Monday, August 27, 2018

Blackwater Falls Adventure - Days 1 and 2

[Composed 8/18/2018]

You might think that a trip to West Virginia following a trip to Costa Rica would be a recipe for travel envy; but as I've found out first hand, you'd be wrong. Yesterday morning, I picked up two of our nieces from Boston and flew them to DC. There I found Shira in a packed-to-the-gills car ready to whisk us off to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia. Specifically, we were headed to Blackwater Falls State Park. With Friday afternoon summer traffic, it took us nearly 4 hours to get there.

I had my expectations set low. As long as there were a few trails to hike on, a lake to swim in and a cabin to sleep in, I'd be willing to call this adventure a success. Our first stop, however, changed all that. We arrived at the Lodge in Blackwater falls and checked in. After check-in, we walked outside to to catch a view of the surrounding area. Whoa! What I saw there was quite remarkable. The gorge and surrounding area were massive and picture perfect. I'd expected the waterfall to be the highlight, but what I was seeing in front of me blew me away.

The cabin we rented also exceeded expectations. It was absolutely pristine, and the perfect size to share with another family (who arrived today).

After Shabbat dinner, we called it a night. We were all wiped from a day of travel, and I was especially excited to start exploring the next day.

The weather forecast called for rain in the afternoon, so our first order of business was to get a little lake time in before the weather got too nasty. Shira took C. out in a pedalboat, and I took G. C. can actually reach the pedals, so I think Shira may have chosen wisely! After 30'ish minutes of puttering around the lake, we made our way back to shore and started a hike.

For the first 15 minutes of the hike I found myself hurrying G. along and then I mentally checked myself: what the heck was I rushing for? So G. wanted to go slowly, why not embrace the slow? So I did. And it was delightful! I ended up seeing the forest through a new lens; one where I could notice the little things like patches of mushrooms or an especially well hidden grasshopper. And G.', to her credit, may have gone slowly, but kept on plodding forward. I looked tonight, and I'd walked 24,809 steps! That's a lot of steps for a little 5 year old to keep up with. Kudos to her!

As we returned from the hike, I started talking with C. about a make-believe game she was playing with G. You know, I said, we could turn this idea of yours into a game. She lit up--really? Sure, I explained, as a programmer it's what I do every day. And so for a good portion of our hike we talked about how the game would work, who the characters would be, and what kind of challenges they'd face. After Shabbat, we jotted these ideas down. I now have a bit of homework myself, figuring out what the best platform to help her bring her game idea to life with.

At lunch time, we met up with our friends at the cabin and enjoyed a delightful meal altogether. And then, all of us headed out into the park to explore some more. Our first stop was an overlook, and then from there, we made our way to the nature center. Throughout our hike it would start to rain, at which point we'd all put on jackets or get out our umbrellas. By the time we were prepared for the rain, it would stop. That is, until we thought our luck had truly run out and we huddled under a tree while we found ourselves in a downpour that didn't seem to be going anywhere.

We then had a little debate: do we walk on in the rain, trying to find the waterfall? Or, do we turn back and get to our warm and dry cabin? We decided the best choice was to return to the cabin, and the fastest way there was to walk on the road. Off we went. In a few minutes, we found that the rain had abated once again, and we'd accidentally found our way to the waterfall access trail. Mother nature apparently wanted to get us to this waterfall!

The walk to the waterfall was a bit slick due to all the rain, but totally worth it. While not quite the spectacle of say a Niagara Falls, it was still an impressive set of falls. C. noticed that it looked like an eagle, and after having looked at photos after the fact, I think she's right.

After the falls Nick treated everyone to ice cream (thanks Nick!) and we did finally find our way back to the cabin.

What a fun couple of days, and what a remarkable place Blackwater Falls is! Tomorrow calls for more hiking and exploring, so stay tuned.

(Some of the photos below were taken by Lauren and/or Nick--thanks guys!)

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