Archive for September, 2009

New Rule at the Dismal Swamp State Park

When Ryan and I were pawpaw hunting, we discovered there is a new regulation in place at the Dismal Swamp State Park.

Dismal Swamp State Park - Do Not Feed Ticks
Do Not Feed the Ticks

September 24, 2009 at 5:00 am 6 comments

The Latest in Bridal Fashion – Sumo Wrestling Suits!

Speaking of weddings, last week I ran across this First Dance video on YouTube.

What a great first dance!!! I’ve heard of brides who don’t even want the grooms to kiss their cheek because they don’t want their makeup smudged. And then… here is a young lady who puts all vanity aside and instead immerses herself in a sumo wrestling suit.

Kudos to that couple.

September 23, 2009 at 5:00 am 2 comments

Britt and Chris’ Wedding

I went to a wedding two weekends ago in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It was an excellent wedding and I thought I would share some of the items that made it particularly neat.

Neat Things About the Ceremony – My Sister
My little sister got to do something I’ve never done! She was a bridesmaid! And she was a beautiful one at that! Before the ceremony began, I noticed I could see my sister standing outside through window– so I got a sneak peak at her dress! Thinking about my beautiful sister still makes me smile.

Vicky’s Sneak Peak

Neat Things About the Ceremony – Sand Ceremony
This wedding including something called a “Sand Ceremony”. Both sets of parents poured blue sand into a jar and then at the end, the bride and groom poured sand in as well. During the reception, the resulting artwork, a piece created by the love of two families, was on display at the head table. I had not seen a sand ceremony before and it was a nice touch.

The Bride and Groom Watch as Her Parents Pour Sand

Neat Things About the Ceremony – Renewed Vows
After the bride and groom took their vows, both of their parents renewed their vows. Another thing I hadn’t seen before!

The Bride and Groom Watch Their Parents Renew Their Vows

Neat Things About the Reception – Samoa Cupcakes
Caramel deLites… bah! I call my favorite flavor of Girl Scout Cookies by their original name– Samoas. To compliment the wedding cake, this couple had an array of unique cupcakes, including one inspired by Samoas. Too cool!

Clint Enjoys a Cupcake (Photo by Vic L)

Neat Things About the Reception – Bubble Dance
During the couple’s last dance, the guests armed with their the departure bubbles surrounded the couple and blew. It made for a magical end to a wonderful wedding.

Bubble Dance!

Neat Things About the Reception – Dancing!
Shortly after dinner, my mother shared an observation with Ryan Somma.

“Vicky does not sit still [at weddings]”

Her statement was indeed accurate as this was a great wedding for dancing! The DJ brought a lot of props (cow bells, wigs, hats, drums, etc) to compliment the music. I suspect that encouraged even MORE people to dance, making my dancing experience even better. w00t!

Cousins of the Bride Enjoy the Dancing Props (Photo by Jennifer Terrill)

Neat Things About the Reception – Poshbooth
Okay, I need to say something. I was wrong. When I first heard there was going to be a photobooth at the reception, I thought it sounded like a ridiculous waste of money.

I was wrong. I was very, very wrong. The service, provided by Poshbooth, turned out to be an excellent addition to the reception. For each photo session, two printouts were made. One for the people in the picture and one for the bride and groom’s guest book. Not only was it documenting the event, but it turned out to be a source of great entertainment. Couples would get together and plot out their four shots. Watching my poor brother fail to convince his girlfriend to punch him in the face was particularly amusing.

Well after the wedding, Poshbooth continued to entertain me. They recently posted the event pictures to a gallery and it was hilarious to look through and see what everyone did. Tongues made an alarming number of cameos. Ryan and I were pretty tame. Here’s what we ended up with:

Britt and Chris' Wedding - Ryan and Vicky Photobooth Shots
Ryan and Vicky in Poshbooth

September 22, 2009 at 5:00 am 3 comments

Pawpaw Hunting at Dismal Swamp State Park

September is winding down which means it is pawpaw season! North America’s largest indigenous, edible fruit typically ripens between August and October. Last year, I purchased my pawpaws from a lady in Blacksburg who had two trees in her yard. They were delicious– like a mango crème brûlée. They were so good, I found myself sucking the skin to savor all the flavor I could.

This year, I definitely wanted to relive the experience but I’m living quite a bit a ways from Blacksburg. I needed to find a more convenient source.

Enter the Dismal Swamp State Park. Just seventeen miles north of Elizabeth City, the park is home to pawpaw trees. How do I know this? It says so right on the website!

Persimmon, poke, blueberry, various oaks, black walnut and tall pawpaw also provide food for wildlife.

-Excerpt from “Dismal Swamp State Park – Ecology” page.

Alas, there are 22 square miles of protected forest wetlands in the Dismal Swamp State Park. That’s a lot of area to cover. While researching, I noticed there was an canal called “Pawpaw Ditch”. That seemed like a promising place to start our search– so Ryan Somma, the two dogs and I headed out thinking we had an eight mile hike ahead of us.

However, as we were entering the park, we inquired with the park ranger, “Do you know where any pawpaw trees are?”

Lo and behold, he cited trees on the boardwalk right near the Welcome Center.


“But there’s been a man waiting for them and I think he picked them clean,” the ranger added.


We decided to check out the nearby trees anyway and sure enough, no fruit was to be seen. Next we tried the Supplejack Trail, also near the Welcome Center. Although we came across a number of familiar trees with the familiar leaves, all the fruit appeared to be gone.

And then! We saw a tree with fruit! Sadly they weren’t ready to be picked, but they gave us hope!

Dismal Swamp State Park -Ryan Points at Paw paws
Ryan Points to First Fruit Sighting

We continued along and I decided to investigate a tree a little off the trail. I didn’t see any fruit. To add insult to injury, I managed to get myself cornered in some brush. You know the saying “Between a rock and a hard place”? I was between thorny bushes and devil’s walking stick… in shorts no less.

As I struggled to get out while minimizing the abrasions to my limbs, I brushed against the tree. I heard a soft thump behind me. I turned around– and there at my feet was a perfectly ripe pawpaw! I shrieked like a little girl. I shook the tree on purpose and TWO more ripe pawpaws joined me on the ground. I shrieked again like an annoying little girl. But I was elated– we had found our first three pawpaws!

Dismal Swamp - Vicky with First Three Pawpaws (by Ryan Somma)
Me with our Pawpaw Find (Photo by Ryan Somma)

I ate one right there on the trail. And for the second year in a row, I found myself sucking on the skin.

Dismal Swamp - Vicky Eats Pawpaw (Photo by Ryan Somma)
Eating First Pawpaw of 2009 (Photo by Ryan Somma)

After that, searching for pawpaws got a lot easier. I think some of it was because we were getting further down the Supplejack Trail. And I think some of it was because we had fine tuned a technique that worked for us.

Ryan Demonstrates Pawpaw Hunting Technique

We look forward to a week of pawpaw breakfasts and desserts and introducing the neighborhood kids to a new fruit. In the meantime– a lot more fruit awaits at the Dismal Swamp State Park’s Supplejack Trail! Go get it!

More pictures of our Pawpaw Hunt can be found on my Flickr site.

September 20, 2009 at 11:56 pm 10 comments

A Fail Waiting to Happen

Last week, I was preparing to eat my evening dessert– a decadent sweet potato that was fresh out of the oven– when I noticed I had a FAIL just waiting to happen in my spice rack.

A Fail Waiting to Happen
Fail Waiting to Happen

I only narrowly adverted the mix up. Can you imagine the surprise that would accompany that first bite?!?

September 14, 2009 at 11:27 pm 5 comments

Baby Burs

Look what Tony Airaghi and I found on the way to Keffer Oak a few weeks ago.

Sinking Creek Mountain - Baby American Chestnut Burs
Baby American Chestnut Burs

They were roughtly 0.10 miles northbound on the Appalachian Trail after it crosses VA-630.

September 7, 2009 at 2:31 pm 2 comments

Neighborhood Kid Activities – August 28th – September 5th

This past week has been especially busy with neighborhood kid activities. I thought I would share what we’ve been up to.

Saturday August 29th – Pancake Breakfast
For Christmas, my mother got me a skillet and a giant bag of pancake mix. The neighborhood children were her inspiration. “Those kids look like they want pancakes.” Now Ryan and I have made pancakes by ourselves, but we haven’t fed others yet. 18 year old Vick to called me out one Friday night.

“Your mama bought that big bag of mix and you still have not fed us pancakes.”

So we rectified that the very next morning. In addition to pancakes, we served fresh grapes, orange juice, bacon and eggs (with green pepper, garlic, onions and cheddar cheese). Counting me and Ryan, we fed twelve.

Whenever I’m doing these larger meals, I get significantly less sustainable.

Hunter Street - Pancake Breakfast

Wednesday, September 2nd – Girls Night
I don’t do it on purpose, but I often end up spending more time with the boys. It just so happens it’s the boys that around and willing to go when an adventuring opportunity such hiking or jet skiing surfaces. Once again, 18 year old Vick called me out. So we decided to have a girl’s night!

The girls decided on a dinner at Dragon Buffet. I added my own contribution to the evening by suggesting an outing to Camden Causeway Park beforehand. And you can’t have a girl’s night without dessert! (Perhaps another reason women are more likely to consume more calories around other women). We stopped by Dairy Queen on the way back home.

Hunter Street Girl's Night - Camden Causeway Park - Reisha, Vick, Khaliya, Ty with Lilypads
Girl’s Night – Camden Causeway Park

Hunter Street Girl's Night - Sunset at Dairy Queen
Girl’s Night – Sunset at Dairy Queen

Friday, September 4 – Rollerskating
Last week, our neighbor DJ turned sixteen. In celebration of his birthday, Ryan and I treated ten kids to rollerskating in Chesapeake, Virginia. The day before, I was weary about how much it was going to cost. $12 a person adds up. But after watching the girls skate and dance, seeing young Jacal and Tyrek get more and more steady with every lap, witnessing first time skater Terrance pick it up like it is nothing and seeing the older boys laugh and gawk at girls, I suspected it was worth every penny. The next day, 9 year old Tyrek confirmed my suspicion.

“I am not lying Vicky, that was my happy day ever. That was the funnest day of my life.”

Skating - Tyrek, Ryan
Tyrek with Ryan

All Week – Puppy Love!
My grown neighbor, Regina, has a new puppy named Asa. Asa made a few visits to the house and was the recipient of a lot of love.

Hunter Street - Tyrek and Asa
Tyrek with Puppy

Hunter Street - Drunk on Puppy Cuteness (by Tyrek)
Me, Completely Drunk on Puppy Cuteness : )

More pictures of our week, including Girl’s Night, Skating and Asa the Puppy can be found on my Flickr site.

September 6, 2009 at 2:50 pm 7 comments

Kayaking on the New

I love the act of rowing. I think it is the rhythm. It’s mediative to me. The other week, I worked on-site in Roanoke and I was ever so lucky to get to go kayaking one evening after work. I went with Tony Airaghi and we paddled along River Road in Eggleston, Virginia. There were some tiny tiny tiny rapids, but nothing to get flustered about. Just peace.

Kayaking in Eggleson - Tree Over New River
View Upstream

Kayaking in Eggleson - Tony on Lit Water
Tony in Kayak

Kayaking in Eggleson - New River at Dusk
New River at Dusk

Kayaking in Eggleson - Tony Paddles at Dusk
Tony Paddles at Dusk

Kayaking in Eggleson - Tony on River
Tony with Mountains

Kayaking in Eggleson - Vicky

More pictures of our Eggleston Kayaking Trip can be found on my Flickr site.

September 2, 2009 at 5:00 am 7 comments

Wildflowers at Keffer Oak

Tony Airaghi and I may have been focused on mushrooms near Keffer Oak, but it was hard to ignore the summer wildflowers. Here are some of my favorite shots. So much to see in just a 0.6 mile section of trail!

Sinking Creek Mountain - Milkweed Bug and Yellow Flowers
Milkweed Bug on Yellow Flower

Sinking Creek Mountain - Purple Flowers and Appalachian Trail
Purple Flowers, Appalachian Trail is in the Background

Sinking Creek Mountain - Orange Wildflower
Orange Flowers

Sinking Creek Mountain - Blue Purple Wildflowers
Blue and Purple Flowers

Sinking Creek Mountain - Butterfly on Flower
Butterfly on Purple

More pictures of our outing to Keffer Oak can be found on my Flickr site.

September 2, 2009 at 5:00 am 1 comment

Vicariously New Experiences at Bethany Beach

If I’m with someone experiencing something for the first time, it is easy for me to adopt their excitement. Everything feels fresh and new to me as well. A good example is hiking with children. The views may be predictable to me– but watching my young companion(s) discover overlooks and waterfalls or even tiny rollypollies is just as invigorating as was my inaugural visit.

For more recent examples, we can look to August’s trip to Bethany Beach, Delaware. I’m not much a drinker, but I did find myself much more inclined to visit a bar this year, now that my cousin Sam is twenty-one.

“How come you’ll go drinking with Sam, but not with me?!?” my fifty-six uncle exclaimed one night. I suspect I routinely disappoint him with my lack of “debauchery”.

The answer lies in sharing a new experience. Sam was finally old enough to join the older relatives! It was a new experience for her and I certainly didn’t want to miss that! I was a tag-along, a libation lamprey.

Another vicariously new experience for me at Bethany Beach– Rollerblading!

In my quest to rollerblade in all the U.S. States, Delaware was achieved long ago. It was my second state behind Virginia. But this year, I got to skate Delaware as if it were my first time. I got the share it with multiple relatives!

My sister:

Bethany Beach 2009 - Carolyn Ready to Rollerblade

My cousin Sam:

Bethany Beach 2009 - Sam Ready to Rollerblade

Now, I have actually skated with both Carolyn and Sam before. But check out our party’s fourth—

Bethany Beach 2009 - Maria on Blades

AUNT MARIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We didn’t go far. We didn’t go fast. But by doing it together, it was a memorable adventure!

Bethany Beach 2009 - Melanie, Vicky, Sam, Maria, Carolyn (Close)
Cousin Melanie, Me, Cousin Sam, Aunt Maria, Carolyn

Next time I am inclined to go to a bar, I just may have to do a toast.

“Hooray for Vicariously New Experiences!”

September 1, 2009 at 5:00 am 3 comments

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