our book club reads happy books!

Shenandoah Adventure!


Or… accidental camping trip!

On my way!



I call it an accidental camping trip because when I signed up for it at the last-minute, I pictured cushy hotel rooms, beautiful views (which I would enjoy sitting on a comfy chair with an adult beverage in my hand) and restaurant meals. I was mistaken! (but not too sadly)

Here’s my “cushy room”:


After I got used to the musty smell, I actually kind of loved my room. The wood paneling is made from the original Chestnut trees that used to abound in the Shenandoah forest, but which are now sadly no longer there. (No, an abundance of  wood paneling was not the cause! An Asian chestnut blight was the culprit)

Upon arrival, I headed for my first hike, Mary’s summit:


fri hike

If this trail looks a little steep, do not be fooled – it was actually very steep! And this was just the beginning of the trail. But the trail lunch at the top was delicious and the view  was spectacular.

group fri

(Note spectacular view in background)

On Saturday morning a couple of us got up to watch the sunrise at Big Meadow. It was one of many favorite things I did all weekend. It was beautiful, quiet, and another opportunity for deer watching.


Saturday morning it was breakfast at the campground where my niece and her husband were camping. (Yes, all my delicious restaurant meals turned in to delicious campground meals. Which would have been fine except for the cooking and cleaning up part!)

A rare event that should be captured on digital image when it is observed…

Pat cooking!


Our Saturday morning hike was the Milam Gap trail and this was my favorite hike of the weekend. An easy trail through a beautiful forest. The sights, colors and sounds were beautiful.


pretty trail

We came to a small clearing that had flowering bushes with hundreds of butterflies flitting around. This picture does not come close to conveying how enchanting it was:


Another great thing about this hike: it was the only one our entire group did together – and there was no crying of fighting!

group sat

And now we come to Saturday’s hike. In all fairness to my hiking companions, they did warn me that it was “challenging” and was mostly a rock scramble. But they also told me the panoramic view from the top was awesome. I have no picture of the view from the top because I did not bring my camera, because I needed both hands to cling for dear life to the rocks so I would not tumble to my death off the side of a mountain.

Here is a picture of the trail I found on the internet:


At one point I was sure I was going to get one of my limb stuck in the rocks and I would have to cut it off to free myself like Aron Ralston in “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”. But then I remembered that I didn’t have a dull pocketknife with me. And I was with about 7 other people, most of whom had cell phones. So, I kept crawling to the top. The view was pretty nice, but I had a hard time enjoying it because I was too busy worrying that someone was going to fall off the mountain.

A word about wildlife: we saw deer and butterflies too numerous to count, turkey, vultures, hawks… and bears!

Photographic evidence of bears!

It was a truly great weekend. It was beautiful and  relaxing (Well, the rock scramble, not so much. Being without TV or internet, kind of nice…but I am glad to have it back!) Best of all was getting to spend an extended amount of time with family. Even though they duped me into quasi camping, I’m so glad they did!



A Taste of Summer

Is there a food that just says “summer” to you?


I had my first tomato sandwich of the summer yesterday. As always, it took me back to my childhood summers, when I would have a tomato sandwich almost everyday, with tomatoes picked from one of the tomato plants growing outside our kitchen door.

I was shocked early in our marriage when my husband told me he was never allowed to eat tomato sandwiches. He was told “put some meat on that. Tomato sandwiches are for poor people.” Who knew!

When my son saw me making my sandwich he commented, “you could make a BLT with that. That’s just a T. ” But it’s not. Each bite is a memory of summers of the past.

Now, as then, I ate my tomato sandwich on toasted white bread with mayo, salt, and pepper. Now, as then, I ate it with a book propped in front of me so I could read as I ate.

Thanks for the delicious tomatoes, Pat!