Category: travel

Visit Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

For years we’ve driven through the tiny hamlet of Berkeley Springs, WV on our way to visit family in Pittsburgh. We’ve said repeatedly that “one day” we’ll stop and explore. We finally decided to stop waiting for that one day to come, and put a visit to Berkeley Springs on our itinerary. We’re so glad we did.

Berkeley Springs has an eclectic vibe and is a haven for artists and art-lovers. Pop into most any store and you will find local art of every description for sale. Washington Street/522 is very walkable, and filled with quirky and interesting shops.

I loved this shop. They have great jewelry, clothing and home goods. I’ll take one of everything, please!

If you’re just passing through, we recommend stretching your legs in the heart of the town, Berkeley Springs State Park. During the summer months, the natural spring water pool is open to the public. There are a couple of bathhouses in the park and you can make an appointment for a soak at one of them, have a sauna or book a massage. Before you leave the park, be sure to pay a visit to George Washington’s bathtub. Yes, Berkeley Springs was even a spa destination for the Father of His Country.

We recommend having lunch or dinner at Tari’s Cafe. It’s a just short stroll from the park. Tari’s is a combination restaurant and art gallery. We chose it because they advertise as gluten-free friendly and our server was certainly knowledgeable about the ingredients in their food. The food was amazing and the service was prompt and friendly. Mark ordered the French Dip (hold the baguette) and went crazy for it. Tari’s showcases glass artwork, so the environment is not super kid-friendly. Honestly, I was a little nervous that I would accidentally hit/buy something with my pocketbook on the way past a display shelf. I’m not the most graceful thing.

Instead of stopping for coffee at a franchise, we opted to caffeinate at Fairfax Coffee House. With exposed brick walls and wood shelving, the Fairfax has a cozy, general store feel. It’s full of local art, most of which is for sale. There are pastries (some are gluten free) and frozen treats on offer, as well as the requisite coffee house drinks. When we tried to tip the barista, she said “Oh, no. We’re tip free here.” Even the restroom is graced with unconventional art and signage.

If you’re there on the weekend, take in a show at the Star Theatre. With a 90 year history, it’s pure nostalgia. The concession stand features popcorn prepared in a 1949 Manley Popcorn Machine, topped with real butter.

Berkeley Springs is a two hour drive from Baltimore or D.C. and a popular, weekend tourist destination. The first time we stopped for lunch was on a Wednesday, and I commented to our server at Tari’s that the town seemed deserted. She said “Yeah. We’re a Thursday through Sunday kind of town.” If you need lodging while in the area, try The Country Inn of Berkeley Springs or Cacapon Resort State Park Lodge, which is a ten minute drive from town.

Pro Tips:
Berkeley Springs police have no chill. No, I don’t know this from first hand experience, but we literally have never gone through there without seeing someone pulled over. Fair warning.

Because Berkeley Springs is a tourist destination, weekend parking is in high demand. We’ve had fairly good luck trolling side streets for an open spot. I’d rather walk a few blocks than feed the meter.

Shop owners take a break after the tourists go home each week. Many of the shops are closed on Monday. Some don’t re-open until Thursday. We recently visited on a Tuesday and very few shops were open along Washington/522.

We love this quirky, little town.

To learn more about Berkeley Springs: https://berkeleysprings.com/
This post is not sponsored, I just enjoy sharing good things with my readers.

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Family Fun Activities – Twelve Year Old Niece Edition

When we visited Pittsburgh over Labor Day weekend, our twelve year old niece created an itinerary of genius (if slightly wacky) activities for us to try. We’re no strangers to shenanigans and nonsense. They’re some of our favorite things. After all, we’ve got thirty years of experience having fun with nieces and nephews.

Disclaimer: My attorney wants me to tell you these activities involve risk. Don’t blow up the kitchen. Don’t explode canned goods in the oven. Don’t choke on a pretzel chip. I shouldn’t have to tell you not to sample the Google Bake. Don’t give each other conjunctivitis. As always, use the good sense God gave you when trying out any new activity. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Google Bake: Unfamiliar? We were too. Here are the rules:
1) Paste a recipe into Google Translate, then translate into many different languages in succession.
2) Translate back into the original language.
3) Without reading the recipe first, follow the new instructions line by line and see where it takes you!

Because my niece and I weren’t allowed to peek, my sister and cousin translated the keto Death by Chocolate Cake recipe for us. Here’s the recipe with our notes and adjustments italicized:

kweKetone Marwolaethcacen kuqukethezekhekhe (Zulu?!)

lokuxuba lokuxubhawesinkwa (of the breadcrumb mix)
2 umhlabathienomhlabathi (soil and soil) million cups of almond powder – This cake is getting expensive. We didn’t have *quite* that much almond flour, so we used an enormous bag of wheat flour instead.
1 cup of molten sweetener Noman erythritol – Everything I microwave becomes “molten”, so…..
is 1/2 cup flour and cocoa – MORE flour!
half age 1. Bake – It didn’t say how long to bake. A few seconds should do.
butter1/2 cuprhowchôl – We didn’t know what rhowchôl was, but we thought that sounded vaguely like chow-chow, which is kind of like the pickle relish we found in the fridge, so…in you go, 1/2 cup of dill pickle relish.

vanilla extract 1 teaspoon then – Throw in a teaspoon. That’s gonna crunch when bitten into.
egg in – Initially, the egg went in whole, then the 12 year old decided we should probably crack it so that she could sample the cake after baking.
2cwpan milk – We assumed cwpan means cup. It does!

glaze
caws8oz, replace – Caw. Like a crow.
half the butter, replaced – Not sure what was wrong with the first half of butter. But we replaced it anyway.
flour flour 1/3 of erythritol – Flour. Flour. This is gonna be one gluey glaze.
for 1 hour. L. Remove the vanilla 3 meters.
L. – We didn’t have nearly ten feet to work with, so we placed the bottle of vanilla as far to the left as we could. On the floor. In front of the pots and pans cabinet.
It’s not fun, but you’re dying – Oh, but it is fun!
2 meters. L. a new cream to choose – Reject cream cheese, choose whipping cream instead.
chocolate chip lily (isikhwamangentuthu – the haze!) with
bread – Melt chocolate, spread on Mom’s good Dave’s Killer Bread. She won’t mind.

  1. sentuthusibe350 degrees.
  2. Mix almond powder, erythritol, cocoa powder and baking powder well in a large bowl. Mix butter and vanilla. Incorrect eggs (so judgy!), mix well, stir well and mix well (that’s a whole lotta mixing) with almond milk.
  3. Carefully wrap three standard cake pans (or use stickers if necessary) or use a spoon to prevent sticking. Gives a third with cans. Huh? Canned goods? Okay. We didn’t have gift wrap, so we stickered the cans instead. I’m still not convinced that prevents sticking, but whatevs. We didn’t write this recipe. We’re just the test kitchen.
  4. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes (replace the oven) until it comes in contact again and the toothbrush is clean. Just in case you thought 2 million cups of almond flour was expensive; you could replace an oven for that.
  5. Allow it to cool completely before removing it from the pan. I kept it at room temperature for a few hours and kept the room warm at night, which worked well. It’s September. The room is already warm at night.
  6. Put in a large bowl and stir all ingredients until foamy for 3-5 minutes. Less foamy, more concrete in texture and weight.
  7. Combination: Put the first piece of cake on top and clean it from freezing to high. We’ve already brushed it’s teeth, I’m not cleaning it again.
  8. Put the second layer of the cup and add the glass, this will damage the ice on the cake. Too bad we threw out that broken glass. Could’ve used it in this recipe.
  9. If necessary, specify customization options. I think we’ve customized this enough.

Floor Picnic:
When your niece invites you to have a “Floor Picnic” with her, you just say yes! Never mind that you don’t know what a floor picnic is. Turns out, it’s just what it seems. Spread a quilt on the floor and place favorite picnic foods in the center. Try to keep the peanut shell/popcorn mess contained to the quilt. Get comfy and watch a movie together. Simple, indoor fun!

Googly Eyes Makeovers:
Partner up with a willing victim participant. Spread old makeup that you don’t mind ruining onto the table. Raid the Halloween supplies for this one. Place the “hard” lenses into the frames of the glasses from the game Googly Eyes. We needed a fourth player for this one, so our niece used her powers of persuasion on him, and Mark extremely reluctantly agreed to step in. He’s a good sport!

The player with the glasses on must take an unassisted “before” selfie of the two of you. They then give the other player a makeover using the cosmetics before them. Again, unassisted. No hints, no help opening containers. Nothing. Once the makeover is complete, the player with the glasses on takes an “after” selfie. Switch glasses and give the other player a makeover. Makeup remover wipes are optional equipment for this game, but highly recommended.

Pro tip: Keep your eyes tightly shut during your makeover. Don’t worry too much though, your cosmetologist shouldn’t be able to find your eyes to hit them!

Best uncle ever. I think *someone* needs to go to a rock concert made up like this! She better remember this day when we’re old and in a nursing home. Just sayin’.

Is your family game to try these activities? If so, plan an itinerary for them! Let me know how that goes in the comments. A certain twelve year old will be waiting to hear all about it.

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

12 Great Reasons to Run Virtual Races

Over the past few years, I’ve run several virtual races. That’s where you run the distance at a time, place and pace of your choosing, then upload your results to the race’s website. I’m a fan of virtuals and here’s why:

  • You get the opportunity to run races that aren’t local. Occasionally, I see upcoming races that aren’t available nearby and running it virtually is a nice option.
  • Awesome race bling in the form of shirts and finisher medals. Let’s get real: Will run for swag. My favorite running shirt came from a virtual, the Hakuna Mimosa.
  • Walkers are always welcome. Not every classic race is open to walkers, but in a virtual, you get to decide who can participate. It’s open to everyone!
  • No travel required. Now, I love a good away game, but that can be expensive and time-consuming. Sometimes it’s just not convenient or possible.
We ran Honor the Brave on Memorial Day Weekend in Fishers, IN. Back home, we ran 4 additional 5ks to earn the ‘dog tags’ that attach to the bottom of the medal.
  • A virtual is all the fun of race day without the pre-race jitters. There is no pressure to compete, unless you want that. One you upload your results, you can see see how you stack up against the other racers.
  • No packet pick-up with limited hours. Although I love a good pre-race expo, there’s something to be said for sitting back and letting the mailman deliver your swag.
Shirt on offer at the pre-race expo for Charleston Distance Run.
  • Race at your convenience. If you need to run at 7:00 AM instead of 9:00 AM, do that! You’re not locked down to rearranging your schedule for an event. Running with friends? Choose a time that works for all of you!
  • No parking hassles. You don’t have to pay to park, or get extra mileage by parking in no-man’s-land. I mean, we’re here to exercise, but let’s not get too crazy!
Having a little tongue-in-cheek fun with our team name for the Run A Latte virtual. Run on Memorial Day 2019, we were team Stinking Hotties by the end of the 10k!
  • No port-o-johns and no waiting in line for them. Hallelujah! Having to use a port-o-john is my #1 race day worry. I hate them with a passion.
  • Injured on race day? Is the weather bad? Re-schedule it! There’s no need to defer or DNS.
  • Pause your GPS whenever you need to. Competing in classic races, I’ve run through beautiful neighborhoods and thought “I’d really like to slow down and explore this area for a bit.” That’s not a problem with a virtual. You’re the official timer. Stop and smell the roses lilies, take in the view, selfie, use a legit bathroom.

You never know what strange things you might see.

Organically grown, grass-fed BBQ sauce. Found free-ranging, down by the Roanoke River.
  • Choose your own recovery food. No pre-race and post-race gluten-filled food that I can’t eat anyway. I’m looking at you, pizza, donuts and beer!

Bonus Reason to love virtual races:
They make great gifts. The recipient can customize the experience to their tastes. I registered for The Easter Bunny brought us race entries to the Run A Latte virtual this year.

I’ve used and recommend 131 Events for classic and virtual races:
https://131events.com/

Are you tempted to register for a virtual? There are so many fun reasons to give it a try. I think you’ll like it!

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

I Hiked McAfee Knob and Didn’t Die

From time to time, our little running group likes to change things up and hike instead. There are so many amazing sights and experiences in SW Virginia, that sometimes I take them for granted. One such view that is practically on our front doorstep is McAfee Knob.

What can I say about McAfee Knob that hasn’t already been said? It’s one of the most photographed spots along the Appalachian Trail and for good reason; the views are breathtaking. Watching fellow hikers get too close to the edge of the knob is breathtaking too, but for different reasons.

From 311 to the knob is eight miles, round trip. Our group chose to take the fire road up to the trail, because most of us aren’t actual hikers. We’re really just in it for the social aspect of the outing.

And the pretty pictures.

Because I’m trying not to trip while staring at my feet anyway, I might as well enjoy the flowers along the trail. And look for heart rocks.

Because there are so many hikers on the mountain, you’re not likely to see a lot of wildlife along the way. Which is just fine with me. No snakes or bears.

After about two miles, we transitioned from the wide, easy fire road onto the more technical Appalachian Trail. Some in our group hiked a slightly longer route and approached the knob from the east. How they got over there, I have no idea, but they were advised to go that route by a fellow hiker because it had “a way doper view”. I hear that trail skirted the cliff, and their views focused on foot placement so as to remain on the mountain, not enjoying the “way doper view” from a freefall.

Don’t expect solitude while taking in the views at McAfee Knob, especially on weekends. If the weather is nice, the knob will be jammed up like a Disney park during spring break.

Not to worry, if you chat up the other hikers, you’ll meet some fascinating people and maybe even hear a crazy story or two. We met a few through-hikers and loads of day-trippers. One group was leaving as we arrived mid-morning. Maybe we drove them out? I wouldn’t bet against it. They were hiking the 28 miles of Virginia’s Triple Crown (Tinker Cliffs, McAfee Knob and Dragon’s Tooth) all in one day. *gulp*

Be sure to bring water and a snack. This is a good spot to re-fuel for the trek back down the mountain.

After resting awhile and soaking up the views, it was time to head back to civilization. We gave our knees a good pounding on the rocky trail, and then rewarded them by taking the more hospitable fire road for the duration of the hike.

Pro tip: When hiking the knob on the weekend, get to the parking lot on 311 early. Like, 6:30 to 7:00 AM, early. It fills up quickly.
If you’re hiking in a group, I recommend meeting at the park-and-ride lot (Orange Market – intersection of 311 and 419) and carpooling to the lot at the trail head on 311. We finished our hike about 11:00 AM and there were people literally blocking our parking spot hoping to snag it as we left. There were friendly volunteers directing traffic, trying to smooth out the parking situation. But fair warning, weekend parking at 311 is dog-eat-dog.

For more reading on McAfee Knob:
https://www.hikingupward.com/jnf/McAfeeKnob/
And if you’re crazy enough to do Virginia’s Triple Crown:
https://www.ratc.org/mcafee-knob-and-the-triple-crown/

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Half Marathon – A Race Review

I’ll just come right out and say it. Blue Ridge is the best race. Regardless of which distance you are running, this one will keep you coming back year after year. Spoiler alert: It will beat you every time.

Isn’t ‘insanity’ doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Maybe so, but you will love this insanity! Blue Ridge truly has something for everyone: Carilion Children’s 1 miler, Anthem Star 10k, marathon relay, half marathon, full marathon and for those of you with zero good sense, the double marathon! Seriously. You really can run the full, twice in one day. You’ll earn a sweet double finisher gift if you do.

Blue Ridge boasts of being America’s Toughest Road Races for good reason. Unless you’re doing the children’s 1 miler, you will encounter some crazy elevation gain and loss throughout each race course. Forget PRing this one. Just focus on finishing it, and enjoying the gorgeous views and the outpouring of community support along the way.

The pre-race expo is always a good time. Bring some extra pocket jingle to buy race gear like the hoodie my husband, Mark is wearing here. If you see something you like, buy it. Race merchandise is limited and sells out quickly.

Pre-race smiles…and jitters. Let’s get this party started!

Mark chose to interval this as his first full marathon with twin goals of staying on course and beating the sweep. His walking pace is faster than my running pace. Also, you can’t get lost at Blue Ridge. They do a great job of marking the course and there are helpful course marshals everywhere. Just follow the arrows that match the color of your bib.

I pre-registered for the half marathon but planned to switch to the 10k, because I was rehabbing a bone bruise in my foot and had not been able to train properly. At the last minute, I decided to stick with the half and walk it. My friend Kelly was walking the 10k, so we adventured together for the first 5 miles, stopping to take selfies with everything and everyone. Race day is a much different experience without the pressure of trying to PR.

Pa Kettle met us as we began our ascent up Mill Mountain.

The community support for Blue Ridge is second to none. Homeowners along the route come out to bolster the runners with music, signs, words of encouragement and unofficial aid stations. Our friends Donna and Lorelie have awesome front yard cheer stations, families offer apple juice boxes and other treats to the runners, homeowners set up their sprinklers streetside to run through. There are some quirky surprises to look forward to as well.

Don’t be concerned about having to walk during the race; nearly everyone walks the uphill sections. You’ll meet some great people with interesting stories to tell if you’re chatty. A few years ago, I met a 72 year old lady who was walking the half with her teenage grandkids and trash-talking them the whole way up Mill Mountain. She was so funny! This year, we met some nice people who were visiting from Pennsylvania and we gave our beer tickets to them. #glutenallergy #designateddriver

Smile for the photographers along the race course! Blue Ridge offers free race day photos. You can search them by your name or bib number after the race.

Made it to the Star!

There’s a party at the star with food, drinks, music and lots of opportunities for picture-taking. Pause your tracking app, take a selfie or two and soak in the panoramic views of the Roanoke Valley.

Once you’ve had a moment to rest at the star, it’s time to head back down the mountain. The “Old Road” is very picturesque and offers beautiful woodland views. You won’t be on it for long before you start to see some curious signs.

These ladies serve up mimosas to the runners at Rockledge, an historic, stone home on the side of Mill Mountain. Whether you enjoy a mimosa or not, pause a moment and take in the stunning city views before leaving Rockledge.

You won’t lack for entertainment during Blue Ridge. There are funny signs along the course.

And musicians to serenade you.

Kelly and I said goodbye at the Walnut Avenue bridge where the 10k course heads to the finish and the half course pops onto the greenway towards South Roanoke. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Enjoy the relatively flat section of greenway through McClanahan; you’ll start to climb again on 22nd Street and as you wind your way through the rolling hills of SoRo. The calm before the storm that is Peakwood.

Cutest little race supporter! (She’s not in the Witness Protection Program; I just don’t put kid’s pics on the internet without permission.)

Round the corner onto Somerset and enjoy one last water stop before it’s time to climb again. I had just barely started up Peakwood when a man yelled to me “It’s not far now! You’re almost to the top!”
Liar.
You tell beautiful, beautiful lies.

Yes, Peakwood needs its own welcome!
This is the steep section of the half that we all love to dread.

As you climb, you’ll convince yourself that the top is just around the next curve.

Or the next one.

At mile 8.8 there is a short downhill section that, for the uninitiated, may trick you into thinking that was the worst of Peakwood. Don’t be fooled. You’re going to climb again. Even more demoralizing, full marathoners will breeze right past! Resist the temptation to trip them.

And just when you’ve given up all hope of ever cresting Peakwood, there it is! The party in the cul-de-sac! These friendly volunteers will greet you with champagne, fresh fruit and more importantly, with smiles and words of encouragement.

Grab an ice-cold towel to wash the sweat away before you begin the trek back down into SoRo proper.

The downhill stretch from West Ridge Road through Rosalind Avenue is the reward for completing Peakwood.

South Roanoke in the springtime cannot be prettier. These gorgeous views almost make you completely forget the pain that is Blue Ridge.

Almost.

Be sure to stop for a selfie with the mannequin. ‘Cause that’s not awkward at all. I told you there are quirky surprises!

Cresting the bridge in front of Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital on Jefferson Street. One more mile to go. But who’s counting?!

After I finished the half, I met up with our friends Nikki and Michelle to wait for Mark to finish. He earned bragging rights within our circle of running friends by being the first in the group to tackle the full.

I haven’t said ‘never’ to a full marathon, but after watching friends limp around post-race in various levels of pain; let’s just say I’m not currently interested. When I finish a half marathon thinking ‘Boy, I could really go for another 13 miles right now!’, I’ll sign up for a full!

I’m super proud of this guy. I honestly expected him to be in serious pain by the end of the race. Two blocks from the finish line, he yelled to Nikki, “This is fun; you’re doing it next year!”

No, Mark didn’t run the team relay, we just grabbed the wrong sign. Oops!

After receiving your finisher medal, hobble on over to the the Fleet Feet Recovery Zone and have your aching muscles rolled out by a friendly volunteer, or enjoy a massage by a physical therapist.

Once you can walk upright again, visit the food tent for post-race pizza and other snacks, or head into the Elmwood Park amphitheater for live music, food trucks and craft beer. It’s time to revel in successfully completing one of America’s Toughest Road Races!

For more information on the Blue Ridge races, click here:
https://www.blueridgemarathon.com/
While you’re there, go ahead and register for the next race.
Blue Ridge will kick your butt, but you’ll love it. Promise.

I’m not in partnership with any brands mentioned in this race review. I’m simply sharing my experience with this race.

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Packing the Car for Vacation – A Domestic Disturbance Avoidance Tip

There are very few events in life that I find more frustrating than trying to pack the car the night before a trip. I’m generally tired after a long day (or week) of work, distracted, maybe hungry, definitely cranky. Perhaps hubby is as well? Not a good dynamic.

To top that off, we’re over-packers. I don’t know why, but we load up like we’re vacationing in the hinterlands, not 10 minutes from a shopping center. We’ve tried to change our ways, but I’m not sure we can.

Imagine that late-night scene of us cramming stuff into the back of the car only to realize that it won’t all fit.
CUE: DEFCON 1 readiness

Here’s the good news. By using this one simple tip, we can avoid all of that drama: Pack and unpack for your trip ahead of time. Yep, I said unpack.

Do this a few days ahead, a week ahead, it doesn’t matter. You’re going to pack your clothes at some point, anyway. Might as well do it early.

Layer Five – Fully Loaded

After you’ve loaded the car with everything you’re taking, snap a picture of the trunk or cargo area using your phone’s camera.

Layer Four

Next, unload the car one layer at a time, taking a picture after each layer is removed.

Layer Three

This whole process of loading, photographing and unloading the car should not take very long; and it will save you from a massive headache when you’re ready to hit the road.

Layer Two

Simply pull out your phone, follow the photos starting with Layer One and re-pack the car.

Layer One – Don’t forget to pack the cargo cover!

You’ve got a handy reference on your phone for packing the car at the end of your vacation. You can hit the road relaxed, happy and have a great vacation!

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Beach Week Capsule Wardrobe

Now that school has let out for the summer, it’s time to hit the road for some fun in the sun! Once a year, my family gets together for beach week. Maybe we’re strange, because beach week is spent on the beach; we rarely leave the island. We read, go shelling, run and walk, play in the tide pools, build sand castles, people-watch and doze under the umbrella. The men, nieces and nephews boogie-board for hours on end. We try to solve the Mazematician’s puzzles.

Mazematician throwing us a curveball. No left turn?!

In the evening, we play all sorts of games. Some favorites are Codenames, Telestrations, Exploding Kittens, Apples to Apples and Balderdash. Those with more patience for board games (bored) than I, play Pandemic for hours on end. Our evening Mad Libs sessions on the porch are legendary. Some of our favorite inside jokes and malapropisms are born on the porch during beach week. We plan one evening for the entire 20+ person group to go souvenir shopping at the local gift shop.

Shutting down the beach at sunset.

Beach week is very casual. Tee shirts and shorts are the order of the day. Because we have laundry facilities in the beach house, we can pack lean and throw clothes in the wash as needed.

Mexican Blanket Flower growing on the dunes.

Recently, I’ve started packing capsule wardrobes for travel. They’re amazing because they are like Garanimals™ for grown folks! Grab a top and some pants and they coordinate. No thinking necessary, and it doesn’t matter what’s in the wash at the moment!

Here’s how I plan our capsule wardrobe:

Decide on the number of outfits needed. I’ll pack four tops, three bottoms and we’ll wear one of the capsule outfits on our travel day. (Because nudity is frowned upon during family beach week.) With this small capsule, we have the potential for 12 different looks and won’t have to repeat the same outfit during a week long vacation. In case of cooler weather, I’m adding one jersey and one pair of jeans.

Pick a color scheme. It’s red, white, blue and khaki for us this year. Look at the colors you wear routinely. What do you have on hand? Which colors are most flattering on you? If you are able to dress the whole family in the same color scheme, even casual snapshots will be color-coordinated.

Each top must work with each of the bottom pieces. Outfit coordination is easiest if only the tops or only the bottoms are patterned, not both. Pattern mixing in a capsule wardrobe is expert level. If that’s your jam, go for it!

Pack shoes that will work with each outfit. Neutral colored flip-flops and a pair of kicks are all we need for the week.

If you’re fancier than we are, pack coordinating accessories. I’ll pack one everyday necklace and one set of earrings. Maybe throw in a scarf? Hubby keeps his accessories minimal with a leather wrap bracelet.

These bags contain all of our clothes for the week plus bathing suits, cover-ups, running clothes, lounge wear, pajamas, socks and underwear, We had enough room left over to pack hand towels and washcloths in the tote bag.

So, that’s the sum total of my capsule wardrobe knowledge. This makes packing for any trip so much easier. Now, it’s your turn! Will you give this a try? Are you already a capsule wardrobe expert?

Pro tip for flying to your vacation destination: In each piece of checked luggage, pack at least one complete outfit for every member of your family. If the airline misdirects a piece of luggage, you each still have a fresh change of clothes.

Have a wonderful, relaxing vacation!

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Hiking The Sunrise Carriage Trail in Charleston, WV

I’m just gonna come right out and say it. I love this trail because it is more about history and scenic views than serious hiking. We’ve already established that I’m not a hiker. Carriage Trail (as the locals call it) is an urban stroll along the old drive to Sunrise; the mansion home of West Virginia’s 9th Governor, William A. MacCorkle.

Don’t expect a typical rocky, rooty, woodland trail. This 1.3 mile out and back is a wide, gravel drive bordered by impressive stonework, beautiful plantings and lush woods. There are several places to rest, and interesting, historical monuments along the way. With just over 200′ of elevation gain/loss it’s a fairly easy hike, and makes an enjoyable, family outing.

In the second year of the Civil War two women convicted as spies by drum head court martial, were brought to this spot, shot, and here buried. In 1905, when building this road to Sunrise, their remains were disinterred and re-buried opposite this stone. W.A.M.

We parked at the lot by the Kanawha River and began our ascent to Sunrise. The sounds of the city mostly died away as we walked further into the woods. Well behaved dogs on a leash are welcome here and we explored with our local guides, my sister-in-law, Wanda, and her adorable dog, Alice.

Some online reviews of Carriage Trail said that it gets very crowded, but we only saw a few people on the trail. Workers in downtown Charleston could hike this on their lunch break. I can imagine this trail is popular with locals because it is short and picturesque with convenient parking just below Bridge Road.

Governor MacCorkle was injured in an auto accident along with his 35 year old daughter, Isabelle, who died from her injuries. He erected this memorial to her. A few years later, MacCorkle died of pneumonia. His ashes were buried at Sunrise and then later moved to a cemetery across the Kanawha River.

At the top of the trail, we found ourselves in a beautiful neighborhood of older homes, with Sunrise mansion on a bluff overlooking the city. Sunrise is privately owned and not open to the public, but you can stroll the grounds and get a sense of the property’s grandeur.

This is the rear entrance of Sunrise, the ‘back porch’ if you will! The front of the mansion overlooks downtown Charleston with sweeping views of the city.

Governor MacCorkle collected some of the stones for Sunrise during his travels and they are engraved with their place of origin. He named Sunrise after his boyhood home in Rockbridge County, VA; so you know we had to find the Virginia stone!

This trail has something for everyone: history, wildlife, natural beauty and even a ghost story if you’re up for that!

We loved our time on Carriage Trail and highly recommend it. It’s fairly convenient to I-77, I-64 and other major routes through Charleston. If you are just traveling through the area, stop nearby for a bite to eat (we recommend The Market or Lola’s on Bridge Road), visit the trail and recharge a little. Or stay, and explore all that Charleston has to offer.

For more on Sunrise Mansion and The Carriage Trail:
http://www.nrtdatabase.org/trailDocuments/3793_65_Brochureelectronicversionwithcolorphoto.pdf

This is not a sponsored post. I’m simply linking to businesses that I have visited and enjoyed. They’ve been Arthurized, and I hope you will like them too.

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Hatfield & McCoy Blackberry Mountain Half Marathon Review – No Feudin’, Just Runnin’

“That’s an awful long way to drive for a race. I don’t know why y’all can’t find races that are closer to home.” – my 87 year old father-in-law

Settle in with an iced tea or other beverage of choice for this tale of mountain adventure. Bonus points if you’re sipping from a mason jar.

We’re always looking for ‘away games’ because the only thing better than race weekend is race weekend in a new locale. We learned of H&M through an online article and chose it because it offers hills for my husband and a historic route and unique finisher’s medal for me. We traveled with some adventurous friends, one of whom is a descendant of the McCoy family.

Williamson, WV/KY has just a few options for lodging, and those fill up over a year in advance of the race. Not to worry, there is a nice West Virginia State Parks Lodge nearby in Logan. It’s just over 30 miles away and an easy drive to Williamson. We found Chief Logan Lodge to be sparkling clean with beautiful, rustic architecture and friendly, accommodating staff. The views from the Lodge are amazing! We ate at the Lodge restaurant the first night and while the food was a disappointment, our server was fantastic and we had a window seat with a pretty, mountain view.

The second night there, we asked an employee where we should go for a nice dinner. He named Arby’s and Taco Bell in Logan. When pressed for a date night suggestion, he told us that we would fare better if we drove to Williamson, that “ever since they put in the by-pass, there’s no reason to stop in Logan.” His sad comment reminded me of Radiator Springs in the movie “Cars”.

Parking at the Lodge is convenient, which we appreciated as we hobbled back to our room after the race.  A post-race soak in their hot tub felt amazing.

The race expo was in a high school and was very well run. We were greeted by Devil Anse Hatfield and Ol’ Randal McCoy and had our picture made with them. Packet pick-up was efficient and we were able to try on our shirts and exchange one of them.


This race isn’t afraid to have some fun with stereotypes!

We shopped the expo for awhile and then headed to the pasta dinner in the cafeteria. When I registered for the race, I inquired about a gluten-free pasta option and I was told there would be one. There was a miscommunication and the very apologetic ladies running the kitchen did not know they were supposed to provide g-free pasta. They said there were other runners looking for it as well. We found a nearby steakhouse and ate dinner there.

On race morning, we drove to Williamson, parked and rode a shuttle bus to the start line at Food City just across the state line into Kentucky. The store was open for the runners to use the restroom and they had coffee available. Devil Anse and Ol’ Randal were there for photos; the people-watching was fantastic!

Photo credit: Michelle Bowles

The community pride is palpable here as is the Hatfield/McCoy family pride. When you meet a descendant of either family (and you will) they will announce that fact within the first few minutes of your conversation.


Photo credit: Michelle Bowles

The Full Marathon, Double Half and Blackberry Mountain Half all started from our location. None of the races have a time limit, and the announcer at the start said “you have all day to finish it, but we would prefer that you finish sooner!” Shots were fired (to begin the race, not another feud) and we were off!

We headed out onto US 119 under heavy fog, which gave way to sunny humidity. A quick double back and we were soon running on neighborhood roads. Folks along the race route sat on their porches enjoying their morning coffee, cheering and watching the parade of runners go by. After a few miles of rolling hills we began our ascent up Blackberry Mountain. Running gave way to walking this steep stretch of the race. The course was open to traffic, and we hopped in the ditch at one point to let a wide load through. Just a slight delay of game! Once we made our way down Blackberry Mountain, the rest of the course was mostly flat with occasional, small hills.

There were water stops and cheer stations every mile with cups of ice, popsicles, sports drink and cold towels. We appreciated all of it; it was SO hot! The water stops were hillbilly themed, some outrageously so.

There are loads of photo opportunities along the race route. We stopped off at the site where the McCoy cabin was burned down in a raid by the Hatfields, the cabin where the hog trial took place, visited the Hatfields Miniature Horses and passed the banks of the Tug River where the McCoys were killed at the Pawpaw trees. After crossing the Tug, we took a short jaunt through downtown Matewan, WV to the finish line. There was cold fruit on offer along with water and sports drink. Ice-cold watermelon never tasted so good!

Hog trial cabin

We rested awhile, then boarded the shuttle bus for the wild, mountainous ride back to Williamson. Our bus driver was so generous! She stopped at our parking lot, waited for us to get our shower bags, and drove us to the gym for showers. (We were glad that we packed towels and flip-flops in our shower bags because this is a gymnasium, not a spa.) Our driver was going to lunch, so she gave me her cell phone number in case we wanted a ride over to the finish line downtown. We’ve never experienced hospitality at a race like we did here!

After showering, we walked the few blocks to the finish line to find something to eat. Instead of the requisite post-race-cold-pizza-that-we-can’t-eat-anyway the H&M does things a little differently. Your bib is a coupon and you can choose from a list of restaurants that will honor it. We made our way over to 34:Ate which we chose for the Yelp reviews, and it exceeded our expectations. I ordered a Turkey Bacon Blackberry sandwich on a gluten free bun and gulped down (what seemed like) gallons of their peach tea.  The cost for my lunch was $1.50, plus tip.

Next, we strolled the downtown area which had rolled out the red carpet for its weekend guests. The shops were open, there was a car show and craft vendors on both sides of the street. We briefly visited the coal house and then it was time for us to cheer on our friends as they finished the Double Half Marathon.

It’s difficult for me to put into words how unique this race is. I think it’s something you just have to experience for yourself. Why should you add Hatfield & McCoy races to your short list? For the opportunity to be a part of something special, and because the community pride in these mountains is the same pride of home we all share. The area truly is God’s Country, and these hospitable Mountaineers want to show it off a little while showing you a good time.  This race is hilly, hot, humid and ALL heart.

Visit here for more information on the race:
http://www.hatfieldmccoymarathon.net/home.html

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

I Better See A Daggone Hobbit Up In Here

A hiking review of Cascades and Barney’s Wall near Pembroke, VA
8 miles round trip, 1,600′ elevation gain
TRIGGER WARNING: Terrifying Photos

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I don’t hike. I’m not one of those people who gets blissed out in the woods. The beach, yes. Ticks, bears, snakes, serial killers and poison ivy? No. However, I enjoy being married to one of those blissed out hikers, so I hike. Occasionally. And under great duress.

We paid $3 for this super awesome warning, but I guess they won’t tow away your car if you have it, so, okay cool. Also, nobody listens to me. Hiking. Is. Dangerous.
They even tell you that up front. Can’t say you weren’t warned.

So the hike to the falls is gorgeous.

We got there early and had the trail to ourselves. This section felt like hiking into The Shire.

There were fallen trees everywhere and even over the trail in several places. We climbed over some and crawled under two of them. Yes, crawled on our knees. Not kidding.

The falls are truly magical. Especially early in the morning before the waters fill with amorous Virginia Tech students.

I maintained a good attitude for the first 2.5 miles of our hike. Right up until we met a couple on their return trip from Barney’s Wall. They had just encountered a bear at a campsite near the top. I went into High Alert! Stressed out of my mind for the next 5.5 miles, I scanned the woods in every direction. Every boulder was a bear. Every distant stump was a bear. I’ll never understand how this is supposed to be relaxing.
Panic mode: Expert Level

View from Barney’s Wall. We met a lady on the way down from Cascades who said she’s never made it up to Barney’s Wall. My advice to her: Don’t. Just Google pictures of it. It looks the same. That lady said her group had just seen an enormous snake. The biggest one she’d ever seen. Good times.

Bear Campsite. And I really had to pee. No worries, we’re only 4 MILES from a bathroom.

Remember that I said we climbed over fallen tree trunks? I started over this one, reaching out to steady myself on a small tree nearby. Guess what I wrapped my hand around?

Creepy.

And his friend Super Creepy. And yes, I screamed like a girl. Hiking is like being trapped in a horror flick set in nature, not in some axe murderer’s wood shed. They don’t tell you that dying of a heart attack while hiking is a very real possibility. Just from sheer terror.

Oh, thank you, Jesus! Only two more miles of this mess. I just have to make it back to the car. I can do this, right? The sound of rushing water from the creek was not helping the really-gotta-pee situation.

We took the Upper Trail back to the parking lot and freedom. It was a nice assortment of rocks, pointy rocks, sharp pointy rocks, rocks covered in wet slippery leaves and mud puddles. And trees overhead just waiting to fall and crush us.
And my husband l.o.v.e.d. it.

If you’d still like to visit after all that, go here to check it out: https://www.virginia.org/listings/OutdoorsAndSports/CascadesNationalRecreationTrail/

https://www.hikingupward.com/JNF/TheCascadesBarneysWall/

Cascades Pro Tips: Highly recommended for a quick hike with great views. Get there early for parking and solitude. Because the Cascades hike is so popular, the trails fill up in beautiful weather. We took the Lower Trail for the climb to the falls. The scenery is beautiful, but be prepared to climb up and down stone steps toward the end. A little challenging for this shorty. If you want an easier stroll, the Upper Trail is wider and more accessible. The Upper Trail views are slightly less spectacular but still pretty.


Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.