This year has been flying by and it’s hard to believe we’re sitting just about 2 months away from Christmas and the beginning of a new year! Brady and I have been trying to soak in all the great weather and fall colors while it lasts. A month ago we hiked the Billy Goat Trail, we were at the beach in Delaware a few weekends ago, then we went backpacking, then hiking with my family, and this past weekend we went out to Western Maryland to ride the rail trail and enjoy some fall colors!
The specific trail we rode on has 2 parts: the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) that runs from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD and then it continues on to Washington D.C. via the C&O Towpath for a total of 335 miles. We started at the Eastern Continental Divide and rode the last 25 miles of the GAP trail down into Cumberland on Saturday afternoon. The best thing about this section of the trail is that it’s all downhill (1800 ft elevation drop <- I wouldn’t want to be going the other way!) So it’s not like you can just sit there and coast but even with breaks and minimal effort, you can make the trip in 3-4 hours. The only thing that’ll be sore after this trip is your tailbone if you don’t ride often.
It was a 2 hour drive to get out to Western Maryland and the weather Saturday morning was abysmal. Dreary, misty, foggy, damp and overcast yucky weather. As soon as we started driving up the mountain to our start point, we left the clouds hanging on the mountains behind us and we were in instant sunshine! By the time we rode our bikes into Cumberland a few hours later, it was if it had never been overcast at all. The weather for our ride couldn’t have been more perfect. It was 70 degrees with just enough cool in the breeze to keep you from overheating while riding in the sun.
About a month ago, I had my first surgical procedure and while there’s nothing I could have done to avoid that outcome, it’s still made me seriously consider how I need to improve my health. Improving my overall health has been a goal for a long time, but the last three months have given me extra motivation. This summer took a huge toll on my emotional and physical health so I’ve been brainstorming ideas to rebuild my overall health and I’ve created my own 4 steps to a healthier life.
When you’re trying to overhaul how you live your life, everything can feel overwhelming. To make everything more manageable without losing motivation, I’ve condensed my goals into 4 areas I would like to improve on for overall health.
My 4 Steps to a Healthier Life
- Minimize harmful chemicals in personal care and home cleaning.
- Eat Healthy Portions of Wholesome Home Cooked Food.
- Improve Physical Fitness.
- Declutter and Organize.
Minimize harmful chemicals in personal care and home cleaning.
Reducing harmful chemicals in my home has been on my mind for a long time and I have already begun making adjustments. I’m very concerned with the amount of chemicals I’m putting on my body and using to clean my home with on a daily basis. The problem is that even “natural products” are full of unhealthy chemicals so it won’t be a quick transition and I know that it will probably take more time to accomplish than anything else on this list.
I told you we are hooked! We sprung for a full weekend backpacking trip instead of just an overnight and we conquered around 17.5 miles mostly on Saturday and Sunday due to a late start on Friday. Ideally we would have hiked from the I-70 AT trailhead but that would have been 7 miles night one and we just didn’t have the daylight to accomplish that. So the plan was to leave at 3:40ish from Brady’s work, drive both cars out to Harpers Ferry, park and then take one car up to Washington Monument State Park and then start the hike from there. That would have gotten us there by at least 5:30 pm and been just under a 4 mile hike to the shelter for our first night.
That was the plan.
Hanna, my sister, was going to come with us for her first backpacking adventure and sleep in our tent while Brady and I were going to try hammock camping. We were expecting 2 Amazon packages to arrive that afternoon containing the second hammock, the tarp, and two 64 oz Sawyer squeeze bags for our water filter. Usually it gets delivered between 2:30 and 3:30 but we were still waiting on it to arrive once Brady got off work so we decided to delay for a little while and hope it came before we left. We played a card game and when it still hadn’t come, we decided to just go knowing it would probably get delivered a few minutes after we left. As we were walking to the door with all our stuff, guess what was delivered!
Finally we were on our way but since we were leaving later, we knew we were going to be dealing with heavier traffic trying to get out there. We arrived in Harpers Ferry around 6:30 but the signage for where to park was very unclear. We ended up parking at the Cavalier Heights Visitor Center but even that was frustrating because signs said we needed to pay and you could only park overnight with a permit… but there was no one there to pay! We ended up finally leaving at 7, without paying, to drive the 30 minutes up to our start point. Since we were only going to have 1 hour til sunset, we parked on Reno Monument Road in a small dirt lot and started the mile hike in towards Rocky Run Shelter.
Tuesday at Disney World was full of animals and Disney magic! We were at Animal Kingdom before rope drop which was pretty easy since our hotel was less than a 5 minute drive away! While we were waiting to be let in, I was complimented a few times on my dress and tiara which made me feel pretty princess-like. Pro tip: you can get away with things like tiaras at Disney World so make the most of your princess days!
The only park opening we missed was on Thursday at the Magic Kingdom (stupid monorail) but of all the other parks, the opening at Animal Kingdom was the most spectacular. We were told that the Macaws were going to fly over our heads and not to duck or they’ll just fly lower. It was a really cool thing to see and experience – you can get an idea of what happens here.
They allowed us to go free into the parks at the stroke of 9 and we headed directly for Expedition Everest in Asia by going through Discovery Island instead of Dino Land. We were able to walk straight onto the ride twice in a row which was great since it’s one of my top two favorite rides in the park (Pandora wasn’t open yet)! However, since we did it twice in a row, it gave Brady a bit of motion sickness so I did some shopping in Africa while he took a break. We were also trying to kill time before the 10 am train left for Rafiki’s Planet Watch because I was hoping to catch an animal surgery.
As I’m looking through photos to share in this post, I have some tears a brewin. Why? It was a really fun vacation and something we both really needed. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a vacation and this much one-on-one quality time. I wanted this to be a great vacation for my husband because he’s been working so hard the last few years. PT school straight into a full time job that he puts a lot of hours and energy into. He needed some time off and we had so many thing to celebrate! Graduations, anniversaries, birthdays… it was about time. I’m so glad we had this week for just the two of us; it really was incredible. Now I’m actually crying… aghh.
To Hollywood Studios! I used the Undercover Tourist Crowd Calendar to plan out which parks what days and Monday was rope drop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! Hollywood Studios is majorly under construction at the moment which really makes it a 1/2 day park. It’s almost not worth going to unless you have a park hopper… but with that being said, it does have a few of the best Disney World rides.
We were about a 7 minute drive away from the DHS gates and we arrived a tad before 8:30. We still had our magic bands from our honeymoon but we weren’t sure if they were still going to work since it’s been almost 3 years and we’d heard the batteries die after a couple years. Luckily they were still working which was a pretty exciting discovery. I thought for a second it wasn’t going to work, but the cast member was like, “don’t be sad yet!” because I hadn’t scanned my finger yet. Yay! We were in.
We’re back from Disney World! Well actually, we’ve been back since Sunday but it was an amazing and much needed vacation and I can’t wait to spam you with our vacay photos! We did 5 full days in the parks last week so I’m going to split them all up into separate posts so I’m going to start off with the beginning of our vacation just to catch us up.
This post is part of a series I’m doing on Disney World – If you want to check out more posts, click here.
We left for our vacation after Brady finished work on Friday (May 5) and started our long drive down to Florida. Driving saved money on flights and rental cars so it’s what made sense. We had a room booked at the Hampton Inn in North Florence, SC on the way down which ended up being a bit over 7 hours drive because of the traffic we hit going around DC.