You GUYS!! I have no idea what day it is, but unfortunately I think it is Monday, which means our Blue Ridge Mountain Minibreak is over.
It was a glorious long weekend. We planned the trip around the wedding for my first-cousin-once-removed (otherwise known as my first cousin's son). I am the youngest of the grandchildren of William and Doretta Carrington (sometimes by like 30 years). My cousin's children are usually my age (or older). It makes for confusing conversations and awkward moments when I say weird things, like: " I am actually the great aunt!" or "I was the product of a second marriage!"
Neither of these statements are ever required (and the first is not true, as far as I know), but I digress. . .that is all great content for another day!
Anyway, it was a great weekend and I am the biggest fan of a destination wedding! We've had so many great trips for weddings. It is a great way to celebrate marriage, visit with family and friends and to explore somewhere new.
We packed everything we could into four days. We hiked many miles and we drove even more. The last time I was in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I was a kid (and ironically driving back, the long way, from visiting my Carrington family in Raleigh). It is such a beautiful region--and there is so much fun to be had. I had the best night's sleep (even the night I was over-served) and woke up each day refreshed and ready for adventure.
As I get older, I think I becoming more and more like my grandparents. Whenever my Nana would travel, I'd have to endure an evening slide show of her trip, endless narration and the full itinerary explained in endless detail. Then, sometimes, for reasons I still don't understand, she'd invite her traveling neighbors over to share their trip slide show and I'd have to endure that.
Now, I am Nana and here are the endless details of our trip:
Day 1 (Friday): We left after lunch, after several random work interruptions and last minute packing. On the way, we stopped in Harper's Ferry, Virginia. It was such a lovely side trip and we saw people tubing on the Shenandoah River (and crashing into the bridge, which means we MUST had this to our to-do list for next summer. We are extreme river tubers, after all!). We arrived at our resort, Wintergreen, right in the mountains. We had a bizarrely horrible dinner at a restaurant called The Edge; but lived to laugh about it.
Day 2 (Saturday): We went tubing! This tubing was down a mountain on the snow tube run. It was terrifying and so much fun! We went down the mountain for lunch at Wild Wolf Brewery--great food, bonus chickens and koi and good beer. After that, we broke into a pool that was marked for "owners and guests only." (because that's how we roll.)
Then it was wedding time! The wedding was beautiful on an overlook in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My other first-cousin-once-removed is a pastor and performed the service. Can I just tell you that this wedding was much more Jesus-y than my Presbyterian wedding in a church? Then we had the reception and the dancing and it was all great!
Day 3 (Sunday): We got to meet my first cousin Sue's dog Luca. Luca is a social media influencer in the making and this time with him was much anticipated by my son. We spent time with Sue, too. Later, we hiked to a waterfall (obviously on a trail that was treacherous, as usual). We spent the afternoon eating and drinking at Bold Rock Cidery, then to a lake for waterslides and trampolines and paddle boarding. We wrapped up the day in the Blue Ridge Tunnel--which was incredible! It is an old railroad tunnel through the mountains that you can hike through.
Day 4 (today!): We started the morning at the resort pool (this pool we did not have to break into!) and then ate lunch at Blue Mountain Brewery (my Greek grilled cheese was off the hook!). Then we drove home the very long way on Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park.
It is a 105 mile drive--with 75 overlooks to stop and enjoy. We stopped at like 70 of the overlooks. It took us 11 hours to get home. But it was so worth it! We saw so many amazing things; stepped on the Appalachian Trail; and Chloe and Nick did the National Park Service Junior Ranger activities and were sworn in as Junior Rangers. I know it might sound silly, but I was really moved by the Park Ranger telling the kids that it was now their responsibility to tell everyone they knew about Shenandoah National Park and to work hard to keep the Park preserved and protected for their grandchildren. We love exploring parks and trails; and I would love my kids to share these same adventures with their kids and so on. It was such a gift to return to Skyline Drive and recall my time there with my parents and brother.
The entry to Skyline Drive is only about 3 1/2 hours from our house in NJ; the 105 miles is slow going; but like a good meal, it is best to take your time! I totally recommend this trip for your family.