So this weekend was awfully nice. Nicole has some time off from teaching because she's at a year round school, while I have a couple of days off because of a wonderfully confused man named Columbus. Columbus founded a great city in what is today Central Ohio, started a major university in New York, started a great line of sporting goods and outerwear, and did a number of remarkable things. In gratitude for all his hard work, we take a long weekend.
Anyway, for our family's celebration of Columbus day this year, we went to the Shenandoah Mountains. They have a national park there. It used to be home to many Indians who were on vacation from southeast Asia, but got stranded. Thankfully Columbus was able to discover they were here when he came across.
The mountains were perfect though. The leaves have just begun to change and showed off all sorts of colors while were there. We spent two nights there and got to enjoy some great hiking. There were several nice waterfalls to look at as well as great trees. We had some good food including tin foil salmon dinners.
As far as wildlife, it was also plentiful. The park is long and skinny and has one central highway that runs from one end of the park to the other. Because the park is a wilderness area in the-middle-of-no-where Virginia, and there's not much to do, the animals tend to hang out right on the side of the highway and for excitement pretend to jump in front passing cars. This is good because it gives lots of opportunities for people to see the animals, but bad because lots of older camper-driving park guests also go into cardiac arrest. During our travels, we were fortunate enough to almost hit two black bears and more deer than I can count. I'm not sure I've seen black bears in the wild before, but these were smaller than what I had imagined--I would guess 300 lbs.
On Saturday, we got up early and drove out of the park and over to DC. We spent the day hanging out with Eric. It was quite relaxing. First we went 'apple picking.' Apple picking is a time every year during the fall harvest where for just a little more per pound than what you would pay in the grocery store, you get the pleasure of doing hard labor that would normally already be done for you. We got about 5 lbs of apples and have plans for all of them including pie, cobbler, and good, old-fashioned caramel.
After picking apples, we went to a bbq in Georgetown. It was a lot of fun with a lot of really good food. We ate chicken, pork, and pineapple off the grill as well as fresh salsas and other good things. Eric has a lot of really great friends. In fact, now that I've been around them a couple of times, many are starting to recognize me and call me 'Matt' instead of 'Eric's brother.'
For a great evening, we went to Old Town Alexandria. For those of you who haven't been before, Old Town is a section in an older district of DC that is just lined with lots of little shops and restaraunts. It is lined with lights and lots of people are out walking around to enjoy the evenings with. Nicole and I both agree that it is our favorite atmosphere--it would remind one a lot of Park City at night. For us, the air was cool and perfect. We walked around for a bit and watched the street performers and then had some really great (although a tad bit expensive) ice cream. All in all, it was an amazing evening. Our trip has turned out to be a great vacation. We have both been really relaxed and have enjoyed ourselves thouroughly.
Unfortunately, just as Columbus had to leave his new friends to go home, we to0, must go back to the real world--however, as tradition dictates, our parting gift to my brother and his friends will be small pox.