Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My Apologies

I know, I know...  But, it's a busy time of year, right?  Plus, I'm doing so much walking that I don't want to do anything when I get home except slump into the couch.  So, I grudgingly write this update.

To begin, I have a recipe you must try.  I got this from Everyday Paleo by Sarah Ferguson.  If you are interested in trying the Paleo Diet, but want more info and some interesting recipes to avoid the "meat, veggies, fruit, repeat," this is a great read.  I made this the other night and ended up eating the whole pan (not recommended).

Savory Sweet Potatoes

Preheat oven to 400
Peel and cube sweet potatoes to cover bottom of a 9x13 baking dish (typically 3 spuds)
Sprinkle potatoes with 1 tsp sea salt, 2 Tbsp dried basil, and 4 minced garlic cloves
Melt 3 Tbsp coconut oil and drizzle over potatoes (it doesn't taste like coconut)
Bake 30-45 minutes until browning, depending on size of  cubes.

Now for the walking... and walking, and walking, and walking.

I'm proud to report that I've made progress!  I'm now doing three miles 3-4 days a week after work.  Any teachers out there should understand how difficult it is to do that much walking after a day in the classroom.  I'm not quite sure what will happen after Winter Break when I need to bump up to four miles.  It will probably be getting dark by the time I finish (I can NOT do it before school) and I don't know how I'll make it that far or where I'll walk.  Then again, I wasn't sure how three miles would go and I rocked that while maintaining my slow, but steady, pace.  

In order to mix up the sights and sounds of these jaunts, I'm trying to visit local parks.  So, I did a short, 1.3 mile walk last week at Rockwood Park.  If you are in Chesterfield County, VA and haven't utilized the trails there, you need to get on it.  They've put a lot of work in recently and your tax dollars are paying for it, so get over there.  The main trail is paved and, while shortish, is intense.  I was so proud of myself for completing it at the same pace as I do my daily, basically flat walks.  The fact that it was freezing probably helped keep me moving.  I plan to combine two trails there on Thursday to get my three miles.

The hike this weekend was at Westmoreland State Park.  What a gorgeous place!  It's a National Historic Landmark and we enjoyed the views so much, we're planning to rent a cabin there sometime in the spring.  We're excited to explore the trails we missed and the fossil beach.  That's right, I'm a nerd.  What of it?
Anyway... I feel like I can best tell the story of this hike through pictures.  Keep in mind, we did this hike the day after our part of Virginia received roughly an inch of rain.  It was muddy in spots and slick almost everywhere due to the layer of leaves over the muck.  Think about that when you look at the first picture.  

It started flat enough.  Then we went down, and down, and down.  I may have slipped a few times, but always caught myself before death and destruction ensued.

Next, we crossed over a marsh and through a dead, forested area reminiscent of something from The Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland.  Pictures simply cannot do this part justice.  It was fascinating.

Down a boardwalk, to the observation tower.  This made the slipping and sliding so worth it and reminded me of good times on the sea islands of South Carolina.  I had no idea the Potomac River looked like this away from civilization; it's just beautiful.

Feeling refreshed from our break, we continued down the boardwalk.  Here, it got REALLY muddy, but we surged ahead.  Obviously, on hikes, what goes down must go up, and up, and up.  Oh my gosh, did we hike up.

Ummm...yeah.  I don't think this needs a caption.

Here's a fun fact.  That hill came after a steep set of 87 stairs.  That's right, my husband counted the stairs.  When he told me how many there were, I thought maybe he was just picking a random number for sarcasm (I do that a lot).  I married a man who does not exaggerate numbers.  His response to my query about counting stairs?  "I had to do something!"  Apparently, while he is typically ahead of me, he is just as pissy about the inclines and climbs as I am.

After all that climbing, I was still in good spirits.  And then I got to the top of that ridge and saw this...

I broke.  It was just for a minute, but I did.  I truly thought, "That's it, I'm done."  And then laughed at myself.  What was I going to do, have Brian carry me up the stairs?  Call the local EMT?  Medi-Vac?  I haven't reached that level of desperation.  Plus, Brian yelled down, "Hey!  There's a bench up here."  So, I took these stairs much like I expect to take Day 3 of the Komen; just putting one foot in front of the other #3DayWalk.  I rested on each landing and plopped my butt right on the bench at the top to guzzle some water.  

Thankfully, it was smooth sailing for about the next mile back to the car.  And, you know what?  We want to do it again!  That's the sign of a great hike.  It had decent distance (3.6 miles - not too short or too long), beautiful views, and crazy topography to make for a serious workout.  Recommended!!

Also recommended?  Our breakfast stop for the day!  If you have the chance, hit up Sunday brunch at O'Banks Cafe & Grill in Ashland, VA. This was the best omelet I've had in a long time and every dish is served with fresh fruit.  Don't let the shopping center environment deter you, it is lovely.  O'Banks also has a great lunch/dinner menu, a long list of craft beers, and a hearty bourbon menu.  We will definitely make the drive for dinner and drinks sometime soon.  Check it out @O'BanksCafe&Grill, on any form of social media (they really put it out there) or http://obankscafe.com. I'm just glad I found it by checking Yelp for breakfast restaurants near Ashland because neither of us had ever heard of the spot.  I love that Brian wants to explore these places with me!!

Yeah, that's hot.