Road Trip – Shenandoah

Our first stop (other than a quick night in a hotel) was with John’s brother Bob and his wife, Kitty. They live in a welcoming art-filled cabin in the Shenandoah Valley.

Bob has a green thumb. He terraced and planted an abundant vegetable garden with a riot of flowers blooming all around it. I wish I’d taken photos — his tomato stakes are garden art — made out of branches and cleverly supporting the plants. It’s hard to describe how they looked but, trust me, they were very cool. My kids got to pick the beans we had for dinner.

Mojo got to spend some quality kitchen time with Aunt Kitty — on our way to visit them, Mojo remarked that what she wanted to do most of all was cook with her aunt. And cook she did!

Kitty is a whiz in the kitchen. She makes gourmet look effortless. Each time we visit, I come home with neat tips and tricks to turn ordinary food into extraordinary meals. This time was no exception with her amazing grilled chicken and smoked ham, oh, and apple cake, pie, pancakes, mini-muffins, etc.

We all went hiking together. The cabin is surrounded by nature with parks and streams within a short ride.

While hiking, we found some wild blackberries:

Which Kitty and Mojo later turned into this:

John and Bob took the big kids for a canoe trip floating down the Shenandoah River while Kitty and I took the younger ones to her local swimming hole.

Mornings started with a nature lesson. Bob and Kitty are early risers and greet each day (rain or shine) with a dog walk. They brought back interesting fungi and flowers for my kids to examine. Upon our arrival, Kitty had hatched butterflies and a gigantic ant for us to see.

We could sit a the table and look at their bird feeders and see gold finches and other birds which they would identify for us. Really, our visit was like a crash course in Nature 101. Oh, and lego building, too.

Each day the kids would build with Bob.

The big tower is his masterpiece.

Everyone enjoyed the hot tub.

Soaking in the bubbles, gazing at the distant mountains while listening to chirping birds, we all felt miles away from our ordinary life. Which we were. Thanks Bob and Kitty for having us. We’ll be back!

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