Travel Diary: Washington, D.C. – Day 2 continued

George Washington’s former plantation, Mount Vernon, offers a variety of interesting and historical sites for all ages!  After touring the Mansion and gardens, my husband and I stopped at one of the outbuildings on the grounds where a woman portrays Martha Washington and stays in character, answering questions from the crowd.  She was very entertaining and knowledgeable!

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At one point in time, there were 316 slaves living at Mount Vernon.  They were freed after George Washington’s death, which he directed in his Last Will and Testament.

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Travel Diary: Washington, D.C. – Day 2

Bike and Roll has a fun and educational bicycling adventure that begins in Alexandria, Virginia, where you pick up a bike and cycle 9 miles along a scenic path beside the Potomac River, to the historic and beautiful Mount Vernon, George Washington’s former plantation.

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Before touring the Mansion and grounds, we had lunch at the Mount Vernon Inn.

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I recommend the Shrimp and Grits and the Root Beer is pretty darn good!

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Travel Diary: Washington D.C. – Day 1

After one airplane, one bus, one train, one metro, and a 15 minute walk, my husband and I climbed four flights of stairs to our Airbnb in Washington, D.C., and were glad we only had one piece of luggage and one carry-on combined to lug before our week of fun and educational activities in our Country’s Capitol and surrounding areas.  Located within 15 minutes walk to the Metro, 5 minutes to a Capital Bikeshare station, and less than 3 miles to the White House, we had all of Washington D.C.’s “must see” destinations at our fingertips!  First on the agenda was stocking up at the local Harris Teeter grocery store.  Walking 15 minutes to the grocery store, we purchased enough food to see us through 4 dinners, 2 lunches, and 7 breakfasts.  Unless you’re independently wealthy, saving money by dining at your home away from home is one of the best ways to enable frequent travel.  Living like a local while you’re on vacation is definitely a great way to feel the pulse of a City, but like most things in life, has it’s downside.

By 3:00pm we were headed by Metro across the Potomac River to our Nation’s most sacred final resting ground…Arlington National Cemetery.  Surrounded by over 400,000 grave sites of deceased military and other prominent people, I felt a sense of sorrow for their families.

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Hiking on the Appalachian Trail

Hiking on the Appalachian Trail was another bucket list experience!  I discovered that you can hike Lodge to Lodge, so you don’t have to carry a tent and food (other than snacks and lunch), along a 17 mile portion of the trail through Virginia in the Shenandoah National Park.  If you’d like to plan your own trip, the details are here.

These are some of the images I encountered while hiking…

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Lodge to Lodge Hiking on the Appalachian Trail – Day Three

There was a 50% chance of thunderstorms today, so we were prepared.  We left Skyland a few minutes after 8:00am, after having a big breakfast and began our almost 10 mile hike to the car parked at Thornton Gap.

The trail was well marked and we never got lost.  Like yesterday’s hike, we ran into a few other hikers, but not many.  I had researched the pattern for thru-hikers and verified that most of them had already been through this section of the trail about a month earlier, on their way to Maine.

 

Luckily, it only sprinkled once for about 2 minutes and the clouds kept the temperature in the 80’s, although it was quite humid.

 

 

The longest hike Cindy had taken before this had been about 5 miles.  She was concerned about hiking 17 miles in two days, but she did a great job!  We only took a couple of breaks (other than when taking photos) and kept a good pace.  I love to see people challenge themselves and realize that they’re capable of doing more than they thought originally!

 

 

One-third to One-half of the trail on today’s hike was rocks…like below.  The shuttle guy, Rodney, calls them “ankle busters”!  They made the hike more difficult, not only physically, but mentally.

 

 

There were a lot of flowers on the trail.  I discovered that when my flash went off, the background was darkened, which really made the flower pop!

 

 

 

 

These look like the kind of berries that bears like.  Luckily, we didn’t run into any… we only saw some bear poop on the trail…but it didn’t look fresh!

 

 

Cindy nicknamed this rock “Plumber’s Rock”…

 

 

After researching the area, I had reserved a room at the historic “Mimslyn Inn” in Luray, Virginia.  It’s located within a 15 minute drive from Thornton Gap (where our car was parked) and has a pool and hot tub.  As soon as we checked in, we took a shower, poured a margarita and went out to the hot tub.  Our calves were sore and it felt great.  The pool was the perfect temperature also.  After relaxing for a bit, we were starving because for lunch we had only eaten an apple and a granola bar, so we went upstairs to shower and made our way to the “Speakeasy Lounge” for dinner.  We both had a tenderloin wrap.  The wrap was made with spinach…yum…yum!

 

 

 

 

I drove us to find some “White Lightning” (kind of like moon shine) and a blackberry syrup, so we could recreate the blackberry moonshine slushie drink we’d had at Skyland Resort.  After returning, we took a few photos of the lovely grounds at the Mimslyn.  They have weddings here and it is lovely!

 

Lovely Cindy!!

 

 

We’re both glad we had the opportunity to do this and look forward to the next adventure!

Lodge to Lodge Hiking on the Appalachian Trail – Day 2

After a good night’s sleep, Cindy and I were the first to be seated for breakfast in the dining room at 7:30am.  Breakfast was included so I chose the “Eggs Appalachian“…similar to Eggs Benedict, but on a biscuit instead of a muffin.  It was tasty!  Our box lunch consisted of a sandwich, an apple, a granola bar and soda of choice, prepared by the Lodge, at a cost of $11.  We had filled our water containers with ice and water before breakfast and were ready to hit the trail by 8:00am.

Today’s hike was 7.7 miles from Big Meadows Lodge to Skyland Resort in Shenandoah Nat’l Park.  I would rate this section as moderate in difficulty level because of the length.  There was a variety of terrain ranging from level and soft to rocky and on an incline/ decline.   I especially enjoyed the ferns that were growing alongside the path in many sections.  It created a very lush look.

 

 

This little guy was only about an inch in length.  Cindy spotted him and thought he was a toy at first because he didn’t move.  We were able to stick our cameras right in his face and he didn’t budge.

 

At this section, we had to make our way across the rocks that had slid down the hill.

 

I didn’t grow tired of looking at the green….every where green!!  We only passed a couple of groups of people hiking.  After being warned by family/friends of all of the possible dangers…bears, snakes, deranged hikers, mountain lions…I had armed myself with a large pocket knife!

 

Cute mushrooms!

 

 

More deer about 1/2 mile from finishing!  It took us about 5 hours to arrive at the next lodge….which is about 2 miles per hour.

 

Lodge to Lodge Hiking on the Appalachian Trail – Day 1

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After driving  8 hours from Cincinnati to Thornton Gap (an entrance to Skyline Drive – a 115 mile scenic road & where I left my car parked) in the Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, my friend Cindy and I were picked … Continue reading