This weekend we went to Shenandoah Valley with some other good friends from our last post. They are here for language refresher, as well, but they are headed out to post a few months ahead of us. So we were keen to try an get our families together before we head off to different parts of the globe. On our way into the park there was a notice for a blackberry festival going on at Skyline, which is about mile marker 40-something. If you've ever been to Shenandoah you know it is an enormous park and the road that goes through the park is single line and very windy. Most cars cruise at about 25-35mph, so it can be slow going. Unfortunately the blackberry festival was not quite as we had pictured it to be (we could hardly even find fresh blackberries - mostly it seemed to be a lot of local crafts), so we wasted a lot of our hiking time with travel too and from the festival because the hike we went on was back at mile marker 9! We had chosen an easy hike to a waterfall that was supposed to be a little over a mile roundtrip because our friends have two little ones and we had N with us. It turned out that the hike was rather steep, and we didn't even make it to the waterfall before N started to break down. Luckily their kids were also pretty cranky so it was a team decision to turn around and head back without catching a glimpse of the falls. Unfortunately for us, the way back was all uphill. N was close to a complete break down, so Husband grabbed him and took off for the car. I was left with A, whose little legs just could not make it up that steep path. I ended up having to have him jump on for a piggy back, and I hiked all the way back up with that 35lb ruck sack on my back! I was a sweaty mess! Luckily our friends were familiar with a local restaurant, The Apple House, whose apple doughnuts are to die for! There is a really neat looking soft serve stand next door, but we were too stuffed from lunch to try it out this time.
After we made it back to our part of VA, I met up for dinner and drinks with my friend J who just got back to the US to begin a 2-year assignment here. It was great to catch up, and since she's just around the corner from us hopefully we'll actually get to see each other.** Today we took it easy(ish) and caught up on our food shopping. Then I took a page from my own teenage rebel days and helped C streak her hair red. It was so fun that my MIL and V also decided to get a few of their own!
*I asked multiple times because we simply could not believe that her mother was okay with us bringing 6(!!!) children to her home!
**Most of my friends working DC assignments are hardly around thanks to their long hours and long commutes (not many people can afford to leave in/near DC on what the State Department pays in base salary)