Thursday, July 28, 2011

A mountain weekend

   This past weekend was really awesome. Friday night Peyton and I hung out with Larry and Deshawn, our friends from Barton Heights. We took them out to dinner at Chipoltle, a stroll around the VMFA, and lastly a pit stop to Sweet Frog before taking them home. Saturday morning Peyton and I arose early and hit the road headed towards Friendsville, Maryland. I met a couple "friends" in Friendsville and got in a lap in on the Upper Yough. Peyton did some hiking while I paddled and she ended up meeting a Menonite family she hung out with along the trail. After paddling, we went over to Ohiopyle to get some ice cream and check out the falls. That night we camped along the middle Yough with Erin and a few other folks from PA. On Sunday morning, Peyton and I rented a duckie and had a great time paddling down the lower Yough with Erin. It was a great time being with Peyton and being on the river together. A couple pictures of the Upper and LowerYough below:

After paddling the Lower Yough, Peyton and I packed up and took off towards Davis, WV. When we arrived in Davis, we checked into our bed and breakfast and got a burrito at one of the local's favorite spots- Hellbender Burrito. The town was crowded with mountain bikers who had just competed at Canan Valley in a downhill single track race. After grabbing a bite to eat we set off for Blackwater Falls which is only about a ten minute drive from Davis. Below are a few pictures of the Falls and the beautiful scenery around Blackwater. We ended up sitting by the edge of the canyon till sunset. Below are a few pictures of Blackwater Falls park.

Once back in Davis, we drove one town over to Thomas to grab a drink at the Purple Fiddle Cafe. This was probably one of the coolest music venues I have been to in a while. With rustic wooden floors, drinks from mason jars, and fiddles lining the walls, it seemed like any folk musician's dream spot to perform. We made it through a few songs from a small folk group out of Asheville before we retired to the Inn. After a great breakfast at Bright Morning Inn on Monday, we set off for Lindy Point overlook in Blackwater Falls park. It had just started drizzling when we left, but we figured it might clear up by the time we drove and hiked down to the overlook. The rain picked up and poured on us until we got to the overlook. We figured we wouldn't see too much, considering visability was probably only 30'. We weren't that surprised to find even lower visability at the overlook. Despite a wet walk down to the overlook, we still managed to enjoy the cool, wet weather that has been a stranger to us in Richmond.

Our final stop would be Seneca Rocks, WV. The drive was rainy and foggy through the Canan Valley from Davis. We stopped in the general store once we arrived in Seneca and were told by the store owner that the trail was closed for maintenance but that there was a backup trail that would get us to the main hike up. It was a beautiful hike and equally beautiful views at the top. We had a quick lunch at the top and then enjoyed a leisurely hike back to our car. All in all, an awesome, restful, adventurous weekend. If you ever have the chance to check out Davis, WV- it is totally worth it. With Seneca, Canan Valley, Blackwater Falls State Park, Ohiopyle, and Friensville all within an hour, there is something for everyone.

Friday, July 22, 2011

"We need water, we need life"


    As I'm sitting here in my air conditioned office at work, I've already commented to at least three other colleagues this morning about intensity of the heat wave our city has been experiencing the last couple of days. As I think back to the last few days, I am reminded of the stories I read about the ongoing famine occuring in many parts of Africa. "Experts" are saying that this drought is one of the worst the eastern reigon of Africa has seen in over 60 years. Combined with the civil conflicts in many of these countries, food is as hard as it's ever been to find. UN secretary Ban Ki-moon says that in Somalia alone, over 3.7 million people are in serious need. He estimates it taking over $300 million in the next two months alone simply for an "adequate response".
    As I have sat on my comfortable couch, or at my semi-adequate desk chair, sipping on a cup of coffee, I am reading stories about people walking hundreds, and sometimes thousands of miles to simply find water, shelter, and shade. And here I am, complaining about the heat and how I had beads of sweat running down my face on my bike ride in to work. So- what do I do? Do I keep sippin on my coffee, laying back on my couch, looking at pictures of this "far away" land where PEOPLE are starving because they just can't find anything to eat? Maybe it's because I just can't relate to their circumstance that I can't feel their pain enough to actually do something about it. Maybe its because they are an ocean away and, well, shoot- I'm already working at a clininc for homeless people. We're handing out water to them on these hot days- isn't that good? Ok- I'm rambling- but these are my thoughts, and I feel as though I needed to write them down somewhere. I'm thankful for the ability to still feel emotions, even if it be rare. I pray for this visceral feeling of discomfort to continue-both here in the heat of the Richmond, and as we pray for those in need abroad.
Lord, bless these people who hunger and thirst. Be their portion.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


GHOTI spells FISH phonetically- try it!

Take the sounds that GH, O, and TI make in the following words, and combine them to make the word FISH!  Pretty cool, huh?


Monday, July 18, 2011


       Last week seems like an overall blur as I think back. I seemed to have slipped into a routine last week of waking up, reading the paper/watching the first couple minutes of the tour, biking to work, staying busy throughout the day, mountain biking after work, going to the library, and then do it again. Ok, it wasn't that routine, but last week felt like I got into a habitual schedule. The weekend always seems to break whatever pattern the week has crafted, providing respite from routine. Friday evening we caught up with our friends Alli and Jeremy who just got back from a 6 week trip to Ghana where they worked with a group of medical students to provide some mobile medical relief. Because the weather was so nice, we took a walk to a nearby lake where we enjoyed the presence of a full moon. Saturday brought a restful morning of newspaper reading, coffee drinking, tdf watching, and farmer's market strolling- all with my lovely wife Peyton. Saturday morning's don't get much better than that. I got some good ole GRE studying in Saturday afternoon before Rob's wedding which was at the Science musuem. It was a real treat to be included at Rob's wedding. Rob is responsible for introducing me to kayaking when I was 13. He sold me my first boat, skirt, and paddle. I met Rob on a church youth group outing to the river where Rob and his dad took a group of us-middle and high school students- kayaking. My sister and I had just completed Passages camp earlier that summer where we learned the basics of kayaking, but I would give Rob the props for getting me started with this sport I've come to love. The wedding was a fun time indeed- good music, good food, good company, and the best part of all... the photo booth station. The weekend ended with some Sunday church, a bike ride with Jon on the buttermilk, gre studying, Legends, and the St. Stephens Compline service.
Below are a few pictures I took from the wedding..only two..weak, I know.


Monday, July 11, 2011


Compline- night prayers, at the end of the day.

      Last night, I had one of the more unique, powerful experiences I've had in a while. You know, the kind that makes you sit and think, "Did that really just happen to me?". First, let me explain the experience, and then perhaps this entry will make a bit more sense. I saw a flyer in starbucks a while back advertising a "compline" service at a local Episcopalian church each Sunday evening at 9p.m. The flyer said that the service was short, candle lit, and consisted of Gregorian chants and Renaissance Polyphony- neither of which I am that familiar with. I'm always looking for new experiences, and this end-of-the-week- or maybe, should I say, beginning-of-the-week experience appealed to me. I showed up last night to the church with a few minutes to spare (surprise, surprise). With my cup of coffee in hand, I entered through the historic, heavy-laden doors into a dark, musk hallway. It felt as if I had just stepped into some sort of dream- I'm sure this all sounds strange, but it literally felt like I stepped back in time. As I walked towards the main sanctuary, the smell of incense and the candle lit room struck me and automatically silenced my soul. Shortly after entering, I spotted a parishoner in all black, whom I would later find out was one of the soloists. Was I really in Richmond, I thought to myself. It felt as if I was in an age old catacombs somewhere deep in Rome. As I say all of this, I'm thinking to myself- if I actually get any of you to come with me to this service, and you don't feel an estranged feeling as I did, you might think I'm letting you down. Oh well- I'll continue.
I found a seat about halfway down the isle and sat alone. From what I could tell, there were 20-30 others speckled throughout the room. Some were kneeling, some were lying on the floor, others had their heads resting on the pew. The room was silent aside from the occasional creak made when someone shifted in their seat. I took a sip of my coffee and laid my head back to breathe. I took it all in, every bit of it. The singing began shortly after I sat and continued for over fourty minutes. The hymns were beautiful, inspiring, and humbling. It all ended as the choir walked out of the santuary into the courtyard, leaving us with a beautiful diminuendo effect as they slowly faded into the silence. I followed the others' cue to exit after a short time of lingering in the silence. The peacefullness had paralized me as I struggled to hobble away from this experience. I researched it some today and found that the church has made a video, which I've posted. The video doesn't come close to doing the experience justice. Whether you consider Sundays to be the end of your week, or the beginning, this is an amazing way to put to rest the things in the past, and prepare for the opportunities ahead.

Independence Day weekend

        Last weekend Peyton and I got to experience Virginia's finest as we spent the first part of the weekend at the Rivah, aka Deltaville, and the subsequent portion of the long weekend hiking and exploring one of Virignia's famous National Forrests. The July 4th weekend started in Deltaville where rendezvoused with Peyton's parents, aunt and uncle, and the newly wedded Addison and Heather Thompson. The evening was spent on a peaceful sunset cruise up the river on Tad's 37' sail boat. The cruise was as relaxing as it gets, with a cool breeze to stale off the warm July air. In the morning we awoke to the news of storm predictions for the mountains- our afternoon hiking destination. We packed up and hit the road in hopes of getting in a short hike at least before the strong storms arrived in Nelson County. The plan was to hike up the Priest and then continue on the Appalachian Trail Southward bound to the Crabtree trail intersection where we would descend the 3.5 miles of switchbacks to the trailhead parking lot where our bikes would then take us the final 4.5 miles to our car at the Priest trailhead. We went ahead and dropped off the bikes and got started on our hike up the priest. The rain held off and we had an awesome time on the trail and then crusing back down the mountain to our car at the trailhead.

We then spent the night at an awesome mountain inn on Rt. 56 between Vesuvius and Montebello called the Sugar Tree Inn. We enjoyed an evening dip in the hot tub and an amazing country breakfast in the morning overlooking the beauful Blue Ridge Mountains.


 After breakfast we packed up and headed west on 56 a few more miles to St. Mary's Wilderness, one of my favorite hikes in the state. The hike in to the swimming hole was only a couple of miles, but just enough to crave a dip in the mountain stream.


 After hiking out, we hit up Gertie's, some of the finest country cooking sold from a modest roadside country store. Once back in Richmond, we were hoping to catch up with family for fireworks at Dogwood Dell, but the sky had it's own show for us to behold this year. This storm not only brought a lightening show, but just enough rain to make Reedy Creek runnable. I called up a few friends and we all were thinking the same thing, so we quickly threw boats on the car and met at Crossroads. After creeking one of the state's premier inner city steep creeks(sounds legit, right?), we caught the final stretch of Rickey and Sarah's American Weekend for a home grown fireworks display and enough corn cobs, tiki tourches, and red, white, and blue to make almost any American proud.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Coat rack

Below are some pictures of the coat rack I recently made for Peyton's brother and his wife, Heather.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A favorite

A night on the island

Last night, Bob and I kayaked over to some islands just downstream from the Hugenot bridge in Richmond. I have camped here a few times in the past, and always ended up finding an island with a sandy beach-perfect for a summer night campfire. We paddled out around 730 and scouted out the potential islands in the area. We ended up on one about halfway between Hugenot bridge and Z dam. Cheers to a sunset river swim, warm campfire, cigars, turkey coozie, river otters, late night laughs, and of course, waking up to a cool sunrise on the foggy James river.