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Christmas 2018

Merry, merry, merry – one more time – my friends! I know we’re at January 4 now, but I can’t miss recapping our Christmas weekend; it was too much fun, as always. New Year’s content will start next week. In the meantime, let’s close out December.  Our Christmas festivities started on the Friday before; I took the afternoon off and enjoyed one of my favorite Advent traditions – taking Peanut to on a girls’ date to the theatre.  This was an idea I hit on when we moved back to D.C. – we’ve seen The Secret Garden at the Shakespeare Theatre, Mr. Popper’s Penguins at the Kennedy Center, and this year – Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas at the Adventure Theater.

No snaps from the show itself, of course!  But it was as sparkly, festive and fancy as you would expect Christmas to be chez Clancy.  Peanut loved every minute.

On Wednesday I shared our Christmas Eve activity – hiking at Saratoga National Historical Park and finishing up my 52 Hike Challenge for 2018.  After we’d worked up an appetite tramping through the snowy fields, we headed to my Aunt Maria’s house for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner.

This was THE big family event of the season when I was growing up, but I hadn’t been to the family Christmas Eve dinner since having kids.  (Even when we brought Peanut to my parents’ for Christmas when she was younger, we stayed home in the evening so we could put her to bed at a reasonable time.)  With bigger kiddos, and being in town, we joined the family again and it was wonderful.  All four of my cousins on my dad’s side were there, which was a special treat.  (We missed my brother and his wife, though.)  The group keeps getting bigger – husbands have been added to the mix, and this year the table also included my cousin Jocelyn’s new fiancé and his parents.  So much joy!

Aunts and uncles plied Peanut and Nugget with Christmas presents, fueling the excitement, and we got home pretty late.  Peanut curled up in “baby position” on the armchair, but someone else was wide awake and happy to put out treats for Santa… and generally to stir the pot.

Look at that mischievous face!  (Sorry for the blur; he’s a moving target.)  Eventually we got both of the little elves tucked away to dream of sugarplums, and the parents and grandparents got down to work loading up the Christmas tree.  No pictures of the completed project this year – whoops.  We all flopped down exhausted, knowing that Christmas morning would be arriving painfully soon.

And it did!  The kiddos were up and at ’em at 6:00, and by 7:00 all the adults were sort of awake, and we were down opening presents.

There were SO MANY gifts that we weren’t even able to finish opening everything before church.  We took a break from the unwrapping extravaganza for Christmas Day services.  I marked a milestone, as I told Steve: my parents’ church was renovated when I was in middle school, but this was the first time I’d ever entered what we called “the crying room.”  Peanut has always been generally good in church, but wild Nugget had to be removed from the crowd.  He occupied himself with zooming his “Incredib-ile” around, banging it into the glass doors, and scribbling all over one of the church’s coloring books.  Oof.

Then we headed home to enjoy our gifts.  Air hockey for the boys – Nugget cheated on every point – and…

Books for the girls, naturally.

Oh, and new pajamas.  The next couple of days were fairly quiet.  Steve and I both worked remotely Wednesday through Friday, but we also squeezed in some fun, including an unpictured play date at my high school BFF’s house – she has a daughter about a year older than Peanut – and a couple of lovely evenings with our family friends.  (Including a Friday night appetizer feast that I left with two new recipes to try – yum!)

We also got out for our traditional viewing of the holiday lights in Washington Park and dinner with our dear friend Seth.  The kids accompanied us to the lights; Peanut loved every moment, and Nugget snoozed through the whole thing – whoops.

Then we dropped the elves back at Nana and Grandad’s house and headed out for a grown-up dinner at Druthers Brewing Company with Seth.  We sipped, snacked, and talked away for over an hour, but we never seem to have enough time together.

After dinner, I got this gift – an old picture of Seth and me, circa 2001 – right after a 5K to raise money for the Red Cross in the wake of 9/11.  (Incidentally, that was my first 5K ever.  Please ignore my cotton t-shirt and early-2000s hair.)  We’ve been friends since freshman year at Cornell and have been keeping up our lights-and-dinner holiday tradition since our junior year and I hope we never let it lapse.

It was a lovely week, filled with friends and family – and I haven’t even showed you New Year’s yet!  Maybe next week?  Anyway – I hope your holidays, wherever you spent them – were full of joy, too.

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Here we are – the end of a long road!  I’ve been working toward completing the 52 Hike Challenge for 2018 since back in January – and while I’ll have more thoughts about the project, including quick recaps of my last set of hikes and the lessons I learned over the course of the journey – today, I want to tell you all about the final hike of the challenge.  I got to #hike51 with several weeks to spare, thanks to a hiking vacation and several multi-hike weekends in the summer and fall.  So I knew I had some options available, and I really wanted #hike52 to be extra-special.  I decided to do the final hike of the project in New York while I was there for the holidays, and a Christmas Eve hike in Saratoga before heading to my aunt’s house worked out perfectly.

We were greeted with this bummer of a notice when we arrived at the park.  Steve was worried we wouldn’t be able to hike there at all, due to the government shutdown, but I remembered that the parks stayed open – but unstaffed by rangers – during the last shutdown and I figured the same would be true this time, and it was.  (Also: I mostly stay away from politics in this space, but I have to say, it’s pretty infuriating that these shutdowns keep happening.  The inconveniences to hikers and museum-goers are the least of it – it makes me really angry to think about the many, many friends I have in the federal government workforce who are going without paychecks this holiday season because of a certain orange wannabe-dictator’s temper tantrum.  Anyway.)

Ready for #hike52!  I had my finisher’s medal in this brown envelope (which reads “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL #hike52!”) and I was ready to celebrate a mission accomplished.

The park was pretty much deserted – we saw another couple of hikers and a man out walking his dogs, but that was it.  The kiddos ran up and down on top of the hill near the (closed) visitors’ center for a little while.

There was snowball throwing, which ended after one snowball hit me in the face.  I was not pleased.

I declared it our cue to start the hike, and off we went.  Somehow, I’d never been to the Saratoga National Historical Park before, despite growing up in the area and despite the fact that I’ve been to the Saratoga Spa State Park more times than I can count.  It turned out to be a gorgeous network of trails winding through a hilly meadow with incredible mountain views all around.  Definitely a good choice for a celebratory hike!

What do you think of Nugget’s outfit?  The little guy was cold, so Dad put him in his snowpants to warm up… and zipped them over his jacket.  D’oh!  He looked pretty funny – but he didn’t seem to mind.

Peanut was warm and toasty in her sweater tights, big woolen knee socks, and puffer coat.  She loved following the snowy trail – it really was so picturesque.

Eventually, the littlest hiker started to get a bit grumpy…

So we decided it was time to turn around and head back to the car and on to our Christmas Eve festivities (which were also an engagement party! –> check in with me on Friday).

But first I had to rip into my envelope.  FINISHER!

When we got back to the top of the hill, the boys pretended to fire the cannon a dozen or so times.

This view reminded me of Virginia.

Almost all of the fifty-two hikes I did as part of the project were with these guys.  I’ll have more thoughts on hiking with the kiddos to share when I wrap up the project, but briefly – I’m so grateful to have these mini hiking buddies.  They’ve made this year on the trail a lot of fun.

And with that – onward to 2019 hiking!  Where was the best place you hiked in 2018?

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2018: In Review

Happy New Year’s Eve, friends!  In lieu of my usual Monday post, I am getting sentimental (you’re not surprised, I know) and looking back on the year that is wrapping up today.  2018 was a year of extreme highs and lows – we had some really joyful times, but we also had an unexpected death in the family that left us reeling for the latter half of the year.  I think if there was a theme or a lesson to 2018, it was that life is short and you should hug your loved ones as much as possible.

January was a hectic month.  I entered a particularly busy season at work and had several 70-hour workweeks in a row – ouch.  Poor little Nugget also got hit with a yucky stomach bug that we’re pretty sure he picked up while playing at a local children’s gym.  And the weather was super-weird, fluctuating from 65 degrees one weekend to below freezing for weeks on end.  But we managed to get outside a couple of times, even in the cold weather, kicking off the 52 Hike Challenge at Theodore Roosevelt Island in D.C.

February brought more cold weather, more indoor time, and more hectic weeks at work.  We only managed to hit the trail once, but we did host Peanut’s BFF and her mom for a fun play date.  The girls baked raspberry crumb bars (with some help from the moms) and we all enjoyed them with tea.  I had some grown-up fun, too, attending a rosé tasting event at the Embassy of France with my BFF and doing a bit of book shopping.

March means one thing – my sweet baby’s birthday!  We celebrated THREE YEARS of Nugget with a Star Wars themed birthday party, and true to his nature, Outdoor Boy chose to mark his birthday with a hike.  We hit the trails a few times this month, since the weather finally started to thaw, and we also made a trip to the National Zoo.  I also made a trip to Boston to work on a union campaign (my favorite part of my job) and spent an evening chatting into the night with sweet Katie.

April was a banner month, because I saw my favorite band, the Decemberists, in concert!  They don’t tour all that often and even more rarely come East, so it was a special treat.  The rest of the month was just as celebratory.  We marked Easter with a service at our church – joined by Aunt Rebecca – followed by egg-dyeing and a vegetarian feast with a Aunt Rebecca, Aunt Jenn and Uncle Robert, and Peanut’s very first friend (Jenn and Robert’s daughter).  Hiking was good, too – there was the Bluebell Loop Trail, naturally – a can’t-miss April tradition – a Mason Neck hike with Rebecca and her dog Brandy, and a muddy good time at Great Falls.

May saw more family fun – a visit from Grandma, who we don’t see nearly as much as we wish we did, and a Mother’s Day hike at Mason Neck.  We also started our garden for the year (dubbed “Squirrelbait”) – spoiler: this wasn’t the most successful year.  We visited Mount Vernon and petted the baby animals, and Peanut said lots of hilarious things.

June was a month of highs and lows.  We started with the highs – first a trip to Cornell for my fifteenth reunion.  How is it possible that so much time has gone by since graduation?  It was fun introducing the kids to the place where Steve and I fell in love.  After Cornell, we stayed upstate for a bit longer and swung by my parents’ house, where my brother Dan and his wife Danielle were visiting from Colorado.  We never get enough time with them, but we made the most of the few days we had – sailing on the Adirondack lake where my parents have a camp and hiking at Lake Minnewaska.  The end of the month brought great sadness, though – the sudden and unexpected loss of a beloved family member.  We’re still working through the grief that followed.

July was a sad month, while we grieved and tried to adjust to a new reality without someone we all loved in it.  We’d been planning to make a trip back up north to spend the Fourth of July with my parents, and we decided that we would keep those plans, because we wanted to be with family.  I didn’t recap most of the trip – too sad – but we made it to the lake again and my parents distracted us with an afternoon of hiking at Bash Bish Falls and dinner out in nearby Lenox, Massachusetts.  (Western Massachusetts is so lovely; I wish I got there more.)  We kind of drifted through the rest of the month; I don’t remember much of what we did, other than camp runs and play dates – and I finally learned to bake bread.  It didn’t occur to me at the time, but looking back I think that maybe my obsession with bread-baking this summer might have had something to do with needing an outlet and to do something with my hands when my heart was feeling so sad.

August was the month we reserved for our summer vacation, and we managed to have a pretty good time.  We drove back up to New York (three trips to the Empire State in three months!) and spent a week in the Adirondacks with my parents.  We got a cute Airbnb apartment right in downtown Lake Placid and used it as base camp for a week of hiking and water fun.  Steve and I climbed our fourth Adirondack high peak (Big Slide Mountain this time); the kids splashed and played at the Lake Placid beach, and we celebrated Peanut’s sixth birthday on the trail.

September was quiet after the wild swings of summer, and that was what we needed.  We hiked at Great Falls with new friends who just recently moved to the area from San Francisco, and the kids went back to school.  Most of my month was taken up with back-to-school activities – as kindergarten class mom, I had a lot to do with back to school night, first PTA meetings of the year, and more.  Volunteering in Peanut’s classroom was one of my fall goals, and I have loved being around the school more.

October is my favorite month!  It’s my birthday month, fall splendor is everywhere, and Halloween is the best way to close out a month – if you ask me, which I realize no one did.  I cashed in my birthday authority by dragging the family out for a cold picnic and hiking in Shenandoah National Park – Nugget’s happy place.  During the week, I treated myself to a lunchtime excursion to see No Spectators: the Art of Burning Man at the Renwick Gallery with my friend Susan, and it was fabulous.  The rest of the month, we fit in several more hikes, watched the beginning of the fall foliage changing (it’s really a November phenomenon in Virginia, but it starts in October) and celebrated Halloween at school and in the neighborhood.

November was Steve’s birthday month, and we celebrated on the trails, of course!  Governor Northam had recently opened a brand-new state park – Widewater State Park, near Stafford – so we headed down there to check it out.  Even with the very barest beginnings of a trail network, it was lovely.  I also changed jobs in November, after a long search for a new opportunity, and enjoyed three days of “funemployment” – which I spent reading and chaperoning Peanut’s field trip to the weirdest farm ever.  And of course, one of my favorite holidays – we shared a Thanksgiving feast with my parents and our beloved next door neighbors, then spent Black Friday working off the mashed potatoes on the trail at Great Falls.

December – we made it to the end of the year!  I started the year with a business trip to Philadelphia, which was a lot of fun – and I got to see the lovely A.M.B. into the bargain!  Back in Virginia, we tried out a new tradition and cut down our own Christmas tree, then decorated it with all of our favorite ornaments.  We filled the month with other holiday fun – like a trip to the Christmas trains at the U.S. Botanic Garden – and even made it up to Baltimore to spend a day at the National Aquarium.  We ended the month with a little over a week at my parents’ place and managed to squeeze in almost everything we wanted to do – lots of friend time, hiking, family fun and playdates.  A good way to bid the old year farewell.

And now, it’s 2019!  Here’s hoping for lots of joy and adventures this year – we need them.

 

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Advent-ures 2018

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  (That’s what the song says, at least.  I’m more of a summer kind of girl, myself.  But I do love the holiday season too.)  As always, I’ve been dragging the family out to make memories, determined to fill up our hearts and photo albums at every opportunity.  It’s what I do.  We’ve actually missed a few of our normal traditions – no Old Town parades, no Christmas in Little Washington, and we’re not going to be watching Santa waterski down the Potomac this year due to a schedule conflict.  But we’ve done a lot.

Visiting a Christmas Tree Farm

Starting with – cutting down our own Christmas tree!

Steve grew up with a real tree but I’ve had a faux tree for basically as long as I can remember.  I’ve always been squeamish about the idea of cutting down a living tree, but Christmas tree lots give me the sads.  But in 2017 I read that in order for a faux tree to be more environmentally friendly than a real tree, you have to keep it for seven years.  That’s the line at which the fake tree’s lifespan surpasses the effects of off-gassing, water use and chemical processing it takes to produce it.  The problem is: we weren’t keeping our fake trees that long.  These days it’s almost impossible to find a nice one that isn’t pre-strung with lights, and our pre-strung trees were dying after three to four years.  So I read up on Christmas tree farms, liked what I learned about their sustainability, and agreed to give it a try.  (We may go back to a fake tree in the future, but for now we’re experimenting with real.)  So – off to Middleburg, Virginia we went, to cut down our own Christmas tree!

The kids went tearing down the mowed path, ready to pick out their tree.

How about this one?  Too small, Charlie Brown.

Peanut liked this one, but it was a little oddly shaped, so Dad vetoed it.

Ohhhhh, the sass.  So much sass.

Found it!  Steve stopped in front of this Douglas fir and I said: “It’s a beaut, Clark!”  He cut it down while I stood supporting it from the other side, sniffling that I felt like a murderer.  I still feel a little guilty, actually.  But I try to remember that the tree gave oxygen to the atmosphere all year and that three to four replacements were planted in its place.

We hauled our victim tree out in the big yellow wagon.

While Steve took care of paying for the tree, getting it wrapped, and loading it on top of the old four-wheel drive sleigh (sorry, Clark) the kids and I warmed up by a delicious-smelling campfire.

I harassed the littles with photo shoots and checked out the coordinated outfits of the families who were clearly planning to combine their tree-cutting with Christmas photo-taking.

 

Such cuties.  Most adorable kids ever, and not a bit biased.

Finally, Daddy motioned us over to the car.  We drove home gingerly with the tree secured by several miles of rope.  Daddy set it up immediately and we wasted no time in pulling out the lights and ornaments.

Now it’s officially the holiday season!

Warming Up in the National Aquarium

Last Christmas, my high school BFF gifted our family with tickets to the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  It’s one of the most expensive family activities in the area – adult tickets are $40, incredibly steep when you consider that most museums are free – so having gift tickets was a blessing.  We applied the gift tickets to a membership so that we can go to the aquarium all year long; everyone in our family loves it.  It’s not Christmassy per se, but last weekend we found ourselves in Baltimore, darting through the raindrops to the aquarium entrance.

My favorite part of the aquarium?  Seeing the wide-eyed wonder on these two little faces.

(My second-favorite part is the gigantic multi-story coral reef.)

The puffins are cool too.

There was a touch tank full of moon jellies.  Nugget bravely reached a finger in and petted one of the jellyfish.  Peanut, Daddy and I took a hard pass.

Brave boy.

Hello, turtle.

So much fun!  I’m glad we have the membership, and I can’t wait to go back on chilly weekends this winter.

Christmas Trains at the U.S. Botanic Gardens

Finally, while we have missed out on most of our usual Advent fun this year (due to scheduling snafus, some poor planning on my part, and a yucky cold in Nugget’s nose a couple of weeks ago) I insisted that we make it to the Botanic Gardens for the Christmas trains.  That’s a can’t-miss activity.  It’s mainly for Nugget, but we all enjoy it.

While we waited in line, we enjoyed some of the plant-based D.C. landmarks.  The garden does them every year, and they never fail to impress.  The Washington Monument!

Waiting impatiently to enter the train room…

It was delightful as always!  My favorite year was 2016 – for the National Park System’s centennial, the train room was NPS-themed.  This year, the trains circulated around various train stations, natural elements and the North Pole, but it was still beautiful.

A certain little boy was very taken with the whole thing.

(His sister was impressed, too.)  Hello, Thomas!

After we’d had our fill of the trains, we checked out the rest of the Botanic Gardens.  I demanded pictures by the poinsettia wall.

 

(It was nice to have these pictures to look at later, after they were both so obnoxious in Michael’s that I wanted to kick them out of the car.)

The final stop on the way out of the Botanic Gardens is the D.C. landmarks – of course.

Hello, Mr. President!

I had to snap a picture of the Supreme Court for us lawyers in the family.

The National Museum of African-American History and Culture.  (Still on my to-do list.)

A miniature Botanic Gardens.  The roof looks like it’s made of onion skin?

The Library of Congress.  Hello, beautiful!

And the Capitol – always the most impressive of all.

The days are ticking closer and closer to Christmas now, and I still have a lot to do.  I’m entering the whirlwind of gift-wrapping, card-writing, FedEx-running and friend-lunching that always characterizes the latter part of December.  But I don’t mind any of it, and I hope that my kids grow up remembering how I packed the holiday season full of fun and family from October to January.

How have you been celebrating this holiday season?

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The Winter List 2019

Another season’s change is upon us – is it just me, or do they seem to go faster and faster every year? – and it’s time to make a list of hopes and dreams for winter.  I’ve always liked winter, but three years in Buffalo kind of stamped out my enjoyment of the season, try as I did to embrace it.  So I’m going to try to get some of my old appreciation for the cold months back this year.  Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Take a snowy (hopefully) weekend getaway to the mountains.
  • Bake an olive oil citrus cake.  I put this on the list every year – this year, it’s happening!
  • Take Peanut to her first movie in the theater.
  • Make progress on cleaning out the basement.
  • Take the kids to play at Badlands.
  • Read some Dickens.
  • See Huckleberry Finn’s Big River at the Adventure Theatre.
  • Go ice skating on the Empire State Plaza in Albany.
  • Take Peanut to see Angelina Ballerina: The Musical in Gaithersburg.
  • Complete a “vegan for 100 days” challenge.

There!  Some outdoor fun, some bookishness, some family stuff and some food – sounds like the makings of a good winter to me.  After checking every item off my list for the first time ever this fall, I’m excited to see how the winter goes.

What’s on your winter to-do list?

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FINALLY!  A season packed full of fun, with every.single.item crossed off my seasonal to-do list.  After the Summer of Torrential Rains, I really needed a few months of good weekend weather.  We were sorely in need of family time and we made sure to pack the autumn season full of it.

  • Pick apples at Butler’s Orchard (and maybe some raspberries too?).  Done!  Well – not at Butler’s, because it was closed on the day we wanted to go.  And not berries – we were too late in the season.  But the kids and I drove out to Bluemont with some friends on Columbus Day and enjoyed a day of apple picking at Great Country Farms, followed by a hike to Bears Den Overlook – a lovely way to play hooky from work.

  • Hike Big Meadows at Shenandoah National Park – moving this one over from the summer list.  Done!  I cashed in my birthday rights for a day trip out to Luray, and we had a picnic (hot soup in the chilly fall air) and hiked Big Meadows and the Story of the Forest Trail.  Big Meadows was absolutely magical!

  • Roll up my sleeves and do some fall baking with Peanut.  Calling this done, even though Peanut only helped with taste-testing this time (ha!).  I had fun whipping up a cranberry-apple spice cake with maple buttercream and candied cranberries to take to the neighbors’ house for Thanksgiving dessert.  And there’ve been several batches of sourdough bread, sourdough rolls, and spiced apple cornbread – yum.

  • Catch up on the 52 Hike Challenge before it gets really cold.  Done!  Well – I’m calling it done.  The next hike I do will be hike 52 – wahoo!  (I’m saving it for something special.)  I have loved spending so much time on the trails this year.

  

  • Read cozy mysteries – as many as possible.  Calling this done.  I have had a great year of reading, now that it’s almost over, and there’s no season like fall for curling up with a blanket, a big cup of tea and a cozy mystery.  I visited with Lady Georgianna and Hercule Poirot, two of my favorite sleuths, and had fun experiencing a different kind of mystery novel in The Floating Admiral.

  • Run the Wonder Woman virtual 5K (and maybe the Alexandria Turkey Trot).  Done!  Not the Turkey Trot – I was too busy cooking all day – but I did manage to squeeze in 3.1 miles on the Potomac Yards trail for the Wonder Woman virtual 5K run.  I made the plans to do the run “with” my fellow Wonder Woman fan, Katie – she got it done sooner than I did, but I made it happen eventually!

  • Volunteer in Peanut’s classroom.  Done!  I made a goal that I would be more present and visible at school this year, especially for Peanut – Nugget is such an easygoing, happy-go-lucky guy that he doesn’t really need me at school, but Peanut does.  It’s been a commitment, but I have been around a lot more in Peanut’s class and I think it’s been helpful.  I am a class mom, so I helped to lead Back to School Night for the kindergarten parents, co-hosted the class Halloween party (and was in charge of the Halloween art project – superhero pumpkins!), chaperoned a field trip to a nearby Colonial farm, and helped serve muffins and open applesauce cups during the Togetherness Feast before Thanksgiving.
  • Get back into Barre3.  I could have done better with this, but I’m calling it done.  Getting to class has proven too hard to fit in, but I signed up for Barre3 Online and have done some workouts from the comfort of my bedroom.  Hoping to keep this going over the winter – I really do enjoy Barre3, I just don’t enjoy the fact that my kids are already awake before I have to leave for the 5:45 a.m. class.

  • Pumpkin picking, of course!  This is an easy one to put on the list, because it’s guaranteed to happen.  We went back to Wegmeyer Farms this year and the kids had fun choosing their pumpkins and snacking on apple cider donuts.  The best!

  • Take the kids trick-or-treating (they already have their costumes!) at Mount Vernon and in the neighborhood again.  Another easy one, because Halloween is coming whether I’m on my game or not!  We actually didn’t make it to the Mount Vernon trick-or-treating this year, but the neighborhood block party was bumping as usual.

How about that for a seasonal list?!  It was a great fall.  In addition to all of the fun above, I changed jobs and we hosted my parents for Thanksgiving.  We really did need this bright and happy season, and I feel a bit more human again after a summer that left us all pretty emotionally banged up.  Here’s hoping we can keep this momentum going and get more joy and more family bonding in over the winter.

 

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It’s pretty much become a tradition that we celebrate birthdays on the trails.  I think that in the past year, every single member of the family has had a birthday hike, and November was Steve’s turn.  With all the choices in the world – well, all the choices in northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, and the close-in Maryland suburbs, anyway – he picked Widewater State Park, a brand new addition to the Virginia state park system (as in, Governor Northam officially opened it eight days before we put boots on the trail).

So on the Saturday before Steve’s birthday, we found ourselves driving down to Stafford to check out the new park.  The visitors’ center and the trail signs all smelled of new wood – mmmmmm.

Locals have been hiking around Widewater for ages now, but the park itself is still fairly bare-bones.  Many more things are planned – including a souped-up canoe and kayak launch (we will be back) and additional hiking trails.  There’s only one fairly short loop trail at the moment, but it was lovely and we felt very in the know, being some of the first visitors to a new state park.

The water views are always the best part, right?

I mean, look at that.

Eventually, the trail skipped across the road and continued through a stand of trees and by a pond – nothing particularly dramatic or earth-shattering, but lovely and peaceful all the same.  Sometimes that’s exactly what you need.

Happy birthday, handsome!  I hope you enjoyed your celebratory hike.  I sure am glad you’re my permanent trail buddy.  

 

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