VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS

They say that Virginia is for lovers and it’s true. Lovers of national parks, hiking, scenic overlooks, nature watching, cavern exploring and night sky star gazing! Virginia is the place for all of those things. I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to do a four day getaway to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

Shenandoah National Park is one that I have often gone to as a day tripper when visiting friends in Front Royal, Virginia which is at the northern most end of the national park that runs north to south in the rolling hills of Virginia.  Its 105 mile Skyline Drive along the ridge is a great place to take a Sunday drive, stopping at the many scenic overlooks along the way. I had always wanted to spend more than a few hours there and get a little further south along Skyline Drive to capture some of the beautiful vistas there.

 

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10 TIPS FOR HAVING A MAGICAL RV VACATION AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

When I was a little boy, my mom and dad never had money for family vacations.  Thankfully, my grandparents did.  They had seven kids and eight grandkids, but they still managed to take all of us to Disney World for four different family reunions.

 

We stayed in a hotel for most of those trips, but the one I remember most vividly involved a Winnebago RV rental, an epic road trip, and a campsite at Fort Wilderness. My grandfather always recalled that trip as his favorite too. He loved renting the RV and getting out on the open road–and he LOVED the wild west theme at Fort Wilderness.  That trip with my grandfather happened over thirty years ago, and I have been dreaming of replicating it with my own children for many years.

 

This past winter we finally had the chance to take our three boys to Disney in a Winnebago rental of our own–and it was epic. We brought the boys on classic rides like Space Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean at the Magic Kingdom, and we ate wiener schnitzel and yodeled in Germany at Epcot.  But more than anything else, we all loved our time relaxing together at Fort Wilderness, which is truly one of the world’s greatest campgrounds. Our boys have not stopped talking about this trip to Disney World, and they probably never will.

 

Is your family considering an epic RV adventure to Walt Disney World? If so, here are 10 tips to make your trip magical and memorable–and worth talking about for years to come.

 

  1.  Camp at Fort Wilderness:

 

There are other campgrounds nearby, but if you can, book a site at the Fort. It may cost a little more, and you do need to book months in advance, but it is worth the extra effort and money. The Fort is often called America’s favorite campground–and for good reason. It is packed with Disney magic around every corner, and it makes visiting the theme parks incredibly easy. Plus, you get all the perks of staying at a Disney Resort like early dining reservations and extra Magic Hours.

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HAPPY CAMPERS

One of the best parts of promoting Girl Camping is watching women go from thinking that it looks like a fun thing to do, to actually going on their first campout. I have had the pleasure of mentoring many women in the beginning of their journey before passing them off to someone back in their geographical area for their first official campout.  It’s disappointing not to be there for the fun part but I recently got to experience the excitement of three first time Girl Campers at our annual Kickoff Campout at Turkey Swamp Campground in Jackson, NJ.

The excitement had actually been building for months within our online community. Facebook comments and shares about gear and menus and the potential for bad weather abounded. To manage the excitement of an upcoming camping trip it helps to talk a lot about it. We booked the first weekend the park was open knowing the weather could be unseasonably warm or annoyingly cold! We didn’t care. The winter was too long and part of the fun of camping is dealing with the elements.

 

Making camp with the girls is half the fun. Everyone lends a hand to make it happen. Jean created centerpieces from the downed pine branches from the previous nights windy storm. 

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OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

Growing up in the Midwest, I always thought of Olympic National Park as one of those places that “one day” I’ll get to experience. That day arrived…

There was just one problem – we only had two weeks to stay in this scenic paradise and there were too many great areas to explore! If this isn’t on your RV bucket list, you’d better add it.

One thing to keep in mind is Olympic National Park is HUGE. We set up our base camp at the Elwha Dam RV Park. It’s perfectly located to take day trips and hit all the great spots, but also is close enough to Seattle so that you can visit the big city as well.

First Beach

It seems fitting that the first place to visit is First Beach. It’s located in La Push. My wife warned me that I need to watch out for vampires as this is where they filmed the hit film series “Twilight.”

There are sea-stacks all around this beautiful beach as well as a lot of driftwood to sift through in search of unique pieces of wood. Because all of these beaches are far from the big cities, there are not a lot of people and you can easily find spots where you have it all to yourself.

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SHALL WE GATHER AT THE RIVER?

Shall we gather at the river?

Where bright angel feet have trod

With its crystal tide forever

Flowing by the throne of God

Robert Lowry, 1864

 

The subtle influence of grandmothers is a topic for poets and psychologists alike. It can supply strength when you think you have none.  It can also carry a loving imprint that tells you who you are no matter what the world seems to be telling you. More often than not, this benevolence comes in the form of an unconditional love. It’s conveyed by the mere “doing” of grandmotherly things. The ironing of a special dress, the unasked for purchase of the item you’ve been eyeing, the cookies on the porch when you most need a friend. Grandmothers have a way of filling the gap. It’s what makes us still miss them decades after they are gone, still think of them when eating a family recipe perfected by them, and still wish we had one more afternoon to just be with them.

Debra Facer, like so many of us, had such a Grandma. Her life would have seemed ordinary to many but she planted seeds of comfort in Debra. Those seeds would bloom when needed and the fragrance of that bloom would remind her of just how extraordinary her grandmother was. The seeds that Debra’s grandmother Dealia, and also her mother Joann, planted in her would bloom and help her to survive childlessness, widowhood at 37 and an ovarian cancer diagnosis.

Dealia the way Debra remembers her – loving life!

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