blogging, Having fun, love, marriage, nature, organic food, photography, Travel, vacations, wedding anniversary, Writing

A Wild and Wonderful Weekend

My husband an I had an anniversary weekend that equaled the awesomeness of our past 13 years of marriage.  We travelled to the picturesque Canaan Valley region of West Virginia and spent a romantic three days in a lovely log cabin. Believe it, or not, I’ve never stayed in a cabin before,  This one was super cute with a fireplace, hot tub, and all of the other amenities that I love while “camping!”  Here’s a shot of the back of the cabin.  Somehow I neglected to take pictures of the inside, but trust me, it was adorable.

This is the back view of our little cabin.  It overlooks a very active stream! (photo by me)
This is the back view of our little cabin. It overlooks a very active stream! (photo by me)

The campground couldn’t have been more gorgeous either. Right beneath our back balcony was a little stream bursting with the biggest golden and rainbow trout I’ve ever seen.  I think their size had quite a lot to do with the “trout chow” vending machines that were conveniently placed near many of the ponds and streams.  For just a quarter, you got a huge handful of trout food that created a true feeding frenzy each time a pellet hit the water.  The sheer number and activity of the fish made the water look like it was a boiling, seething mass of fins, tails and open mouths.  It was probably the best show I’ve ever gotten for a quarter!

Our view of the cliffs from the cabins balcony. The Potomac river is nestled beneath the trees at the base. (Photo by me)
Our view of the cliffs from the cabins balcony. The Potomac river is nestled beneath the trees at the base. (Photo by me)
a huge golden trout in the stream behind our cabin. (photo by me)
a huge golden trout in the stream behind our cabin. (photo by me)

 

There was also a rather skittish duck family residing in and around the banks of the stream behind our place, too.  I can’t fault their nervousness, as I can imagine that more than once some kid has accidentally pelted them with trout chow.  I did manage to get a few careful shots with my zoom.

This family was easily frightened.  It took some patience to get a picture of them. (Photo by me)
This family was easily frightened. It took some patience to get a picture of them. (Photo by me)

My absolute favorite part of the weekend was watching the muskrat couple that also shared the stream behind our cabin.  I’d never actually seen a muskrat in the wild before.  My first glimpse of them was on the bank, and I immediately mistook them for groundhogs, as their body shape and coloration are so similar.  As soon as they slipped into the water, I caught sight of their long “rat-like” tail and knew immediately what they were.  (Don’t let their name fool you, though they are of the rodent family, they’re not rats.  Their closest relatives are lemmings, mice, and voles.)  These muskrats had dug a channel of tunnels all along the banks of the stream, and it was a delight to watch their very busy antics.

Muskrat love!! (Photo by me)
Muskrat love!! (Photo by me)
They were so cute swimming through the stream!  (Photo by me)
They were so cute swimming through the stream! (Photo by me)

This wasn’t my first foray into this wilderness, but it was my healthiest. This area of the state is well-known for a plethora of outdoor activities and were determined to get in our share of swimming and hiking. The swimming part was well taken care of by the huge saltwater pool at the campground.  I got up super early each morning to get in 30 minutes of swimming to start my day.  Mornings are often chilly in the mountains and I think most of the jacketed people I passed on the trail to the pool thought I was crazy.  Luckily, the water was much warmer than the 55-60 degree air and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

On our last visit, over ten years ago, my excess weight really slowed me down.  I’d desperately wanted to hike the Seneca Rocks Mountain Trail, but only made it about a 1/4 of a mile up the steep path.  This time, I hiked the entire trail with no problem. We also visited Blackwater Falls and enjoyed the trails and views there.

The picturesque Seneca Rocks (Photo by me)
The picturesque Seneca Rocks (Photo by me)
Crossing the bridge to the trail's start.  (Photo by me)
Crossing the bridge to the trail’s start. (Photo by me)
Almost to the top! (Photo by me)
Almost to the top! (Photo by me)
I made it!!  A view from the top.  (Photo by me)
I made it!! A view from the top. (Photo by me)
The awesome view from the observation area!  (Photo be me)
The awesome view from the observation area! (Photo be me)

The only thing that was a problem in this area was finding fresh, healthy food choices. Eating out wasn’t an option since the restaurant choices were either fast food, or greasy diner fare.  Luckily, the cabin had a fairly well-equipped kitchen. However, the only grocery store choice in this area was sadly lacking.  Nutrient-weak iceberg lettuce was the only salad choice and the rest of the produce section was extremely sparse. Fortunately, I did find some nice lean chicken and a few veggies to grill up during our stay–and an awesome watermelon (my favorite fruit) for dessert.

On our last day there (our actual anniversary), we traveled to Thomas, WV to eat at the Purple Fiddle with its clean, simple, homemade, organic fare.  I had an awesome turkey and pesto hummus Panini and my husband had a jalapeño turkey wrap.  The Purple Fiddle is well-known for its live music, and we arrived just as Bob Keel was beginning his first set of original, folk, and classic covers.  Funny thing is, Bob is actually from our area, and my younger daughter, who does Contra dancing has heard him play many times.

Lunch at the Purple Fiddle.  (Photo by me)
Lunch at the Purple Fiddle. (Photo by me)
Great music from Bob Keel.  (Photo by me)
Great music from Bob Keel. (Photo by me)

Before leaving Thomas, we visited the fabulous little riverside shops where we found our usual anniversary gift to ourselves; a piece of local art from wherever we’re visiting.  This piece not only summed up our wonderful weekend, but the past 13 years of marriage that we’ve shared together!

Not the greatest photography on my part, but this is the print we got at The White Room Gallery in Thomas, WV.  For more work by this artist visit his etsy site www.theartseth.etsy.com
Not the greatest photography on my part, but this is the print we got at The White Room Gallery in Thomas, WV. For more work by this artist visit his etsy site http://www.theartseth.etsy.com
blogging, enjoying family, Exercise, Having fun, losing weight, love, Travel, vacations, wedding anniversary

Anniversary Adventuring

A lovely view of Seneca Rocks.  (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
A lovely view of Seneca Rocks. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

This coming Sunday will be our 13th wedding anniversary.  I know they say that marriage takes work, but I can honestly say that it sure hasn’t felt like a chore being married to my sweet, loving, easy-going husband.  It also hasn’t felt like we’ve been together nearly 15 years!  Time has a way of zooming by when you’re truly happy, and I’m certainly that. 🙂

We’ve decided to do a little adventuring to celebrate our special day. Last night, my husband booked a cabin, near Seneca Rocks,  for next weekend.  As a native West Virginian, I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by the natural beauty of my state, and the area that we’re travelling, has a lion’s share of gorgeousness. (I’m providing links to each place so you can see why they say West Virginia is “Almost Heaven!”)  In addition to the beautiful mountain trails and rock formations of Seneca Rocks, there are several other attractions that are within a reasonable driving distance of where we’re staying. Spruce Nob, the highest peak in WV is in the Seneca Rocks area, as are the Smokehole Caverns, a natural hideaway for moonshiners.  Nearby Tucker county boasts the Canaan Valley, with its lovely Canaan Valley State Park and  Blackwater Falls State Park,  destinations with surreal landscapes tons of hiking potential.  Though it’s a rugged drive, Dolly Sods Wilderness area, part of the Monongahela National Forrest, not only offers awesome views, but features landscape and plant life that is common in southern Canada.

I’m sure we won’t make it to all of these spots in one short weekend, but I am determined to climb the mountain trail at Seneca Rocks.  The last time we were there, I was carrying a considerable amount of weight on my body (and I’m not talking about the weight in my backpack!). I was far too out of shape to complete the hike. This time, I know I’ll be able to make it to the top.

This area is truly like Disneyland for the outdoorsman/woman.  I plan to get lots of outdoor exercise in and to make healthy meal choices (luckily, I have a kitchen and outdoor grill at the cabin).  I’ll also make sure to take tons of pictures, too!

What unique or special attractions does your area boast?  Tell me about them; I’m always looking for a new place to visit! 🙂

beach, blogging, Crafting to lose weight, Having fun, Travel, vacations

Making the Beach Last Just a Little Longer

We returned from our vacation Saturday on evening to clean house, nearly stocked refrigerator, and a freshly mown lawn, thus confirming the sheer awesomeness of our children.  Though we had mounds of things to unpack, my only desire was to brew a big cup of coffee and spend the rest of the evening catching up with them.  Only our oldest daughter was home, as my youngest daughter was officiating a wedding while her fiancé was doing the wedding photographs. By 11 pm everyone was home and we stayed up well into the night chatting and laughing.

On Sunday, I meant to start my unpacking and laundry early in the day, but I just couldn’t bring myself to begin the activities that signaled the true end to our vacation.  Instead, I grabbed a bucket and some towels and took the huge pile of seashells that we collected out to the patio to wash and sort. My daughters joined in, and a couple of hours later we had a bucketful of gorgeous, sand-free shells.

After this task, I should have accepted my fate and turned on my washer, but the sparkling clean shells beckoned a trip to Michael’s Arts and Crafts store for display jars and other beachy accoutrements.

Of course, Michael’s didn’t let me down, and I soon had ten lovely jars of King Triton’s treasures to decorate with and give as gifts.

Just a few of my shell jars! (photo by me)
Just a few of my shell jars! (photo by me)

At one of the craft shops in Nag’s Head, I bought this little ornament and decided to break out my beading tools to make a few, (well, maybe more than a few), of my own!

An oyster shell ornament from the Seagreen Gallery in Nag's Head, NC. (Photo by me)
An oyster shell ornament from the Seagreen Gallery in Nag’s Head, NC. (Photo by me)
One of the shell ornaments that I made. (photo by me)
One of the shell ornaments that I made. (photo by me)
Another of my creations. (Photo by me)
Another of my creations. (Photo by me)
Another ornament made by me. (Photo by me)
Another ornament made by me. (Photo by me)
Beachy goodies! (Photo by me)
Beachy goodies! (Photo by me)

 

 

 

 

Finally, around bedtime, I’d conjured up the gumption to begin unpacking.  As, I sit here preparing this post, my washer and dryer are thumping and humming their welcome home song.  My butt may temporarily be planted in my recliner typing, but my heart is most definitely still at the beach!

My husband hung this by out front door last night.  Beachy houses don't always have to be near the actual beach! (Photo by me)
My husband hung this by out front door last night. Beachy houses don’t always have to be near the actual beach! (Photo by me)
blogging, cats, dealing with food cravings, enjoying family, Food Addiction, Having fun, losing weight, Maintaining Weight Loss, Travel, weight loss journal, Writing

Temptation

I walked along the windswept shore among the broken fray.

The angry sea, she call to me and begged for me to stay.

The cloudy sky, he beckoned,  too, and filled me with his lies.

I trudged a few steps closer, despite the wise gull’s cries.

‘midst stormy waves, and blowing sand, I stood there all alone,

Then thought a bit, and changed my path, and headed back towards home.

~ by The Ravenously Disappearing Woman

This poem was inspired by my very windy evening beach walk.  After I writing it, I realized that it could be interpreted as a seaside version of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.  I assure you, it’s not as dark as all that!  This vacation has been relaxing, amazing, refreshing, and deeply laced in temptation. My husband and I love it here, so there’s the temptation to chuck life as we currently know it; say goodbye to family, friends, and his very secure job and start over in this new, fresh place. That’s not at all like responsible us, but it’s so very tempting.

There’s, of course, the continual temptation of food here.  Everywhere I look, a restaurant sign or billboard beckons.  I actually had a dream last night about putting my mouth on the nozzle of  one of Sweet Frog’s frozen yogurt dispensers and sucking down the sweet stuff until my stomach nearly exploded.  I had a similar, but very awake, dream about spending the day eating McDonald’s French fries.  These are not healthy thoughts.

It’s not quite time for a move, and definitely not time for me to slurp up the contents of  a frozen yogurt machine, or consume a heart attack’s worth of greasy fries.  I need routine and accountability.  I need to hug my kids, pet my cats, and sleep in my own bed.  So, after one, last, perfect sunny (or even not-so-sunny) beach walk today, it will be time to pack our bags and head back towards home tomorrow.

What are you tempted by?  Have you ever wanted to start over in a new place?  How well do you handle temptation? Tell me about it.

The path to the shore from our rental condo.  This picture looks calm, but the wind was really blowing! (photo by me)
The path to the shore from our rental condo. This picture looks calm, but the wind was really blowing! (photo by me)

 

 

 

 

 

blogging, Having fun, losing weight, Maintaining Weight Loss, optifast, photography, Travel, weight loss journal, Writing

I’m on Top of the World!

Yesterday evening, I completed one of my many goals associated with my weight loss. I climbed the giant dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park! I write this with much excitement, because last year, climbing the steps to our rental condo was a sweat-inducing, asthma-attack-inciting adventure due to the extra weight I was carrying around.  In fact, for many years, my husband and I found other activities do (usually involving desserts) while our kids swiftly scurried up the tallest natural sand dunes in the Eastern part of the United States. My only way to enjoy this beautiful, natural landmark was through their pictures.  Happily, this is no longer the case, as I have a whole slew of pictures of my own to share.  The best part is, very little sweating and zero asthma attacks were involved in this endeavor.  The other best part is that I’m sharing a photo of me–looking kind of scruffy with no make-up and in my baggy climbing clothes!

The photo doesn't do the scale of this particular dune justice, but it's a pretty big climb! (photo by me)
The photo doesn’t do the scale of this particular dune justice, but it’s a pretty big climb! (photo by me)
Before reaching the apex of the highest dune, we had some steep, smaller dunes to climb. (photo by me)
Before reaching the apex of the highest dune, we had some steep, smaller dunes to climb. (photo by me)
The little nooks and crannies of plant life were amazing! (photo by me)
The little nooks and crannies of plant life were amazing!
Those aren't bushes in the background.  They're the trees below us! (photo by me)
Those aren’t bushes in the background. They’re the trees below us! (photo by me)
At the peak of the tallest dune, we were rewarded with a view of the Currituck Sound.  It looks much closer than it was; I used my zoom. (photo by me)
At the peak of the highest dune, we were rewarded with a view of the Currituck Sound. It looks much closer than it really is; I used my zoom. (photo by me)
As w began our decent, I managed to capture the beginnings of a beautiful sunset. (photo by me)
As w began our decent, I managed to capture the beginnings of a beautiful sunset. (photo by me)
Ever the animal lover, I was elated to find this little fellow nibbling in the grass on the trail back to our car. (photo by me)
Ever the animal lover, I was elated to find this little fellow nibbling in the grass on the trail back to our car. (photo by me)
Nothing like a celebratory shot in the bushes!  That baggy shirt I'm wearing used to just fit me! (photo by my hubby)
Nothing like a celebratory shot in the bushes! That baggy shirt I’m wearing used to just fit me! (photo by my hubby)
blogging, House hunting, Travel, Writing

Welcome to the Neighborhood?

I was imagining this lovely scene as I explored the house.
I was imagining this lovely scene as I explored the house.

While visiting the beach, my husband and I have been doing some house hunting for an eventual place to move to once we retire.  There were two, small homes, about nine miles from the shore, that we’d viewed online that piqued our interest.  So, yesterday evening, we decided to take a look at them.  The first was a lovely little place, but was in a very crowded neighborhood with hardly a few feet between houses; lack of parking was also an issue that didn’t bode well with my civil engineer hubby!  However, the second, newly built home, with a small, well-landscaped yard, seemed absolutely perfect for us.  We parked out front, and as I readied my camera to get a few shots to show our kids, the neighbor, who knew the builder, offered us the keys so we could check out the inside.

The interior had all of our requirements; hardwood floors, a fireplace, 3 bedrooms , 3 baths, gorgeous kitchen cabinets with gleaming granite counters, and a cute little loft upstairs that would make a perfect nook for a comfy sectional and TV.

I was already imagining shopping for beachy furniture and décor as we walked

over to the neighbor’s to return the key.  Our future neighbor was eager to answer any questions that we had about the house and the area.  We asked all of the usual queries about association fees, yard service, and hurricanes.  All were met with very positive answers.  Things were looking up until our potential next door neighbor–the one we’d unavoidably see each day and potentially barbeque with–began to let us know a little too much about himself. I mean WAY too much!  Over the course of what felt like hours, as my husband and I slowly edged

Unfortunately, our potential new neighbor changed my image to this.
Unfortunately, our potential new neighbor changed my image to this.

closer and closer to our car, he held us in his non-stop, jabbering grip.  He managed to bring up every subject that my mother, and etiquette teacher, had told me never to mention in polite, civil conversation.  I learned about his overly-zealous religious views and his heavily right wing political leanings, rife with conspiracy theories.  He ever so sincerely, with a goofy-assed smile on his face, shared his desire to keep the neighborhood lily white, and assured us that only good white Americans had built the home we were looking at.  He also managed to mention in a whisper that there was one home that a “funny” couple lived in, but they were, thankfully, moving.

In no time, I noticed that the homes on either side of him were empty, and that

even the neighbor across the street had a big “For Sale” sign in the front of her yard.  Just as his enormous dog squatted to take the dump of the century on our potential yard, he finished his spiel about the idiocy of leash laws, he reopened his gaping pie-hole and asked us, “Whataya think?  Are we going to be neighbors?”

By this time we’d reached our car.  I felt the sun-warmed chrome of freedom as my hand quickly gripped the door handle.  “I think we’re looking for a place with more diversity,” I said as whisked myself into my seat.  “Where’s that “funny” couple moving to?” asked my husband as he pushed the ignition button and hit the gas.

Sweet freedom from that neighbor from hell!!
Sweet freedom from that neighbor from hell!!

 

blogging, Exercise, Having fun, losing weight, Maintaining Weight Loss, optifast, photography, Travel, weight loss journal, Writing

Life’s a Beach when you Don’t Feel like a Whale

Greetings from the Outer Banks of North Carolina!  We’ve been here for two days and are having a blast. We’re staying in a small, second story, walk-up condo on the beach that we’ve rented for the past few years, and though everything about it is the same as usual, it feels vastly different to me.

  • In past years, the two flights of very steep steps caused me to make several rest stops on my way up.  Now, I swiftly spring right up them without breaking a sweat or panting like a puppy!
  • While cooking healthy meals for us, I’ve finally become acquainted with the very well-appointed kitchen of this place and realize that the owners did a fabulous job of it with wonderful, high-end, accoutrements.
  • The cost of one week of groceries is practically equivalent to what my husband and I would spend on a nice meal out with wine, appetizers, entrée, and dessert.  We’re saving money!
  • Reaching the beach used to be a major ordeal for me, even though it only requires climbing the steps that go over a dune in front of the condo.  Now, I’m up those steps like a shot, and I can help my husband carry our beach stuff.  Last time, I could barely carry myself!
  • My goals and priorities while here have enormously shifted.  In the past, it was all about where we would eat.  Now, it’s all about what activities we can do that will keep us physically fit.  We’ve been doing plenty of beach walking, and swimming.  My big goal is to go to Jockey’s Ridge State Park and climb the giant sand dunes.  I haven’t done this since I was a kid, and for the past decade have stayed back while the rest of my family has enjoyed it.  Tomorrow, we’re planning to conquer the dunes and I feel very excited and emotional about meeting this long-time goal.  (I’ll be taking plenty of pictures!)

I hope all of my readers have an excellently gorgeous day!

In the meantime, here are a few shots of the beach area in front of the condo:

photo 4

photo 5

photo 1