Monday, September 30, 2019

The Virginia Creeper Trail

It was a whirlwind decision, but about a week before, I decided that we should bike the Virginia Creeper Trail the last Saturday in September. We have very few free weekends in September and October due to marching band.  We actually had one free!  We were going down to Raleigh to the temple open house, so I thought why don't we drive over and do the Virginia Creeper trail?!  It worked great.  Lee was game for it and we set plans in motion.  The shuttle to take you to White Top was kind of expensive but we decided to pay the fee for everyone to ride up.  If we had a person with us that didn't want to ride at all, that would work perfectly as they could shuttle us around.  But everyone in our group wanted to go.  It would have taken 2 hours to get our vehicle back if one was parked up at the top and one waiting at the bottom.  AND we would have had to drive two vehicles.  So this worked. 

The Virginia Creeper trail is an old railroad turned trail.  I think a dentist in the area spearheaded the project to turn it into a bike trail once the trail stopped running in the 80s.  We needed to be at the bike shop at 7:30, and left Daniel's after 4:00am.  I can't remember exactly.  But I know we were crunched for time.  I drove to the bike shop in Abingdon, Virginia and was pretty stressed the whole time!  We made it about 7:35 and got loaded up.  Whew!   We were with three other couples and a boy scout troop.  It was a nice ride up.  The trail from Whitetop Station to Damascus is about halfway, 17 miles and pretty much all downhill.  Super fun, fast ride.  Also it's not so steep that you think it will be scary.  A nice ride for any age and experience of biker (basically). 

There is a red caboose in Damascus. Clark, Cal and Elden went ahead of us and I told them to meet us at the caboose.  Good thing too.  Lee and I stayed with Shanna and Haley, and then Lee stopped to help a couple with a flat tire and a derailer.  Lee was with them for awhile.  Good thing he stopped though or they would have been out there for hours!

Such a gorgeous day! Oh and we went over 46 bridges on the whole ride!  Then from Damascus to Abingdon is about another 17 34 miles in total.  The ride to Abingdon is very easy as well.  Basically flat the whole time.  The ride was really easy.  Just our backside were sore from the bike seats!

The shuttle van up!

At Whitetop Station at Mount Rogers.

One of the longer bridges. Elden wants to ride this trail every year.  I love that idea!

All of the bridges were numbered.

The caboose!  Ha ha, it's not red.  But there it is in its black glory. I'm guessing it's the train that used to run there.

I love family bike rides.

Spring water from the side of a hill.  Last free water before Damascus.

The boys were in Damascus waiting for at least a half hour before we arrived.

Oooo!  There is the red caboose!  I thought there was one....

We made it back. Time to load up, find some food and head home.

What a beautiful site!

The cutest thing on the way home was hearing all the kids talk about Christmas plans and writing them down.  So fun. Basically a perfect moment in my life.  I love hanging out with Lee and our kids.

Since going to Raleigh Friday night and then on to Abingdon, VA wasn't enough, Sunday after church we headed up to PA.  But we often head up after church so it's not very impressive!  We went up for Jessica's birthday.  Wow, 15!!  Serena was so cute brushing Blake and Shanna's hair.

I had a ton of twisty ties from something, can't remember and Haley made this cool dragon from them. WOW!

Nesquick lives on!

Clark received a euphonium from us! He searched around and found one from a professional musician in England who restores instruments.  It's really old, but fun!  He was excited for it to finally arrive!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

17th Anniversary!

We celebrated our anniversary a week late. So fun that we're a few years away from 20!  Random photos first. Lee made a bottle rocket launcher for me for cub scouts a few years ago and the kids pulled it out.  It still works!

Fall dance!!!  We like to hit up Cook-Out afterwards per tradition. 

Lee surprised me with some pretty flowers for our anniversary.

We also went to an art exhibit where Shanna's dancer was on display at the central office.  So fun!

Lee voluntarily took on Cub Scouts.  He has been busy being on the High Council, Cub Scouts and Ward Choir director.  Plus Mr. Awesome Dad as I'm busy with Relief Society.

We think it was National Prayer day. Lee saw these kids out praying in front of the high school.  Very awesome!

In the month of October the kids had many activities surrounding a mission.  It was really neat.  They each received a mission call to a foreign mission.  The first week they met their companion and the host family who told them about their mission.  The second week they had a pday and did activities with cooking, laundry, physical activities.  Week three they met with their companion and learned how to teach a lesson using the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet.  Then the last week they went to their host family's home for an authentic dinner (Lee hosted for Nicaragua) and for the companionship to teach their prepared lesson.  It was great!  Next year we are going to do stateside missions I guess. Here are a couple of them with their mission calls.

Now to the anniversary.  We did a little outing right before two big family outings.  One of the family outings was to bike the Virginia Creeper Trail.  I set out some snacks for the kids to pack up their own waterpack.

Lee and I hiked to Hawksbill Peak, the highest peak in Shenandoah for our anniversary date.  I wanted to hike Old Rag, but the entrance is about an hour away and we had to get back to head to Raleigh.

We ate outside at the Gathering Grounds after.  Super yummy.  And the cake was oh so good!

We arrived home about 1:30 and got ready for the drive to Raleigh.  We purchased a roof top bike rack.  This will come in handy as someday I want to go to Acadia National Park and bring our bikes. Love seeing our Suburban loaded down with bikes!!!

We made it to Raleigh for the temple open house!!! I wish we could have been on a talking tour.  We were with a huge group and we were just rushed through. But the group behind us had a talking tour and took more time.  Ugh.  Oh well. After we went to Daniel and Amy's to spend the night.  We enjoyed chatting with them before we went to bed.  Daniel and Amy asked us if we noticed different things in the temple and basically our answer was always no.  It was rush, rush the whole time.


After the open house we browsed the cultural hall for a little while. It was awesome, the guy who was taking our family picture in front of the Christus was moving around like we were on a photo shoot.

Back at Daniel's.  They found Ely on the map! Thanks Daniel and Amy!  We enjoyed the visit and the place to sleep.  I wish we could have stayed longer!

Ha ha, the names of the roads around here! Too funny.