lag behind. After chugging some ice water out of my handy hydropak, I got a second wind and that was the only time I struggled during the entire vacation. Thank goodness. At that moment, Rob thought he was going to be hiking without me!

But the view was worth the heavy breathing. Here we are at the top. (Don't I look like a real hiker???)

After the hike we went back to the room and watched a deer begging for scraps.

Then we sat on the back porch and enjoyed a gorgeous sunset.

Turns out there was a television in our room (dang!) so Rob flipped around the stations as best he could (it broke like five times) and I dozed off early. Sleep was pretty awful thanks to some neighbors above us and their incredibly squeaky floor.


Exhausted, Rob and I had a tasty breakfast at Skyland's restaurant and headed out for hike #2. This time I wanted to go to Whiteoak Falls. This was twice the length as Hawksbill, and twice gain in altitude, but I wanted to see me some waterfalls! We took an hour drive out to the starting point and got on our way.

This one was also a little tough, with some climbing involved. And the dang gnats would not leave us alone! But every mile or so, we stumbled upon a new waterfall.

Rob spotted this little fella on the hike back.

Same thing with this guy.

We were thankful to get back to the car after this hike. Our feet were ready for a break. I passed out pretty early this evening too, and it was fairly quiet since our upstairs neighbors checked out, but this night was not without incident.

Rob woke me up in the middle of the night claiming he saw a mouse in the room. I tried to ignore him and go back to bed, but every five minutes, I'd hear the little feet scurrying across the floor. Rob took all of our things off the floor and turned all the lights and the television on to try to scare off the mouse/mice. It didn't work. The darn thing loved our room and wouldn't leave. So it was another restless night's sleep.


We woke up early (since we weren't sleeping much anyway) and went out for a quick hike to Miller's Head. I really enjoyed this one since it was quiet, cool, and seemed so secluded.

After our hike we went to get some breakfast and then to the office to switch rooms to one with no furry guests. I was ready to strangle the office girl. It was approximately 11am and I planned on getting a quick nap before our afternoon hike. She told us we needed to check out of our current room by noon and then check into another room at 3pm. I was so upset that they weren't being very accommodating. After some arguing and telling her we'll take anything, with or without a view (in order to not get displaced for three hours), she puts us into another room. We loaded up our car and drove it across the resort. This room had no television (haha!) and loads of bugs (especially in the shower, which freaked me out a bit), but no mice.

I got my nap, which was the only good sleep we got all trip, and we went out for our afternoon hike. This time to Bearfence Mountain. The book said this one wasn't too difficult, but might require some scootching on your butt to get across rocks. Boy was that an understatement!!

We had to turn around! As did almost everyone else we saw on the trail. When we got to the summit, it was climbing over big boulders, which wouldn't have been so bad, but one foot to your right was a 380 foot drop straight down! One misplaced footing and...KERSPLAT!!!! I'm sure I could have finished it, but Rob was too worried that he was going to have to explain to my mother that I fell off a cliff, so we climbed back down.

This evening we stuffed our faces at Skyland's restaurant, which was delicious, but I felt disgustingly full afterwards and fell asleep. Of course this time, in the new room, we had unruly neighbors who didn't have the word "courtesy" in their vocabulary. No sleep again.


We got out around sunrise to drive around Skyline Drive and catch a glimpse of some animals.

The sunrise:

After our drive, we checked out, got some breakfast and headed to Luray Caverns on our way home.

And that was it. Now I'm back in the comforts of my own home. I'll retire my trekking poles until the next time Rob persuades me to go for a hike. Overall, two thumbs way up! Sure, the sleeping situation could have been a little better, but that'll just make me appreciate my own bed that much more. Speaking of that, I think my own bed is calling me right now. Ahhhhhhh.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Amish Paradise

This past weekend flew by faster than I'm used to, although it was eventful, to say the least. Saturday morning we headed to Amish country to attend Rob's father's 2nd Annual Summer BBQ and Festivities. Rob's dad and step-mom have a nice place amongst the corn and tobacco fields of the Amish, and they invited family and friends over to rejoice over mountains of food. Right behind their house we saw an Amish kid, no older than 10, plowing the fields with a bunch of horses.

On the way up, Rob had major road rage since we left a little later than he wanted. Although the reason for that was because he found a deer tick on him and freaked out about it for nearly an hour. So after two brutal hours in the car, we showed up around 1pm.

It was a great time! There were about 40-50 people there, but we only knew about 8 of them. It was mostly neighbors and coworkers. Rob did his usual "ignore Melissa for sports" thing that he does. We did play two games of horseshoes, which we won. I had mad skillz the first game (2 ringers, yay!), then tore my finger up and Rob had to carry the team. After that, Rob started with volleyball, which lasted for hours and hours. I watched a lot. And ate a lot. And talked a lot.

As it got later in the night, probably around 8:30pm, a few of the guests discovered a flood in the basement. Luckily quite a few of the guests were handy with plumbing, so an hour and a half later, they fixed the problem which turned out to be a clog from someone flushing paper towels down the toilet. Nice.

After all that stress, Rob's dad showered and was ready to relax at 10pm. Two minutes later, his wife fell down the stairs and smashed her face into the hardwood floor. Rob and I held down the fort at the party while Rob's dad took his wife to the emergency room where she had to get 8 stitches in her mouth. Yuck. She also had a pretty bad black eye. We're telling people that her son pushed her down the makes for a better story.

The next day we left in the morning and stopped by Crate and Barrel to pick up some new fancy furniture for our home. I was really excited about getting a new desk. While we're there, we pick out a buffet, a bookcase, a desk, and two wall shelf thingies. The only things they had in stock were the bookcase and half of the desk. Dagnabit!! So, unlucky for Rob, he's going to have to go pick up the stuff when it arrives.

Then we had some trouble getting out of Crate and Barrel. Somehow we got onto the PA Turnpike, which was an error. And there was no place to turn around so we had to go up 13 miles to the next exit. Poo. Road Rage Rob was not in a happy place. After a tasty lunch stop, we arrived home and I passed out for a good, long nap. Just the refresher I needed before assembling that heavy-ass bookcase all by my lonesome.

Now we have tonight and tomorrow night to pick up our final things for our big trip to Shenandoah Valley, VA! Woohoo! Let's hope Road Rage Rob can stay calm during the 5 hour drive. Fingers crossed!