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!

Advertisements

wild, wonderful west virginia

In the end of April, we were thrilled to enjoy a visit from M&P. We guzzled bubble tea at Pho 75, chatted round the chimnea, drank local wines, were dazzled by the blooming red bud and dogwood and then hit the wilds of West Virginia.

You don’t get much wilder than that hair!

We stayed at a charming farmhouse in Lost City, WV with a red tin roof complete with a clawfoot tub in a sunny turquoise bathroom and lots of classic kitchy 1950s decor (like the stuffed squirel bookends and paint by numbers cowboy paintings in our bedroom).  We enjoyed a lazy rainy day munching on (high fiber) muffins and doing a ridiculous cow puzzle.

The next day we hiked above the clouds in the rain, but later the sun shone till our skin flushed pink. In the evening we sang our hearts out at the Karaoke night at the local bar. It was country and western until we broke out with some Beyonce and Black Eyed Peas. But there was also a surprising & delightful middle-aged gay contingent from DC amidsts the local mullets and perms!

Then we were off again – Dan navigated our “fire truck” on some crazy dirt roads to the Big Scholss region on the West Virginia/Virgina border. There we left our wheels behind and introduced M&P to wilderness backpacking! They loved it… other than a thunderstorm when we headed out, we had AHHMAAZING weather and Buddy was in good form after Pete performed a mini-operation on him (he’d basically just broken a nail, but the poor dog was limping for days until Pete came to his rescue!).

After a night round the campfire and plenty of s’mores we woke up the next morning and summitted Big Schloss.  John Denver’s Country Roads played on loop during most of car ride home.  In the 4 days we’d been away our backyard had gone from a tiny bursts of lime to a lush jungle of emerald, jade and malachite.  But soon it was time for M&P to return to the other side of the pond again….. and once they’d left, the pond seemed as large as a great ocean.