A Perfect Spring Hike

We’re looking for new place to hike.  [Somehow recently I went through a cleaning frenzy at the same time of experiencing baby brain, and I threw away our annual national park pass.]   So basically we were looking for a free park.  I also wanted a park that offered a bit of a challenge.  I prefer hilly trails with tree roots to smooth and flat paths.

We felt that Whitney State Park was suitable, and off we went.  Although not technically far from our house, it was a region we weren’t accustomed to.  Well, when you don’t know you’re lost, you just keep on going…  And so it took us two hours to get to a destination 45 minutes from our house.  (Honestly, I don’t know why the man driving the car was taking directions from the woman who threw away a perfectly valid park pass.)

I was excited to try out my new Deuter baby carrier.  It was very comfortable in the store where I carried Wren up and down the steps without a problem.  We did have to make a few adjustments to the pack as we went, but all in all, I am very happy with it.  I think Wren was okay with it, too.

Whitney State Park Hike

I tried to not overdo it today, as I want to go on another hike with a friend tomorrow.  I want to get enough experience with the pack so that I can be independent as I meet up with some friends later next week at another new and free park.

The weather was perfect for today’s excursion considering we were roughly 20° cooler from the previous highs of the week.  I don’t think it ever brok 70°.  This is what Spring should be like!

I didn’t see any birds, but I did see a couple of loons.

“Today is yours,” my true love said to me on Saturday morning.

I replied, “Oh, really?!  I was just reading about this super cool yarn shop in Vienna. Let’s go!”

I didn’t stop to ask if that’s what he had in mind when he made his offer, but he didn’t seem to be too surprised.  To make myself feel better, I suggested we could visit the also super cool Great Falls National Park afterwards.  Again, he didn’t seem to be disappointed.

We made it to Uniquities shortly after they opened, and it was a busy place.  There were lots of workers, shoppers, and even a knitting class going on upstairs. This was not a depressing store.  I made my purchase of scrumptious yarn after we were shown the spinning wheels.  (Ultimately, that’s why I wanted to check out the yarn shop.  Hopefully, more on that later.)

As we were leaving, we spotted the coolest restaurant across the street from the yarn shop.  I had only ever seen one in France.  Could there really be one here… in America, in Virginia?  Dear friends, I am talking about a crȇperie.  And if we drove all the way to Toronto to eat at a pâtisserie, we by all means were going to that Crȇpe Amour across the street.  Okey didn’t seem to be annoyed at this idea.

As we were eating our déjeuners, he did seem to be amused that again across the street was a quilt shop.  I graciously told him that I did not need to go there that day.   He seemed relieved.

Rapids at Great Falls

The fog had finally lifted as we made it to the park, but it was still a bit chilly.  The park, which is usually packed in the summer, was fairly quiet.  In addition to the lack of a crowd, the usual wildlife was missing.  We noticed a couple of kayakers let in on the Maryland side of the Potomac River, and we watched them paddle up the rapids.  Once they made it to the big rock in the middle, they started to climb it.  Then after surveying the rapids, one got into his kayak, and down he went.

There are signs all over the park saying don’t go into the water and don’t climb rocks lest you’d risk death or a $6,000 fine.  A ranger stood by me half-way through their stunt, I asked him if these people were allowed to be out there.  He said that these guys were.

Here’s the 4-minute video of the kayaker going down the rapid:

(My apologies on the jostly-ness of the video — I was being kicked by little legs.)

After this little “show,” we walked along the River Trail and stumbled upon some rock climbers making their descent.  We also spotted some people standing on their paddle kayaks.  A friendly stranger took our picture here, and you can see yet another kayaker going down the rapids.

Together at GF NP

On our way back to the car, we were passed by a trail runner and we spotted a horse.  In all the times that I’ve been to this park, I’ve never seen so many different activities going on.  Who would have thought all it would take is one chilly day for all the loons to come out?

How we got our baby to sleep through the night (and how you can, too)!

We wanted to share how we managed this breakthrough with our other parenting friends out there who may be operating on minimal sleep.  Here’s our eight-day formula that you can use to get your own infant to sleep through the night.

Sunday  –  Go to the farmer’s market early in the morning.  Then go to church.  Then go to a park, perhaps a national forest.  Find a park ranger and shake her hand for a scavenger hunt.

Shake Hands with a Park Ranger

Monday – Have a grandparent visit with a family member that your baby has never met.  She will be held by loving arms.  Being passed back and forth will assure her that she is loved by many people.

Wren and her Aunty Ling Ling

Tuesday – With family members gone, schedule an evening session with other people.  For us, we went to our adoption support group.

Wednesday – Take your child with you to your former workplace.  Then to lunch with your former boss.

Thursday – Have more family members visit.  Preferably an aunt and an uncle with whom she is already familiar.

Friday – With family members gone, schedule a visit with someone who is curious about your child’s welfare.  For us, we had scheduled a post-placement visit with our adoption social worker.

Saturday – Go on a day trip!  Take twice as long to get there.  Going to a popular summer destination such as a beach town like we did is perfect!  Again, introduce your baby to more family members. Then take her to a sports game in the evening.  We found that a soccer game is very exciting for a three-month old.  Especially so when her cousin is the one who is singing the national anthem!  Fortunately, the fans at the game we went to had vuvuzelas which she learned how to eventually sleep through.  (I think that this is an important part of the process.)

Wren and her Cousin Faith

Sunday – The only repeat activity from the previous Sunday is going to church.  You will want to schedule a late evening dinner at the neighbor’s house.  Bathe her right before bedtime.  Put her in a familiar place and sweetly kiss her good night.  You will find that she will sleep through the night!

Disclaimer:  Okay, this isn’t for real.  And, just because she slept through one night does not mean that she slept through the next night.   Take last night.  I was up at 10:30, 11:30, 2:00, 4:00, 6:30.

my dc earthquake story

Trust me, the title is as exciting as this story is going to get.

Mineral, VA — the epicenter of the DC earthquake– is about 60 miles from my house.  I was driving home on I-95 at the time, and I heard Kojo Nnamdi on the radio exclaiming about something and then I heard the rattling in his studio.

As I pulled into my neighborhood, I saw every neighbor that was home standing outside so I knew there must have been an earthquake.  The animals did not seem very agitated when I got into the house.  The only evidence that there was an earthquake at all are the skewed photos on my walls.  Thankfully, nothing fell.

My brother in Virginia Beach said that he felt two distinct shockwaves.  My dad in Ohio said he felt the quake there.  News reports said that even people up in Canada felt the 5.8 earthquake.

Not me, though.  Okey didn’t feel the earthquake either.  He’s in California.

How about you?  Did you feel anything?

local re-exploration: US National Arboretum

After watching my yard to come to life (my hops are growing inches a day), Susie, a love frog for the Search and Snap photo hunt, and I drove back to the US National Arboretum hoping to see plenty of blooms and blossoms.

I went first to the azalea garden and found many collections starting to bud, but only found a few had flowers.

The boxwood in the Morrison garden was perfectly manicured.  I found myself being drawn back there throughout the day.

We walked a short distance from the azalea garden and found a monument dedicated to the National Grove of State Trees.

Each state’s trees were planted throughout the area.

I was excited to see California’s plaque:

and Virginia’s plaque:

but I wasn’t very pleased when I saw West Virginia’s plaque:

I painstakingly found each tree.  Virginia’s dogwood was right there, but like most other things in the park, it wasn’t flowering.

It took me several tries to find the right sugar maple.

I spotted the “giant” sequoia from afar,

and I wondered how come that tree was chosen over the more majestic redwood.

(I’m sorry for the large image, but I assure you this is just half the full picture.  And, no, this tree wasn’t at the park.  It’s located in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.)

I look forward to returning to the park in a few weeks to see what’ll be blooming then!


100,000 miles (and counting)

My Prius (whose name is Alice, by the way) and I have accomplished a lot together.  This weekend, she brought Okey and me down to Richmond where we had a brewery tour, explored UpTown, and met up with family for dinner.  It was on the journey down to Richmond where we hit a big milestone:  100K.

My brother and I had agreed to meet at Legend Brewery later in the day, but that didn’t stop Okey and me from arriving hours early to take advantage of the 1:00 tour.  The brewer PJ was our guide.  He was very informative and was willing to answer a range of questions about beermaking and the brewery itself.  The brewery opened in the mid 1990s and keeps increasing its production.  This year along they have produced over 10,000 barrels of beer, nearly doubling what they accomplished last year.

I didn’t feel the need to get a sampling of their beers as we are able to purchase them at our local grocery store.  We did try their seasonal beers, the chocolate porter and the tripel, which were done very well.  Interesting tidbit:  the mineral composition of the James River is similar to the water found in Munich, so Legend Brewery is able to create the German-style beers quite well.

We enjoyed our driving tour around Richmond going up and down Cary St., Main St. and Belvidere St.  Even though it was a Saturday, it was difficult to find parking so we didn’t get a chance to walk around downtown.  We managed to find our way to the Carillon, Richmond’s World War One Memorial.  It is a beautiful monument.

The hybrid’s warranty is now expired, but that won’t keep me from driving around Virginia (and to points beyond).  I would actually love to go back to Richmond and get to explore the city.  Maybe with a little more planning, I can find a city guide who can point out all the bits of its important history.

local exploration: Weems-Botts Museum

There’s a general sense of being surrounded by history here in Virginia, and it becomes common-place and taken for granted.  We have early settlements, colonial life, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement.  Everywhere, there are historical markers posted.  It could signify a battle next to a creek along an empty road or a still-existing cemetery in the middle of a shopping mall.  I’ve been encouraged from my friends’ explorations to go out myself and learn about my area’s history.

Today I went to tour the Weems-Bott Museum in Dumfries and walked through a house that has stood through much of American history.  The building’s most famous occupants are Mason Locke Weems and Benjamin Botts although it has had many more.

Reverend Weems was President Washington’s pastor at Pohick Church after his presidency and is most known for writing three biographies about the former President.  He is the source for the parable in which George Washington cuts down his father’s cherry tree, and upon being discovered, cannot tell a lie.  In addition to being an author, he was also a bookseller and set up shop in this one and a half story house.

The next most famous occupant in the house was Benjamin Botts who was an up-and-coming lawyer.  He was friends with both Alexander Hamilton and the treasonous Aaron Burr.  As every good West Virginian knows, Burr killed Hamilton in a duel.  But it is not well known that Burr was never found guilty of murder.  Benjamin Botts, who had a little law office down in Dumfries, was one of his lawyers.

The house has a lot of history because of its surroundings, and I learned a lot about Dumfries from the docent (tour guide).  It is the oldest, continuously charted city in Virginia.  It was a port town, larger than New York City.  Its primary commodity, tobacco, is what ultimately lead to its decline.  There were four tobacco plantations along the harbor, and over the years the land eroded down into the harbor turning into a marsh land where the deepest part right now is only 8 feet.  Today there are residential communities (urban sprawl) that is built on the land.  It’s just amazing to learn about the devastating impact that man has on nature, especially keeping in mind that this happened before the Industrial Revolution.

It was pretty fun, and I really enjoyed the staff and volunteers at the Weems-Botts Museum.  I think I will take the time to slow down and learn more about a place the next time I see a sign.