Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Yep...We Did It

I know everyone is going to accuse me that it is "way too early," but we put up the Christmas tree this past Sunday. I guess you could say I'm just in the Christmas Spirit extra early this year. I'm even listening to the radio station here (Q99) that is playing Christmas music 24/7 from now until Christmas.


Yes, that's a real fire in the fire place :)



I know it's not super big and glorious, but it fits perfectly in the corner here. James likes to cuddle up underneath the tree and take a snooze, too.

In other news, Andrew and I got new cell phones last night. We're pretty excited about it. We still have the same numbers though, so no worries. I also figured out how to do a blog post from my cell phone, so if you start getting blog posts with just a picture and a short caption, it's probably from my cell phone. Isn't it crazy what you can do these days?

While I do love Christmas, I also love Thanksgiving (tomorrow)!! We have so much to be thankful for and probably more than we can even think of...but here is my short list:

  1. God and His gift of Jesus Christ as our Savior
  2. My wonderful husband
  3. My loving and supportive family
  4. Our church family
  5. Friends
  6. A stable job that I actually like
  7. Good health
  8. A roof over our heads
  9. Food on the table
  10. Our cat, James
  11. And all of the other "little things" that make life great

Well, I hope everybody has a very Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. Don't eat too much turkey!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Eric Church

This past Thursday night we got to go with our friends, Ruth and Dakota, to see Eric Church at the Jefferson Center in downtown Roanoke. Eric Church is a country singer...if you listen to country music you've probably heard his songs "Love Your Love the Most" and "Guys Like Me." We weren't too familiar with many of his other songs, but it was definitely a rockin' time at the Jefferson Center and we really enjoyed it! We had great seats too...first row on the balcony!

Andrew and I waiting for the show to begin


Ruth and Me







Here is a video of his song,"Love Your Love the Most." If you get this blog through e-mail, you probably won't be able to watch the video through the e-mail. You'll have to go to our blog's webste (http://www.andrewlauren.blogspot.com/) to see it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Adventures at Mount Rogers

Yesterday morning as Andrew and I were getting ready for church, I asked Andrew if he wanted to do anything that afternoon since it was supposed to be a nice day out. I had in mind maybe a short hike or playing tennis or something. As we always do, we went back and forth about what we wanted to do for a little bit (we can be a little indecisive sometimes). Then, Andrew expressed interest about going to Mount Rogers because he had always wanted to do it. I knew we wouldn't be able to do that after church since it gets dark so early now and I knew that it was a good distance away (almost in NC), so we decided to be spontaneous and skipped church to go on an adventure to Mount Rogers. After a very brief bit of researching on the internet, we were on our way.

Here's a little information about Mount Rogers. It is the highest point in the state of Virginia, with an elevation of 5,729 feet above sea level. Mt. Rogers is also the highest peak east of South Dakota without road access to the summit. It is in Grayson and Smith Counties in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area and Jefferson National Forrest. The summit can be accessed from Grayson Highlands State Park by following the Appalachian Trail south for 3.5 miles then taking another .5 mile spur trail to the summit. To get to Grayson Highlands State Park from Roanoke, you go almost 100 miles south on I81 to exit 50. Then you take Highway 16 to Highway 58 until you get there (both are pretty windy roads). It took us about 2.5 hours to get there (137 miles total).


Let me just put this out there...we both went into this thinking that it was a 4 mile round trip hike, not just 4 miles one way. I don't know how we both managed to misunderstand the descriptions we read online, but we did. It wasn't until I started hiking that I realized this. I think Andrew came to this realization a little earlier but didn't say anything because he knew I would have started complaining or made us turn around.


We arrived at the park a little after noon and I think we started hiking sometime between 12:45 and 1:00. One thing we were excited about was that there are wild ponies roaming around the park. I think we would have been pretty disappointed if we didn't see any ponies, but thankfully we saw some very soon after we started hiking. They were so sweet and very friendly! They came right up to us and let us pet them.

They were so pretty!


Andrew with the pony


The pony was trying to eat my strap, thus my expression


I know what I want for Christmas!




They were very friendly!


Me with the ponies again


Andrew with a baby pony. So cute!



Okay, so we may have spent a little too much time playing with the ponies. It was time to continue on our journey to the summit. After all, we had only been hiking for about .2 miles. As we continued our hike we were so blessed by the absolutely stunning scenery and the amazing views. As soon as we got onto the Appalachian Trail section of the hike, we were stopped by another hiker who asked us if we knew the score of some football game. Unfortunately we didn't. The man then continued and asked us where we were from and if we had ever hiked here before. We replied by saying we were from Roanoke; he was from Charlotte. We told him we'd never hiked there before, to which he responded by asking us, in a very hesitant tone, if we were going all the way to the top today. We said we were and he glanced at his watch and told us we'd better get moving. Then he asked if we had flashlights. At this point I'm thinking, Oh, great...we're never going to make it back by sunset. After we'd walked a bit away from the man, Andrew and I voiced our doubts and concerns about making it back before it got dark. Thankfully we had packed flashlights and matches, just in case. However, we really didn't want to have to use them. Needless to say, from then on we definitely picked up the pace, only stopping for needed water breaks and to take a few pictures. I kept looking at my watch and trying to calculate how much longer it would take us to get to the top. I told Andrew that if we weren't to the top by 3 pm then we would have to turn around in order to make it back by dark (even though I knew he would have made us keep going - I would have been thankful for that later...). Here are some pictures from on the way up.










From what we had read online, the hike itself is actually prettier than the summit because the summit is covered by dense fir trees. That could not have been closer to the truth. Toward the end of our hike up we knew we were almost there because we entered this dense, dark, cold, and somewhat creepy, enchanted forest. Once we got to what seemed like the highest spot we found a USGS marker. Come to find out later, this wasn't actually the center marker, but we were there (I think we walked right past the middle one). Anyways, we were pooped so we sat down and ate our apples and Cliff Bars. Just for the record, we made it there at 2:50 - plenty of time to spare!




It was at this time that I started not to feel well. I had a headache and kind of felt like I was going to be sick. It was probably a combination of overexerting myself on the way up, dehydration, worrying about getting back before dark, and just a general unpreparedness for an 8+ mile hike. Andrew also had a headache, but at least he didn't feel nausated like me. So, after a very short break, we knew we still had another 4 miles to go. Knowing that I had a pounding headache, Andrew was such a great encourager the whole time and kept pushing us to keep going. I definitely couldn't have done it without him. We stopped a bit more frequently on the way down for water breaks and to take some more pictures since we felt a little rushed on the way up.






One thing is for sure, there is no possible way to capture the beauty of it all with a single camera shot. So, we took this little video of the stunning views.

video

Thankfully, the hike down went by fairly quickly and wasn't too bad. We were back to the ponies before we knew it, and that meant the car was right around the corner. We made it back just before it got dark and we got to see a beautiful sunset.




So, that was our wonderful adventure at Mount Rogers. Maybe next time we'll know to plan a little more in advance and get an earlier start! The drive home was not so much fun for either of us as my headache had turned into a migraine and Andrew could only see out of one eye because he was having difficulties with his contacts. But, we made it back in one piece! Today I'm a little sore and tired and I know Andrew is too. But was it worth it? Definitely!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

October and November Update

I can't believe it has been a whole month since my last blog posting - sorry I have waited so long! Here's what we've been up to...

Mabry Mill
One Sunday a few weeks ago we took a trip south on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mabry Mill in Meadows of Dan, VA. We went there once last year and it was so great that we decided to go back again this fall. I believe the mill there is one of the most photographed places on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Apparently there are even post cards for other states that have pictures of Mabry Mill on them. There is also a great restaurant there that serves delicious pancakes, among other things. The wait for the restaurant was an hour and a half (totally worth it!) so we got to walk around the grounds there while we waited. The drive on the parkway was beautiful, too. We stopped at almost every overlook to take pictures and enjoy the view. Here are a few pictures from that day.

The mill


A pretty shot of some of the changing leaves


The flumes that bring the water to the mill


Us in front of the mill


PANCAKES! It was a stack of one cornmeal pancake, one buckwheat pancake, and one sweet potato pancake. They were so good!


On the way home


Did I mention it was beautiful?


Cows!


At another overlook


I think the mountain in the distance was called Buffalo Mountain


Halloween
Last blog post I talked about us going to Layman Family Farms to pick out our pumpkin for Halloween. Even though we didn't have any trick-or-treaters last year, we still carved the pumpkin and got plenty of candy, hopeful that this year might be a little different. But alas, we didn't have any trick-or-treaters again this year. I don't know why we never get any. I would think it would be a prime location because the doors are about 15 feet apart (we live in a townhouse development). Oh well! We still had fun carving our pumpkin...and eating all the candy (we made sure we got candy that we liked because we had a feeling this would happen).

Andrew getting ready to carve the pumpkin (the neighbor's cat wanted to help, too)


Didn't he do such a good job?


All that candy and no kids


Landon
On November 3rd at 5:31 pm, my sister and her husband welcomed little Landon into the world, weighing in at 6 pounds, 14 ounces. He is such a cutie and I cannot wait to meet him! Congratulations, Sarah and Brian!



Today
Today is Veterans Day and I have the day off. Although I help veterans everyday at my job, I think it is really important for us to always remember all veterans and those actively serving in the military. They have sacrificed so much for us, and we should be forever thankful for that. At work we got an e-mail with a link to a website sponsored by Xerox where you can send a personalized postcard to US military personnel who are serving overseas for free (you don't have to know anybody specific). Just go to http://www.letssaythanks.com/ and follow the directions on the website.