Friday, December 30, 2011

Pre-Christmas vacation

Last week, Florian and I seized the day to go on a little road trip before the wackiness of the holidays and the busyness of his next semester.

We had always wanted to check out the hot springs of western Virginia, as well as the amazing-looking New River Gorge National River in West Virginia. 

We arrived at Warm Springs, VA Wednesday evening and decided to camp at Lake Moomaw. The great thing about Forest Service campsites this time of year is that no one's there. We had the foggy, chilly place all to ourselves and the dogs loved running around. 

The next morning, we set off to explore Warm Springs and the next town South along VA-220--Hot Springs. Although we didn't find the undeveloped hot springs in the middle of a forest somewhere like we were hoping, we did enjoy seeing the steam coming up through the pavement everywhere in Hot Springs. 

There's an old place called the Homestead where you can sit in a big hot pool for $17. We didn't do it because we didn't think they'd want three dogs sitting in their gorgeous hot pool, but it looked well worth it!

After exploring the Homestead--and leaving the van door open one second too long, then chasing Fozzie all over the manicured grounds as bemused construction guys looked on (he eventually walked right up to one of said construction guys after eluding us for 20 minutes)--we continued south and west to the New River Gorge National River.

Florian knows how I love stunning scenic vistas and dramatic landscapes, so he thought I would enjoy this National Park site in West Virginia. 

This place has everything. First a hike along the Tunnel Trail, about which signs at the Visitor Center said DO NOT, by any means, ever even THINK of going through the tunnels as they are VERY DANGEROUS. 

That should give you a good clue as to where we headed first.


Then, a hike on the trail down the side of the gorge, with a rocky craggy cliff face on one side and a steep drop-off all the way down to the river on the other.

There were a couple of moments where my heart stopped in my throat, like when Fozzie and Sandy stood on the very edge of the cliff...and Fozzie gave one of his intense ear-flapping shakes.


When we climbed back up the trail and got towards the top, we got into an area where the trail went through a canopy of rich green rhododendrons. 

That foliage--in December--combined with the cool misty weather and the incredible vista, made me feel like I was back in Oregon or Washington. 

The following day, after camping in a state park,  we checked out the Sandstone Falls, also along the New River. 

We finally got some sun for our drive up along the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most stunning drives around. Views for miles and miles, and trails everywhere. We got off to tire the dogs out on one that went up a steep hill next to a waterfall. 

We arrived home tired, refreshed, ready for family holiday madness, and grateful for the forward-thinking decisionmakers of yesteryear who set aside large tracts of land for open space, wildlife, ecosystem services, and recreation. May 2012 bring that sort of foresight back to public policy!


  1. I'm pretty sure my heart would have stopped on that trail too Kirsten!! Holy smack doodle dandy, I'm not so sure I would have liked having my dogs around that. Delilah thinks she is part mountain goat, I have seen her try and run strait up rocks!

    But I'm very glad you got to take your pups along on that gorgeous trail.

  2. How gorgeous! I can see why it reminded you of the Pacific NW.

    Happy New Year!

  3. Wow, what an excellent adventure!

  4. Looks like a fun trip filled with beautiful scenery! We need to get out more.

  5. Absolutely gorgeous! I think I would pay the money to sit in that pool!

  6. What a beautiful time. Thank you for sharing it :-)

  7. All I can think to say is, "breathtaking." So glad you got to have a little break, and how fun that the pups got to go too!

  8. so beautiful. Bet the hot pool would have been nice.
    Benny & Lily

  9. that's a fantastic looking place. i'm quite jealous that the 4-leggeds were allowed in the area.

    that pic of Fozzie and Sandy at the edge gave me a heart attack too. i HATE it when Georgia goes near a cliff edge or runs down some high rocky embankment. WHY do dogs like doing that?!

    i hope the holiday madness has passed. Happy 2012! and best wishes for a gentle, peaceful year ahead x

  10. What a fantastic trip! What made the mounds of sand at Warm Springs? The waterfalls are amazing :) Cool cave trail too :) Now the cliff? That would give Mom heart palpitations! :O Glad y'all made it back safely :)

    Happy New Year to all of you! :D

    Waggin at ya,

  11. Thanks for sharing your lovely pictures. Looks like a beautiful place.

    To your thanks, I will also add my appreciation that so many of these wonderful parks were developed and made accessible to us by the work of unemployed men during the depression. If the government is looking to spend money to help the economy, they can certainly do worse. :)

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  12. the scenery is breathtaking!

    funny, when we go on harder hikes with cliffs and dangerous terrain, our dogs are SO much better on their feet/paws. Much more sure-footed than I ever could be!

  13. Wishing you all A Very Happy & Healthy New Year!

    Absolutely fabulous photos!

    Big Nose Pokes
    The Thugletsx

  14. Pawsome adventure! So beautiful! And how lucky you pups were to run free in such amazing beauty! Looks like a place I need to go and visit! Thank you for sharing. Such great photos.

    And, great 2012 wish.

    Happy New Year! Have a fantastic 2012 full of many more incredible adventures!


  15. What a great trip

    Stop on by for a visit


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.