Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas to All!!

I am very happy to wish you a merry Christmas from a cozy seat in my sister's home.  My mom and I made a sneak attack on Huntersville, NC last night in order to bring something very special to a wonderful little girl.  It was the funniest Christmas Eve I've ever had and I'm not sure I'll have one quite like it again.  Sadly, we were detected, but not by my niece, so it didn't take away from the "Santa Magic" we made happen in the yard.  It was absolutely priceless to hear that sweet two-year-old tell us about the amazing things Santa did for her.  "He's a nice guy like my Daddy!"

The beautiful neighborhood of Birkdale Village offers a lot of amenities, including walking trails.  We decided to take advantage of both the trails and the sunshine while I tested my newly downloaded app, Map My Run.  How did I not know about this awesome app?  It's free and follows my routes with terrifying accuracy.  I guess "Big Brother" will be watching, but that's okay as long as I can track the distance of my route, calories burned, and elevation changes.  Worth it!

Two great things about this picture... 1) My mom's shadow: we're professionals here.  2) My "fat", pregnant sister.  Yeah... that's 23 weeks in.

We covered 3.4 miles and we'll probably do something similar tomorrow before I drive home.  I'm always sad to leave this place; it has everything.  Well, not everything.  One thing Birkdale Village doesn't have right now?  My super husband.  He's back in The RVA (Richmond, Virginia for y'all out of staters) working, hanging out with the dogs, and celebrating another year of greatness.

For Brian's birthday, he just wanted to go for a hike in nice weather and bookend that hike with good meals.  Yep, he's easy to please( #luckygirl).

We started with breakfast in Hopewell, VA at a small place "downtown" called Carter's Courthouse Cafe.  It was quaint and well-priced, but don't go there if you're in a hurry.  It's the quintessential "Mom & Pop" restaurant with a very homey feel.  They also have a food challenge Brian wants to complete on a day we don't plan to hike: 16 oz Porterhouse, 3 giant pancakes, eggs, and some other stuff in 30 minutes.  Complete the challenge and you get the meal for free. I'm not sure why he feels the need to do that, but I'll go along with him.

From there, we took Route 10 east to Surry for our hike at Hog Island Wildlife Preserve.  The only problem?  It was Saturday and, unbeknownst to us, the area is only open to hiking on Sunday.  So, like the good scouts we are, we had to improvise.  Luckily, we were only three miles from another hike on our list so we turned around, reset the GPS and headed over to Chippokes Plantation State Park.  We had only planned to walk 3.8 miles and this one was listed at 5, but we were okay with the distance.  We were somewhat concerned about the timing of the hike because we had plans for that evening, but we decided to go for it.  We should have stuck to the trail.

When will my husband learn not to follow my lead?  Our map gave us accurate distances and expectations.  However, there was a "down and back" spur, 0.9 miles each way, that was super boring.  I don't do well with super boring walks, so when I saw a trail sign with an alternate option, I did the math and suggested we take it.  From my calculations, the new route would be 0.1 mile longer than the one we were on and would offer new sights.  There is NO WAY that trail sign was correct and that was before I had my sweet mapping app.  We felt like it would never end.  The walking wasn't difficult, it just never stopped and never got anymore exciting than the other path.  Shouldn't I know better by now?

We finally made it to the connection with our original route and things got back on track.  Sadly, the last mile of that track was on a sandy beach along the James River.  Yes, it was beautiful.  No, walking on sand for mile #5 (we guess) is not fun.  And, once again, it just wouldn't end.  Plus, the park administration should really organize a beach clean up; it was pretty trashy in spots.  However, for the second hike in a row, I got to see sights I'm only used to seeing in South Carolina.  I didn't know these trees existed in our area of Virginia and I love them.  Plus, the afternoon sunlight was perfect for pictures.

By the time we got back to the car, it was five o'clock and too late to do all the things we'd hoped to fit into the day.  But, we felt accomplished and stopped at El Patron in Chester, VA for a great dinner.  Have you ever been too tired to drink at a Mexican restaurant?  I have, and it was sad.  I guess that's a sign of a good workout?