Hiking: Humpback Rocks + Dobie Mountain

Hiking is good for my soul.  Apparently it’s good for my heart as well, because we hit the mountains Saturday, and I didn’t have a single heart palpitation all day.  Nature for the win!

Andrew and I went with our friends Evan and Kristina;  Evan is one of my coworkers, and we’d been talking about all going hiking together for a while.  It was great to finally make it happen!  Kristina’s sister and her boyfriend drove up from Virginia Tech and met us at Humpback Rocks.

This hike, which is one of our favorites because of the awesome views and close proximity to home, is always steeper than I remember.  There was very little conversation happening for the first 15 minutes or so :-D.  The ascent to the overlook is only one mile though, so before long we were looking at this:

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After we reached this overlook, we decided to continue hiking–the trail meets up with the Appalachian Trail pretty quickly.  Humpback Rocks shares a parking lot with another hike we’ve done recently–Dobie Mountain–and the two are connected by the AT.  Now, we had never done the combined hike and weren’t sure exactly how many miles of AT stretched between the two, but the group decided to give it a try.

This section of the AT (going north) was beautiful–mostly downhill, lots of pretty leaves, and lots of switchbacks.  So many switchbacks… none of which were visible on Google maps (yes, the AT is on there!), so when we’d been hiking for 15 minutes and I said, “We’re just about a mile away from the next overlook,” I was very wrong.  About an hour later, we were…one mile from the overlook.  My bad, guys. 🙂  Eventually we made it, and it was worth the extra miles:

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The whole gang

By the time we made it out of the woods, I think we’d hiked about six miles.  Not too shabby!

Hiking just makes me feel alive, and as I previously mentioned, it seemed to quiet the frequent heart palpitations I’ve been having lately.  Plus, we had great company this weekend, which made the day even greater!

Where have you hiked lately?
What was the highlight of your weekend? 

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Goat-Feeding, Photo Shoots, and Pumpkins

Andrew and I had a relaxing day off Monday.  It was a beautiful day, so we decided to spend most of the afternoon at Maymont.

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We fed the goats:

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In case you don’t know, I really love goats and regularly ask Andrew if we can have one as a pet (“They’re just like funny little dogs!“)  I think he takes me to Maymont somewhat often to satisfy that desire without actually getting a goat.  (“Yeah, funny little dogs that have horns and eat everything.“)  😉

After feeding the goats, we looked at the other animals, walked around the park, and just enjoyed our time together.

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Monday evening we did something that was long overdue and also a lot of fun.  When we got married a year and a half ago, a good friend of ours, Katie, paid for me to have bridal portraits done with another good friend, Kate, as her wedding gift to us.  It was an incredibly generous gift!  Kate and I were relieved that, as good friends, we could schedule the photo shoot on our own time and not worry about being super professional.  Well, to make a long story short, we finally took my bridal portraits Monday!  To make it more fun though, I convinced Andrew to dress up so we could do some couple’s shots in addition to just bridal.

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I put my wedding dress back on (it’s a little snugger than it was a year and a half ago, but it still fits! :-D) with my cowboy boots, Andrew put on a light blue shirt and khakis, and Kate drove us out to a random field in the country where we had the most beautiful photo shoot!

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Kate is insanely talented (obviously); I have no idea how to pose for pictures like this (and neither does Andrew), but Kate was awesome and told us exactly what to do!  I can’t wait to see the rest of the photos!

The week since Monday has been consumed by…. PUMPKINS!  As a fundraiser for mission trips, my youth group has a pumpkin patch on the front lawn of our church during the month of October.  The semi-truck full of pumpkins arrived early Tuesday morning:

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In case you can’t tell by the photo, that’s a whole lot of pumpkins.  It took a large group of us about three hours to unload them all;  I did more directing than lifting, but I am still really sore!  If you live in the Richmond area, consider buying your pumpkins from Trinity UMC… the money goes to a great cause!

Other than hauling pumpkins, I have been pretty lazy about working out in the last week.  Andrew and I walked for an hour last night after dinner, and I’m going to  do some lifting today (now that I’ve typed it I can’t back out :)).

Have a great Thursday!

-Goats: love them or fear them?
-Has anyone else taken bridal/wedding photos long after the wedding??
-When are you stopping by my church to buy your pumpkins? 😉

Milkshakes, Vineyard Tour, and Youth Group (Weekend Recap)

Happy Monday to all!

We had a full, yet relaxing weekend here at the Storey house.  Friday we had one of those night that made me think, “27 and married is so, so different than 22 and single.”   It started when we decided to go out to eat, and I said, “I need a few minutes to get ready,” which meant brushing my hair and reapplying eyeliner.  Same clothes I’d been wearing all day?  Why not?  😉  We went to a restaurant called the Silver Diner, which is a small chain in Virginia and Maryland.  Although it’s a chain, each restaurant works with local farmers and creates seasonal menus with lots of gluten-free, vegetarian, and heart-healthy options.  It’s pretty great.

While browsing the menu, Andrew noticed the dairy-free milkshake option and suggested we split one at the end of our meal.  When the waitress asked us if we needed anything else, however, Andrew simply asked for the check.  After she walked away I said, “Did you not want to get a milkshake?”  He replied, with a little bit of crazy in his eyes, “Let’s go to Kroger and buy the ingredients, and then we can make LOTS of milkshakes!”  Done and done.

After acquiring the necessary ingredients, driving home, and blending, we parked ourselves on the couch with our milkshakes and watched a few episodes of Once Upon A Time on Netflix.  (Does anyone else watch this?  We are hooked. [Pun intended, for those of you who are watching season 2.]  Season 2 came out on Netflix about a week ago, and we finished it Friday.  Oops…)

So that was Friday: dinner at a diner, homemade milkshakes, and Netflix on the couch.  Yeah–27 definitely beats 22. 😀

I wrote about Saturday morning here, but the gist of it is: slept in, ran 6 miles, and ate brunch.  After that we worked in the garden–we planted more kale, lettuce, and spinach–and watched most of the VT football game.

Later in the afternoon we made a trip to the New Kent Winery for a tour and wine tasting.  Oddly enough this was Andrew’s idea, and I had to convince him to watch some of the football game (“I don’t need to watch every single game.  Do you want to go wine-tasting?”  Who are you, and what have you done with my husband?)  It was my first time at a vineyard, and it was so cool!

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As an engineer, Andrew always loves tours like this and learning how things are made.  The wine we tasted was pretty good too 🙂  After one particular wine I said to Andrew, “Wow, this is unique.  I’ve never had wine that tastes like this.”  Andrew replied, “It’s not unique;  we just don’t buy $25 wine.”  Hah!  True.

We sat on the porch for a while, then walked around the grounds and enjoyed the beautiful afternoon.

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The highlight of Sunday was having our first youth group of the school year!  Like last weekend at our kickoff picnic, we had quite a crowd, and it was so much fun (at least I thought so… but I planned the whole thing, so maybe my opinion is skewed ;-)).  It was a great end to a great weekend.

And now… Monday.

What was the highlight of your weekend?
Have you ever been wine-tasting?

Easy Mornin’

I know it was only Monday when I said that weekends aren’t really weekends for me because of my job.  Today, however, thanks to a couple of amazing parents who volunteered to drive a group of our youth on a scheduled service project, I have a Saturday. <Cue angels singing.> 😀

I kicked it off by sleeping in until 9:15.  That *never* happens.  I initially woke up at 7, which is pretty typical for me, went back to sleep, and the next thing I knew it was after 9.  I didn’t quite know what to do with myself!

It’s a perfect fall day today–mid-60’s and sunny–and I hadn’t done a long(er) run yet this week, so I ate a banana with some peanut butter, got dressed, and headed out the door.

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I didn’t run especially fast, but my goal was to complete 6 miles and enjoy.  Check.  🙂

I followed up the run with a delicious breakfast: blueberry oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and (two!!) cups of coffee with almond milk.  I even cooked the oatmeal on the stove as opposed to making it the night before.  Overnight oats are great, but hot oatmeal wins in terms of taste.

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Now we are getting ready to watch some football–Andrew’s alma mater, Virginia Tech, is playing–and later this afternoon we are going wine-tasting at a nearby vineyard.

Yep, it’s just an easy Saturday over here. 🙂

What are you up to this weekend?

Jamaica Part 2: Fitness and Adventure

While it may be tempting on vacation to lie on the beach all day–especially when a waiter walks by at regular intervals and says, “Hey Princess!  Are you doing okay?  Can I bring you a drink?”*–it’s also exciting to explore all that the activities the area and resort have to offer.  And you’ll feel better if you move a little bit between those buffets and fruity drinks. 😉

(*After this happened a few times, I requested that Andrew start addressing me as “Princess” and offer to bring me drinks regularly;  he declined.)

Here’s how we stayed active in Jamaica:

Snorkeling
When we were on our honeymoon we purchased snorkeling masks, which we brought with us last week.  The resort offered snorkeling trips, which we did once, but most days we also explored on our own just off the coast.

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A huge thanks to our friend Kevin for letting us borrow his waterproof camera for the week!

Sailing
The resort offers a variety of water sports, so we went sailing one day!  The culture difference related to this cracks me up:  In the US, in order to take out a sailboat you’d probably have to take a class, sign a waiver, pass a test, etc.  In Jamaica they said, “You know how to sail?  Have fun!”  😀

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Beach Volleyball
This was more Andrew’s thing, but I played one day too!  Every day at 4:00 the resort staff organized a volleyball game, and Andrew played most days.  Also, if I may brag on my husband for a moment, Andrew is kind of awesome at volleyball.  I had no idea (he never played on a team or anything), but I supposed I should have realized, considering is good at most sports.  The one afternoon he didn’t play, all his teammates kept saying, “Where were you??  We needed you!”

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Also, minutes after the above photo was taken, the guy on the right dove into the water to cool off and came up screaming expletives, his foot gushing blood.  We looked in the water and saw that he’d stepped on a stingray, which then pierced his foot!  We talked to him the next day after he’d spent a good portion of the night in the medical center; he was in some serious pain, but he’s okay!

Offsite Adventure: Ziplining and Waterfall Hiking
The only thing we did that was not included was an excursion to Ocho Rios (about 90 minutes from Montego Bay) to zipline and hike a waterfall.  The trip was absolutely worth the extra cost!

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The view from the sky lift

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Dunn’s River Falls is a series of 3-4 ft waterfalls with big pools at the bottom of each.  We hiked from the ocean to the top of the falls.  It was awesome (and provided some great photo ops! :-D)

The Gym
In addition to staying active outside, we did hit the resort gym a few times–once for Andrew, twice for me.  Each time I completed 20 minutes on the treadmill (intervals + a short warm up/cool down), and 20 minutes of weight circuits.  I wanted to make the workouts count without feeling like I was spending too much precious vacation time at the gym.

That was our Jamaication!  I’m still not sure about this whole, “not on vacation, back in the real world” thing, but I am slowly adjusting.  Yesterday afternoon I made myself a “transition from paradise to reality smoothie”: pineapple, mango, and strawberry.  I compromised by not including spinach, flax meal, or rum. 😉

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Not bad, but not Jamaica.

Have a great Tuesday!

Where did you go/are you going on vacation this summer?
Have you ever been to Dunn’s River Falls?

Jamaica Part 1: Food and Relaxation

Jamaica was all we’d hoped it would be–a great mix of adventure and relaxation.  This morning I will focus on the food and relaxation aspects of our vacation, and tomorrow I’ll dive into the adventure and activity aspects.  Overall, I think Andrew and I both did better in terms of being active and not stuffing our faces than we did on our honeymoon. 😀

First, I must say that Sandals handled Andrew’s food intolerances incredibly well. During our check-in process Saturday (which included a damp towel to cool off, a glass of island punch, and a comfy couch,) the sous-chef met with us and talked about what he could eat and how the food is prepared.  Anyone with a food allergy or intolerance knows that it can make you nervous to go somewhere like this and have no control over how the food is prepared; it put our minds at ease to have the chef take the initiative to speak with us and let us know that he is on top of things.  In addition to the plethora of naturally gluten-free foods, they provided a GF bread basket upon request at dinner as well as a GF pizza crust at the beach-side pizzeria!  Point one of a million for Sandals.

After checking in, we settled into our room and enjoyed our complimentary fruit and cheese plates on our balcony.

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We ate our weight in fresh fruit this week.  It was a-mazing.

The resort has five or six restaurants, with a few different breakfast options.  We decided to park ourselves at the breakfast buffet each day, partly because we didn’t go to an all-inclusive resort to eat like birds, and partly because this was the view from the restaurant:

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No big deal.

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Fresh fruit galore!

After breakfast most days we hit the beach.  The resort where we stayed sat on the mainland but had its own private island just offshore, with boats taking guests back and forth throughout the day.  We spent most of our sun time on the island.

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I have a feeling that being on the island all day is what kept us from being total gluttons.  While there was a bar as well as a husband who heard, “No, thank you, I’m fine for right now,” as, “Please bring me a pina colada ASAP,” the island restaurant served a much lighter lunch buffet.   Our lunches typically looked like this:

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Salad, jerk chicken, and a few frozen beverages 🙂

Dinners provided more of the face-stuffing opportunities.  Each restaurant created a signature drink, which the server brought to the table upon your arrival.  (Would you like this pineapple-garnished blend of delicious fruit juices and rum that I’ve already made and have for you right here?  Yes.  Yes, I think I would.)

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I failed to take any entree photos, but our dinners included dishes like Caribbean lobster, coconut-encrusted trout, garlic tiger shrimp, and filet mignon.  Yep.

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Desserts included beauties like this:

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Mango mousse and strawberry cheesecake

Between meals we filled our time with a lot of this:

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And this:

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And this:

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Pulling the lounge chairs into the shallow water?  Yes, please.

…And enjoyed views like these:

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<Sigh.>

We didn’t, however, spend 100% of our time eating and otherwise doing nothing.  Tomorrow I will tell you all about our active adventures and how we worked out more than once during our vacation. 🙂

I hope you have a great Monday!

Have you ever been to Jamaica?  A Sandals resort?  What’d you think?

Home (Bitter) Sweet Home

We are home from Jamaica, and while it’s good to be home, it’s also good to be…. well, in Jamaica.  I may or may not have had to fight back a few tears as we were leaving yesterday morning.  I plan to write a full post (probably two) in the next couple of days, but for this morning, I leave you with a few teaser photos:

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I know.

Have a great Saturday!