Saturday, June 21, 2014

Shenandoah National Park Awesomeness

Summer is in full swing!

Last weekend, my husband and I kicked it off with a weekend trip to Shenandoah National Park. With July right around the corner, we're realizing that our days are numbered till he TDYs to Arizona. He leaves at the very beginning of August, literally the first weekend.... This is our first summer together since we've been married -- and we plan to make the most of it -- although we're pretty broke.

The move and wedding put a strain on our financials and we want to spend some more time saving up before we do something big. So, we've pieced together a series of micro vacations (aka day or weekend trips) around the greater Virginia area.

The first of the handful of planned explorations at Shenandoah National Park was a hit! -- We had an AMAZING time! Honestly, I didn't really know what to expect. I quickly put together the trip because I realized how crunched for time we were and I knew my husband really wanted to conquer Old Rag Mountain based on a conversation he had with a co-worker. After researching Old Rag Mountain, I discovered that there were lots of other great opportunities to explore the park area! Literally, as soon as we entered the park, a black bear was crossing the heard me right...a BLACK BEAR! Of course, I was driving, so I didn't get as good of a look at it because it all happened so quick and I was just concerned for not harming the bear. Also, because how unprepared we were with entering the park, my husband did NOT have a camera ready. I was pretty disappointed because that was the first and only bear we saw all weekend. We did, however, see lots of other adorable and interesting wildlife!

We drove-up on Saturday and spent the day leisurely hiking around the park. I was completely and utterly impressed with the surroundings of Shenandoah. The park is extremely beautiful and I didn't want to leave. I wholeheartedly recommend a trip to the park. Even if you aren't the outdoorsy type, there is something to be seen here. We stayed at Skyland Resort, which had such a charming rustic feel to it -- and was completely modernized. You could also camp in the park, so it really has everybody covered.

Then, on Sunday, my husband and I hiked to the top of Old Rag Mountain. It. Was. So. Intense. For real, I can't believe we made it. We weren't really as prepared as others because we didn't bring enough water. Also, I didn't realize how much UP we would be hiking or rock scrambling. We were very lucky to run into a generous couple that gave us their extra water. Seriously, if it weren't for them, we wouldn't have made it the full circuit. So, a special thank you goes out to the awesome couple! We wouldn't have been able to do it without you!

My husband and I got a complete hike high when we finished the nearly 9 mile circuit height (were at 3 miles of it climbed 220 stories up!) that we were already planning our next visit. It was such a huge accomplishment we did as a couple and we were so unbelievably proud of ourselves. Woohoo!

Then, the next day happened....when we were unable to move our bodies because we were so sore. My arms were throbbing because of the upper body rock climbing we did. Needless to say, we're fully recovered now and ready for our next adventure!

A little tidbit - Active Duty military families get to go inside every single National Park for FREE! All you need to do is tell the gate person and they will give you an annual pass...not kidding...check it out!

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Biking Adventures: South Run Park & Burke Lake

My husband and I have been biking fools! The past two weekends we've biking both Saturday and Sunday. Another exciting development, we signed up for a gym membership! I've been feeling a little blubbery the last couple of months because I haven't been doing the same amount of exercise I would do before I got married. Same for my husband...we've been so used to just lounging around. A gym/exercise routine hasn't been on top of mind. That had to stop! We decided to ramp-up our biking efforts. For us, it's the easiest way to exercise.

We're really enjoying the cardio on the weekends! We discovered a great biking route that's just a handful of miles away. We would start at South Run Park and turn down to bike to Burke Lake. Then, we would bike around the lake, which is more than 5 miles. It's a great bike ride!

I'm so happy to be discovering so many activities for us to do together. The town we live in also has lots of great parks and trails that border the Potomac. We pretty much have exciting plans every weekend till my husband has to leave for TDY. It's official because his travel arrangements were made yesterday. I'm a little bummed that he has to leave again, especially when I'm just getting used to him being around! Two months is definitely better than a to think of the positive!

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Memorial Day at Colonial Williamsburg

I'm spending a bit of time catching up to what I've been up to lately, so I appreciate everyone baring with me!

My trip to Colonial Williamsburg with the husband was too much fun that I can't pass up sharing it! Fort Belvoir's ticket office was giving away free admission passes (yay for FREE!) to military families for Memorial Day Weekend. After all the personal stuff going on, everyone thought it would be good for us to spend a couple of days enjoying ourselves and exploring a new part of Virginia.

We decided to book a stay at Colonial Williamsburg's 18th Century Taverns for the experience. They have a series of properties that they use as hotel rooms for people interested in an "authentic" experience (in addition to the Williamsburg Inn and other more hotel-like properties). We wanted to fully immerse ourselves in the 18th Century and go through the same things as someone at that point in history would...they boast that the Tavern rooms are set-up like how travelers would experience during the time, granted, we have running water and a private bathroom, so it's really 18th Century living with modern luxuries.

All the buildings in the area are in theme and the people that work in them and around them play the part. When you go inside the Wig Shop, the woman behind the counter will act like she's there to make you a wig or shave your head to fit for a wig. That was definitely a societal norm I would have hated to do. It doesn't sound pleasant....

Anyway, the restaurants off the streets are also authentic and we had a good time spending a day eating like 18th Century inhabitants, but I'm sure our food was prepared a thousand times safer than the 1700s.

I'm a pretty big history nerd and the trip to Colonial Williamsburg brought out my geek flag. I highly recommend a visit, even if you're not a history buff -- and we heard that they offer FREE tickets to military families not only during Memorial Day Weekend, but other "patriotic" holidays (i.e. Fourth of July, Veterans Day, etc.). I'd keep an eye-out for that great opportunity!

Outside the Capital Building.
Delicious Ginger Ale!
Our Tavern building.
The outside of the Governor's Mansion.
Inside the Courthouse.

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