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Sunday Drives in Virginia

2017 September 14
by Becky

We’ve spent the last two weekends exploring the Virginia countryside and Oh. My. it’s gorgeous. As if I wasn’t enamored enough with our new home, it had to go and be all mind-blowingly beautiful just an hour from our door step.

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We didn’t explore very far West last time we lived here, there was so much to do! We ventured East and North and then moved. But we couldn’t wait another second to see what this fine state had to offer!

It’s hard to capture. The beauty of the lovely little farms and crumbling stone walls and old barns shadowed by the incredible Blue Ridge Mountains is tough to translate through a camera or computer screen. So far we’ve meandered down the first leg of the Skyline Drive and picked apples at Great Country Farms.

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Stu was traveling last Sunday so I asked the boys what they wanted to do. “Apple picking or the aquatic gardens?” were the options I put forth. “Apple picking!!!” was the unanimous reply. This was before I told them about the jumping pillow and obstacle course and plethora of slides featured at said apple orchard. And after I explained we’d have to drive for about an hour to get there. They were still on board so off we went. My little explorers.

The beauty sneaks up on you. Here we’re driving down the interstate, passing Dulles airport exits, and suddenly things get interesting. “Horse!” shouts Finn from the back seat and, while he’s probably just trying to be a part of the conversation, there really are horses and cows popping up around each bend in the road. Small towns and apple picking signs become more frequent sights.

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We arrived at the cutest little farm, past a pristine pond surrounded by rolling hills covered in vineyards…just what we were looking for. (That’s right, the Virginia orchards/pumpkin patches have wineries—and a brewery!—right next door.) We took the wagon ride out to the orchard and filled our boxes with gorgeous apples.

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Finn ate no fewer than five apples in the thirty minute picking adventure.

Ethan was committed to finding the Honey Crisp apples and, though we thought we missed the window, he was successful! They weren’t as shiny as in the store, but he knew exactly which ones he wanted and he was right.

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We headed back to the farm, dropped our bounty at the car, and spent the next few hours doing EVERYTHING Great Country Farm had to offer. Ethan flew down every slide, Finn conquered every swing. We mined for gold. We saw animals. We tasted apple cider and had apple cider donuts thrust upon us and sipped apple cider slushies. There was a theme. The boys climbed into the car sticky and exhausted.

The weekend before this trip, we checked out the famous Skyline Drive. Not knowing what to expect, we headed west on a Saturday.

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We noticed the hills getting taller, but really didn’t see an incline as we passed through the town of Front Royal, Virginia onto Skyline Drive. It wasn’t until we slipped through the dense forest to our first lookout that we really understood where the road had taken us.

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“They really are blue mom!” exclaimed Ethan as he looked out over the countryside. Finn spent the day looking for volcanoes, his new obsession. (I’m staring straight down the path of a volcano-themed third birthday party people…he never stops talking about them. Anyone have a dry ice hook-up near Old Town Alexandria?)

We slowly took the road to Luray, Virginia and headed toward the Luray Caverns, which are supposed to be amazing and feature an organ made from stalagmites. I say “supposed to” because one look at the full parking lot and long lines had us turning the car right around. It was close to noon and apparently peak visiting time. So we opted for lunch in picturesque downtown Luray, popping into West Main Market for delicious sandwiches and potato salad, sitting on the patio in the perfect, breezy fall-like weather before heading home.

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We brought reinforcements (Finn’s blanket) to ensure naps on the ride back. Worked like a charm!

We headed up 340 highway to Front Royal to get back home since the Skyline Drive is a 35 mph max speed. I think next time—there will be at least one next time to see fall leaves—we’ll head down to Luray first, then take in the sights of Skyline. Or maybe just leave waaaaay early (like 7am). That way we’ll beat the crowds!

Next time we head out to the country, I commit to pulling over at every old barn for a picture, no matter how many cars are riding my tail. Driving through these winding roads is like being in a movie, the quaintness overwhelms.

This is just our first taste of exploring Virginia. We plan to visit Richmond, Williamsburg, Charlottesville, and more of Shenandoah State Park within the next few months. Even though we’re here for the foreseeable future, I have all this adventure energy built up in me from our four years away from the East Coast. No waiting around this time! I want to see it all.

It’s a good thing my kids have become flexible thrill-seekers ready for the next adventure…because I’m ready to take them everywhere.

 

Friday Favs

2017 September 8
by Becky

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I’m pretty excited about a lot of things lately, namely those which have made life bearable easier during our time of transition AND my time of healing my foot. So I thought I’d include a couple in my list here, along with some new-to-me music and some workout gear to get me back to the gym to shed this gross “boot-weight” (def: weight you gain when you feel sorry for yourself because you are stuck in a boot).

  1. Day two in our new house we realized there was no where to hang our cheapy magnetic Ikea knife holder. It was too long, not all that nice to look at, and weak. Like sometimes our knives fell off weak. (Sorry Ikea, no hate, I love you, just not your knife holder). Enter this gorgeous Wooden knife holder via Etsy. I saw it and saw the good reviews but couldn’t’ imagine it would be as incredible as what showed up in the mail. I have NO idea how they make these things, but this knife holder is the bomb. It looks beautiful in the middle of our kitchen against the herringbone backsplash and the magnets are super strong. No slipping, no ugliness. Perfection.
  2. Walking through a shop in Georgetown last weekend I heard an amazing song and pulled out my phone to Shazam it—the way I find SO many new artists—and discovered Ben L’Oncle Soul. I was caught up in the song Come Home before downloading song after song from his self-titled album. He’s a bow-tie wearing French singer-songwriter who’s music I on which I’m currently hooked. I love the funkiness and retro vibe, finding his cover of Seven Nation Army a treat. I love that wherever I am, whatever I”m watching, I can find out what amazing music I’m heading in a flash with Shazam.
  3. The day after we took possession of our Old Town house, I bought a Dyson Cordless Vac. I cringed at the total at checkout, but OMG this thing is a lifesaver. We have three stories of 200 year old wood floors and many area rugs, I wasn’t about to be carrying our heavy Hoover up and down the stairs or figuring out a place to store it so I could vacuum the kitchen every day. Because I do vacuum the kitchen EVERY DAY. Often twice. This slick little guy fits in our kitchen closet, (right next to the washer and dryer, first floor laundry at it’s finest) and is ready to go always. I easily carry it throughout the whole house and it’s so easy to presto change into a tiny vac for cars or tight spaces. Oh, and NO CORDS. We’re all pretty obsessed with it. And after using a $50 vacuum for ten years, I think we were due.
  4. Now that my foot is healing and I’m looking at a life without the boot, I decided to get pumped for the gym with a few new items in my workout wardrobe…the one that’s falling apart and getting mity uncomfortable. We have lots of great shopping available in Old Town so I popped into Lululemon and walked out with the ultra comfortable Energy Sports BraI was pleasantly surprised at the reasonable price tag and cute style. Nothing like some new gear to get back into my routine. Sure it’s just the stationary bike and some weights right now, but I see those Spin and Barre classes in my near future.
  5. For the last six weeks I’ve been hobbling around in a fracture boot, being told by my doctor to “try to stay off my feet”. Right. Moving, getting kids squared away in school, settling into our house, keeping the kids entertained…there was no staying off my feet. But I did try to avoid it when possible, which lead me to trying Instacart. It’s this amazing service that brings your groceries right to your door, heck they will bring it to your kitchen counter! Choose your items online, and for a small fee it will be delivered to your door. My first delivery was free of fees, the second was $6.47. TOTALLY worth it to avoid taking the kids and tromping around a giant store with my broken foot. With Amazon buying Whole Foods and everything being delivered to our doors, this is the future and I’m gonna be on board when it makes life easier.