Shenandoah Adventures

This blog does not normally fall under the "lifestyle" or "confession-of-everything-I-ever-did-and-thought-today" categories.  But this summer I will be having some adventures I want to share with friends, family, and you, readers.  I hope you enjoy your summer as much as I am planning on enjoying mine.  Keep reading to see what I've been up to.

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A Summer in Review

August 11, 2014

The summer is coming to an end and so is my Shenandoah Adventure.  It will be bitter sweet to leave the park and return home.  Leaving the many interesting and wonderful people I have become friends with this summer will be strange.  We have become accustomed to each other living in this small community.  It has been a huge blessing to have several Christian friends to fellowship with up on the mountain.  It has been an encouragement to see them at our Sunday services when they are able to attend and to talk about faith and life throughout the week.  It has also been fun connecting with people from lifestyles and beliefs different my own.  I can honestly say their worldviews have impacted and broadened mine in valuable ways.  Whether we stay in touch or not, I am glad to have met each and every one of them.  And of course we will miss our beautiful mountain home!
Look up.  Look waaaaaay up!

View of Old Rag from Hot-Short Mountain trail

One of the most substantial ruins from pre-park days I've seen so far
 -  a chimney, saw and tub in the area known as "Hazel Country"

But the closer our departure date comes, the more I am looking forward to heading home and reuniting with friends and family.  For me, absence has made my heart fonder of the people and places I left behind at the summer's beginning.  I am looking forward to visiting my favourite haunts - libraries, coffee shops, thrift stores, churches - with my favourite people again.

Until then, I am off to make the most of my remaining adventure time!  Keep your eyes open for one more concluding post before my regular posting resumes.  Thanks for following along with me this summer!


The Latest

July 25, 2014

A few weeks have passed since my last update.  They have been full ones!

L to R: me, Anastasia (Ukraine), Anastasia (Russia)
 in front of a giant stalagmite
Employees of Delaware North Companies Shenandoah, the concessioner of the park, get free entry into Luray Caverns, a popular local attraction, when we show our ID badge.  On one day off last week, I visited the caverns with two friends, Anastasia (from Russia) and Anastasia (from Ukraine)!  Our trip also included other fun adventures such as trying to find antique shops in the rain and eating ice cream at a favourite stand down in the valley.  It was interesting to learn about the different minerals and water flow that create the colours and shapes of the caves.  I remember that iron oxide is responsible for the red/orange, and calcite for the white I believe.  There was also some mention of cave algae...

The underground Dream Lake in the caverns.  The water is only about a foot
deep though it looks much bigger because of the reflection.

I'm pretty sure this is upside down, but I couldn't get it to turn over.
Here are some of the very interesting formations and colours in the cave.

Ty and I have also had the chance to do a little more hiking on our days off.  We did the Rose River Loop together, which I had done before and really enjoyed, but we also made a side trip on a connecting trail to Dark Hollow Falls.  This is probably one of the most impressive falls I've seen in the park so far (second only to Lewis Falls in my book).

From the foot of Dark Hollow Falls

Powerful water!

Along Rose River

Finally, one of the most entertaining hikes Ty and I have gone on this summer was to Nicholson Hollow and Corbin Cabin.  It is the site with the highest concentration of ruins (old cabins, fences, chimneys, etc.) in the park.  We saw a cabin that had been lived in by a man named Corbin in the pre-park days (the 30s) as well as the remains of one other cabin and several stone fences.  After returning home, I did some more reading on the history of this region of the park and made some interesting discoveries, including that many mountain dwellers were not so isolated as one might think they would have been!  Click here to make some discoveries of your own about a few settlements of the Blue Ridge Mountains including Nicholson Hollow.

Pray & Praise with us!
Praise that our services continue to be well attended by fellow employees, with at least one new-comer promising to attend this week!
Pray that even more people will notice our posters and hear about the services by word of mouth.

Praise that we are continuing to develop good friendships with many co-workers.
Pray that we will be a blessing to them, as well as to our employers, and be able to share more about the love of God with them.


Who Makes the Plans?

July 4, 2014

From Miller's Head Overlook

Happy Independence Day!  But it's ironic.  We (in the West) tend to celebrate independence as an inherent Good.  The speaker at a conference at my college this past year said just the opposite, calling the ideas of  independence and autonomy "vicious lies."  He claimed people were designed to rely on someone other than themselves - other people and/or God.  While I am happy to celebrate the country I live and many of the high ideals it aims to stand for, I also value dependence on and submission to Someone great than myself - God.

I'm going to be talking about submission in my message this Sunday in Shenandoah.  I'm going to share that I've been frustrated with my work schedule lately.  I've been getting just one day off for the past two weeks and my body has been feeling it.  Housekeeping is hard work!  But most of all, I realized, my frustration has been that having just one day off (Sundays, so I can lead services) has not allowed me to get much hiking in.  In fact, I haven't done much hiking, and no camping, this summer at all.

As I thought about my frustration, I realized it's source was the disappointment of this summer not meeting my expectations.  Being outdoors a lot was one of the things I was looking forward to most about this summer, even more than ministry, if I'm being honest.  But I realized that maybe God has another plan for my summer and that I would be less frustrated with how I spend my time if I surrendered it to Him, whether that's working or playing.  This change in perspective has changed my attitude, and though I am still hoping to get two days off next week, I won't be so frustrated if I don't.

I do believe God gives us free choice, the ability to make plans, but I don't think that is the same as giving us control over the outcomes of our plans.  Our choices may end up having different consequences than we think they should.  In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, "I know that plans I have for you."  Trusting Him that those plans are good allows me to be content with any outcome of the choices He allows me to make.


The Irony is Not Lost (Though the Wifi Is)

June 30, 2014

The most detrimental downfall to having a blog about living in the mountains (like this one is temporarily) is that the Internet does not always reach all the way up those solitudinous peaks.  For instance, this is the first day I have been able to connect to the Internet here in Shenandoah for almost three weeks.  However inconvenient this has been, no real harm has been done.  In fact, our community is probably better for it since we've been forced to find other things to do with our time like play games, hike, and just plain talk to each other.  Hopefully this deepened community can continue to grow even with the renewed distraction of the Internet.  

I have not been idle on my time away from the online world.  Here are a few snapshots of what I've been up to besides working (which is not generally exciting enough to take pictures of), hanging out with new friends (I don't really take "memories" pictures.), and continuing to lead Sunday services (It would be pretty awkward to snap a photo before starting my sermon.).  

At the Rose River Loop trailhead

Cave Cemetery, also along the Rose River Loop,
where the families of a few Civil War soldiers are buried.  Learn more here.

At the Cave Cemetery

Snake on the trail! Have yet to identify which kind,
but there are several species that call Shenandoah home.

Rose River Falls.  This loop is my favourite
trail I have hiked so far.

I spotted 13 hawks while at the summit of Stony Man!
One took off right over my head as I came off the trail to the overlook.
There is always more to share than I can convey in words and pictures here.  Despite the challenges of living and working here in Shenandoah, I am enjoying the overall experience and especially the community of people I am growing into.  Some of you may know I worked in Sequoia National Park (CA) for the summer a few years ago.  That summer I made a few close friends, but hiking and camping were the two main events for me.  This year, I am doing much less hiking, which I was disappointed about at first, but I am coming to suspect that God has me here to be a lot more involved in the community aspect of life in the mountains than just being in His beautiful Creation.  Anyway, here I am!

Prayer & Praise

Praise God for consistent attendance of our Sunday services by several Christian co-workers.
Pray for more opportunities to share the love of God with non-Christian co-workers whether through Sunday services or other encounters.

Praise God that we are able to save much of our earnings to pay for Ty's last semester of school as well as loans and living expenses when we return to Rochester.
Pray for patience and energy for both of us at work.  Park jobs are often stressful and it is easy to become discouraged, exhausted, and caught up in the general atmosphere of discontent and gossip.  

Thank you for partnering with us through your prayers!


Friends in High Places

June 6, 2014

View from Stony Man overlook
It helps to have a friend in high places.  We made a new one the other day!  This post kind of continues on with the idea of community I was talking about before.

Several days ago one of the guys who works in the bar, Matt, returned from a 10 day hike on the Appalachian Trail.  Matt had been around maybe the first day we arrived, but had been gone since then.  I was hanging up posters advertising our Sunday services in the employee lounge (called Dottie's Place) and he asked me about them.  He got very excited when he heard there were Christians leading worship here at Skyland, Big Meadows, and Loft Mountain.  Later on he pulled me aside and said he and people from his home town had been praying for God to send more Christians to Shenandoah!

We had a long chat about faith and the Shenandoah area, and how, for him, they are intertwined.  It is both exciting and encouraging to live in community with another member of God's family up here on the mountain.  Actually, there are a few other Christians here as well, which was already a blessing, but talking to Matt I could really feel the passion and desire he has to see Shenandoah National Park transformed into the image of the kingdom of God - "on earth as it is in heaven" were his exact words.

View from Miller's Head overlook

Pray & Praise with Us

We are praising God for this new friendship and can't wait to see what will come of it.  Our first worship service will be this Sunday here at Skyland.  I will be giving the message and Ty will be leading worship.  Your thoughts and prayers would be much appreciated!  Prayers that the small community of Christians here would continue to support one another and influence the atmosphere of this mountain positively by showing Christ's love and living according to His example in every situation.


Surviving in Community

June 4, 2014

Even butterflies gather in community!
Taken on the Cedar Run Falls trail.
I have experienced "living in community" in several different contexts:  There was, of course, growing up in a house with my family, then several rounds of summer camp, then a program called Katimavik where I was thrust into a house with eight other students from all over Canada, then college, living with other friends, and now, finally married life.  All of these contexts have taught me valuable lessons through fun times and times of conflict.  There is no doubt that living in community is hard.  This summer, my husband are both continuing to create our own community and living in community with other employees at Shenandoah National Park. It's going well, and we are settling in to our new home away from home, but I have realized that we are only doing so well because of the help of others around us.  

The first night we arrived at Skyland, hungry and tired from an eight hour drive, the bartender brought us dinner and got the manager to give it to us for free since we were new.  Later that night, a maintenance man showed me where to get blankets from the storage closet while the dorm supervisor helped tidy up our room.  The next day, a housekeeper showed us how to buy our employee meal tickets.  The kindness has continued.  We are surviving and thriving, but only because of community. 

We hope to create even more community this summer - community not just based on proximity, but on honesty and kindness.  The other night, Ty (my husband) decided to make a fire in the employee pit.  We had been surprised that no one had been hanging out there before, but finally decided to do something about it ourselves.  As he and another employee worked, others gathered around, drawn to the warmth of the flames and human company.  We later found out it was the first fire of the summer.  As I sat and listened to everyone share opinions and stories, I smiled.  It didn't matter whether what was shared, whether it was polite or not, whether everyone in the circle agreed or respected other opinions.  What mattered was that people were sharing, they were opening themselves to one another and letting out what was inside.  It was a sprout from the seed of community breaking through the surface.


Lewis Falls with Friends

May 25, 2014

Some wonderful friends from home just happened to be visiting Virginia the week after we arrived here in Shenandoah and took time out of their family vacation to wind their way up Skyline Drive and see us!  After a lunch of "Traditional Fried Chicken" and Shenandoah's signature Blackberry Ice Cream Pie, we hiked to Lewis Falls.  It is apparently one of the tallest falls in the park (though not the absolute tallest) at 81 feet tall!  It was beautiful and the view of the valley from that point was great too.

Here are some favourite pictures from the hike!

This was not actually on the trail.  Only the (crazy) boys did this!

Look down, look waaaaay down. 81 feet down!

Can you see the rainbow?  Maybe you had to be there...

Picturesque view of the Shenandoah Valley

A good time was had by all.


Hiking on White Oak Canyon Trail 

May 21, 2014

We didn't have time to hike to the very end of this trail, which is a shame since we heard later that the best falls are there!  But we did enjoy some lovely smaller falls and other spots along the trail.  Here are some of my favourites.

My dream home


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