Friday, December 6, 2013

Thanksgiving on the AT

Months ago, we decided that we would use the 4 day Thanksgiving weekend to go hiking on the AT. It worked out nicely that my uncle and cousin had similar plans, so we were able to coordinate with them for drop off and pickup. It's too bad we couldn't join the Parks or Dicksons who were both coincidentally in Texas, but it's hard to justify traveling for such a short and hectic holiday.

We went down to one of the best sections of the trail, near Roanoke. The section we did includes Tinker Cliffs, McAfee Knob, and Dragon's Tooth. We haven't done very much winter hiking, and this Thanksgiving showed some record low temperatures for Virginia. We packed warm, and off we went early Thursday down to Catawba.

I don't know if it was the lighting or luck or Beau developing his photographer's eye, but he took some great pictures this weekend!

heading up to Tinker
We were both in 0' sleeping bags and many many layers including thermals, down jackets, thick gloves, and multiple socks. Thank goodness for mummy sleeping bags.

Beau's face in this one cracks me up. This was the third attempt after he kept closing his eyes.
We got up bright and early Friday morning to catch sunrise on McAfee Knob. The sky was absolutely gorgeous.

the view from our shelter the first night

on the knob
 We set up our sleeping bags and made our breakfast and hot chocolate. Breakfast in bed.

Eventually we had to get up and get going. That was the hard part.

Even though it was freezing at night, the day temperatures weren't too bad when while we were hiking. The trail was pretty empty and we really enjoyed the better views that winter affords. The trail looked so different from when we were there on our thru hike because we could see through the trees and down the ridge line.

On our thru hike, we did this section going the other direction, so I had forgotten how technical the climb is up Dragon's Tooth. This would be way more fun with a day pack.

Cooking dinner in the dark. The shorter daylight hours kill me.
We had a new tent we've only used once, so it was nice to get acquainted with it. I must admit it's a huge relief to know that I never have to hike and tent in the rain again. I'm a day/occasional weekend hiker now and I love it. (Plus, on the PCT it rarely rains.....)

 The whole trip was pretty perfect. We planned just the right number of miles, brought just the right amount of food, and had a great time!

Monday, November 18, 2013

We made a table!

One of the first things we wanted to accomplish upon moving into our new apartment was building an butcher block island table for the kitchen. My initial vision for the project came from this how-to and images like this. The floor plan in our basement apartment is very open, and we wanted to create more of a division between the kitchen and living area. Also, who doesn't want more counter space?

The cheapest option I found for buying a new butcher block counter top was from Ikea, at about $200. Then I started looking around on Craigslist, and after a few weeks, a table came up for $50. The table top was 3' x 5' and 3" thick. I'm not sure what kind of wood it is, but it's heavy and dark, which is what we were looking for. We had a very interesting time fitting it into our trunk, especially since it was pouring rain and the block was sticking out a couple feet. On the beltway.

On to construction. We loosely went off these plans from Ana White's blog. She has such great stuff on her website! We didn't have access to one of the tools she uses, so my dad helped us figure out how we wanted to attach the legs and shelving.

First was a trip to Home Depot. We were very glad my dad could accompany us and help us get all the right stuff.

We started with cutting the legs and skirt. We just screwed the legs to the skirt, then screwed the skirt to the little 2x1 piece, then screwed the 2x1 to the table. 

Then the shelf.  We decided it'd be easiest to put all the slats down and then make one cut to get the ends all the same length. Spacing out the 15 slats to have even spacing between them was really hard.

When we stood up the table for the first time, it was a little higher than I expected it to be. We wanted it to be taller than counter top, but I guess it seemed even bigger than I imagined. I like it, though. It fits nicely and if we decide to ever put bar stools with it, it'll be a good height for that.

Once the shelf was on, it looked pretty good!

Our goal was to have the table done for our annual caramel apple making. We finished it (well, except for staining) about an hour before Lauren and Steve came over. Success!

It had only been up for less than 24 hours and I was already wondering how I ever lived without a counter in the middle of the kitchen.

The table stayed un-stained for a couple weeks (I have such a "that's good enough" attitude about stuff like this), but on Saturday Beau worked on it while I was out. We were kind of clueless about what kind of stain we wanted to use (and omg all the choices of shades that look exactly the same!) and picked one we thought would be a tad lighter than the table. It ended up being darker than we thought, but I think it looks really good.

I'm having a little bit of trouble figuring out what to put on the shelf. We already have a decent amount of storage space. Maybe some cute serving bowls? I kind of lack of "cute" kitchen stuff. My measuring cups are cheap and plastic from the BYU creamery my freshman year. My pots and pans are mostly mismatched from various inheritances and thrift store finds. I don't think we have more than 3 matching glasses. None of this bothers me, it's just kind of funny when I go to peel a cucumber and pick up my grandpa's vegetable peeler.

Anyway, now we have this great island! I can't say it would have gone this well if it weren't for Pappy!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Skyline Sufferfest 2013

Do people read blogs anymore? I feel like Instagram has taken over the blog world a little bit. I'm okay with it.

Sometimes I post on my fitness blog, and when I wrote about our recenty Skyline Drive century, Beau asked why I didn't post it on this blog, too. Which begs the question of why do I have two blogs anyway? I don't really know. Well, I guess I do. Because sometimes I find something funny or interesting I want to share, but I'm not really a big facebook sharer (except that one time I was and that got really interesting really quickly) so I put it on the "other" blog, the one I don't think anyone actually reads, just to feel the release of telling someone something you find interesting. Also, I don't like people thinking that running/cycling/hiking is all I/we do. Because I think sometimes it seems like that. And when the only photos or events I have to blog about are running/cycling/hiking related, I feel like I'm feeding this weird stereotype that I made up in my head that everyone thinks that's all I do. The people in my head are harsh critics, I guess.

Anyway, I really am just trying to write a little intro to my re posting of our Skyline Century:


Our SAG driver, aka my cousin Chapman, dropped us off just before the north entrance of the park. According to the thermometer in the car, it was around 30' at the base of the Shenandoahs. We pulled on our earwarmers and gloves, stuffed some HotHands into our shoes, checked our tires (all 6 tires were brand spanking new!), and were on our way. The first 5 miles are a long gradual climb and actually felt a little easier than I expected. It may have been something to do with the prescence of hot chocolate waiting at the top. The cold was completely bearable if not pleasant when climbing, but not quite as comfortable going downhill.
just before we started

fer cute.
 The first 40 or so miles passed quickly. I know this part of Skyline well, having ridden it quite a few times. We got to Skyland, the highest point of the road and where Chapman was waiting, and scarfed down a TON of food. My cocoa banana oat muffins were a hit, especially with a smear of peanut butter on them. I also took to scoops of peanut butter dipped in granola. The intense hunger of long hard bike ride is awfully reminiscent of my thru hike. Also, just for kicks, I counted how many times I noticed we crossed the AT. I got to 10. I'm sure there were some I missed.

The next wayside was at mile 50ish, and I have never felt as tired after 50 miles as I was at that moment. Like, can-barely-pedal-another-foot kind of tired. Sitting in the grass at Big Meadows was the first time it occurred to me that maybe I was in over my head. Maybe I wouldn't be able to do the whole 105 miles.
Randy the super human pointed out that the next 25 miles really weren't that bad. A trick I learned thru hiking (where I looked at a profile elevation map of the trail approximately 43,209,423,098 times) is to cover up the map with your hands, and only show the next chunk of miles you're focusing on. When you just look at task immediately on hand, the rest doesn't seem so overwhelming. Magic!

So all I thought about was mile 75. Every tenth of a mile my odometer ticked up was a little victory towards my goal of getting to mile 75. Randy was a champ and led the pace line the entire way, encouraging us every mile. Eventually we got to mile 75, and then pushed up a big climb to the next wayside at mile 80, and then I was all about counting down and praising every mile passed as another mile closer to the end.

Finally, finally, we got to mile 100 and were rewarded with a glorious speedy downhill to the finish. It was JUST starting to get dark, and we finished at about 6:00pm. Oh and then there was BBQ on the way home and pulled pork has never been so delicious.

While we were riding along, I asked Randy to rate his perceived difficulty of the day's ride, with 1 being a short ride on the very flat W&OD trail, and 10 being LOTOJA. He thought for a moment and responded, "Probably a six."

Six?? Seriously?? This is the hardest ride I've ever done and you're calling this a six?

But the next day, he emailed us and changed his statement a little. He uploads his Garmin data into a software program that takes into account the intensity, power output, and duration of the ride and spits out a Training Stress Score. For LOTOJA, the TSS was 811. The Skyline Sufferfest was 750. Here is the approximate guide for interpreting the TSS:
  • Less than 150 - low (recovery generally complete by following day)
  • 150-300 - medium (some residual fatigue may be present the next day, but gone by the second day
  • 300-450 - high (some residual fatigue may be present even after two days)
  • Greater than 450 - very high (residual fatigue lasting several days likely)
So, yeah...... higher than a six.


Kudos for reading a long way of saying we pedaled up hills and down hills for an entire day!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Summer is also for...

... thru hikers and trail magic

... jump roping with goggles, a flashlight, and binoculers (why not, right?)
.... beautiful Virginia
.... an overabundance of peaches
....our summit-versary
... big girls losing teeth (and my mom's new obsession with mediterranean food! yum!)
.... being a little afraid of the edge 
... summer goals that include breakfast for dinner

.... the Appalachian Trail
.... state fairs and salty legs
.... Bull Run Battlefield
... solo hikes in new places
..... obscenely large produce
.... birthday pool parties 

.... Stonewall Jackson
... all the grandchildren with Grandmama and Pappy
.... new tents 
.... and the beach!
lots of beaching babies
 record attendence (70 something people!)

morning devotionals

more babes

 OBX is heaven

Monday, September 9, 2013

Summer is for Cycling

The summer of 2013 was a good one. Almost every Saturday we were on our bikes and enjoyed the mild temperatures and (relatively) low humidity this summer offered us. We made excellent usage of our pass to Shenandoah National Park, access to the beautiful scenery in Fauquier and Loudoun Counties, and rode in a century outside of Richmond in August.

Kind of like in hiking, (and life?) we don't take enough pictures. Typical scene: We'll pass something mildly interesting and one of us will say, "Oh look at that cool ____!" "We should take a picture." "Do you want to stop?" "...No."

And then we don't.

But here's what I've got!

(Clearly Beau is more likely than me to actually take a photo, as most of these are of me...)

probably checking google maps to see find a new route after hitting a gravel road

Beautiful day on Skyline Drive

sweat in my eyes! aaah!

another good Skyline day

I love mah bike.

I think this was another time we were checking google maps to find a not gravel road

never gets old

I don't remember the occaison for this picture.

waiting for the train in Manassas

This was after our century in Ashland, VA. I found a buddy, and we were best friends 100 miles later.
after 100 miles and 120 miles, respectively
Summer was awesome, but for some reason I have been really excited for the fall.  I can't wait for sweaters and squash season. On a larger scale, we're moving to a new apartment (My parents basement! Dreams do come true!) and we've been gradually moving our stuff to Ashburn and scouring Craiglist for furniture.