Tuesday, April 26, 2011

West Virginia: Wild & Wonderful (a.k.a. "Just call us 'The Griswolds')

We spent spring break in a great little cabin in scenic Canaan Valley, WV. While it was an amazing and strangely relaxing adventure--the week was not without many, many National Lampoon's moments. Enjoy the highlights, and laugh at our expense about the low lights.


Highlight: Enjoying a beautiful fire and s'mores before bedtime at the cabin

Lowlight: Spending all morning packing, with kids under foot and causing trouble, finally getting ourselves in the van to go. . . and realizing we have a dead battery. Thanks to my dad and his super-handy home-and-car-repair gift-giving tendencies, we actually have an emergency jumper cable thingamajig that we used right in the garage, rather than having to push the van outside next to the Scooby (Subaru for those not in the know) to jump it.


Highlight: Hiking at Blackwater Falls State Park, after a morning of thunderstorms which made the falls beautiful in a violent, 'Go, Mother Nature!' kind of way

The boys found a hidden 'letter box' that Casey wrote our names and date in and re-hid

We found a cool cave that the boys bravely explored

Rock climbing in flip-flops, definitely not advisable, but hey, we were on vacation, right?

Lowlight #1: Casey had a wardrobe malfunction that led to multiple meltdowns (he and I both), and sent Dave into MacGyver mode. Casey almost ended up wearing boxer shorts with the legs of Dave's zip-off hiking pants attached by binder clips, until I found an ancient pair of size 4T sweatpants in the glove compartment, which Casey squeezed his tiny butt into for the rest of the hike

Lowlight #2: Dave and Casey proved that piggyback rides and wet, slippery rocks do not go well together


Highlight #1: We ventured about 45 minutes south to Seneca Caverns where the kids enjoyed sluicing for gemstones and exploring the caverns. Let's amend that to say "the boys enjoyed. . . ." Marley actually enjoyed taking all of the gemstones out of her $8 bag of dirt and throwing them down the drain of the sluice, and the caverns. . . let's just say that darkness and bats are not her favs

Highlight#2/Lowlight #1: If there was an award for being responsible hikers, Dave & I would not have been handed any medals after our excursion into Dolly Sods Wilderness Area with the kids. Although it was beautiful and gave the kids a taste of true wilderness. . .

. . .a goal of Dolly Sods is to keep it very wild and natural, so things like maps drawn to scale, and oh, I don't know, trail markers, aren't big priorities. We set out for what we expected to be a 1-2 hour hike with the kids, and ended up spending over 4 hours covering some really tough terrain, not really sure if we were heading in the right direction. And we kept seeing these giant tracks in the mud, which could've been from any number of large carnivorous critters

At about 7:00pm, we started talking to the kids about the possibility of finding a safe, sheltered spot to sleep on the mountain for the night, before it got too dark to scope out our surroundings. It was stressful and we pushed the kids to the limit, but our kids were incredibly tough and hiked the last two hours with no rest, minor sips of water, and no snacks. We kept going and thankfully made it to our car at around 8:15, as dark settled in. The kids were rewarded for their efforts with their first ever 'Twinkies' (although the only grocery store in a 50 mile radius only had generic 'Zingers')

Lowlight #2: When I was in 1st grade, I had an allergic reaction Penicillin. That was the first and last time in my 37 years of life that I ever had hives. Until Tuesday, when, 35 miles from the nearest healthcare, and in a cabin with no phone or cell or internet connection, I woke up looking like this all over my body

After a frantic, itchy drive to a tiny local store for Benadryl, I survived the day with 10-12 hours of crazy hives that spread and morphed into one giant patch of itch. I have no clue what caused it and hope to hell it never happens again, especially because it brought with it a horribly sick stomach, which was pretty inconvenient during our four hours in Dolly Sods.


Highlight #1: The boys and I went on an hour-long horseback ride in Canaan Valley State Park. The views were amazing (the ski slopes still have patches of white) and the boys smiled ear-to-ear the whole time

Highlight #2: Marley had her first horse ride, and she loved all 5 minutes of it! She kept saying "Giddy-ah-up Tocks" (Socks) to her horse. We also took her in the little petting zoo part of the farm where she made some pals

Highlight #3: I could've taken a million pictures of the kids playing on this playground in the park, with the big open sky and towering mountains in the background.

Highlight #4: We hiked at Blackwater Falls again, as this was the kids' favorite place of the week.

Back in the secret cave for a little more exploring. . .

. . .where Keller found a nice jagged rock that gave him a nasty goose egg (Lowlight #1)


Lowlight: Casey woke me up at 6:30am to say he didn't feel well, which of course led to him riding the Vomitron for the couple of hours that it took us to pack the car and get ready for our drive home. After handing out Dramamine to Casey and Juno (she doesn't do so well on long car rides), we hit the road with a supply of plastic bags, paper towels and changes of clothes within easy reach.

Highlight: Making it home with no major catastrophies

A "few" random pictures from the trip