Friday, August 29, 2014

Where did August go?

Time flies when you are having fun!  It seems like just yesterday we were at Stony Fork Campground (a Federal campground in the Jefferson National Forest) near Wytheville, VA.  We had grand plans to do some biking on the Virginia Creeper Trail and New River Trail.  We were also pleasantly surprised to see a great hiking trail…..Seven Sisters….that went thru the campground.  However, we were socked in for 5 days with rain, rain and even more rain. Although we weren’t able to do bike or hike due to the weather (yes, it was that rainy!), we were able to walk the campground trail (as well as the campground loop multiple times) in between showers…..
Our site

Is that a bear in the tree?  
 No, it was just a growth on a tree but it did make Dan, Syl, and I stop in our tracks.
The creek was full by the time we left!
We would definitely come back to the area as we really want to bike in this part of Virginia.

Normally we wouldn't have headed back to NC this early but we had a mission to be back in the area in time for my 50th birthday celebration.

We had quite a gang at “The Rock” at Fall’s Lake Rollingview Campground….
Taking over the campground!
The weekend was filled with laughter (and tons of it!), fun, food, friends, framily, and family!
My sisters Cathy and Barbara.
No we didn't plan to dress alike!  

My crazy BIL, Bruce (he belongs to Cathy).

Me and my fristers enjoying grilled pizza.
Birthday balloons!
Each morning, I would go to “The Rock” for my peaceful time…..sometimes I had it……

Other times, no so much!
Brandon, Amanda, Barbara, Cathy, Bruce (hidden) and Dan
Despite the hot temperature, some of us set out for a hike….
No, son, you shouldn't try to jump across the creek!
Bruce filming our adventures with his "Go Pro"
Our advertisement for Merrell hiking shoes!

Bruce, Cathy, Amanda, Barbara, Syl, Dan, Tricia, Brandon

Blue day - poor Cathy didn't get the memo!

Headed back to the campground
 This is never good to see in front of your site!

We almost had to call for bail money!  Just kidding!  We had an incident with the campers next to us (all underage girls) and had to get the ranger involved.  The ranger talked to the girls and said he put the fear of God in them.  We didn’t have any more issues the rest of the weekend…..although their actions prevented us from swimming at “The Rock” due to possible human pollution.  Ewwwwww.  ‘Nuff said.

It was great seeing both of my kids and my DIL
Brandon playing in Ashleigh's hammock.
Ashleigh enjoying kayaking

When she got too hot, she jumped in the water to cool off.
Ashleigh, Amanda, and Brandon
Brandon was excited to use his hatchet!

Brother and sister acting goofy.
A mother's love

DIL, Mom/MIL, Daughter
More fun and laughter…..
Hanging out


Wonder why Gin looks soooo guilty?

Group photo - Linda goosed me!
Ice cream cake!  Yum!

Kork and I

My frsters - Syl and Gin
Bruce performing his "special" dance for me. 

Linda and I...aka Thelma and Louise
Cathy on fire
It was a great weekend and a wonderful celebration!  Thank you all for everything that you did to make the weekend so much fun!!!!!  I appreciate it very much.

We are now back at our NC “home base” and have been keeping busy catching up with family and friends.
Brandon and I moved Ashleigh into her own apartment for her senior year at UNC-W.   Brandon and Amanda have joined us for dinner a few times.  Linda and I have had several girl’s nights out (and another beach trip is coming up!).  One afternoon, Kork and I helped Amanda get her classroom ready for the new school year.  We’ve also enjoyed several outings including one with her sweet, sweet mother.  My sister Elaine and I enjoyed shopping and lunch out one day.   Dan’s been working on several projects that keep him running from morning to night.  And, we managed to sneak in a surprise.  

Since we will not be with family or friends next month when Dan’s birthday rolls around, I had a surprise party for him one month early!  I made a big pan of lasagna (his favorite) and boston cream cake for dessert.
Boy - was he surprised!
Party favors for everyone!

Happy (early) Birthday, Dan!
Don and Sara (Kork's parents), Dan, Gin
Tricia, Kork, Amanda, Brandon, Syl

The evening's entertainment by Brandon....catching bugs with the zapper.
Amanda and Kork enjoying the swing. 

It’s been a fantastic month!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Fun in Virginia

Shenandoah River State Park
Bentonville, VA
Aug 4-Aug 8

Since we are too big to fit into any of the federal campgrounds in the Shenandoah National Forest, we traveled to Shenandoah River State Park so that we could explore the area.  The state park is relatively new, well laid out and has many amenities that looked right up our alley (hiking and the river!).

The state park separates the camping loops and does not let tents in the RV campground.  They have a separate loop for tent campers and another loop for the larger cabins (there were a few smaller cabins in our loop).  We were not assigned a site at check-in and got to pick our site.

Nice paved site with a huge patio - blackberries all around!

View of our backyard.  Yeah - we're gonna like it here!
Dan, Syl, and I set out in the afternoon to get our bearings around the campground.  We ended up hiking almost 4 miles.
Fly fishermen in the river.  The river is not deep and crystal clear.
Taking a break and enjoying the scenery

This is a map that was at the Visitor's Center.  It shows the trail network within the park.  It also shows how curvy the river is!

The visitor’s center has a wonderful display if all the different type of floral and fauna that can be found in the park.

We saw many, many birds on our hikes including a new favorite of mine, the indigo bunting. Bunnies and deer too…no bear, fox, or coyote though.  (That bear bell of mine must be working!)

Dan and I set out on morning to do a little exploring by bike…

We  made it to the park boundary and decided to explore a little more….
We spotted this farm and enjoyed the views 

This guy was interested in us...not sure if he had ever seen people on bikes before!
We pedaled as far as we could…before the hills turned into steeper inclines.  As soon as we stopped to turn around, a older gentlemen pulled up in his red pick-up truck, stopped and turned off the engine.  We chatted for a bit and he asked where we were from.  We told him that we were full-time Rvers and we were staying at the state park.  He smiled.  Back in the 1990s, him and his siblings (the Cullers) sold about 500 acres of their land to the state of Virginia.  The state than turned the land into Shenandoah River State Park.  It was neat chatting with him.

Gin, Syl, Dan, and I toured part of Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park one day.  We got on the scenic byway in Front Royal and drove all the way to Luray.  It was a hazy day but the views were still beautiful.

The temperature was dropping as we climbed in elevation.  Dan and Syl took turns driving so that everyone got a chance to take in the beautiful scenery.

More often than not, the four of us laugh until we cry…literally!

It was a great day exploring Skyline Drive.

Dan and I took off one morning on another hike.  The trail system within the state park is very well maintained.  Nice, wide paths and trail and directional markers well placed.  We hiked over 4 miles and never saw another person!

My DIL, Amanda, had sent me a picture of Brandon goofing off when they were hiking up in the mountains of NC a few weeks ago.  She said that she was scared that Brandon was going to teach his antics to their kids one day….
Amanda - the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!
Dan showing the height of the cliff with his foot...
Neat rock formations

Dan acting goofy on the trail

It was a great hike!

One evening, Syl, Gin and I went to Cullers Overlook to see the sunset.

No spectacular colors but it was a nice way to end the day.

We really enjoyed this state park and, although we didn’t have Verizon phone/internet coverage, would definitely return if in the area again.