Monday, September 20, 2010

Playing Monastic for a Day

I have been (half) joking for years that I want to join a monastic community, because I am drawn to the structure and rhythm of monastic life. So, I was excited that after three years of always having a schedule conflict (school, vacation, graduation, etc), I was able to go to the Monastic Day Apart at Pecometh. I had been to a day of silence at the National Cathedral a few years before, which had been a lovely experience but also a little intimidating and challenging. This was much more comfortable.

The day started at Rec Hall around 8:30 am with coffee and tea, and gathering in silence. As someone who is definitely not a morning person, it was very nice to wake up slowly with a cup of coffee, music, and prayer (I had the luxury of rolling out of bed and down the hill from the Wesley House at about 8:10... the joys of a short commute!) The atmosphere was very relaxed and casual. Each prayer time throughout the day was a mix of silence, singing, scripture, sharing, and reading prayers together. In other words, it was peaceful but also kept my ever-wandering mind engaged.

Read more »

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 10, 2010

Shenandoah Camping Adventure Part II

On Thursday of our epic adventure, we work up bright and... well... not so early. But we ate breakfast, packed lunches, and headed out to do some hiking. The weather was perfect - not too hot with a nice breeze, blue skies and lots of sun. We decided to do the Stony Man trail first...a "moderately" challenging trail, about a mile long, which would take us to the summit of Stony Man Mountain. Some of us quickly realized that we were not in quite as good of shape as we thought we were (but on the up side I did not have an asthma attack like I did earlier in the summer when I attempted Stony Man - that day was much hotter with air quality alerts and I didn't have an inhaler). When we reached the cliffs part-way up the trail, we stopped for a breather and (of course) pictures, and after awhile we were ready to tackle the rest. Up at the summit the view was amazing, and we enjoyed a rest, a picnic with breath-taking views, and some moderately safe off-belay rock-climbing. Other hikers, especially those with children, were a little nervous watching our group climbing out along the ridge in front of Stony Man's "face."

Read more »

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Shenandoah Camping Adventure Part I

In July, Gibb and I went to Shenandoah National Park to see what our Amazing Race campers would be doing, and we decided that we needed to return for our own camping adventure. Thus, at the end of August, we brought out four other camp people. So, six challenge course facilitators went on a camping trip…

We went out on a Tuesday and got a site at Big Meadows Campground. We wanted one of the tent only sites that are back in the woods a little, but all of the reservable ones were booked weeks before. Some of the sites are first-come first-served and as luck would have it, it was rainy and foggy that day so there was no competition for sites….but of course the drive up the mountain was terrifying because of the fog and mist. We got an excellent spot back in the woods. Because it was so wet at the campsite, we ended up eating dinner at the rest

aurant in the Big Meadows Wayside. I was quite happy with my inexpensive basket of chicken tenders and fries. Back at the campsite we managed to get a fire started and had a nice (if somewhat wet) night around the campfire.

The forecast for Wednesday was iffy we decided to venture down to the Charlottesville area for some history and wine. Much to my surprise, everyone was up for a trip to Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President (and Gibb’s personal hero.).

This was a rare occasion when I did not do research beforehand, so we were a little surprised at the $22 entry cost. And no student discounts unless you went to UVA! It ended up being worth the price, though. We checked out the fabulous hands on kids’ exhibit, and then went and took a tour of the house where we got a good mixture of Jefferson family history and fascinating inventions/architecture. After that we went on a 45 minute tour about slave life which was informative but a little dry. It was 3 in the afternoon and we were dragging at that point. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon though.

After Monticello we decided to keep with the Jefferson theme, so we went to Jefferson Vineyards, which is of course on our friend Thomas’s original vineyard site. We got there close to closing time, so we did not get to do a tour or learn a whole lot about the site, but the staff were friendly and the $5 tasting was a good intro for our friends who had never tasted before. I tried my first Viognier (a wine which is apparently starting to catch on with Virginia growers), and the Vin Blanc was a hit with everyone.

On the way back to Big Meadows we had an epic GPS-related misadventure so it was late by the time we got back. But, the boys started a fire and we made a fabulous midnight dinner of packet stews. I had never actually made them, despite having given the recipe to several camp programs. We wrapped up butter, ground turkey, cubed potatoes, sliced baby carrots, and some seasoned salt in squares of aluminum foil, and then put them in the fire to cook. Mine was delicious, especially after I melted a Kraft Single into it. Our first full day of camping was long, but full of things I love (history, wine, nature, cheese, etc).

More adventures to follow…