country


This weekend was wonderful. With three days all ours, we piled into cars and drove to West Virginia after work Friday, taking in a deep sunset and wide moonrise. Take me home, country roads, through the winding mountain pass.

 

A cacophony of laughter and noises and meeting and re-meeting and snacking was heard through the late evening, in between picking rooms and beds and who would ride with whom and what time to leave in the morning. In George “Piney” Williams’ rail house, I chose my own room, accessible only through another person’s room. With a mild throwback to college days, this worked out well, with careful knocks and coordination. Besides, all time was spent out on the mountains!
So, diary-style, here’s what I got into:

Saturday: Skiiing on Snowshoe Mountain

Today was awesome. It snowed all day, just powder, all day. The best conditions on the east coast I can remember for a long time. Fresh snow – 24 inches on the mountain in the previous 48 hours (or was it 24?). I haven’t experienced it many times, and certainly never expected it anywhere within driving distance of Washington, DC. Four hours, though, is quite a hike. Still, for a 3-day weekend, it’s pretty solid. What a day. What a ski day! Few things feel as nice as powder under your skis, especially when you don’t expect it. With the snow, though, came the cold. It dropped and dropped fast. It was also incredibly windy, to the point of nearly knocking me over, nevermind being able to see. But I borrowed extra gloves and stuck toe warmers in my boots, and with a stop for lunch and again in the afternoon, I was okay. We covered a lot of the mountain in the morning, catching lots of blues and some greens. After lunch, we hopped a shuttle to the other, smaller mountain. It’s the only one open for night skiing, so is quieter than the main mountain during the day. I actually enjoyed the blues there better. Plus, fewer people, more powder. Pretty great. Also at the bottom is a tiny food place with what my ski partner called “boozy hot chocolates,” so of course I had to get one. Hot chocolate + peppermint schnapps = warm all over. Mmmm. We finished off with one more small run before heading back. Truly delightful ski day!

The only time I dared take my gloves off to take a picture, and only to showcase some powder.

The only time I dared take my gloves off to take a picture, and only to showcase some powder.

It took us awhile to get everyone together and get back in the cars, but we did, and then I quickly snagged a shower (as speedy as possible as we weren’t entirely sure how much hot water there would be). That felt nice. I changed into comfy sweatpants and went downstairs to help with dinner: fajitas.

 

Then Cards Against Humanity, which was madness and towards the end included the character “Rando” whose primary job it was to put in random cards and sweep us all šŸ˜‰

Sunday: Snowshoeing inĀ Monongahela National Forest

Today was beautiful. Several of us slept in and got together for a delicious breakfast at the other cabin: Belgian waffles, bacon, sausage, eggs with cheese, strawberries. Tea with honey. Really quite something. Then some people went back to the mountain, and 4 of us opted for a slower day, and got packed up for some snowshoeing. I rented a pair (and poles, which I don’t recommend), and we set off for what would become a much steeper hike than we’d planned on, but had a lot of fun all the same. Shedding layers, then adding them. I really enjoy snowshoeing, and it was so pretty out. Quiet. It was neat to walk along tamped down paths right next to places you knew hadn’t been touched by humans, at least that day. We got to the top of the hill where a picnic table was and paused to eat a little food (and put on all the layers we’d dropped on the way up). There were some beautiful vistas, but I now understand the motivational power of the cold: no way was I taking off both pairs of gloves, even on one hand, to take a picture with my phone, and my camera was buried in my pack. I am guessing, then, that the beginning of my Appalachian Trail will not have much in the way of pictures. Especially given how wacky this winter has been. Let’s hope I’m not snowshoeing in March! I am also reconsidering my gloves – I’ve borrowed or added on additional gloves both skiing and snowshoeing.
We probably got back around 3, which was nice. Changed into warm, dry clothes and made hot chocolate and nachos. Board games and reading and munching until dinner!

 

So after dinner, we played a game called “Time’s Up.” It was absolutely hilarious. With teams of two, it’s played in three rounds, something like a Charades/Taboo mix. With a twist: your partner is the only one who can guess. It’s played with the same cards through all three rounds, so you get to know – maybe – all the answers.
Round 1: Taboo with gestures (no saying any words in the answer); unlimited guesses
Round 2: One word, unlimited gestures; 1 guess
Round 3: No words, one gesture; 1 guess
Madness, I tell you! The best kind.

 

Monday was a calm and nice drive back, after a truly glorious weekend.

I was going to write about the fun weekend I had – one of my best friends from high school got married and I was honored to be part of the bridal party. She was the most stunning bride.

But then, as I checked the news, got text alerts, triple checked Twitter, and refreshed several news articles at once, I knew I couldn’t. At least, not now. This morning, one, possibly two, shooters fired at and wounded over a dozen people at the US Navy Yard in Washington, DC. As of right now, 13 people are dead. At first, there were a million conflicting stories, each news agency wanting to be first – and in doing so, wrong. There have already been comparisons to the Red Line metro crash in 2009, which killed 9 people. I was here that summer, too.

I’ve lived in the “DMV” region for 3 years now (DC-MD-VA). The kind of security here is unlike any other. It’s disconcerting to get these kinds of reminders: I live in one of the most targeted, secure places in the country. My last post was on 9/11, and there have been various incidents since then. The DC Sniper. Shots fired near the Capitol, near the White House. Is everything related? Of course not. Violence comes with living anywhere, with living in cities. But the capital of the country, of the “free world,” cannot be overlooked. And so, while it alarms me when I see security officers with M16s (or close equivalent) as well as the traditional handguns and tasers, it’s also a not-so-subtle reminder of where I am. I go about my life not overly concerned with much else besides getting out the door on time, being productive at work, making time for friends, finding good food and things to do, and getting back to my loving bed at the end of a long day. This is interspersed with reminders that, by virtue of living in an area bustling with federal buildings, political organizations, and the people who make this country’s major decisions, I am one of the targets. Did the shooter(s) have a nit with the US Navy? The US military? The US in general? Maybe. Maybe not. These mass shootings tend to have very little relevance to who the victims are – they are random, they are just people, they are just the random innocent people, so that we become scared. As we saw from 9/11, as we see from Boston Strong, and as we will see from this, we are more than that.

Still, it doesn’t do much to take the edge off when I see extra police officers keeping an eye on every metro station on seemingly random days; when the ripple effect of one incident leads to closure of several other buildings and evacuations; when, as in today, the region receives a shelter-in-place alert from both local and national police forces. When the people who spend their careers protecting us get killed in the relative safety of their home offices. The US Navy Yard ought to feel like one of the safest locations for these men and women. Today proved, again, that even the safest places have a risk.

My heart and prayers goes out to all victims today, along with families, friends, and coworkers, as it does whenever anything of this nature happens. Mother Nature has also had some things to say this week: in the midst of our wedding festivities, flooding rolled into Colorado, destroying over 1,000 homes. The “unaccounted for” number continues to decrease, but keep Colorado in your hearts as well as this other tragedy unfolds.