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December 7, 2015 travel holidays

Home for the Holidays, Day 18 - Luray, Virginia and Shenandoah National Park

Alfie and I have settled into a nice morning routine by now - he sleeps on the LoveSac (giant beanbag) since it’s so cold outside and the heater is by the bed. Normally around 7:45-8 I’m in a light enough sleep state that the jingling of his tags wakes me up, then I peek over the side of the bed and see him staring up at me as he practically vibrates from a sit on the front rug.

I get out of bed and start bundling up as he wags his whole body (“I haven’t seen you in EIGHT HOURS!!!“), then put on his harness/boots (for the frost)/jacket. We’re also working on sitting/staying until released to go through doors, which is not surprisingly much easier for him to focus on than when we’re outside coming in.

This morning’s walk was pretty - the frost is gorgeous! Today we went up onto a hill with a little bench (and a couple old tombstones around a tree) and walked along the river for a ways.

The routine continues after the walk - depending on how long we were out for and if it’s 9 yet, I either feed him right away or after I’ve eaten/worked out.

After we had both eaten today, I got out the jigsaw to finish cutting the PVC for Alfie’s obstacles since the cutter from yesterday was terrible. In the time it took me to make one cut yesterday I made all of them with the jigsaw. With the pieces cut, it took only a few minutes to assemble the obstacles and start training!

Alfie's weave poles (fully assembled)Alfie's weave poles (fully assembled)

Alfie’s first weave training session

I worked with Alfie for about an hour on his weaving and jumping until Christian woke up, then we drove over to Shenandoah National Park to hike the Pass Mountain Trail, which wound up being an unexpected adventure.

The way out went smoothly, following the fire road until we reached the shelter/hut that marked the turn-around of the loop. We found (what we thought) was the blue-blazed trail to go back to our car and the starting point and set off again.

#mypalAl#mypalAl

Pass Mountain Loop, Shenandoah National Park, VirginiaPass Mountain Loop, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

We’re about two hours into the hike by now and the sun is setting soon, then we reach the road. Okay, good, this was in the trail instructions, I think - but where’s the trail on the other side of the road?

Why would you make North the bottom?Why would you make North the bottom?

Seems simple enough...Seems simple enough...

This is where the first hint of panic sets in - we walk both ways along the road for a bit looking for a trail, then re-consult the map and trail information a couple of times, check the GPS on Christian’s phone, and realize that we went the wrong way at the hut - the path we took was in fact the correct trail, but in the wrong direction, landing us ?? miles away from our starting point (uphill with the sun setting). We’re not sure exactly how far we are since of course we don’t have cell service.

We started walking along the road as I run through possible scenarios in my head, each successive possibility more unrealistic and grisly (and grizzly, in one admittedly far-fetched case). I see a state trooper SUV driving away from us in our direction and try flagging it down, but it doesn’t slow.

I’m keeping Alfie on a very short leash since he thinks this is some new challenge for him and is excitedly swerving between the edge of the (narrow, thankfully-not-broken-glass-strewn) shoulder and the guardrail with trees (AND SQUIRRELS) beyond it.

Then we see a state trooper SUV coming towards us and I wave it down again. After some beating around the bush trying to figure out his navigation system compared to where we are and where our car is, I get him to offer us a ride and we climb in. It didn’t click until we were back at the RV, but he was actually the first one I waved down and had just been looking for a place to turn around.

I was quite glad for the ride since it would have been a steep, narrow, progressively-darker walk back. We got dropped off at the entrance by where we parked and made our way back to the car with 15 minutes before the park closed.

…only the car wouldn’t start. Our portable battery jumper came in handy once again. We’re planning to take the car to a shop to get it checked, since the indicator for the battery after jumping showed it was 3/4 full. Finally we were rolling back to Walmart for a few groceries, then back to the RV.

I whipped up some salmon burgers with veggies and a mayo/vinegar sauce:

Salmon burger with broccoli, onions, wilted greens, and sauceSalmon burger with broccoli, onions, wilted greens, and sauce

Then I kicked back with some tea and got some researching/potential freelance job-searching done before reading and heading to bed.


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Home for the Holidays, Day 17 - Luray, Virginia This morning after throughly bundling up against the 25º weather, Alfie and I went for our morning walk (he wore his boots for the first time). The
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Home for the Holidays, Day 19 - Luray, Virginia to Marion, Virginia I forgot to take up Alfie’s water bowl last night, so he woke me up earlier than normal today. We had a short walk through the fog before the rest