Autumnal Reminiscence

Well, now that it’s almost December January and winter is fast approaching here, I suppose it’s about time to tell you about Dan’s parents visit way back in… October. We headed straight from Dulles airport to good ol’ West Virginia, where we’d rented a cabin in the Shenandoah mountains. We followed the steep, serpintine road up the mountain to arrive at the cabin just in time to see the golden orb of the sun set the valley ablaze before slipping beyond the horizon.

The cozy cabin, lined with wood and windows that offered views of the entire valley, was the prefect locale to cook up a storm, catch up, relax and plan our next adventures.

D+P and DnA along the C&O Canal

Over the next few days, we explored the cobbled streets of Harpers Ferry, hiked up the steep trail of Maryland Heights to view the great Shenandoah and Potomac rivers from the cliffs that rise above them, and hiked along the Appalatian trail. Dan, whose health seemed to be improving overall, had overdone it running 26+ miles on our holiday in Maine. He now had a stress fracture on his foot and did all our hiking in a cast! Nevertheless, we enjoyed the sprinkling of red and orange that was just begining to dot the leaves of the highest branches in fall color. The weather, though, was more suited to spring than autumn, with sun and temperatures up around 75°F / 24°C.

All too soon, our jaunt in the mountains was over, but we took our time driving back to Reston. We stopped for delicious farm-fresh treats at Stoneybrook Farm, a sampling of local wines at Hillsborough Vineyards, and poke around some old houses in the village of Waterford, and finally a simple yet delectible lunch of butternut squash soup and grilled cheese with apple sandwiches at The Market Table in Lovettesville.

The rest of the week, I had to return to work, but each evening I returned home to a delcious meal and fun outing with Dan, Dee & Pietro. While I was at work, they cycled round Reston, museum-hopped in DC, planted flowers in our garden and met our work collegues.  The weather kept up its brilliance and much time was spent simply enjoying all the paths, lakes and pockets of wilderness our backyard has to offer. The grand finale was a “Stalcup Family Reunion” at my uncles farm where D+P sang a Sicilian song about a donkey in which the audience was required to “hee haw” their contribution.

Thinking back to October, it seems so warm, so sunny and so green. Wheras now brown is the dominant color and we run in the dark with our headlamps. Still, the Winter Solitice is now behind us and the days are getting longer. Plus… we both bought full-spectrum lights which have done a lot to hlep us fight the winter blues (especially when you work in a windowless basement office!) And, best of all, we’re on holiday w/D+P once more…. this time, we’ve hoped across the pond to them in England!

A taste of touring

Bit by bit, with the aid of some strong prescription drugs, the pain from Dan’s 8 root canals subsided.  So, the weekend of the 16th of July we were able to go on a mini-touring trip.   It was a fun weekend away, but bittersweet since we’d had to cancel our mountaineering trip to California that was due to depart that same date.  Still, even if Dan wasn’t up to tackle glaciers, it was brilliant that he was up for a weekend of cycling!

We packed a few items into our panniers and headed off from our front door on the W&OD path, stopping along the way for kombucha and chocolate covered ginger at the little natural food stores we love in Leesburg  and Purcellville.

Then we worked up an appetite for a phenomenal dinner at The Market Table Bistro in Lovettesville.  We both got salads, but they were more like edible artistic masterpieces.  The food was delectable and most of it hailed from local farms – we recognized many from our local farmers market in Reston.  The Chef and Owner Jason Lage even came out to chat with us about the food and assure me that the bacon on my salad came from “happy pigs” that forage freely in the woods of a family farm. But even with such gourmet fare, we were warmly welcomed in our sweaty spandex attire.

That evening my gracious aunt & uncle hosted us at their lovely home and also rescued us from a rookie mistake of not having the right attachment on our bike pump when we got a flat the next day.  With inflated tires once more, we crossed over into Maryland and took the C&O canal to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.


The weather was glorious and we stayed cool with intermittent dips in the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. Then we followed rolling hills south along the Shenandoah river. With the sun kissing the wheat fields, the wind cooling our faces and the front porches of old farmhouses greeting us, I feel under the spell of the pastoral idyll. But by the time we reached Front Royal, the gentle hills seemed more like rugged mountains and my legs ached and rebelled with every rise. But we made it to the cute cabin Dan’s colleague had generously offered us for a blissful nights sleep before setting back home again the next morning.

In the end we did about 50 miles Friday, 70 Saturday and 50 Sunday – not bad for our first foray into touring. And doesn’t it sound more impressive if I just say we biked through 3 states in 3 days? Despite our sore bones and muscles, we were already scheming on where and when to do our next biking trip!