Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fall Fun – Kayaking at Fountainhead Regional Park!

My plan today was to hang out at home, get ready for the week, read a book, a low key Sunday.  I went out to Wegmans and noticed that it was a beautiful day and I knew I had to get out and play!  I was thinking that I’d go over to Prince William Forest Park and hike, then I logged into to RSVP for an upcoming game night (which I still haven’t done yet!) and saw that someone had posted about a last minute kayaking meetup that happened at 10 am this morning.  (see the news feed on isn’t all bad!) I’d missed the meetup but it reminded me that Fountainhead Regional Park had kayaks to rent!  I knew what I wanted to do this afternoon!

I decided that I needed to wear my long underwear, it was chilly out and I was afraid if I got wet it would be really cold! I was quite styling with my “still muddy from yesterday” hiking pant, pink long underwear sticking out, and Teva sandals – barefoot (there’s no way that I know to get into a kayak without getting your feet wet!)

I headed over to Fountainhead and found the marina.  I was disappointed to learn that there were no kayaks available.  I was not surprised though, it was a fabulous fall day! I decided to wait and see if someone came back – within about 30 minutes I had my kayak!  They handed me a life jacket (that didn’t zip….wouldn’t have zipped on someone half my size!) and a paddle and that was that.  I headed down to the boat area and found 2 kayaks – I presumed that these were the rentals and got in and pushed off!

The Occoquan Reservoir isn’t Lower Richardson Lake, but it was a very nice paddle!  I also realized that this is my backyard!  Literally, I can walk less than a 1/4 mile and be standing in the reservoir! I was thinking that if I owned a kayak, it would be really easy to use it a lot! I know lots of people who keep kayaks and canoes down by the water – locked to a tree and covered ready for use.  Even if that didn’t work there are several put in locations on both sides of the water. 

I didn’t take many pictures, but here are few….


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I love the reflection of the leaves in the water!

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Dead tree in the middle of the water!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Magic Pictures

Last night as I was leaving Shenandoah I pulled into an overlook to check out the sunset.  Of course I attempted to take some pictures.  Most turned out horrible because it was so dark, however the camera did something funky. 

I had taken a picture of the sunset and I noticed that the camera added light to the picture that wasn’t there in real life!  I thought maybe it was the setting sun that caused this so I turned around an shot the mountain behind me which was totally dark.  It took the picture a minute to come up but when it did it was as if the darkness was erased and magically the color appeared!

I then decided to try it with the flash.  When I turned the flash on it illuminated  that which was up close, but plunged the rest of the picture into total darkness.  The picture with the flash was more realistic – that’s what the mountain looked like in real life. 



This is the picture I took without the flash.  Actually a halfway decent shot, however in real life the mountains were not visible due to darkness.


The same picture only with the flash.  This is what it looked like for real.

My question, how did this happen? 

Fall Fun – Hiking In SNP!

Last weekend I uploaded all my pictures from Maine 1 at a time from my Picasa Web Albums to my new computer (long story) and was remembering how much fun I’d had and thinking that I needed to get out more!  I decided that this weekend I was going hiking. 

As the week wore on Saturday was looking less and less like a good day for a hike.  Every time I checked the weather the chance of rain was increased, finally topping out at 90%.  I decided that I’d wait and see what the weather actually did because many times the forecast is wrong. 

Yesterday dawned cloudy, but dry at my house.  The forecast was calling for showers, mostly before 1pm.  “Showers” implies to me that it will rain a bit, a soft gentle rain, then stop for a bit, then rain a bit more.  No big deal I thought.  And, the worst of it was supposed to be before 1pm – it was already 10am and it would take me at least 3 hours to get out there, so I was hoping to miss the worst of the rain.

I was about a 1/3 of the way to the park when the skies opened up.  It was a downpour.  The wipers were going as fast as they could and they still couldn’t keep up.  I was seriously thinking I was nuts to go out on a day like this.  At a stoplight I pulled up The Weather Channel and checked the radar – it looked like I was sitting the worst of it and the park seemed to be in the clear! Sure enough about 20 miles later the rain had stopped and the sub was peeking out!

I stopped at Sheetz to get an MTO and continued into the park.  When I arrived at Swift Run Gap it was raining again, not much, but raining. I headed south on Skyline Drive – my plan was to hike part of the AT, or hike to a waterfall that I could extend to a 7 mile circuit hike if I wanted to.  As I made my way down Skyline Drive the rain was coming down harder.  I pulled into an overlook where I had coverage on my phone and checked the weather again.  There was a HUGE area of rain right over the park!  It looked better to the north so I headed off into the central district. 

I’d driven a few miles down the road and the rain was not letting up.  In fact it was getting worse!  It was deluge.  You could hardly see another other than clouds all around.  I decided that this just wasn’t worth it.  It’s one thing if you get caught on the trail in a deluge, but it’s another thing entirely to go out in one. I remembered that the South River picnic area had a picnic pavilion – I thought I’d go there and have lunch and read my book, then head down to the Antique stores that are at the intersection of 33 and 29. 

I headed over to the picnic area and was sad to note that there was no pavilion.  I was thinking of the Pinnacles Picnic area.  But, the rain had let up!  I decided I’d head down to the South River Falls.  I’d been there once before but I didn’t have my camera.  I quickly threw all my stuff in my bag, laced up my boots and headed down the hill. 

No sooner had I left the car when I heard a low rumble of thunder.  Rain I can do, thunder not so much.  Not knowing what might happen I decided to head back to the car.  When I got back to the car I heard another crack of thunder, this time right over head!  yikes!

My new plan (what are we up to plan Q?) was to have “car picnic” and read my book, then head down to the antique stores.  It was a pleasant afternoon to be sitting in the car!  I put the back seats down so I could stretch out and left the lift-gate open so I could enjoy the fresh air. 

As I was finishing up, the sun came out!  That’s right the sun!  Well, now I had to go hiking.  I put my boots back on and headed out.  I decided that I didn’t trust the weather enough to head down to the falls (it was a 3.3 mile round trip) so I took what I thought was a shorter hike down the AT to the Saddleback MT trail and back on the AT.  It was a hike that I’d done before, but it was in the Spring. 

The first section of the hike was fabulous!  Bright sunshine, blue sky poking out, high thin cirrus clouds!  It was as if the rain and thunder were a million miles away! :-)

I was about halfway around Saddleback Mt when the woods began to fill with fog.  It was pretty cool.  I was a bit worried that it would start to thunder again, but at this point I had to keep going forward because it was further to go back. 

The woods were very quiet.  Silent even.  It was kinds weird, because usually there are all sorts of noises. All of the sudden I heard the thunderous roar of hundreds of wings taking flight and looked and saw hundreds of black birds all taking off!  It was like something out of that Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds.  Only they were flying away from me.  Every step I took fleshed more birds out of hiding.  It was wild.  I tried to get their picture, but it was very hard as I didn’t see them until they were flying.  I did get a few good shots, hopefully my dad can id them for me!

Eventually the birds all flew away from my path and I didn’t see them anymore.  Soon after that the sun returned!  All the fog in the woods disappeared and blue skies were all you could see!  The rest of the hike was just magnificent!  Perfect temperature (around 60) and perfect weather!

When I rejoined the AT I saw the trail marker and it said that it was 2 miles back to the picnic area, the Saddleback Mt trail was about 1 mile – so the whole hike was about 3.5 miles – not any shorter than the trip to the falls!  Oh well! This is what happens when you don’t bring the map! :-)  (I had a map, it was just the South District and I was in the Central District)

When I got back to the car it was already 4:00 and I knew that I’d missed the Antique stores, I was pretty sure they closed at 5.  I decided that since it was turning out to be such a perfect day I’d try and squeeze in another hike!  My first thought was Stony Man, but I re-thought that when I realized how crowded the park was and Stony Man is right by Skyland so I figured it would be swamped.  I opted instead for Hawksbill – the tallest mountain in the park at 4,049 ft.

I hadn’t been up Hawksbill since the day I did the “extreme” hike – up Cedar Run from the park boundary, up Hawksbill, down Whiteoak Canyon – more than 10 miles and 3,000 ft of elevation gain – 5 years ago.  

I headed out from the parking lot at 5:00, I was guesstimating that sunset was about 6:30, it was a mile from the parking lot to the summit and a mile back, I figured I had plenty of time.  The trail up is very easy and I made it in less than 30 mins.  There was one other group at the top – a bunch of Asian students, none of them speaking English and standing exactly in the way of all the pictures I wanted to take!  I waited them out and they eventually left and I had the summit of Hawksbill to myself!  What a rare treat! :-)  The views were spectacular!

The sun was sinking quickly as I headed back to the car.  I was about 3/4 of the way back and the woods were suddenly enveloped in fog yet again!  It was quickly getting dark, but there was still plenty of light.  I got back to the car at exactly 6 and the fog was dense. As I drove north on Skyline Drive I came to an overlook where I should have been able to see Hawksbill, but it full of fog!

I headed up the drive to Thorton Gap, stopping along the way at overlooks to check out the sunset.  It felt like it was very late at night, but it was only 6:30.  There were lots of cars heading out, I guess everyone wanted to stay until the very last bit of daylight had run out!

I’m so glad I went out on what looked to be questionable day!  Turned out to be a great day to be in the woods! :-)

Check out pics from my hike in my Picasa Web Album

Monday, October 05, 2009

My Dining Room

Over the summer I finally painted the dining room! I’d been planning it for a long time, and finally got to it! I’d decided I was going to make it my Maine room and put a bunch of pictures from my trip up on the walls. I’d planned to pain it a bright, in your face yellow, to go with the bright in your face purple that I painted the living room.

Earlier in the summer, when I painted the table, I’d picked up a whole bunch of yellow paint chips at Lowe’s so I pulled them out and started matching with the purple.  I’d almost settled on one when I realized that the kitchen is yellow and whatever color I chose for the dining room needed to coordinate with the kitchen!  The color I thought I’d wanted didn’t look good with the kitchen yellow.   I finally settled on “Cowslip4” and headed off to Lowe’s to get some.

Here’s the dining room before I started:



There was a lot of taping to do!  I almost just painted the chair rail yellow just so I didn’t have to tape it, but then I decided it would look better if I left it white, and I’m glad I did!  I spent a good hour taping, and it was so worth it! 

I was very happy with the Valspar paint – it was very thick and it only took one coat!  It took me longer to tape than it did to paint!

I’d been nervous about the line between the living room and the dining room.  I did a great job with it when I did the purple, but I was hoping I wasn’t a “1 trick Pony” when it came to getting tape in a straight line.  I did have one little place where I got yellow on the purple, but it wasn’t so bad!

Right before I painted I’d ordered the pics for the walls!  I used either snapfish or shutterfly (can’t remember) this time since I was so frustrated with Kodak last time and was much happier!  The prints arrived in record time!  I also managed to hit a sale at AC Moore when I bought the frames!

I was waiting to post this until my dad came and put the final touch by rehanging the table cloth that my grandmother embroidered.

Here are the after pictures:

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I LOVE it!  :-) 

Now, what room is next?  Can’t decide between the basement and the bedroom.