Dating Around Lynchburg

Micah and I had a relaxed Valentine’s Day spent on the couch watching movies, wedding planning, and enjoying the delicious foods he planned and prepared throughout the day. Even though we didn’t have an extravagant Valentine’s Day, I decided to plan several dates as a gift to Micah. Once month, up until the wedding, I planned a special date combining things we’ve done and loved (baseball and ice cream) and things we’ve been wanting to do (Monticello and a farm to table restaurant in Charlottesville).

The Ploughcroft Tea Room
The Ploughcroft Tea Room

Friday night was the first date. It was Micah’s day off but I still had class so our activities were planned around that schedule. After I finished my work shift, Micah picked me up and we headed downtown for lunch at the Ploughcroft Tea Room on Commerce Street. I went last year as a field trip for my Modern England class and thought about Micah enjoying it the whole time since he’s such a tea snob. The lovely little restaurant is owned by an English woman who has fashioned the place to serve authentic English Tea. I’ve been telling him he needed to try it for months so of course, I had to include it on our Lynchburg date.

Kensington Chicken Salad
Kensington Chicken Salad
Nottingham Hill Chicken Salad
Nottingham Hill Chicken Salad

I had the Kensington Chicken Salad which was a curried chicken salad on mixed greens with a delicious raspberry vinaigrette. Micah had the Nottingham Hill Chicken Salad which was a fruity/nutty chicken salad served the same way. We both had a delicious warm cheddar dill scone on the side. Of course, I let Micah pick the tea and he went for the Darjeeling, which Ploughcroft describes as the champagne of teas!

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Handsome as Ever

We couldn’t leave downtown without checking to see if Mama Crockett’s food truck was parked somewhere. They have delicious apple cider donuts sold out of an enticingly turquoise fifth wheel. They’ve got a 1/2 dozen bag for $5 and a baker’s dozen for $9.

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The Mama Crockett’s Fifth Wheel

image10 image11I had to return to campus after dessert for my only class of the day. But, there were big plans ahead for the evening. I knew I wanted to go see a show with Micah for our Lynchburg date and Abigail and Anna’s musical obsession has rubbed off I suppose because when I saw that Lynchburg College was doing “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” I knew we’d be heading outside of the “Liberty bubble” for our date.

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All dressed up!
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Awaiting the Show!

We had a lot of fun getting dressed up, pretending like Lynchburg College students and driving around campus finding the fraternity and sorority houses. The show was a nice little adventure and I’m sure we’ll keep checking back to see what shows they do in the future. It took me back to when I was in school back home going to local productions.

When we got back to my house, we made a Blueberry Custard Pie to take advantage of Micah’s cheat day to the fullest!

Date #1 was a success I’d say! I’m excited to take Micah contra dancing in Roanoke next month!

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The Devil’s Bathtub – Duffield Virginia

The forecast is calling for snow overnight, but I’ve got spring fever! After getting the “running out of storage space” notification several times I decided to go through the photos on my phone and move them to my computer. I couldn’t just quickly transfer the hundreds of photos from the summer without looking through them! After scrolling through photos of summer days spent mowing, at the beach, in the hammock, or in the mountains I simply had to share what has become one of my favorite hiking spots – the Devil’s Bathtub.

I first heard about the spot when a work pal mentioned it back home in Bristol. He described it as absolutely breathtaking but extremely difficult to find. He was right on all accounts. For those of you in the Tri-Cities area I’ll include a photo of my handwritten directions that should be prove to be much easier to understand than the confusing directions online full of state route numbers that don’t always match up with the actual streets names.

Take the exit near Zaxby's in Kingsport toward Gate City and these directions will get you there!
Take the exit near Zaxby’s in Kingsport toward Gate City and these directions will get you there!

Last summer when Micah came to visit one weekend, Abigail, Micah, and I decided to brave the sketchy directions and find the spot that promised to be an adventure. After an entire morning getting lost out past Gate City – I will never forget the confusion and frustration of Alley Valley Drive . . . don’t turn here – we finally found someone out in the middle of no where to ask for directions. We weren’t far from the abandoned white house listed on our directions.

The parking area by the Devil’s Fork Loop trail head, though elusive, led us right to the starting point. The trail makes a huge loop about seven miles, but there’s a fork you can take (left) just after the first creek crossing that will allow you to reach the tub in only 2 miles. After about a dozen creek crossings  in the clearest coldest mountain stream that requires getting your leg wet at least up to your knee in some spots, you will finally come to the large swimming hole – not the actual tub. The immediate approach requires descending a narrow ledge that drops down into a smaller swimming hole.

The Lower Swimming Hole beneath the ledge
The Lower Swimming Hole beneath the ledge
Abigail at the lower swimming hole - the water level was way down on this trip
Abigail at the lower swimming hole – the water level was way down on this trip

On our first trip, we missed the fork and hiked a very steep incline for about a mile before turning around and taking the fork upon the advice of a very confused hiker on his way down. The trail at the fork is relatively flat though the not clearly marked at all the creek crossings and may require a bit of searching before setting out across.

Clear Mountain Water
Clear Mountain Water

Okay, all that to say this spot is positively dreamy and even though you might convince yourself you can’t handle the *freezing* cold water it’s going to lure you in and before you know it you’ll be screaming as your toes hit the chilly depths. The canopy of trees make the tub – which sits out of sight upstream from the large swimming hole – feel ethereal as the stream tumbles down the rocky bed down the mountain.

If you have the slightest appreciation of nature and enjoy hiking this is a worthwhile day hike.

On both occasions I’ve made this hike the lower pool has had several groups of hikers hanging out and daring to jump in but the bathtub upstream is usually more secluded. The trail has been better maintained since my first hike and last time I went had a marker at the fork to point out the short cut.

Now, a sneak peek of what you’ll see and a trip down the happiest block of memory lane for me!

The tub when the water level was low. Absolutely gorgeous!
The tub when the water level was low. Absolutely gorgeous!
The tub on a later trip when the water level was higher
The tub on a later trip when the water level was higher
The falls at the large swimming hole
The falls at the large swimming hole

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Bursting Out of My Comfort Zone

Last Spring’s Snowy Semester

The spring semester, my final semester of undergrad, has begun. Students are everywhere, bundled in fashionable layers to withstand the cold windy campus while rushing to class. Of course, along with this rather romantic description of campus I must include the girl wandering around in flip flops defying common sense and making me colder just looking at her toes!

This semester is going to be a change of pace for me. Normally, most of my classes are history courses meaning lots of papers and lots of reading. But, I’ve saved my free electives for this term and it’s thrown me in all sorts of atmospheres in which I feel totally out of place.

History + Art = 🙂

First, let’s talk about Art History. Now I’m sure you’re thinking, “Isn’t that just another history course?” No, it is not. This course is offered through the Art Department not the History Department. The first day of class when walking through the syllabus, the class turned to stare at the history major whose jaw hit the floor when the professor offered extra credit for taking notes and even gave a sympathetic excuse for shy students who wanted to skip the presentation assignment. These art kids walk in with their tiny Moleskines and trendy notebooks while I’m sitting there with my college-ruled 30 cent Walmart notebook, thank you very much. Truth be told, I’m wondering why I’ll never be that cool as I roll my jeans up one more cuff.

Then there’s Film as Art. This course is taught by a faculty member from the English Department. The theater style seating is occupied by students from many different majors who all put on their horn rimmed glass, turn up their noses, and talk about how brilliant Buster Keaton

Buster Keaton

is and how some movie you’ve never heard of positively changed their life. I indulge in the occasional pretentious conversation, but I can’t help but be a tad annoyed at my class mates. Perhaps it’s just embarrassment, wondering how I never knew who Buster Keaton was til now and being proud that Pride and Prejudice will always be in my top 5 favorite movies. Regardless, I am thrilled to be in this class and can’t wait to be *that* person after a movie.

Last, I decided to make a healthy choice and enroll in Beginning Running. I sort of knew what I was in for because during the fall I saw the running class going around campus following their fearless leader who stood out on his trail bike. When I walked into class, I suddenly felt that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. All the exercise science students sat there wearing enviable running gear while I had on a tee shirt and basketball style shorts. Toward the end of last semester, the running class disappeared . . . I no longer saw them running when the weather became cold so I assumed they moved to the gym. I dressed for running in the gym. As student after student walked in wearing thermal shirts, toboggans, and gloves I realized I was going to freeze.

Sure enough we ran a mile and a half out in the below-freezing temperature. I was the girl several students ran up to and offered their jackets while others came up to ask if I was cold. If you want to feel like everyone is staring at you, run around a freezing campus in a group of appropriately dressed runners while wearing shorts and a tee shirt. My chilly fingers moved in slow motion after coming back inside.

I’m excited. I like being thrown out of my comfort zone and adapting to new situations. I’m sure I’ll be strutting around in Patagonia and Nike bragging about my time for the five mile race before the semester has ended. Who knows, maybe some of the cool from Art will rub off on me and I’ll be turning up my nose with the best of them at the very mention of an Adam Sandler flick.

Leisurely Morning with Darcy

I love slow mornings. As much as I may try to convince myself that I’m not a morning person, I just can’t help but enjoy being awake before everyone else and leisurely starting the day. Don’t get my wrong, those warm blankets are terribly enticing and have tricked me into spending many a morning scrolling through Instagram in bed. Anna, my sister and house mate, has been able to experience my early morning wakefulness as I drive her to work while she’s still groggy and I’m ready to chat away about the day ahead.

Three days out of my week begin with a class at 11:30. This means I can have those leisurely mornings more often than I ever have as a college student. However, within the next three weeks I have three major research papers and a short presentation due along with my daily homework for my five classes. Needless to say, it feels like I’m going from morning til midnight these days.

This morning I had a beautiful respite from the day’s busyness. I woke up to a clean cozy room, hopped out of bed and started getting dressed. When I walked out of my room, I was met by a friend that greets me almost every single morning –  one of my favorite parts of my morning routine.

The view from my room looks something like this:

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This is Darcy, Anna’s German Shepherd/Border Collie pup. She’s some of the best company and will lick anything and everything beyond what you might think is possible.

Then she hears me outside and starts pawing and licking and making noises under the door. I can’t just open the door and let her out. Of course I bend down and take a peek at her through the crack underneath. It is the cutest morning greeting and who doesn’t want to wake up to a pup that is thrilled to see you?

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The lazy morning continued with Darcy shadowing me. Staring while I made breakfast. Staring while I ate breakfast. Staring while I packed my backpack.

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Taking a slow morning will have to happen more often. Maybe I’ll break out the pumpkin pancakes and see how well Anna stays in bed then!

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Do you have any rituals that make your mornings bright?

So It Begins

Beauty is everywhere. Those with eyes to see it will find life filled with whimsy.

With that belief firmly established in my mind, I begin this blog dedicated to making much out of what may seem insignificant.

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Exposed Root System

As a senior history major, every day finds itself filled with endless tasks and stresses. As a beauty addict, this can be nearly detrimental to caring for myself. It is all too easy for me to get entirely caught up in deadlines, grades, and schedules planned out in fifteen minute increments. Thus, this blog became something of a necessity.

I currently have a bit of a private beauty outlet in my Tumblr, but I felt that it would do good to have a place to extol the specific elements of beauty and wonder I find in my own experience, if for no other reason than to remind myself that life is so much more than keeping my head down and mind on the urgent.

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Succulents Make Me Weak in the Knees!

Several things have deeply influenced me in regard to appreciating life. First, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voksamp. Her short book takes on beauty in the details of life from a religious perspective – in short, God blesses us with bits and pieces of who He is in the world He has given us. It documents Voksamp’s own journey to find 1,000 gifts in her every day life that, no matter how simple, point back to the beauty of the Creator. Though I read this book years ago, it still influences the way that I seek and find beauty in minute details (Voksamp speaks of beauty in the soap suds). Life is beautiful. We live in a world full of incredible wonders just awaiting our observation.

Second, the film About Time. If you haven’t seen it, stop what you’re doing – well, you can finish reading this post – and watch it. I don’t want to spoil the plot for anyone, but the concept in my header – the extraordinary ordinary – comes directly from this film. The story follows a young British man who has a spectacular gift – time travel. Upon maturing and learning about the brevity and beauty of life, he realizes that, even without his gift, the ordinary parts of life are actually quite extraordinary, if only he has the proper perspective. My synopsis makes the film rather “lesson-oriented,” but I assure you, it is filled with whimsy, wit, and all kinds of extraordinary ordinary beauty.

Third, Owl City’s song “Plant Life.” This song is filled with playful imagery and captivating lyrics as seemingly elusive as my 10th grade algebra textbook. The music first caught my ear and endless replays led to a full appreciation of the lyrics. There’s a line in it: “I’d rather waltz than just walk through the forest” That’s how I want to live life. Sure I could walk straight through and that’s perfectly fine, but really, I’d rather see life as a waltz through the forest.

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Flying over the Blue Ridge Mountains

So what kind of things will I put on here? In some ways, I don’t even know. Life is full of surprises. It only makes sense that this outlet of beauty in the fullness of life would be full of surprises as well.

I’m not a beginner when it comes to squealing over soft puppy kisses, home made apple pie fresh out of the oven, or a yard full of millions of dandelion seeds (yes, I have seen this). Maybe it’s just that I’m indecisive, but I’m not limiting myself in what I will blog about. It may be a new pencil skirt with the chambray top I’m particularly proud of or it may be a monologue about the season of transition I’m about to enter or it may even be lots of brag photos about the aforementioned apple pie.

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My sister dipping her toes in the Devil’s Bathtub

If you know me, maybe you’ll appreciate the updates on my life. If not, welcome! I hope you’ll find this spot a place you want to come back to. I know for me, it will be a haven – an escape from the chaos to enjoy the beauty of the extraordinary ordinary.

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Hi there! It’s me!