Biking through North Carolina and Virginia to a Family Reunion, page 5

Page 1: New Bern to Ocracoke
Page 2: Ocracoke to Kitty Hawk
Page 3: Kitty Hawk to Williamsburg
Page 4: Williamsburg to Fredericksburg.
Page 5: Visiting family and hiking in northern Virginia.

Monday-Sunday, June 16-22

In the past week we've spent lots of time with family and friends, and no time at all on our bicycle. My bottom was sore after so much riding, so I've been glad to give it a break.

On Tuesday we were together with my parents and both my sisters for the first time in 12 years. Michelle drove up from Richmond, and my younger sister Megan flew all the way from London, England, to visit us. Due to distance and work schedules, Kathy and I hadn't seen Megan for more than 3 years, and she hadn't met either of our children. Megan loves children (she's a teacher,) so she played with Daniel and Maggie and showered them with gifts. Kathy and I let the rest of the family entertain our kids while we relaxed and enjoyed a constant stream of good food cooked by my mother.


Breakfast at my parents' house.


Megan and Maggie listen while Daniel tells a story.


Michelle held Maggie as much as she could.


My whole family together before starting a short hike.


Megan shows Matthew how to whistle with a blade of grass.


Tiger lilies along our hike.


My family down by the Rappahannock River, plus Michelle's boyfriend Bill.

For the final 3 days of our vacation we drove north another 50 miles to visit our friends Steve and Hope and their baby daughter Alexa, who we were meeting for the first time. Steve and I have been friends since elementary school, and we were college roommates. Our visits together have always involved strenuous activity, like backpacking, mountain climbing, water skiing, snow skiing or snowshoeing - but all those activities are much harder now that we have children. We settled for two hikes, one in a wetland and one in the mountains of Shenandoah National Park. We spent the third day resting because our bodies were worn out after hiking up mountains with our children in backpacks.


Steve and his daughter Alexa during our hike in Huntley Meadows Park.


Kathy follows the boardwalk into a wetland.




Wildlife in Huntley Meadows.


Kathy and Hope walk through a wetland. Huntley Meadows is unusual because it's a 1400-acre natural area in the middle of a sea of developed suburbia. The park wouldn't exist at all if Henry Woodhouse, a crazy businessman, hadn't bought all the land in the 1920's in hopes of creating the nation's greatest Zeppelin airport. After the venture failed (Zeppelins became unpopular after the Hindenburg disaster,) the land was used by the military for a while and then became a county park.


Lunch at Huntley Meadows.


Our family with Steve, Hope and Alexa in Shenandoah National Park.


Daniel slept for part of our hike in Shenandoah.


Resting near the high point of our hike.


The Blue Ridge Mountains.


Resting on the edge of a canyon.


The Blue Ridge Mountains.

Reflection

Now that we've finished our vacation, I'm amazed to note that we met every goal of this complicated vacation just as we had planned. We biked 508 miles from New Bern to Fredericksburg without getting a flat tire or riding in the rain, and along the way we enjoyed the outdoors, learned about American history, and visited family and friends.

On the coast of North Carolina we had two goals in particular: play on the beach and eat local seafood. Our favorite section of beach was Ocracoke Island, with its many miles of undeveloped shoreline, and we loved that the water was warm enough to play in - much more comfortable than the cold waters on the coasts of California or Oregon. My favorite seafood, surprisingly, was a barbequed tuna sandwich, and I'd like to eat another but I haven't seen it on the menu of Colorado restaurants. I may have taken our goal of local seafood too far in Ocracoke when I ate a whole platter of fried oysters. I was a bit "quamish" after that meal, to use a local term (quamish = having an upset stomach. Ocracoke has had a unique dialect for generations, though it is disappearing as tourism reduces the island's isolation.)

In Virginia our main goal was to visit family and friends, and learning about history in Jamestown and Williamsburg was a wonderful bonus. Visiting family and friends has become more difficult as the years have gone by and we've dispersed across the earth, started our own families, and picked up new commitments. This is the fifth time that we've visited family or friends during a bicycle trip, and we like the way that those visits have rounded out our active vacations and helped us reconnect with people. This trip also helped us connect with each other - Michael, Kathy, Daniel and Maggie. We're a busy little family now, and at home it's not easy for all of us to spend time together. During the week the kids go to bed not long after I come home from work, and during the weekend there's always a list of chores to do. Vacations like this one help us become a better family.


Helping Daniel climb a playground in Virginia.

PREVIOUS

Page 1: New Bern to Ocracoke
Page 2: Ocracoke to Kitty Hawk
Page 3: Kitty Hawk to Williamsburg
Page 4: Williamsburg to Fredericksburg.
Page 5: Visiting family and hiking in northern Virginia.