Prince William Forest Park is sneaky. I’ve probably driven past it a few hundred times over the years and yet, I didn’t know it wasn’t there. It’s just off I-95, south of Washington, D.C., north of Richmond, Virginia, and adjacent to Quantico. It’s smallish, at 15,000 acres, but includes almost 40 miles of hiking trails, more than 20 miles of bicycle-accessible roads and trails and a short scenic drive. Best of all, it’s lovely.
I live in a den of fur. There’s my hair, the cat hair and then the piles of fluff expressed by the two husky mutts and so really, there’s never not fur on my floors, on my shirt or in my food. And now that it’s spring, it’s gotten worse.
It is a constant and real struggle. The vacuum does good work on the rugs, but this house is mostly hardwoods, so I bought this FURemover Broom and it is so good. It doesn’t get all full of static and fling dog fur around like a regular broom, but it does actually collect the fur piles and all the little stray pieces of fur that these beasts leave around the house.
The first time I visited the Grand Canyon it was not enough. We were just passing through, quickly, on a time-limited, cross-country road trip. We had hours there, only a few, and we spent our time staring into the canyon, wondering how such an impressive and incredible thing could be real.
Later, as we drove to Palm Springs, we talked about going back, about the next time. We both knew we’d be back, both agreed we wanted to go below the rim.
I didn’t have a plan for the day, not really. I needed to get myself from Richmond to Maryland for a work conference that would start the next day, a friend in Washington, D.C. was celebrating her birthday and it was pissing rain.
I sent my friend a text, asking if she had plans for the afternoon, explaining that yes, I definitely did have time for a birthday beverage or adventure and that I would love to see her if we could make the timing work.
The Vatican Museums house something like 70,000 pieces of art, only 20,000 of which are on display. It’s one of the largest museums in the world and includes 54 galleries, including the Sistine Chapel. The museums were founded by Pope Julius II in the 16th century and today it is the 4th most-visited museum in the world, with around 6 million visitors shuffling their way through the galleries each year.
After the success of last year’s solo trip to New Mexico, I wanted more. I debated a few options, consulting this map and looking for clusters of national parks that would allow me to spend 5-7 days in one or two places while hitting a handful of parks. Mostly, I wanted to go west again and Arizona’s national parks kept popping up in the books I was reading, the shows I was watching and it all started to seem like a sign.
Shenandoah is, in a way, my home park. I was born in the mountains that it protects and I grew up driving up and down the Skyline Drive, but I think I took it for granted and, as a kid, I was restricted to whatever the adults wanted to do, which mostly wasn’t hiking. Plus, I’m a very different sort of explorer than I was growing up, and so, I’ve promised myself I’ll be better about visiting Shenandoah this year, that I’ll hike more and explore and just do more.
The first time I was introduced to death, I was 16.
I was working the concession stand at my high school’s production of Cinderella. Normally, I was on stage, but it was a musical and no one wanted to hear me sing. It was opening night.
I was called into a side room by my principal and my English teacher, Mr. Harris. I was scared. I called on my acting skills, begging them to provide for me. I thought I was caught, that my teacher and principal knew where I’d been that morning, that they’d smelled pot on me and I was scared they wouldn’t believe me when I told them I didn’t smoke it, that it was David’s, that he smoked it that morning, not me, that he was mad that I didn’t, that truly it wasn’t my thing. I preferred a pilfered Mike’s Hard Lemonade or a grape juice-infused shot of everclear.
1. THE GLACIER NATIONAL PARK BEAR.
Y’all, I’m obsessed. At Glacier National Park there is a bear. A black bear who lives in a cottonwood tree. This bear was first observed on March 23rd as it slowly woke up from the deep slumber of hibernation. Knowing that sometimes a bear hibernates in this tree, the incredible folks at Glacier set up a webcam in advance of bear-waking-up season and so now you can watch this bear participate in bear shenanigans 24/7.
There’s something special about volcanoes. Each once I’ve visited has left me reeling and feeling. Maybe it’s the power that’s left there, the imprint of destruction left on the earth, the memory of chaos. Whatever it is, I always feel it and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument was no exception.
Last year I didn’t read a lot, or at least not as much as I wanted to. I finished 32 books, out of my original goal of 50. But then, this year, I joined the local library and have been on a rampage ever since. With the first quarter of 2018 past us, I’ve already read 20 books, some great, many good and some almost awful.
1. THE LIBRARY.
I had a library card as a kid and, being mega, super poor, that was how I got my read on. This year I decided I needed to be a better adult and manage my money in a more responsible way and, as part of that effort, I got myself a library card.
I’m sure this is old news to many of you, BUT THEY LET YOU BORROW WHOLE PILES OF BOOKS FOR ZERO DOLLARS AND IT IS WONDERFUL AND DELIGHTFUL AND I AM ADDICTED. I’ve been putting books on hold like a fiend and every time I get the email notifying me my book is ready for pick-up I’m like a giddy kid on Christmas morning.