Long time, no blog! I had planned to spend a few days in the DC area and central Virginia for Halloween festivities and a horse race, which were fun diversions and a great time to restock, swap out clothes, and drop off items I found I did or didn’t need in the van (goodbye 2nd cooking pan and half my shoes).

Between my initial visit through now, I’ve packed in the celebrations and visits with family and friends. I made a ridiculous costume for a Harry Potter group theme (don’t want to brag but we may have been invited to compete onstage at an 80s cover band show costume contest). We were unicorns in a field of horses at the Montpelier Races tailgate competition. I visited my parents in Delaware and spent time at my friend’s parents’ lake house. Went to an awesome concert in DC. I made my gazillionth salad for Thanksgiving and ate myself into a food coma with my parents and their friends. The holidays kicked off with prop-laden viewing parties of Christmas Vacation (ties, glow sticks, pine air freseners) and Die Hard (cap guns, lighters, twinkies). My friends’ annual Christmakuh celebration was filled with white elephant gifts, the airing of grievances, and dirty 12 Days of Christmas carols. Have enjoyed many fires in indoor and outdoor fireplaces. I feel like Buddy the Elf over here with more to come!

But back to the hiatus- while at the horse race, my host friends had just discovered that their longtime nanny had a family emergency and had to leave, so they asked if I might stay for a bit to take care of their kiddo. Not my original plan for sure, and had to drop the trip around TN, KY, OH & PA I’d planned for between then and Thanksgiving, but had a fun time getting to know my friends Annelee and Craig better and spending time with their little one I shall call Yurtie (not real name but they hate it when I call her that so of course it shall continue for all eternity). I got to test out a bunch of child development ideas for kids younger than I’d worked with in school which improved my understanding of this toddler age and how they get to the age I taught. Plus I got to go to *super cool* things with Yurtie like baby yoga, music together class, baby gym, and painful storytimes at a bookstore which took all my self control not to push the staff offstage and read… better. I got a few bite and scratch scars as souvenirs but more fun memories and snuggles. We spent lots of time on walks, at the playground, at the library, singing, and I introduced her to messy fun like playdough, paint, water play, and puddle jumping. I’ll miss that little nugget but am glad to go back to my childless travels soon. Love you, Yurtie!

In between childcare days I took off on little weekend trips around central Virginia. I had one nice weather weekend in early November and took off to Shenandoah and the Washington & Jefferson forest for the weekend, stopping off at a few cute breweries along the way. I found a nice quiet spot on a forest road in the mountains for the night- one of the few spits not taken by hunters- and had planned to get up super early to climb Old Rag mountain the next day but on my way down the winding hill road my whole shelving wall pulled the screws out from the van wall and toppled over, so instead I spent my morning fixing that and reinforcing the attachments. Booooo. Perhaps a sign of changes to come. Nothing fell out really so my bungee situation was successful, so that’s a plus? Anyway didn’t have enough time with the shorter daylight hours to do that long of a hike, so just did a few shorter ones in Shenandoah National Park instead. There was some icy patches despite it being close to 60 degrees in the valley so perhaps a good thing I didn’t do my original plan anyway.

Another weekend a friend and I met up at an ex-coworker’s adorable historic inn in Tappahannock, VA. It was so great to see Janet’s B&B and stay the weekend with her, my friend Destani, and their doggies.

I visited family in the Roanoke area before heading home for Thanksgiving. It was so nice to spend the day with my aunt and uncle and my cousin and her husband. We looked at old photos, compared road trip stories (they’ve had a lifetime of great trips!), and got to see their church & Wendy’s tradition in action. My aunt and uncle are undoubtedly Wendy’s best and most loyal customers. I’ve never felt closer to a fast food chain than I was that day. How nice to see them after too long. I drove by the Roanoke star overlooking the city and drove along a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive on my way to DC, and stopped off at a few cute wineries and did a fun yet icy rock scramble hike in the park. Cold but beautiful.

I did get to see some of the sights in Charlottesville while there, too. I did a tour of Monticello, stopped at the Michie Tavern which had lovely colonial era holiday decorations, saw lots of cool murals and artwork, and sat by the fire at some cool local wineries and restaurants.

Home for the Christmas then excited to hit the road again. I’m super antsy after staying put for as long as I’ve been traveling. It’ll be like starting all over again I guess. Departure part 2, coming your way!

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