Monday, December 29, 2014

Johnson Cabin (Virginia)

Rebecca enjoyed Christmas with her family in Winchester while I spent the holiday in Richmond. The following day we met in Waynesboro and headed to our PATC cabin near Stanardsville, VA.

The last time we stayed at a cabin nearby was our trip to Morris. That trip was snowy and cold, a drastic contrast to the unseasonably warm temperatures we enjoyed this time around. The sun felt so warm on Saturday that I braved the spring-fed tub between our cabin and Morris.

We let the dogs run alongside as we rode the Meadow Trail on Saturday afternoon, then headed back to the cabin to kick back and sip a few beers.

Johnson is a small cabin, but absolutely perfect for a couple spending the weekend in the woods. The trip was brief, but was a perfect way to round out our extended holiday weekend.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Keeping with our trend of EPIC weekend trips, Rebecca and I decided to squeeze in a trip to Aruba during the Thanksgiving holiday.

We feasted in Winchester this year, so on Friday we headed back to Richmond to unpack & unwind, then repack & fly south!

The layover in Philadelphia yielded enough time to see my old roommate, Dave Laverdure. Since I last saw Dave, he moved from Philly to Trenton, NJ, so we hopped on the SEPTA to meet him for dinner at the Trenton Social.

By midday on Saturday we were donning sunglasses and delayering at the Oranjestad Airport.

As quickly as possible, and with only one near-collision, we were at the Pelican Nest, sipping drinks by the water.

Our main objective, aside from the beach, was renting ATV’s and exploring the island.

One of my main praises of Aruba is it’s size – it’s tiny! I like the idea that you can just wander aimlessly and really never be 100% lost. And there’s plenty, I mean PLENTY, to explore.

The next morning we headed for the airport and bid Aruba goodbye. Our return layover in Miami was long enough for us to visit South Beach, so we wasted no time hopping on the MetroBus. First up - ridiculously oversized bloody mary's!

We finished our flight home by 7am the next morning and returned to the cold reality of winter :-(

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mountain Creek (New Jersey)

This weekend Rebecca and I decided to take an extra day for our trip to Mountain Creek to see New York City. The drive there was rather lengthy, but worth the traffic once we reached Manhattan. We walked the dogs in Central Park and found a local sub shop for lunch before heading to our campsite in Stokes State Forest.

The next morning we stopped at Jumboland Diner for breakfast just outside of Stokes State Forest. Once we were stuffed on french toast and eggs, we continued the drive to Mountain Creek. Once geared up, I headed to buy a lift ticket and was fortunate enough to strike up a conversation with one of their higher-ups and score a free pass for the day. This was especially lucky since the park was no longer honoring last year's promotion for a free day pass with the Snowshoe season pass.

I hadn't ridden since the park was known as Diablo, but I was pleased to see that the trail work had only improved since then. The conditions were superb and there were several new features along the trails. One in particular was a huge log ride that was installed for a photo shoot a few weekends prior. It had no lead-in trail, but I just couldn't resist trying it so I pushed my bike a few yards above the feature and gave it a shot.

That night we headed to the Warwick Drive-In to catch The Equalizer. After the movie I caught a second wind, so I decided to start the drive home then instead of the next morning. I lasted until Maryland, but was able to catch up on my Z's in the back of the Jeep since we'd left our sleeping bags strewn about after the movie. The rest of the drive went by quickly and the rest of Sunday was spent relaxing at Rebecca's house with the dogs.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Bryce Resort (Basye, VA)

Joey and I decided to wait the rain out one day before heading to Bryce, but even then we didn't have much luck dodging the drops. The day began dry, but after a few runs it started coming down and within an hour or so we were pretty soaked. Ruprecht was a good sport, taking cover beneath Joey's Jeep while we rode.

The highlight of the trip may have been our stay at flagpole knob before our day of riding. The drive to our campsite was entertaining as we entered multiple mud holes and dodged the overhanging trees with the roof-mounted bike.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Snowshoe (West Virginia)

The season's winding down, but our final trip to Snowshoe was a burner!

Snowshoe experiences the Fall colors just a few weeks before most places, and our timing was perfect to catch the first glimpse of the vibrant colors.

Ian, Joey, and I caught up with Nate just as he pulled onto 64 West near Gum Springs on Friday night. He was headed to Snowshoe to take part in their final race of the season. On race day, he suffered a flat, but the four of us got plenty of riding in to make up for that disappointment.

By Sunday afternoon we were all having a tough time holding onto the handlebars, but we still logged a respectable number of runs before packing up and heading home.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sherando Lake (Lyndhurst, VA)

Rebecca and I decided to take my brother and his girlfriend Shahrzad to one of our favorite camping spots in Virginia - Sherando Lake. We drove to our usual campsite near the Bald Mountain Overlook on Friday night, but found that it was not vacant. This was probably due to the Lockn Festival in nearby Arrington, VA.

We tried a campsite down the fire road, near the top of the infamous Sherando Lake climb, and were luckily met with an available site stocked with a pile of firewood. That night we made smores by the fire and enjoyed a few drinks before retiring to our tents.

On Saturday morning, after a quick breakfast, Rebecca and I rode mountain bikes to Sherando Lake while Dave and Shahrzad drove my Jeep to the lake to meet us. We had an unexpected challenge on the trail when I tried fixing a flat only to find a slash in my replacement tube. Luckily we were able to stretch Rebecca's 26" inner tube into my 29" wheel and carefully navigate the remainder of the trail without another puncture.

Once at the lake, the four of us made lunch and took turns swimming while the other two watched the dogs.

We originally planned on hiking Three Ridges after our time at the lake, but when we finished relaxing on the shore it was nearly 5pm and another couple hours before setting up our next camp site seemed a bit too much for one day. We wisely decided to return to our site above the Bald Mountain Overlook. This time we lucked out and were able to use our first-choice site.

The rain moved in as we finished preparing our dinner, so we retreated to the back of the Jeep to devour our "hobo packs."

The next morning we drove to Boylan Heights for lunch and Walnut Creek Park for a quick game of disc golf before finishing the drive to Richmond.

Monday, September 1, 2014

James River (Richmond, VA)

This Labor Day weekend Rebecca and I stayed in town since her brother Matt was visiting. They planned on driving to Winchester on Monday to see their siblings and watch the University of Miami game that night. That left me with a free day to do whatever I pleased. When my friend Alex suggested tubing on the James River I jumped at the idea.

Alex, Jason, and I made our way to Pony Pasture by noon and were on the water shortly after that. The water level was low, but our short float to Reedy Creek didn't take too long even at that slow pace.

Ruprecht was such a hit. Everyone that spotted him in his life vest was enamored and it actually served him well, keeping his ears out of the water and allowing him to swim for extended periods.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Asheville (North Carolina)

The first day of our three-day trip to Asheville, North Carolina was spent primarily on the road. Rebecca and I took our time leaving Richmond and were south bound by 11am. We stopped midway through the drive in Chapel Hill to check out the town and visit the Chapel Hill Rumors, a Richmond-based thrift boutique.

Once we arrived at our AirBnB in Brevard we were ready to unwind. The loft apartment above our hosts' garage was comfortable and inviting; and it had DirectTV! We lounged for the rest of the night and planned the next two days rides.

The next morning we headed out for DuPont State Forest. Just as we left our hosts' neighborhood we spotted a fresh produce stand, so we pulled in to grab fruit for the day and fill our water bottles for the ride ahead. Just a few minutes later we were in the Reasonover Road Parking Area, unloading bikes and gearing up for the ride.

The trails were spectacular. Even more impressive was how well-marked they were. Navigating with our free trail map was a breeze.

We made our way to the Bridal Veil Falls where we dismounted and took a break.

After that we had a few more miles of trail to complete before returning to the parking lot and heading into town for a bite to eat. Our hosts own a BBQ joint in Brevard called Hawg Wild, so we decided to check it out. We were very pleased, especially so since we ordered the fried mac-n-cheese bites to wet our appetites! Rebecca and I decided to restrain ourselves though, taking a few last scraps home in to-go boxes so that we could indulge in Dolly’s Ice Cream across the street.

Once back at our AirBnB we lounged in the pool before retiring to the loft to explore their Blue-Ray collection - we landed on Lincoln and Olympus Has Fallen ;-)

The next morning we slept in before packing up and heading out towards Pisgah National Forest. I found a Strava ride in a local biking guide for the area, so we decided to try it. The ride consisted of a long fire road climb that connected to the Black Mountain Trail. The climb was a good burn - just a slow churn in our granny gears for about an hour. One last, hellacious ascent to start the section of Black Mountain Trail gave way to a steep, rooty descent. Rebecca handled the technical trail very well. I was delighted to see a smile on her face in the midst of a truly intimidating section of singletrack.

Once we reached the Jeep we drove down 276/Pisgah Highway until we spotted a suitable watering hole in the Davidson River.

Our final stop before hitting the road was an early dinner at Mayfel’s in Asheville, where we met Rebecca’s friend Steve and his girlfriend Carrie Sue. Following dinner we pointed the Jeep north and reached Richmond just after midnight.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Outer Banks (Rodanthe, NC)

Our second trip to the Outer Banks this summer began with a gloomy forecast. There was a huge rainstorm moving east and our camp site in Rodanthe seemed to be directly in its path. This trip, however, could not be dampened by a bit of rain - after all, we were there to celebrate Warren's birthday.

The rain moved in Friday night and persisted throughout Saturday morning. I was beginning to lose hope for the weekend when Joey found light at the end of the tunnel - in Kitty Hawk to be more specific. He found a surf cam that showed sun north of our location so we decided to head towards it.

On our way north we spotted a stranded Jeep Cherokee in the ditch. Since Warren's new Jeep Rubicon has a winch, he jumped at the chance to put it to use. In just a few moments he'd freed the Grand and elated it's Aussie driver.

Once we approached the Bonner Bridge to Oregon Inlet the rain subsided and we found a secluded pull-in to the beach. The cloud cover was still thick, but it was almost better that way since we didn't need to worry about sunscreen.

The majority of our time was spent watching Ruprecht battle the ocean. He loved biting the surf and chasing us into the deep water while being tossed by the waves.

That night we celebrated Warren's birthday at Sting Wray's. After stuffing our faces the group of twelve headed back to the camp site. We didn't last long after the restaurant though and soon retired to our tents.

The next morning we were woken by the warmth of the sun. After emerging from the tent Rebecca headed to the nearby pier to stretch and get in a few yoga poses while I struck the tent.

Once we had packed the vehicles, each car set off individually to find its own adventure. We decided to revisit the beach near Oregon Inlet. This time the sun was out in full force and we spent far more time in and out of the water.

Just before the end of our time at the beach, Ruprecht found a Fiddler Crab. To our surprise, he didn't attack it. He actually just seemed to consider it a new friend, as if the crab snipping at his nose was an invitation to play.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

North Anna River (Doswell, VA)

The week before the float we accumulated eighteen people to join us down the North Anna River. At the same time, the water level was steadily dropping and I was curious to know whether this year's float would turn into a "walk" instead. When we arrived at the put-in we were glad to see some depth, although it wasn't exactly a swift current.

Some participants dropped out of the float and some joined the trip at the last minute, which somehow landed us right back at our expected group of eighteen floaters. The mix of friends this year was great and a lot of new friendships were formed.

I was looking forward to bringing my new dog Ruprecht along, but he was in a scuffle with Rebecca's Boston Terrier, Mr. Tuffy, and had stitches on his arm from the fight. We did bring along Rebecca's other dog Bailey. She was a hit with everyone, especially her goofy swimming style.

Last year our float lasted roughly three hours. This time we saw the bridge for the take-out after five hours on the water. It was perfect timing, though, as evidenced by the single remaining beer in our cooler.