Sunday, September 23, 2012

Prom 2.0

Prom, short for promenade, is a black-tie dance typically experienced by normal teenagers in their third and fourth years of high school.

But we march to the beat of our own drum, Brad Roberts and I.

We may or may not ever get married (damn hippies), our kids will probably have nature-inspired names like Lily and Jasper (big shocker!), and we never experienced the high school rite of passage most people (err all people) call prom. 

It's a well-known fact that Brad nor I will ever be "normal", and nor have we ever been. Ask our our parents or anybody who knows us really. You see, I can stick my tongue up my nose and my non-husband has a bad habit of sniffing his fingers. Plus, we met online thanks in part to some Army-related video game. (Hides in corner.)

But thanks to Stephanie and Justin Walthall, Brad and I finally experienced a black-tie affair, which I shall call Prom 2.0 a.k.a. Steph and Justin's wedding. And their wedding a.k.a. Prom 2.0 was even better than what my redneck Shenandoah Valley prom could have ever been. Ever.

So picture this: my two-left footed non-husband dancing to the Cupid Shuffle and the Cha-Cha Slide, continued nonsense post-event, and me carrying Brad's sorry ass back to the hotel after he managed to puke on my rainbow flip flops...and my freshly-pedicured foot.

It was Prom 2.0, and it was epic. And unlike hypothetical prom, we didn't have to hide the fact that we were drinking. Nor could we have gotten suspended for being caught.

So, I shall end with this: thanks again to the Robertses and the Walthalls for the party of the century, the opportunity to get couples pictures, and a limitless supply of blackmail.

Ali Roberts, you know what I mean? You know what I'm saying? I know you do.

Steph and Justin's Gorgeous Venue!

Victorian Villa Inn is located on Lake Wylie in North Carolina, and this 100-year old mansion and its grounds was the venue that Brad's littlest sister and her now husband chose to  enjoy their special day.

A sweeping staircase leading to a cobble stone walkway,
a dollhouse-inspired guest house bathroom,
and mood-lighting on a deck that overlooked a small pool complete with a bridge

were just a few of the characteristics that made Steph and Justin's special day exude Southern charm.

The wedding ceremony took place on the lawn of Victoria Villa Inn just as the sun was starting to set. Mother Nature's gracious beauty shined through the sparse clouds and onto the smiling, tear-stained faces of that day's star couple, the new Mr. and Mrs. Walthall.

I must say that I am honored to have had a front-row seat for this magical union.

Photos Courtesy of Dave Roberts and Kimberly Michelle Walthall

The Best Damn Sandwich Ever

After class, my friend Megan suggested we head downtown for lunch. She wanted me to try CubanBurger, a restaurant that shares space with a place she worked briefly a few months before, Wine on Water.

A big burly man wearing a black apron and a backwards baseball cap walked up to us at the bar to explain the daily specials. His smile was contagious and so was his passion for food. The man's name was Steve. And I know that because Megan knew him from working at Wine on Water. The specials that day were a testament to his culinary skills and imagination.

I couldn't remember the name of the special when the one and only waitress in the place walked up to our bar stools to take our order. "What sandwich would you like?" she asked. "You know the one with the cumin-lime mayo," I replied. At that moment, I was precisely the person I hated when I worked at Books-a-Million. "Umm...I'm looking for the book with the bird on the cover or maybe it's a mouse. I think the author's last name starts with a consonant."

Luckily for my tastebuds and my belly, Steve knew what the waitress was talking about when she sent the order back to the kitchen. Ten to fifteen minutes later, he hand-delivered a sandwich that shall remain nameless because I still have no idea what it's called. We can call it the Best Damn Sandwich Ever.

Before me, on a square white plate sat perfection. Local flank steak, which was poached and pulled then placed on the skillet to get this unforgettable crispy yet tender texture. Sauteed onions simmered in the same skillet as the steak were doused with fresh orange, lemon, and lime juices. The just-right acidic flavors gave a slight bite to this mouthwatering piece of meat. Cliche or not. It seriously happened. And to top it all off, the pulled steak was placed on a piece of just-out-of-the=oven french-pressed Cuban bread topped with a skim coat of homemade cumin-lime mayo.

The sandwich was a piece of love accompanied by a glass of Harmony 2009, so try this little known gem today. I promise you that you won't regret or forget it!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Old Rag in the Blue Moon

August 31, 2012 was a full moon. It was a blue moon, and it was also the day Neil Armstrong was laid to rest. To hike Old Rag on this special night was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And I did it... with Brad's help of course. For more information on the trail, click here.

At approximately 9PM, Brad and I departed the dark parking lot to start our 4.1 mile uphill climb to the summit.  Not even 100 yards into the hike, we ran into my favorite--a snake. I know they're uncommon in the Shenandoah Valley, but, after a quick Wiki search, I'm almost positive the snake that graced our presence was a black racer snake.

The trail wasn't as well lit as I expected it to be, which made me ever so grateful for the headlamp firmly attached to my head. Red light doesn't affect night vision as much, or so I was told. Here's a pic.

Light or no light, the forest is a scary place when it's dark. Some are afraid of things that go bump in the night, but I'm more afraid of things that go rattle. And the trail is alive with all sorts of rattles at night time. The sounds combined with the sights made for an adrenaline-pumped climb.

These are things that look like snakes:
  • Dark leaves
  • Tree roots
  • Curly twigs
  • Actual snakes (I saw 3, including a copperhead)
  • Etc.
However, the fear that I felt during the climb up and climb down didn't matter because it was all worth it for the scrambles. Some of the scrambles require you to squeeze through narrow passages, others require giant leaps across deep gulleys, and some require hand-over-hand climbing. As you're climbing up and climbing down and climbing up again, you're surrounded by a most beautiful sight--moonlit mountain ranges. And within the moonlit mountain ranges were tiny little towns, which looked like constellations on the ground.

Brad and I reached the summit after 3.5 hours. We took off our packs and laid down on a boulder, looking up at the blue moon. The moon was not visually blue, but whenever there is a second full moon in a month, the phenomenon is called a blue moon. One journalist called August 31st's blue moon a wink to Neil Armstrong by the cosmic calendar in an article that he wrote for the Associated Press.

In honor of Armstrong's legacy, here's a clip from the landing. 

Nothing can top the moment Brad and I had at the summit or even the video that I just posted, so I won't even try writing anything more. Here are a few pictures, though. Warning, they're not my best. My reliable little point-and-shoot doesn't like night hikes. Regardless, I'm still glad I had it.

Shenandoah National Park Wildlife

Brad and I have encountered more wildlife in Shenandoah National Park this season than any other season before.  In honor of our luck (I guess it can be interpreted as good or bad depending on who you are), I figured I'd post our top 5 wildlife pictures.  

A white-tailed fawn grazing near Wayside Cafe

The fawn's mom, who was also grazing near Wayside Cafe

A rat snake resting in some leaves near Jeremy's Run

A black bear sunning itself in the brush parallel to Skyline Drive

A flock of peregrine falcons soaring near Hawksbill Summit


The Oxford English Dictionary defines adrenaline junkie as "n. orig. N. Amer. a person who has a compulsive desire for extreme excitement; a thrill-seeker." And my name is next to that noun. Not really. I just like to think I'm that hardcore.

Especially, when facing the decision to ride something like this:

The Fireball at the Rockingham County Fair. What a rush.

Adrenaline junkies often forgo thinking of consequences when lusting for the thrill. Consequences being mental anguish, physical harm, and even death. You know, like, the kinds of things you read about on  

Adrenaline junkies may even weigh the pros and cons of seeking the thrill. The pro being the thrill and a con being um...mortality. Almost always the superman complex sets in and adrenaline junkies hike on, climb on, jump on, surf on, ride on, etc.

Creaking coaster carts, large cables flapping in the wind, the desperate screams of riders before you, it's allllll worth it for the fix.

Sadly, the video below isn't mine. I found it on YouTube. Be advised, this material is not suitable for the faint of stomach.