Summer may be over and Fall is right around the corner, which I am excited about too, but I wanted to share our Sundays of Summer with you and how they came about. As a wedding photographer my weekends are packed full with weddings and portrait sessions. I do weekday portraits as well but the average person works Monday-Friday and sometimes weekday evenings just won’t work with their schedule. My husband, Cory is one of those Monday-Friday people as well! Even though, I work in my office editing, book-keeping, emailing, appointment making, blogging, and the list could go on, my evenings and weekends are also busy this time of year. Luckily it is something that I LOVE doing and it never feels like a task to get done.
It is safe to stay that our honeymoon in Asheville had us wanting to go on adventures all of the time! After our Honeymoon in May was coming to an end, we were filled to the brim with adventures and memories to take with us. Our honeymoon is and I think always will be my favorite vacation! It left us wanting to keep having more adventures together in whatever capacity we could, knowing that our schedules were about to be completely opposite from each other’s, we were trying to think of ways we could still do things together.
Last year, Cory and I were on a softball league where all of the games were on Sundays. As we debated this summer to sign up or not, we realized that Sundays would be the only days that we would have together to truly do anything we wanted and have the entire day to do it. So, we scratched the idea of signing up for the softball league this summer, even though we enjoyed it a lot last year, and made a pact with each other that: Sundays would be for adventures together. I am sharing below a glimpse into our Sundays of Summer 2017 because now that Summer has come to an end, I can look back on those Sundays and I have realized how important they are.
I want every newly engaged or newly married couple to know how important it is to make the time, do the adventurous things, create the memories and be present with each other. I hope we all strive to use one day a week, even if it is not Sunday to spend with our fiancé, husband or wife, without a schedule or somewhere to be. Do what you can, start where you can. You will see below not all of our Sundays were extravagant hikes like the last day of our honeymoon, but we did what we could with where we were at!
The Sunday that we caught the adventure bug, or wanderlust as some people like to call it: The last day of our Honeymoon was a Sunday. We could have just packed up and left our mountain home to drive back to Virginia, but we decided to make the most of this day. Cory planned for us to drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway and stop at Linville Gorge where three sets of waterfalls were waiting just for us!
That was the only plan, but as we got higher in elevation the types of trees changed, the fog floated across the mountain range and we wanted to stop to smell the trees. (No roses here!) We heard that you can get to a spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway where the higher elevation, has mountain ranges full of Christmas trees. No one told us exactly where this was. As we came around one corner it seemed to suddenly appear. The change in the types of trees growing alongside the parkway was as instant as the fog braking for us. There they were, in all their glory, a darker green color because of the rain saturating them. We pulled the jeep to the side of the road and got out to smell the trees. The Evergreen scent was abundant and for some reason I felt as if it wasn’t real. From only smelling a yankee candle around Christmas to smelling the natural scent in nature was surreal. We balanced along the wet parkway railing, looking out over the misty mountain ranges and took deep breaths. That is the kind of memory that you know you will want to take with you your entire life, while you are in the actual moment, so I quickly took this photograph of Cory. This photograph means the world to me, that it is hard to explain, but I am greatly moved by it every time I look at it.
As we started our way to Linville Gorge…again… we saw a sign for Mount Mitchell to our left. I mentioned to Cory, that that was the highest elevation east of the Mississippi River in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I also reminded him that it was one of the mountains I got a screen print of in the local art gallery in downtown Asheville the day before. Without hesitation Cory took a sharp left on that mountain road into the state park for Mount Mitchell. Again unplanned, we trekked up to this mountain peak in the light rain. At 6,684 feet we smiled at each other, I of course took a couple of photographs, setting the self timer for one of the two of us together. We eventually made our way to Linville Gorge and hiked a few miles to the several overlooks of Linville falls. The rain followed us but that made this popular hike less crowded. Even making our way home from our honeymoon, that Sunday, was an adventure. Before I mentioned the fog breaking for us to see the evergreens in all of their glory, well our way home the fog came again. We were high in the mountains on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the fog got worse and worse. At first we laughed, and talked about how bad it was getting. We were both a little shocked, luckily Cory was driving. Then, I wasn’t able to control my nervous grip on my chair and my seatbelt. The view was completely gone and there was only white fog around our jeep. I had to trust Cory with my life, as a newlywed on our last day of our honeymoon. Nature always seems to want to test Cory and I. Case in point (these examples weren’t on our honeymoon, by the way): Cory realized that he was going to marry me when one Sunday we experienced two flat tires in the mountains, with no cell phone service and no one in sight a couple of years ago. We lost Charlie in the mountains together one time and by some miracle I saw his red blinking light on his harness and found him. We’ve had to create fires to cook our food in the rain, we helped another couple that evening with their fire as well a campsite over from us. Putting up a tent together is teamwork in a different form and hiking together is another form of teamwork. Me, with short legs and arms and Cory with long ones; there has been a lot of pulling me up or helping me over rocks!
I trusted Cory with my life in the most dense fog I have ever experienced, and told him that I loved him but through nervous laughs told him, “I love you, I didn’t want our honeymoon to end but… get us OFF of this mountain!” Laughing the entire time I uttered those words, but once we made our way down to an actual town and got to a flatter highway, we both mentioned several times for the next couple of hours, “wow, that was really intense fog we drove through,” and then proceeded to break out into laughter. Yes, nature likes to test us but I am happy to say they do make for some of our best stories and we always seem to get through them together.
Kayaking and walks at Windsor Castle Park: Every Sunday couldn’t be amazing hikes in the mountains or traveling but we like to do things close to home as well. We walk our dogs almost every Sunday whether we take them somewhere or in our neighborhood. Windsor Castle Park is where we walk sometimes and another Sunday we also rented kayaks and kayaked around the river.
Strawberry Picking: We were right at the end of strawberry picking season but we had to make it there! The first year of Cory and I dating I asked him to go strawberry picking with me, and it turned out he had never been before. He likes to taste test while picking the strawberries, while I am worried about spiders that might jump on me.
The Zoo: We went to the zoo one hot summer day, right when they opened, to beat the heat! I heard about the baby giraffe there and I really wanted to see it! We also took our dogs one evening to First Landing State Park to walk and swim before heading over to my Parents’ home for dinner.
Three beach days with our dogs: Three separate beach days or mornings we took our dogs to a beach outside of Smithfield on the river. We can let them off leash here because the way the walk to it is, it blocks a route for them to get loose. Foster doesn’t like the water, while Charlie will swim all morning. The way one part of rocks lines up with the beach, there is to narrow of a strip of sand between the rocks and the water for Foster’s comfort so he will never run through that to get loose. It seemed to be our own private beach most Sunday mornings and our dogs loved it. By the third Sunday morning Foster would run happily into the water but when he got ankle deep he realized that he was terrified!
Fort Monroe and Oozlefinch Craft Brewery: Another place Cory had never been before was Fort Monroe, so we decided to drive over there and walk around the fort. It got really hot that day, quickly, so I looked up a brewery and Oozlefinch Craft Brewery was right there.
Busch Gardens: One Sunday we had some friends in town so we woke up and went to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia. We rode every roller coaster and crawled into bed, exhausted, by the end of the day.
Kitchen Remodel: This is not technically going on an adventure and it may seem like something on a to-do list. Which it technically was, but even though it was a lot of work, Cory and I were really looking forward to redoing the kitchen! From the original cabinets, original oven, original countertops, etc in our kitchen we needed to do something. We sanded and painted the cabinets one Sunday. Picked out our new hardware for them and then decided there is just to much white now in the kitchen so we picked out a new black and silver oven to match our refrigerator. Next up is going to be new counters, back splash and a new sink, but we are currently enjoying the improvements we worked on together.
White Oak Canyon hike: We did make it back to the mountains this summer in the Shenandoah National Park. It was a HOT day, with all capital letters HOT, so I was really glad that we had several spots to stop and swim. I love the picture below of us because I imagine this picture being looked at by our future family and them thinking, “man our parents are cool!” 😉 This is true to me because that day, on that hike, in that moment I looked over at Cory and knew that we were always going to have adventures together. I knew that he is the one that I somehow was lucky enough to meet, to fall in love with and to have with me on the greatest adventure.. our life together.
We hiked with four of our other friends and struggled up the mountain on an eight mile hike. Then we came across a natural water slide and slid down it, finishing up our hike we stopped in one more swimming hole where fish decided to give us all pedicures. As we were almost done with the last leg to our cars, we saw a bear! As I expected, the bear ran off in the other direction when it realized that we were there, but it was hilarious to see the guys pick up rocks and rotted tree limbs. We waited for another group to catch up to us and when we were about 12 people strong, we walked past the bear. He ran off in the other direction, moving bushes out of the way with the sheer mass of his own body. He was magical to watch, and I think that is only because he was running in the other direction from where we were standing.
Charleston: To end our Summer we took our parents and Cory’s sister and her husband to Charleston, South Carolina for a long weekend. Even though we technically left Sunday, after breakfast I wanted to share this trip on here as well. It was a great long weekend of exploring Charleston, the Magnolia Plantation, a ghost tour, swimming in the pool and quality time with everyone after the last time we were all together was our wedding weekend.
I will always be fond of our Sundays of Summer and I encourage all couples to pick a day once a week where you can do things together. You may have noticed several of our choices did not cost any money. Some were trips away and some were activities close to home. Some days were a lot of fun activities and some prompted long conversations about our life together and our future. We all need those kinds of days with our significant other, and I hope this has inspired you to make the effort to have them with yours.
We have caught the wanderlust feeling again and two Sundays from now we will be waking up in our tent on the side of a mountain with our two dogs licking our faces to wake us up. We may go on another hike or go apple picking… or both. It will be Sunday, anything can happen!