Archive for May, 2011

Spring….According to the Chestnuts and Pawpaws

When Ryan and I moved, we of course brought along all our potted American chestnuts and a selection of potted pawpaws.  Our baby trees were the very first thing that got unpacked!  When we left Elizabeth City (February 27th) most of the chestnuts were sporting fresh buds, but the pawpaws were still solidly dormant.

On March 25th, we had our first American chestnut leaf sighting of 2011! (The leaves are much bigger now)

First Baby Chestnut Leaf - March_25_2011
Aww… First Chestnut Leaf for 2011

The pawpaws were a little further behind. Their first leaves showed up on April 1, 2011. Slackers. : )

May 17, 2011 at 1:00 am 2 comments

Yuri’s Night and National Sibling Day

In one weekend, I had two adventures that were already covered in other blogs, so I can just ride their coattails!

Yuri’s Night
On Saturday, April 9th, Ryan and I took the Metro up to Rosslyn, Virginia to attend an “Out of This World Party” that was celebrating Yuri’s Night, an annual dance celebration of Yuri Gagarin being the first man in space. This year, Yuri’s Night was particularly meaningful because it’s the 50th Anniversary of Human Space Flight.

Ryan wrote up a full recap and even disclosed Ska Band Eastern Standard Time‘s ingenius Tetris-inspired ploy to cox people out onto the dance floor!

Here is my only addition.  I LOVE dancing and that night, I found myself 5 1/2 months pregnant doing what I love.  Dancing….with my husband…. surrounded by robots and ET (who was drinking a beer).

How lucky am I?!?!

Dance Floor
Yuri’s Night Dancing!

National Sibling Day
I wrote earlier about my friends celebrating a holiday every day in 2011 on their blog The Year of Living Unofficially.  They are still going strong!  On April 10th, they had their National Siblings Day celebration.  Because my sister and I are… well, sisters, we got to come along!  That meant Pregnant Vicky not only got an afternoon of good company… but she got a pizza buffet and a ice cream sundae bar as well! Even the sketchy scoring Skeeball machine (100’s were scored as 40. 40’s were scored as 20. 20’s were scored as 0) could not dampen the festivities. Brittany and Chris wrote up a full recap of the day on their blog.

20110410 0 - 1545ish - National Siblings Day - Vicky, Carolyn, Chris (bg)
National Siblings Day!

Once again, how lucky am I?  : )

May 16, 2011 at 1:00 am 3 comments

Relay for Life Donations for the Neighborhood Kids

Tonight, May 13th, Pasquotank and Camden County will be having its Relay for Life at Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.  As such, this is my annual post to see if anyone wants to make a tax-deductible donation for 2011 to the American Cancer SocietyBUT THERE’S A TWIST!  This year, if you feel enticed to give, I would like to request that you to donate to one of the neighborhood kids instead of through my personal donation page.

In the past two years, the neighborhood kids have taken quite a liking to Relay.  They’ve accompanied us each year and have been active walkers. In 2009, one eleven year old walked a little over six miles with us! 

This year, four of the neighborhood kids are official members of our “Hunter Street Hope” team.  Before Ryan and I moved to Virginia, the kids were of wonderful help with Relay ranging from working on the Christmas Parade float to making thank you gifts for donations to actually updating the website and registering users.  I would love to help them make some progress towards their fundraising goals!

In November, Tyrek learned plastic canvas and helped stitch some Holiday Gobblers as thank you gifts for our November donations. Thanks in part to Tyrek’s efforts, we got three surprise donations from Magic Players at the Earth 383 Comic Book Shop!

Plastic Canvas - Tyrek Works
Tyrek Working on Holiday Gobbler
Holiday Gobbler - Grey and Pink
Finished Holiday Gobbler

Tyrek’s Donation Page

Risha & Vick
Sisters Risha and Vick were both active participants in this year’s Relay for Life float for the Elizabeth City Christmas Parade. They volunteered for duty two nights and helped transform a bunch of plywood into the float that won first place in the Civic Category!

Relay for Life - Christmas Parade - Risha Paints Magnolia Leaves
Risha Paints Magnolia Leaves
Relay for Life - Christmas Parade - Vick, Debbie, Deanna Coat Front of Float
Vick, Debbie and Deanna Work on Float

Risha’s Donation Page
Vick’s Donation Page

Khalif also helped decorate the Christmas Parade float, but his contributions extend much further than that.  Before I moved, Khalif served as the assistant to the Online Chair for our event. He attended the Team Captain Meetings (and also helped with the setup and clean up) and put his computer skills to work. He helped update the website and took the lead on registering users online during our Kickoff Meeting.

Relay for Life Kickoff - Khalif Prepares Team Packets
Khalif Prepares Team Packets
Relay for Life Kickoff - Khalif Registers Users
Khalif Registers Users Online

Khalif’s Donation Page

Whether you decide to give or not to give, thanks for letting me brag about my neighborhood kids!  They’ve made me proud…and I do I miss them terribly now that I’m in Virginia.

May 13, 2011 at 1:00 am 3 comments

36th Birthday Hike – Great Falls National Park

After we finished our hike on The Billy Goat Trail, Ryan and I had lunch at The Old Angler’s Inn. A word to the wise– the cheeseburger is a much better investment than the smoked salmon. The smoked salmon portion is not in parity with its price. But be sure the check out the mustard in the plastic yellow bottles. It’s not what ClintJCL would refer to “Mus-turd”, it’s actually a very yummy and high quality horseradish mustard!

After lunch, Ryan and I still had some daylight left and were well aware our commute home would put us on the Beltway right during Friday rush hour. Sitting in traffic didn’t sound especially appealing. We decided to explore the nearby Great Falls National Park instead. Even though I grew up in the DC area, I was completely unaware of this National Park. It’s gorgeous! We enjoyed the views of the falls. In addition, we got to hike the River Trail which skirted the Virginia side of the Potomac and gave us views of Mather Gorge and the Maryland-side. That meant we got to see the trail we hiked earlier in the day from a very different perspective. : )

Great Falls National Park - Water and Rocks at Falls
Great Falls – Water and Rocks

Great Falls National Park - Mather Gorge From Virginia Side
Mather Gorge From the Virginia Side (River Trail)

Great Falls National Park - Falls and Vicky (By Ryan Somma)
Me at Great Falls (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Great Falls National Park - Falls View (by Ryan Somma)
Falls View (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Great Falls National Park - Hikers on Billy Goat Rock Wall (By Ryan Somma)
Hikers on Maryland’s Billy Goat Trail From Virginia’s River Trail (Photo by Ryan Somma)

In my last post, I talked about being humbled by seeing how high the water can get. I didn’t even know the half of it! At Great Falls National Park in a plaza that is WELL ABOVE the falls, there is a sign that shows you the high level mark of past years. It’s just dumbfounding to look down the cliffs and think about the water still coming up above your head. That’s a lot of water!

Great Falls National Park - Vicky with High Water Mark Sign (By Ryan Somma)
Me and the High Watermark Sign (Photo by Ryan Somma)

More pictures of our visit to Great Falls National Park can be found on my Flickr site.

Great Falls National Park

National Park Website

May 12, 2011 at 1:00 am 2 comments

36th Birthday Hike 2011 – Billy Goat Trail

When I started my birthday hike tradition, I hiked alone. Well, with the dogs. And since we were usually hiking on weekdays in early March, we had the whole Appalachian Trail to ourselves. We owned that wilderness! The hikes were empowering and spiritual and absolutely invigorating. A wonderful way to still feel young and yet thankful for the experiences the ticking years bring.

But the birthday hikes had a more sinister inspiration. Initially they were a means to forget I had no one to celebrate with. March Madness, afterall, was infinitely more entertaining than one person’s birthday. To be fair, who among us could compete with sheets and sheets of printed brackets? Some team names circled, some team names scratched out and the occassional ring-shaped discoloration from a poorly placed beer bottle.  Stiff competition.  : )

Then I started dating Ryan Somma. Just like that, I no longer hiked alone on my birthday. He takes off work and we adventure together. This year for my 36th birthday, we found ourselves in a new town and relied on word of mouth. Our friend Greg Z (who organized the Old Rag hike last year) spoke highly of Maryland’s Billy Goat Trail. It’s a lovely rock scramble along the Potomac River and the cliffs of Mather Gorge. And so on March 18th, we drove up to Potomac, Maryland and hiked.

At times when I stepped off a rock or navigated between boulders, I felt a familiar stirring in my belly. This year I wasn’t hiking alone and I wasn’t just hiking with Ryan Somma. Our son was accompanying us as well. : )

Billy Goat Trail - Vicky by Rock Wall (By Ryan Somma)
Me…With a Little Belly!

We started our journey at the parking lot by The Old Angler’s Inn and took the Towpath to the Billy Goat Trail – Section A. The Billy Goat Trail – Section A is promoted as strenuous and even has warning signs saying as much at both trailheads. There is indeed a lot of rock scrambling, but with the exception of one rock wall it is a relatively flat rock scramble. Without the steep ascents you find on the Appalachian Trail, Ryan and I found the Billy Goat Trail to be a nice, relaxing, moderate hike. The hike is short too— only about 1.7 miles one way. It is a wonderful return on investment for a hike though. You are skirting the Potomac almost the entire way and there are no shortage of views.

Billy Goat Trail - Blaze and Potomac
Blue Blaze and Potomac

Billy Goat Trail - Blaze on Rock
Blue Blaze on Rock

Billy Goat Trail - Blazes Up Rock Wall (Close)
The One Steep Section

Billy Goat Trail - Hikers on Rocks
Hikers on Rocks

Billy Goat Trail - Ryan Checks Out Views
Ryan on Rocks

Most stunning on this hike were the regal, white-barked sycamore trees that lined the shore, but it was also nice (and nostalgic!) to see mountain laurel and red maples along the way. Mountain laurel reminds me of my former home in Blacksburg.  Red maples reminds me of my former home in Elizabeth City.  Since it was still mid-March, we got to see some of the season’s first buds.

Billy Goat Trail - One of Many Majestic Sycamores
One of the Many Majestic Sycamores

Billy Goat Trail - Red Maple on Rocks
Red Maple on Rocks

Billy Goat Trail - Mountain Laurel
Mountain Laurel

Billy Goat Trail - Spring Buds
First Buds

We saw a baby snake on the Towpath on the way to the Billy Goat Trail. We also spied some geese hanging up on the cliffs well above the water. Finally, a peaceful pond along the Billy Goat Trail housed bright orange fish (koi????).

Towpath - Baby Snake
Baby Snake on Towpath

Billy Goat Trail - Geese on Rocks (Close) (By Ryan Somma)
Canadian Geese on Rocks (By Ryan Somma)

Billy Goat Trail - Goldfish in Pond (By Ryan Somma)
Orange Fish in Pond (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Early on the trail before the rocks are hit, we ran across this tree. I affectionately referred to it as “The Scrotum Tree”.

Billy Goat Trail - Tree Scrotum
Scrotum Tree

Want to be humbled? As you take in the views, take note of all the debris in the tree branches. That’s where the water level was! No matter how high up you seem– it was once no match for the river!

Billy Goat Trail - Debris Trees
Debris Trees

After the hike, I have concluded that Greg Z’s word of mouth is a worthy one to follow. The Billy Goat Trail was a wonderful outing and a great way to get enthusiastic about the outdoor opportunities of our new home.

More pictures of my Birthday Hike on the Billy Goat Trail can be found on my Flickr site.

Billy Goat Trail – Section A

Trail Information From Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park

Hike Details From

Trail Map

Length: 1.7 miles one way

Elevation Gain: 200 feet

Directions from 495

From I-495, take Exit 41

Take Clara Barton Pkwy towards Carderock

Turn left on MacArthur Blvd

Parking is on the left across from The Old Anglers Inn

May 11, 2011 at 10:30 pm 6 comments

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