Anniversary Weekend Part 2: Caverns, Bird Knob Hike, and Wine-Tasting

Day two of our anniversary weekend in the mountains (you can check out the day one recap here) began with coffee-sipping on the porch of our cabin.

IMG_5092

We could hear a stream rushing somewhere in the woods below and a rooster crowing somewhere in the distance, but there were very few sounds beyond that.  This cabin was the epitome of seclusion, and it was awesome.

IMG_5096

After a leisurely breakfast and a quick dip in the hot tub, we drove into Luray to check out Luray Caverns.  They were pretty cool–it is amazing how it all was formed–but after a while it all kind of looks the same to me.  Andrew, on the other hand, my rock-loving mine engineer, was geeking out the whole time, and that was fun to watch.  There’s basically one rule in the caverns:  don’t touch the rocks (the oil from our skin breaks them down).  We saw one guy in our group sneakily reach out and touch a rock with his finger;  Andrew shook his head, and under his breath said, “Exhibit some self-control, buddy.” 😀

IMG_5110

 IMG_5124 IMG_5101

After our caverning adventure we stopped for lunch at this wonderful restaurant called Gathering Grounds.  It’s a coffee/sandwich shop with delicious food…and gluten-free options!  In a little mountain town like Luray, we weren’t sure how well-versed the restaurants would be in food allergies, but they were incredibly accommodating.  They even had a few GF pastries available for dessert.  Andrew finished his meal with a giant peanut butter cookie and was a very happy camper. 😀  If you find yourself in Luray, check out Gathering Grounds!

We spent a little time exploring Main Street and letting our food digest, then we drove back into the mountains for our second hike of the weekend:  Bird Knob.  Our criteria for choosing this hike were 1. good views (always) and 2. shorter distance… something less strenuous and time consuming than our crazy hike from the day before.  While the Bird Knob hike is 8 miles if you do the entire thing, the overlooks are only 1.5 miles into the hike, so we could make it a 3 miler if needed.

I made certain to pack enough water for this hike, but I didn’t pay much attention to the elevation chart.  My thought process:  “Three miles?  That’s an evening stroll around the neighborhood.”  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  The entirety of the 1.5 miles to the overlook was uphill, and parts of it were annoyingly steep.  It probably wouldn’t have been as difficult if our legs weren’t sore from our hike the previous day.  As we neared the top Andrew said, “Next time I choose the hikes.” 😉

As usual, the views made it all worthwhile:

IMG_5150 IMG_5151 IMG_5137 IMG_5148

We hiked about a mile beyond this, then turned around and made our way back down the mountain.

Back at the cabin we grilled some steaks, poured a couple of drinks, and watched the sun set.

 IMG_5168

IMG_5170 IMG_5171
Gender role reversal: Andrew with a fruity mixed drink, Catherine with a dark stout 😉

IMG_5178 IMG_5180

We concluded our weekend with some wine tasting on Sunday on our drive back to Richmond.  We stopped at Barboursville Vineyards, which is an Italian-owned winery, made to look like an old Tuscan farmhouse.  The wine was pretty good–none of them tasted as much like grape juice as I want wine to taste–but the scenery was beautiful:

IMG_5246 IMG_5204 IMG_5245 IMG_5247

The weekend was simultaneously relaxing and exhausting.  It was so great to get away and be in the mountains, but we (I) picked some tough hikes 😀  Regardless, we were very thankful for the opportunity to celebrate two years of marriage!

-Beach or mountains?  Andrew and I discussed this Saturday; he picked the beach, I picked the mountains (but ask me again when I’m at the beach this summer ;-))
-Have you been to any caverns (Luray or other)?  What did you think?  Are you a rock-toucher/rule-breaker?

Advertisements

Anniversary Weekend Part 1: Hiking Strickler Knob

Today marks two years that Andrew and I have been married!  We celebrated this weekend with a getaway to a cute mountain cabin in Luray, Virginia.  The trip was both awesome and exhausting, filled with hiking and exploring the area.

Friday morning we drove straight from Richmond to the base of our first hike–Strickler Knob–with plans to check into the cabin that evening.  I’d like to give this section of the post a special title based on our (my) experience:

Pack More Water Than You Think You Need

Strickler Knob is about a 9.5-mile hike with an incredible 360 degree view at the top of the mountain.  Now, 9.5 miles is a pretty long hike, and the reviews I read rated it 5 out of 6 in terms of difficulty, but for some reason I was not taking that thing seriously before we started.  I only packed one 24-oz water bottle, and that turned out to be a dangerous mistake.

About ten minutes into the hike, the trail turns very steeply downhill–the kind of downhill that isn’t fun at all–so steep that after .6 mile, when the trail finally started going uphill, it felt relaxing.  During that section all I could think was, “This is going to be terrible on the way back…”  And it was…but more on that soon. 🙂

The entire hike was beautiful;  there was a stream, rock scrambling, and these views at the top:

IMG_5047IMG_5059DSCN9218 IMG_5062   IMG_5048

Amazing.

The return trip is where it became painful.  The temperature was hotter than expected, and with no leaves on the trees yet, there was very little shade.  I’d consumed all of my water, and Andrew refilled my bottle with half of his second bottle (so by being under-prepared, I endangered both of us).  In addition to being dehydrated, rationing water meant that I had only eaten a few bites of my sandwich when we stopped for lunch–with a dry mouth it was tough to swallow.  All around, I did not have enough fuel in my system.

For most of the return trip I felt okay.  We even ran a few downhill sections!  And then we reached the bottom of that d**n hill that I knew was going to be terrible from the start.  Friends, I am in good shape.  Cardiovascularly I can go the distance; the muscles in my legs are strong.  After 8.5 miles, however, with not quite enough water or food, this ascent was not pretty.  I had to stop and rest–and not just rest, but sit down–every .05 miles.  That’s roughly every minute, maybe two on that terrain.  I’ve certainly felt tired on hikes before, but this was the first time I’d ever thought, “I cannot make it to the top of this hill.  How am I going to do this?  I’m going to have to camp here.”  Andrew said he was preparing himself to have to carry me.  It was awful.

And then after a grueling .6 mile, we reached flat ground…and I turned around and cursed the mountainside.

With adequate fuel, it would have been a tough hike, but with only 4.5 cups of water over that distance, it was almost more than I could take.  I was thankful to have Andrew there to encourage me and share his water! Anytime you go into the woods, pack more water than you think you need.

After completing the hike, we made our way to the cabin.

IMG_5084IMG_5086  IMG_5085

Isn’t it cute??  We refueled with dinner cooked on the grill, then relaxed in the hot tub 😀

Despite the dehydration, it was a great day.  I’d like to tackle that hike again with better preparation…the views are worth it!

I will post about the rest of the weekend tomorrow, but for now…

Happy anniversary to the love of my life! 😀

One Year

One year ago today, I married my best friend.  I know everyone uses that terminology (“married my best friend,”) but I mean it.

Tudor & Storey Wedding

We had a gorgeous day in April (every other weekend that month was rainy and cold.)  The months leading up to the wedding had been rough in other areas of life, but with the help of family and friends, everything came together perfectly for the day.  I walked down the aisle to a song written and played by our friends Chelsea and Josh.  The flowers in the bouquets were grown and arranged by Andrew’s cousins Stuart and Alice.  We truly could not have done it without the help of, oh, everyone we know. 🙂

Tudor & Storey Wedding

Tudor & Storey Wedding

Tudor & Storey Wedding Tudor & Storey Wedding

Tudor & Storey Wedding

 

(Photos by Rob Jefferson and Kate Magee Photography)

It’s hard to believe an entire year has passed since that day.  So what have I learned in one year of marriage?  First, the power of apologizing and forgiveness.  There is nothing like marriage, being with someone every single day, to bring out the faults in both parties.  Being quick to say, “I’m sorry,” even if it’s only for a snippy comment made while in a bad mood, goes a long way… as does not holding something over the other person’s head or guilt-tripping.

The second thing I’ve learned in marriage (and I use the word, “learned” loosely; it’s more of a “learning process,”) is the value of putting the other person first.  By nature, we are self-serving beings.  When I come home from work, I want to sit on the couch and watch TV, or read a book, or do something that want to do.  But what if there’s a pile of dishes in the sink?  If I choose not to do them (which would by my preference 100% of the time,) Andrew will likely end up doing them.  If I choose to think of him first, suck it up, and just clean the dishes, then Andrew will have a chance to relax.  Sometimes I choose to serve myself, and sometimes I choose to serve him;  when I put him first though, I never regret it (and I bet he’d say the same thing about putting me first.)  Marriage, love, requires sacrifice.

Our marriage is far from perfect (as is any marriage, I assume,) but I sure do love that guy.  I wouldn’t trade the last year of my life for anything, and I look forward to 75 more (I’m optimistic ;-))

Andrew, thanks for letting me fall asleep on you on the couch most weeknights and for letting me hug you at inconvenient times (“It’s your cooking dinner hug.”)  Most of all, thank you for loving me so well all the time.  I love you… Happy Anniversary!