Sunday, September 30, 2012

Welcome Fall

What I love about BD is that no two days/nights are the same.

Thursday night, we had 3 very quiet hikers who hibernated in the hostel. So we carved pumpkins while "working"!!!!!!! I believe Deal was an artist in his former life. He is so meticulous and creative. He carved a hiker in one pumpkin, the AT symbol in another and a glowing white blaze in the last. I helped by scooping the mush out of the pumpkins. It's an important job! He is so proud of his carving and rightfully so!

We were spoiled by the "easy" Thursday night, but Saturday night made up for it and was redunkulously busy. Five hikers in the hostel, 2 people in the private room and what seemed liked 438 kids under the age of 10 for the group rental/campground. Not to mention there was a black bear running around our property (which we never saw). We were busy during the day too because we hosted a small event here. So we really had to put our game face on and search for every fiber of energy in our bodies to roll into a night like that. At the end of it all, I brushed my teeth with the cat's toothbrush. Hey, at least I brushed my teeth.

So welcome fall. How do you like them pumpkins?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

7 Years, 25 Years, 54 Years and 200+ Years. If you don't get this title, no worries, I was just trying to be creative.

This weekend was eventful, very eventful. We left the confines of the hostel (I am going to call it BD from now on, so remember that) with a few tasks.

We took another step in our 7-year love-hate relationship with our house in Danville. Love-hate because we were so lucky to have the same awesome tenant for the past 2 years and loved it. Hate because when it sits empty, it gets broken into 9 million times and costs us a fortune. Said tenant moved out this weekend=house is empty. We are waiting to get the phone call from ADT. Any minute now. Regardless, we are at a crossroads. Do we try to rent it again? Do we try to sell it again? Historic Danville is not looking bright these days. There are 140 houses in a 7-block radius; 130 are empty. Thumbs down.
Danville wasn't just packing and cleaning of the house. We saw a few friends, including the Great American Family (GAF). The parental units of the GAF were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. I don't think there is anyone in the world more in love than these two after 25 years. They seriously act like they are still newlyweds (we've probably told a few stories about these two related to their love ... ) And even though I like to bust their chops about their lovingness, I hope Deal & I are just like them at 25 years. Thumbs up.
Next up, DC. When we moved to northern VA, Deal immediately looked at the concert schedule for the area. Madonna was on the list. And guess what? I actually wanted to see her in concert. His wife wanting to be a concert buddy couldn't please Deal more. Even when it's Madonna. But hey, at 54 years old, she's a classic. We missed the boat on Michael Jackson, and we didn't want to make same mistake twice.

So we bought the extremely expensive nosebleed tickets back in March--when we were both gainfully employed mind you--and waited for the day. We stayed with Mouth/Chris and NHBound/Kayt the night of the Madonna concert and they even held our hands and transported us via Metro into the big bad city for the concert. Nothing could have really prepared us for the show. It was a mix between a concert, a Broadway show and Cirque du Soleil. A complete and udder spectacle. For 54 years old, she moves like no other. Madonna changed clothes at least 10 times, danced and sang on a Tetris-style stage and had an obscene number of backup dancers. I believe I had an out-of-body experience, actually. She played a few oldies, but mostly her new stuff, which is a lot of techno dance type of music. Truth be told, I was transported back to my 20s and my club-hopping days. I'm not sure Deal wants to ever go to a concert with me again. 

Post-concert, we visited with a fellow Danvillian, turned Washingtonian, and he gave us an underground tour of the Capitol building. We are probably the two worst people to be touring D.C., as we know nearly nothing about politics, but thoroughly enjoyed our behind-the-scenes look at how things run up on the Hill. I learned a lot. Next time, we'll take the public tour and snicker when we see the secret entrances and whatnot. 

And that, my friends, is how we spent a weekend away from BD.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Life Unexpected

I love my new life.

It's funny how things never turn out as planned. I should know this by now, yet I am still surprised by it.

The thing is, Deal took a huge pay cut in this position as caretaker, which is why it was so important for me to find a full-time job. When I landed that job at Company X, we thought this would be the time in our life when we would make bank. We would build our savings back up (for our next adventure), save up to buy a hostel of our own, take some vacations ... basically visions of sugar plums danced in our heads.

But, we all know about Company X and how that chapter turned out.

While I should be looking for my next career move, I have instead been relishing in the experience of the hostel management, riding Deal's coattails. If you ask anyone who owns or manages within the hospitality business, they'd say it is not a job, it's a lifestyle. And it works much better and is way more enjoyable with a partner.

The last month has been incredibly fulfilling and I couldn't be happier with my decision to leave my job and be more involved in the hostel. Today was one of those crazy busy days where we worked many hours and barely had a minute to breathe ... and it was awesome. Tonight we have a full house. I think there are maybe 3 bunks left out of 36. And it's people from all walks of life. There's a huge college group renting the upper lodge for a retreat. There's a couple traveling to the area to play music at a festival. There are a bunch of hikers (of course). We meet a lot of awesome people every day and have a lot of stories to tell (who smells a book idea???).

Just recently, we had a couple stay here all last week who hiked a huge section of the AT. But this wasn't just any couple. This couple followed our blog last year while we were hiking and sent us a package of goodies to one of our mail drops in Pennsylvania. They were total strangers at that time to us. Well, fast forward to this summer and they hiked through our place and we were able to bring it full circle and offer a little bit of magic. When they wrapped up their hike, they came back to the hostel and worked their butts off as volunteers helping us with projects around the hostel. Strangers turned into friends. It doesn't get much better than that.

So, this will not be the time in our life where we make lots of money, like we planned (insert hearty laugh). Instead, this will be the time in our life where we both work a job we love, spend time together and just get by. Maybe I will get another full-time job in my field. Maybe I won't. All I know is that for now, I wake up excited to start the day.

Oh, if anyone knows anyone who needs a house in Danville, let us know. Cause, you know, as if our financial situation couldn't get any worse, our renter moved out this month!!!

***On a side note in my defense, just so you don't think I'm totally mooching off my hard-working husband, I have been working. I've been working catering jobs, cleaning, doing shuttles, website development, writing a few freelance magazine articles ... Tomorrow, I have the most important job of all. I am going to the REI garage sale while Deal cleans up after 30+ guests.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hiking, then and now

We have been getting out and doing more and more hiking these days. Novel concept, you know, since we live ON THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL.

We are trying to re-hike the miles north and south of here so we are experts in our field. We get very specific questions about the trail in the area and I hate giving generic answers.

In any case, the other day, we hiked an 8-mile section, reuniting with Fire Marshall. Team Skin and Bones, except we are no longer skin and bones ...  The crazy thing is, on September 7, 2011, the 3 of us hiked 20 miles and could have probably hiked another 5. On September 7, 2012, we hiked 8 miles and almost died. It is sad to lose your thru hiking legs and lungs, but such is life!

It was great to be back out on the trail, to hear the familiar clanking of poles on the ground, to get super sweaty, to feel my muscles burn. I look forward to a lot more of that in our future!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Foster Kitties

Hi, my name is Jess and I spent just over 3 months living with Steadee and Deal. They were awesome foster parents. They provided me bugs, mice and much more as my toys and snacks. My favorite spot was a basket they had in their bathroom. But then I had to go away. At my second adoption event, someone fell in love with me. I gave Steadee & Deal the opportunity to adopt me, but they failed to step up to the plate. It's okay, now I have a forever home.

Hi, my name is Jasmine (Jazzy). I am named after a princess for a reason. I rule the world!! Okay, maybe just the hostel (for now). I am just 1 years old, but you would never be able to tell. I am confident, loving and fun. My favorites things are to be around people, to watch the butterflies on the butterfly tree and when people rub my big, fluffy tail. 

Hi, my name is Gabriella (Gabby) and I spent the first week of my time at the hostel under the bed. Then I realized Steadee & Deal were nice and I went up the stairs. Then I ventured into the office. Then into the store. The furthest I made it so far is the dining room, but I will eventually let loose. I meow like a champ. It is more like a 2-minute whine, but it gets me attention. I love having my paws and belly rubbed and playing with my sister Jazzy.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fins to the left ... take 3

We've created this dangerous tradition with Deal's friend TheHoss/Jason and his girlfriend Accessory/Adrienne ... going to the Jimmy Buffet Concert!!!!!! Our third round happened this past weekend!
This is actually my 4th Buffet concert and Deal's 10th, or 20th. I don't party often, especially now that age keeps creeping up on me. But for some reason, partying never gets old at the Buffet concerts. Give me a margarita, chips & salsa, and I am happy as a clam.

Tailgating was fun, but it was different than it has been in the past. Jiffy Lube Live in northern VA is quite possibly the worst concert pavilion ever. First of all, they did not let patrons into the parking lot until 3pm for tailgating. That is a no-no for Buffet. People were tailgating in local business parking lots. Chaos.

We got there at 2pm and mainly drove around, parking in a spot until the cops kicked us out. We waited until getting into the lot to break out the food and drinks. We did get a primo spot in the lot by luck, but they were parking cars so close. It was supposed to be a 10-foot section for tailgating purposes, but it was less. And they had restrictions on what you could bring. For example, no pop-up tents. People, it was a hot mess out there. And drinking in the heat is never a good thing.

 Luckily for me, Accessory is none for bring several changes of clothing for the day. Last time we went to Buffet, she changed 3 times. Anywho, I sweated out my shirt and it was disgusting. She was nice enough to lend me one of her outfit changes!!

The hot mess continued when we ventured into the concert. For whatever reason, it was a cattle herd getting through the gates. For 30 minutes. Sweat was being exchanged between strangers. It was downright nasty. 

Once we broke free of the crowds and entered the lawn section, we realized this concert was very crowded! There were no lawn spaces left. But, Accessory led the way to some roped off section where there was not a single person and we made themselves at home. Can anyone tell me what V.I.P stands for??? So, we enjoyed the concert and will be back for more sometime (just not at Jiffy Lube Live).

FYI, TheHoss and Accessory did not encounter any snakes while they were here. They did encounter snake SKIN (outside) ...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Knock, Knock. Who's There. A Little Black Snake.

The other day Deal stepped outside our front door and something caught his eye.

Deal is deathly afraid of snakes. While we were on the trail, our little trio (us and Fire Marshall) took a poll. Which creature of the night often found in the shelter is your least favorite? Mine was the spiders (in particular the wolf spiders or fishing spiders). Fire Marshall hated mice. Deal chose snakes. In fact, he swore off shelters solely because of snakes.

So it's probably not the best thing that we live in a place with A LOT of snakes (and spiders and mice and every heeby jeeby thing you can think of). Did I mention that sometimes these snakes end up INSIDE? Okay, not the big ones, itty bitty ones. Still. Shudder. My sister found one in their tub when they were visiting. The other day, Deal almost grabbed a copperhead (outside). Double shudder.

If you haven't already made plans to come visit, I am sure you are checking your calendar now. Just keep in mind; we like to fully introduce you to the outdoors here and all it has to offer.