It’s June 2013. June. This entire year has been lost to a void and yet filled to the brim with many-many experiences. At some point we need to stop blogging about Avery’s GBS, but it has consumed us. Everything we do all week long is in some way related to his recovery. Every time I leave my house, it is for him. The conversations turn from every angle, back to Avery. There is nothing on our calendar for the remainder of the summer that isn’t for Avery. Therapy, baseball, appointments. It’s not that we aren’t doing anything else, but all other doings are happening organically, as they arise.
Yesterday we were treated to breakfast and a community bike ride that raised more than $2200 for Avery’s expenses. It was intense. We were greeted by so many well wishes and by the time I finished saying thank you and catching up with a few tables, I missed several others who finished mopping their syrupy plates and were on their way off for the weekend. We caught back up to some during the ride, where children corralled around Erick, our neighborhood ice cream tricyclists. The energy was incredibly positive. Laughter, that perfect weather we have been able to enjoy this late into spring, a community of strong leaders, proud riders, and friends.
There were several people behind the scenes making yesterday’s benefit events possible. Thank you Cara and Thomas, Stacy and Matt, Byron and Lynn, Linda and her kitchen posse, John, Jaye, Tom and Bill, Joel, and anyone else I didn’t know about, but deserve a lot of extra credit. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
To those who joined in the festivities, it was the best party I have every attended. Neighbors and friends. Colleagues and crew. School family and acquaintances. All dining or riding around town together. He-yah!
Speaking of parties, my 33 and 3/3rds birthday is approaching. We simply must celebrate. Hugs and high-fives for everyone!
This is Our 2012 Summer Excursion series recapping our experiences from June 3-August 3 by time and location. Please let me know if you would like more details about anything and I will do my best to work them in or reply personally. Follow the TAG to get the full story. It’s the summer that never ends…it goes on and on my friends…
On Day 51 we arrived home from Elkins, WV after a near three week stay. It was a difficult choice for me, as home is one of the last places I want to go, when given the options, but it was a necessary stop for Brent. He had been trying to work on the road all summer, and doing a fairly disastrous job of it. No fault of his own, it’s all mine. I owned all his time.
D52-55: We spent a great deal of time at home being lazy. There was friend time and cooking of real food, hot meals. There was a lot of loafing about, watching the telly. The last full day at home I drove the children out to Target to pick up school supplies and uniform parts. We hunted for items on my long list of things to fix around the house, since we had some extra summer job money. And it was very hot out (as noted in my journal).
Summer and I are not friends. More like colleagues. The sun may put me in a chipper mood after days of cloudy weather, and I do enjoy a longer ‘day,’ but I don’t care for its glare, UV radiation, and heat. Summer, in our backyard, also means mosquitoes. With all the outdoor time we had packed away this summer, I didn’t have a single bite to report until we got home. It was a blood feast in our own yard. Everywhere in the neighborhood actually. It made tending the overgrown garden unbearable. It had me keeping the children indoors. If I recall correctly, it was also a nasty year for West Nile nationwide.
I welcomed the indoor refuge, the air conditioning, and yes, even the cabin of my van on some of these days. I noted in my journal that on that Thursday, July 26, after doing my Barboursville errands, I drove to the Wild Ramp. It’s a bikeable distance, but I was already in my cozy haven away from all that nasty sunshine warmth, and I kept right on to Heritage Station.
We had tried to keep our home AC off for 2012. The late spring time was ok, and early summer not too bad. We ran into an issue when condensation started building up in our basement. A wet basement leads to mold. We tried a dehumidifier and salt trays, but because it’s a walkout basement, we weren’t having much success. Flipping on the AC for a few hours, dried it up quickly. We tried to keep the thermostat higher than usual, to make the transition from indoor to outdoor less dramatic, but steadily it crept down. We attempted a number of other techniques too. Maybe we can find a better solution to energy conservation in 2013.
D56: Friday, July 27, we packed up the van again, for the third time this summer. We tidied up the house for the sitter, and drove back to Heritage Station before departing town one last time. I grabbed some locally roasted coffee beans and quinoa granola to share with our next hosts, very old friends of mine.
The drive to North Carolina was very stormy. We decided at one point to exit the highway and do some grocery shopping until some of it blew over.
We arrived at Janna and Matt’s in Charlotte, just in time for dinner and a movie.
D57: We had a movie mantra working in Charlotte. A marathon of old flicks for the children up to an early dinner time with Janna’s whole family. I have known them all since ’98 and it’s a reunion with every visit. Parents, nephew, sister, and inlaws. This time we had an extra treat of some new friends. It was great to meet Kirstin and Dennis and their fellows. Musicians. Alaskan native. They had a couple of fun travel and children war stories to share. On our way back to Janna’s we threw in a stop at EarthFare and loaded up on some bulk bin goodies. Granola, quinoa and lentils, that would set us up for meals a plenty while on the beach the remainder of the week.
D58: There’s a simple pleasure in the company of friends. Sharing in meals, stories, laughter, the togetherness. We soaked up quite a bit of Matt’s cooking. Hot breakfasts everyday. The children were willingly subdued in their tiny space with more movies and two dogs to love on.
We packed up mid Sunday, and left for South Carolina, where we were meeting up with friends from Florida at a beach house in Murrells Inlet, south of Myrtle Beach. I should probably mention here, we didn’t bring our bicycles for this last portion of the trip. We made a choice to leave the bikes home for this one week. Neither of our friends in NC or SC would be riding with us, and when looking over maps of the areas we would be in, biking didn’t look like a reasonable option.
We pulled into the carport of the beach house (under the house) moments before our friends Nick and Angela, who spent their entire day on the road with two small children. Throwing frozen pizzas in the oven for dinner, we gave huge hugs to our old Huntington friends, divided up bedrooms and called it a day.
This is Our 2012 Summer Excursion series recapping our experiences from June 3-August 3 by time and location. Please let me know if you would like more details about anything and I will do my best to work them in or reply personally. Follow the TAG to get the full story. Maybe I will get through the whole trip before 2013 (it’s NYE, so maybe not)!
D33: July 4 should have been full of fireworks and bbqs and flags and maybe even parades, if you have some sort of traditional holiday flair you follow. While I am not into tradition, it was great to have been invited to a block party on our first day in a new town that had all of the above. As our history would have it, we lived in Buckhannon, WV (west of Elkins) for two years, and I worked in Elkins for part of that time. We met some great people and fell in love with this mountain community before moving to Huntington six and half years ago. One of those great people, Beth King, handles the community arts center, where I worked. She invited us to the block party! Hurray for Beth! As time would pass, many of those faces would cross our path again at the bookstore, bike shop, tennis camp, grocery, and on the street. A small town intimacy; warm and welcoming.
D34-49: The four children and I filled our days as best we could while Brent worked 12-14 hour days. We dined together as a family every night in the Davis & Elkins cafeteria and enjoyed breakfast at the Graceland Mansion every morning. Lunch was a toss up. Some days we had lunch together, and some not. Having the opportunity to be on campus with him for those weeks was invaluable to the children and for our relationship. I may not have been able to get any time away from the children, but knowing I might get 30minutes of shared parenting a few times a day gave my mommy voice a rest, and let me close my eyes just a bit to the hyper-vigilance we kept while living in a hotel. Last year we stayed in Huntington while he worked the Governor’s School for the Arts. It wasn’t impossible for me, I enjoy temporary challenges such as these, but it wasn’t ideal.
To make this entry less cumbersome, you can browse the photo gallery below, complete with captions, of our Elkins stay. It covers what we ate since we didn’t have a kitchen, how we kept our sanity living in one room, with two beds, the local bike culture, where we spent our money on extra-curriculars for the children, our geocaching finds, the views, the people, the fluff.
Spoiler: In terms of bicycling, Elkins was the best! We never drove in town, we didn’t need to, everything was very, very close to where we were staying. We walked most places and biked when we needed/wanted to save time/have more fun. I never saw another child on bikes outside of the bike parade and the park. I rarely saw other riders in general. Not sure why. Maybe they are more of a walking community? It was ideal for us. I was so spoiled, that thinking about going home to a 2.5mile ride to grocery was daunting.
I drove to Beverly twice, 10miles south of town for London’s Girl Scout camp, and utilized a carpool for her other trips to camp. Otherwise, the van just sat in the parking lot until the day we left. It even attracted ants. Ever have a vehicle with a pest problem?
D50-51: The day before the summer program ended we were presented with a room charge for some of the damages the children inflicted on the hotel. It’s an unsettling story involving play dough in the carpet and a five year old who wet the unprotected mattress, (I don’t want to get into details but feel welcome to ask me about it anytime. Great reason to invite us over, stop by, or meet up, eh?).
So on day 50, Saturday July 21, the program ended. We had the car packed up and we drove off to Buckhannon for dinner and a drive around our old stomping grounds. We booked a hotel in Charleston, WV, an hour from home, so we could swim and jump on the beds and decompress before tossing our house sitter out one more time before our full Summer Excursion would end.
Our plans to bike and camp the Greenbriar Trail system with friends never came together. Brent was concerned about work at Marshall and an exhibit he was invited to participate with at the Clay Center. We headed home before our beach trip. I was glad we weren’t out on the trail, post derecho, in the rain, as forecasted, but I wasn’t happy to be going home. My heart is with my family and friends (new and old), following a map around the country side, city scape, coast lines, and mountain towns. Such a gypsy.
That’s Elkins in a blog-post nutshell. Wasn’t it dreamy? Next up, our spat at home and our last week on the road, in Charlotte, NC and Myrtle Beach, SC.
Note: I tried to include as much photography as I could, but I left out a great deal! I don’t know where it went. Maybe on the phone? Anyway. It was fun, fabulous and we hope to have more of the same again. More small spaces, more outside adventures, more new people, more crazy.
This is Our 2012 Summer Excursion series recapping our experiences from June 3-August 3 by time and location. Please let me know if you would like more details about anything and I will do my best to work them in or reply personally. Follow the TAG to get the full story.
We spent all our travels without a cooler or a stove/oven. The cooler would have taken up precious space and require the purchase of ice constantly. We did carry a camp stove with us (borrowed from a friend), but never brought it out. We thought we were going to use it, but found that with the quantity of food we needed to prepare, it was going to take a pot too large for the stove, or too much time, and too much fuel. We ate from the grocery. If we purchased dairy, we consumed it straight away. The vegetable peeler and the can opener were essential tools. I had one plastic container with a tight sealing lid we made an ever lasting and forever changing trail mix in, dumping new goods into it all the time. There was always peanut butter. We started with bread loaves, but then moved to tortillas. Those lasted longer, didn’t crush and took up less space. We tried to stay close to real food as much as possible, but understood the grain hungry children and bought crackers, pretzels and such on occasion. We never ate fast food, we ate out occasionally for a meal, and always for ice cream.
Not many people knew were were back in Huntington, so we saw the neighbors, and little of anyone else. I cleaned the house top to bottom, washed the van, caught up the laundry, and read a couple months worth of magazines in our mound of mail before the electric returned at 4pm.
Many people in the area wouldn’t see relief from the heat or refrigerators with power for another week (some longer).
July 2, a Monday, I spent a great deal of time ‘catching up’ online. I checked on bills, checked in with social media. Brent rode to work and to get groceries and we made a hot meal for the first time in a month. Scrambled eggs and veggie rollups and pasta with sauce. Quick and easy.
Day 32: Fortunately Elkins, WV returned to the grid well enough for us to head that way on Tuesday July 3. We wrapped up laundry, repacked, leaving behind the bike trailer, the camping stove, pot and cooking utensils, and anything we felt we might not need on the second half our summer. We were scheduled for three weeks in Elkins, followed by some undetermined travel (options included the Greenbriar trail for bike camping, Charlotte, NC, extended time in Elkins, Washington DC), then a week in South Carolina with friends at the beach before return home to start school and classes.
We left our drive way one more time at noon thirty, July 3, with 2837.9miles on the trip-odometer. It took $53.30 to fill up the tank before leaving the city limits. We managed a non-stop drive to Elkins in 3 hours. Brent checked us in to the Graceland Inn (inn side, not mansion side), where the faculty had accommodations and we ended up crashing piling in as well (we tried all year to find another place). He attended a faculty meeting, then we all went to a family and staff dinner at the program chair’s house.
It was an interesting discussion. We had driven all the way to Elkins, parked at the inn, looked at the map to the hosts house and decided to drive there. Being such a very small town, in hindsight, we should have ridden bikes, however, we took a tour around town in the car to scout out possible bike routes and find the grocery. It’s all about access to food with me.
After we returned to the inn, where we would set up ‘house’ for the following three weeks, we re-introduced the children to geo-caching. Tina and Matthew had taught us all about this scavenger hunt like hobby in Yellow Springs, OH. It became our go-to activity in Elkins, filling little voids of time and making for some interesting adventures. I surprised myself by paying $10 for the app (I’ve never paid for apps). This small purchase was an indicator for more frivolous spending to come. The gateway way saying of “it is just/only” $10.
Davis and Elkins, the campus we were staying on, had three caches. We searched for two, and found one. It was the beginning of what would be three wonderful weeks in the mountains.
While we were away this summer a new food market opened their doors in Heritage Station, downtown. We were fairly frequent patrons of River & Rail Bakery at the station already, but now The Wild Ramp is seeing more of our happy faces, sometimes three days a week. The money we have saved with our cycling lifestyle has shifted to better quality food. Their timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
The Wild Ramp is a different kind of market. They carry goods grown closer to where we live. 90% of the price we pay is given back to the farmers. 100% of their staff is volunteering their time. It was a simple decision to support this market. I started by hosting sewing workshops (not the one linked, but two subsequent ones) for their Friends of the Market shopping bags, upcycled from old feed sacks. Then they asked me to write online reviews to help spread positive feedback. Then I was asked to join the Kickstarter crowd sourced funding committee. Most recently I assisted with organizing the pumpkin decorating party that went on last Saturday. All these things I could do from home with my children, which makes volunteering even more rewarding, as I can include the whole family and model the values we prioritize.
The Wild Ramp is my community hub. We go there to see our friends and neighbors and meet new people. We learn a lot of about the food we eat, the growing seasons, and the families who are feeding us. We feel even more connected to Huntington and feel empowered by their support of our local economy. They are geographically closer to home, on Brent’s way home from work, and in a neighborhood I frequently find myself when downtown.
Congratulations to The Wild Ramp, but more importantly to the people of our region who now have a local food market that gives back to them and all those we call a part of our community.