Fever of the Cabin

 

Cabin fever: irritability, listlessness, and similar symptoms resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors during the winter.

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This season has been a strange one, vacillating between cold-frigid-dry and mild-breezy-moist. The sun has peeked out for days at a time, and then retreated back to its cloud cover, refusing to dish out Vitamin D.

I was feeling the mid-winter blahs, so I rooted around for my hiking boots, and dug out my day-pack. It was time to hit the trails.

Enter: Prince William National Forest.

This gem is only a 30 minute drive from my house, assuming that I-95 is not a slogging mess of traffic. It wasn’t (hooray).

Things were quiet and closed down for the season. A few families were milling about, taking advantage of the higher temps, and letting their little rugrats release some pent-up winter energy. I took a peek at the trail map, and set out.

The landscape was a blend of white, blue, and shades of brown. The air smelled delicious, and I enjoyed clomping along the mucky trail. My favorite part was the semi-frozen creek along which I traipsed. Pretty is too nominal a word to describe the glistening snow covering, the icy edges, and the brave trickling stream that I followed for the majority of my day.

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I spy some green!

I got up close, taking pictures to help me truly see and understanding this unassuming body of water. I hunched down with my face near the ice cover, noticing the lattice work of the frozen water reflecting the winter sun. Fellow hikers gave me friendly nods, probably assuming I had lost an earring, or a piece of my mind.

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Ice, ice baby

I walked.

I hiked.

I skipped (for just a small portion).

I was glad to be alone, and glad to have my senses ignited.

Fast forward a week: I now sit inside, once again, lamenting the rain that ebbs and flows.

Perhaps I’ll root around for my waterproof jacket and beat the winter blahs once again.

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Sky Time

Throughout my travels near and far, I have experienced nature in the forests, mountains, valleys, rivers, oceans, and even underground in caves.

It was high-time that I took to the skies.*

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Me. Happy.

When my pilot friend (who also happens to be a flight instructor) said, “Let’s go flying”, I was 100% onboard – literally.

It was a crisp, clear day with views for miles. I observed the lacy patterns on the semi-frozen Potomac River that lay surrounded by snow-dusted grounds. The deciduous trees stood as tiny skeletons while pockets of deep green marked the clusters of their evergreen friends. The Chesapeake Bay was a sight to behold with its glossy surface reflecting the sun, making the light dance as we flew lazy eights above.

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The view from above, including the Potomac

I was experiencing my world from a completely new perspective, and thoroughly enjoying it. Things looked prettier from up high, away from the concrete and busyness on the ground. My birds-eye-perspective rendered everything as smaller, simpler, yet somehow even more beautiful.

And yes, getting a chance to take-off and actually fly a bit myself added to my sense of awe.

I was surrounded by air, far from the world as I know it, yet still experiencing the natural world in a phenomenal way.

I cherished every minute of it.

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Our plane

 

* The commercial flights I’ve taken wherein I share elbow space with other humans and have just a peek of blue sky out a too-small window don’t truly count as a “nature experience”

Beach Respite

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Corolla sunrise

Beaches are beautiful. I’ve spent a lot of time on the coast this past year. From snorkeling with the fishes in Dry Tortugas to exploring tide pools in Olympic, the ocean is a magical place.

That’s why my trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina came at an opportune time. Nothing beats the post-trip blahs like a gorgeous landscape and sunshine. As I floated on my back, cocooned by the salty Atlantic water, I closed my eyes and relaxed like a little star fish. There’s something incredible about letting all your senses be lost in a natural space. Three pelicans jolted me out of my revelry, swooping down nearby to pick up an early lunch from the sea.

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A couple days later and a couple shades more tan, I was pretty darn happy. The freckles littering my arms were a pleasant reminder of my time on the beach. If I close my eyes, I can still recall the scent of the delicious salty air…

* sigh *

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Hot Springs Recap

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Length of Stay:

  • 3 days, 3 nights

High:

  • Touring the Fordyce bathhouse
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The original tiling, pipes, and tub from the 1800’s

Low:

  • Hot, humid, and then extremely rainy

Favorite Hike:

  • Goat Rock trail

Favorite Treat:

  • Water – it’s tasteless and odorless but somehow makes my coffee taste extremely delicious
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One of the many places in the town where the hot water bubbles up (this isn’t for drinking, although there are many fountains around town that you can use to fill your bottles)

 

House of Baths

Hot Springs, Arkansas was the perfect blend of interesting history, relaxing baths, and gorgeous hiking trails. Although it is the smallest national park, Hot Springs had so much to offer. One of my favorite activities was touring the historical Fordyce bathhouse. It was three stories of fancy spa equipment, including some weird stuff going on in the “hydrotherapy” room.

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The high pressure needle shower
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The sitz bath tubs (apparently very good for lower back pain)

The following day, I was able to go through a traditional regimen at an updated bathhouse within the historical district. I could feel the toxins flee my body as I sat in a vapor cabinet and partook in the hot pack treatment. In between each session, I was wrapped in a white sheet. I felt like a goddess. Interestingly enough, no soap or bathing products were used during the whole 2-hour procedure. Just Hot Springs water, pure and simple.

Strolling in Nashville, Walking in Memphis

Nashville and Memphis were 2 cities that I proudly checked off my bucket list this week. While not as spectacular as a national park, they both brought some intriguing things to the table.

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It would take some talent to play this guitar!

Nashville had so much live music. In some venues, you could hear 3 different bands depending on which floor you were on. During my second night, I stumbled upon an eclectic neighborhood where the locals hang out. The tunes were good and the conversations were great.

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RIP, Elvis

I couldn’t go to Elvis’ homeland and not see Graceland. Apparently there’s a big celebration this week in August to commemorate his death. I saw 7-year-olds dressed up like the King himself. Fun fact: Elvis had 14 TVs in his home.

So long Tennessee. I’m westward bound, now.

Mammoth Cave Recap

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Length of Stay:

  • 3 days, 4 nights

Highs:

  • Wild Cave tour
  • Kayaking down the Green River
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Enjoying a day out on the water

Lows:

  • Not be able to waltz through a cave entrance and explore on my own (something to do with safety, I guess…)

Favorite Hike:

  • Echo Springs – you get to see where the water flows out of the cave system

Favorite Treat:

  • Bourbon balls – they’re kind of like a chocolate truffle