Archive for hiking

Weekend review: Camping

It seems the last few weeks have been all about making myself busy, crossing things off the list, and preparing for Asia. So when a friend asked if I wanted to go camping this past weekend, I thought it would be something fun and different. Plus, the outdoor toilet situation would certainly prepare me for Asia. 🙂

On Friday, I met my friend Carman in Old Town and we drove out after work to Winchester, VA. It’s not the most breathtaking drive as you do hit the Beltway and part of Dulles toll road, but it was a fun little road trip that mysteriously led us to a winery about an hour from our campsite. Since we were both peckish and love a good wine, we stopped in to Bogati Bodega Winery in Round Hill, VA and of course opted for the tasting and the charcuterie/cheese plate. It was definitely one of those little road trip surprises that I’ll always remember as we sat on their patio listening to a live tenor sax player as we chatted and sipped our wine.

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A little later that night, we finally made it to our campsite and definitely pulled out the s’mores first thing. We couldn’t see much of the view that night, but here’s what we woke up to the next day:

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Fall is definitely on it’s way. After breakfast and organizing ourselves a bit, we went for a small hike around the area and attempted to find the “overlook” which was more on the side of disappointing than breathtaking. In any case, it was exercise for the day! After our hike, I found myself anxious and a bit flustered and it took me about an hour to realize that I was having a hard time relaxing and doing nothing. I guess that’s the thing about always wanting to do more, sometimes it’s hard to allow yourself to do nothing. But finally, I let go and was able to sit still in a chair for more than 5 minutes. The night/weekend was rounded off with some bison burgers, chicken apple sausages, more s’mores, and a few pumpkin flavored beers.

While I can say I love a good shower and a comfy bed, I do also love putting myself in a different environment and being able to find a sense of relaxation.

 

DC: Theodore Roosevelt Island

Last we checked in, this was my current DC to-do list:

  • MLK Jr. Memorial
  • Botanical Gardens
  • American History Museum
  • Pick fruit from a local orchard

Since then, I had plans to cross off the Botanical Gardens and the National Arboretum with my mom when she came to visit this past week. However, traffic in Richmond prevented her from getting here in time to really explore either of those. Since the arboretum is only open Friday to Monday, that one was quickly put on the back burner, but officially added to the list and since the Botanical Gardens are only open til 5 daily, it made it impossible for a mid-week trip. Instead, I remembered another little hideaway spot in DC I’d been meaning to explore: Theodore Roosevelt Island.

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Located just off GW Parkway and open until 10 PM, Mom and I planned a last minute walking adventure which would be good for her hip and for my knee. I checked the National Park Service info and found out there are 3 trails – the largest, the Swamp Trail, with a distance of 1.3 miles. I told Mom it was “just over a mile” so she wouldn’t have any reservations. I knew she could do it 🙂 So yesterday after work, we explored Roosevelt Island.

It wasn’t really what I expected. Probably a lot less traveled that most other parks in the area, there were parts that were “rugged” in a totally urban way. Fallen trees in other parks would have a chunk cut out to maintain the path, but not on Roosevelt Island. In any case, it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle.

While the view of the island itself isn’t that impressive, the views of the city are lovely. The Swamp Trail runs just along the outside of the island and gives you great views of Rosslyn:

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And Georgetown:

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I was hoping this trend would continue all the way around so you could see Watergate or the memorials, but the trail didn’t run that close to the edge on that side and you could only see snippets of them peeking through the trees. But if you keep going, you’ll finally hit the “swamp” that the trail is named after. The footbridge was a must.

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I think Mom geeked out a little as she said more than once, “This would be a perfect biology class field trip to learn about the ecosystem here.” Mom is a retired HS biology teacher. Obvious now, eh?

I liked trying to spot the swamp wildlife (we saw a Cooper’s Hawk!) and loved that Mom was really into it, but perhaps my favorite part of the island was this tree.

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Not that I haven’t seen graffiti-ed/carved trees before, but it’s like this one was chosen. It was the only tree that I saw on the entire island that had been carved, likely by young lovers. And maybe a few old ones too.

So if you have an afternoon in DC and you want to get off the beaten path and take in a bit of nature, Theodore Roosevelt Island is your place. Your mind won’t be blown, but it’s a nice little afternoon adventure.

Weekend review: Hiking with Tessie

This past weekend, I got to puppy sit one of my all time favorite pups, Tessie. She’s part hound and just needs to run and exercise; otherwise, she kind of loses it and gets stir crazy. So when I made plans for the long weekend, I made sure to include Tessie-friendly activities.

On Saturday, I went hiking with Sophie and her human. We’re regular hiking buddies, but it was a little different this time since I had Tessie. We went to Great Falls on the Maryland side and totally rocked Billy Goat B and C paths which put our day’s total at just over 6 miles. We skipped Billy Goat A since you can’t take dogs on that trail, but we still got some great views.

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It’s amazing to see dog’s communicate and to watch how they show each other stuff. Tessie is apparently a total chicken when it comes to water; where as Sophie is part fish. The first beach area we spotted, Sophie was just waiting to chase rocks and sticks and Tessie just wasn’t sure…

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But after a few romps and some encouragement from Sophie, Tessie got her paws wet and even went up to her chest at one point.

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Which gave me time to enjoy the scenery a bit more and take in this view…

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By the end of our hiking day, Tessie was leading us and letting us know she wanted to play in the water a bit more. Of course by the time we finished 6 miles, all she wanted to do was lay down in the back of the car. Sweet pup 🙂

On Sunday, my sister and I had made plans to hike Old Rag but since we both weren’t sure if we were up for the 8 mile loop and rock scramble, we opted for a less intense hike and one where we could bring Tessie along. This time we headed out to Fountainhead National Park in Fairfax, Virginia. Totally different to Great Falls, this trail was definitely in a more wooded area with fewer watering holes. There was no rock scrambling, but there were some hills that put the cardio in cardiovascular. We did a 6 mile in and out hike. Here we are at 3 miles just before we looped back:

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I don’t think Tessie could believe her luck at all the running, sniffing, and exploring she got to do this past weekend. I was pretty impressed myself. I just gotta say I’m loving all the hiking I’ve been doing this year and the old knee isn’t complaining either!

Weekend review: Puppy playtime

The past 2 weekends have been go, go, go and so I was very excited to have a weekend where the only thing on my agenda was to relax. I also happen to be taking care of a friend’s pup, so combine that with a weekend just for me and you’ll get nothing but hikes and puppy playtime.

When I get my own pup, I hope he loves swimming just as much as Sophie:

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Or maybe he’ll love rock and stick chasing in the woods. Can you spot the camo-dog?

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Not too surprisingly, I just can’t wait to have my own pup that says, ‘Hai! You ready to play?’

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Weekend review: Relaxed

This past weekend, BF went to NOLA with the lads to partake in the Super Bowl festivities. Yes, he’s Irish, but he loves the American sports and he’s a massive Ravens fan. It’s a good thing they won!

So while he was partying it up, I was relaxing it up. At first I was a little disappointed NOLA had turned into a lad’s trip, but looking back at it I’m glad I got a chance to do my own thing and to stay focused on my own goals.

On Friday evening, I hit the trail with Kat and Tara and their 2 pups Sophie and Kudzu. The best part was the ride to the park at which point Kudzu thought it necessary to sit in the front seat, even though I was in the front seat. 🙂

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We hiked for about an hour and after, I had dinner with Kat and her boo, Kev. She made Cincinnati chili which had my brain questioning my taste buds. I knew it was chili, but the cinnamon made me think I was nomming Lebanese foodies. If you’ve never had it, I definitely recommend it. We had it 5 ways (with spaghetti, kidney beans, cheddar cheese, and raw onions) – the chili itself counts as 1 of the 5.

On Saturday, I finally wrapped up a 2012 goal and finished my dog certification final exam. Just waiting for the grade, but that should be me…a certified dog trainer!

After, I celebrated with a friend at a comedy show in DC. Since I got back from Ireland, I haven’t felt like myself (physically) and I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on the positivity that I can and will change my body. That even with my bum knee, I will be healthy again. Saturday was the first night I felt like me again. I think it might of had something to do with the $15 dress I scored from ModCloth. A good deal always makes me feel giddy.

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Other than that, my time was filled with lots of relaxation, a bit of Super Bowl fun, and continuing to work on my own personal happiness project. I’m less than a month into my daily journal and only on chapter 2 in the book, but I feel more positive and I like the way I feel. Happy Tuesday!

Weekend review: Sugarloaf Mountain

This past weekend was strangely warm for a January weekend, so I took full advantage and set out on a wee hike with some canine and hooman friends. We decided to check out Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland. It would probably be more accurately described as a large hill, but it was challenging enough with my recovering knee and my first week actually back into exercise.

The day’s fog burned off by noon and we started the day at the winery at the bottom of the hill, filling our bellies with foodies. Then we hit the trail. It was easy for the most part, with the exception of a rocky incline. I think my fitness level was more a challenge than any pressure put on my knee, but I gotta start somewhere, right? Right! Sophie, Zelda, and Frank were our furry friends and stick chasing was the activity du jour.

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From top to bottom, left to right:

  • Mossy rocks on the way to the top
  • Miss Sophie gets a water break at the top
  • Zelda sunning herself on a rock at the top
  • View from the very top, looking out over Maryland

Hiking isn’t one of those activities I think of when someone asks me what I like to do, but it’s definitely something I enjoy. With so many trails around the area, I think I’ll find myself hiking (and maybe even camping) a lot more in 2013!

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