Georgia on our minds...

Well, we've arrived safely in Georgia, and are preparing to nap after a long long overnight trainride. We've definitely got some updates coming up, so check back. For now, though, we rest.


We confirmed a rumor that my Aunt Mary has the cutest dog in Virginia. Our visit to Charlottesville was brief, just over 24 hours, but action-packed. Naturally, one of the highlights was...


We started off with delicious pear butter sandwiches and a spinach salad when we arrived. We spent some time wandering around the downtown mall and got some coffee at the Mudhouse. Later that evening, we feasted on roasted vegetables (beets, carrots and leeks), sauteed greens, and a short-grained rice, Mediterranean-style rice dish. A ginger chocolate bar was our desert. The next day, we made some hummus and a sort of tapinade made from the leftover roasted vegetables of the day before. Mary took us to Breadworks, where we got some truly delicious bread, which we spread the hummus and tapinade on. We ate another scrumptious salad. For dinner that evening, Mary whipped up a pasta dish with garlic, cauliflower and sundried tomatoes. Since we were taking the midnight train to Georgia (well, actually the 8:52 pm train, but who could resist that reference?), Mary packed us some sandwiches and fruit for the trip, and snuck in some more chocolate for us. It was a great deal of fun hanging out with Mary and Sadie, and we are definitely looking forward to a longer visit, when we come back in May.
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Washington DC

A place we love to visit, but probably wouldn't live in...it's just so fast-paced. However, we do have a lot of family in the area, and since moving out west, we hadn't really seen them too often. Mark's aunt and uncle were awesome hosts, cooking up delicious meals (a second helping of greens, please!), and helping us to get around town. We also had a chance to visit Annapolis, getting together with the whole family for a delicious Italian meal at Maria's. The weather was clear enough on several days for us to do a lot of walking. On Thursday, Mark and I walked all around Georgetown, and on Saturday, we went down to the harbor in Annapolis with his cousins. It was really great to see a little sunshine, after the dreary winter weather of Pittsburgh.


The Adventure Begins

M and I were excited to take our first train trip together. We had been warned that Amtrak often runs late, but we nonetheless made arrangements to get to the station very early on Wednesday morning. We decided to stay at Matt and Sloan's house, since they live pretty close to downtown Pittsburgh. On Tuesday night, Sloan cooked up a fabulous dinner; naturally there were cupcakes for dessert. I sure am going to miss those cupcakes while we are hiking. Matt volunteered to drive us to the station at five, so we all went to bed pretty early.

3:30 am
Amtrak called to let us know that the train was running late. Isn't that nice? Can you imagine the airlines doing this? We reset our alarms and went back to sleep.

4:30 am
Matt's alarm went off, so we got up to let him know the train was late. He went back to sleep.

5:15 am
My mom called (she thought we were already up and on our way to the station).

5:45 am
We couldn't sleep anymore. Too much excitement!

We finally got on the train around 9:00 am, therefore arriving in Washington, DC about five hours behind schedule. However, we really enjoyed the train trip. The train had a "sight-seeing" car, with large windows, and the tracks follow the rivers through the mountains of central Pennsylvania. The rivers are still filled with ice from the recent cold snap, and the hills were snow-covered. We spent a lot of time knitting and looking out the window. The train even had a snack bar with a vegan burger! Not the most delicious thing I've ever eaten, but nice to know that Amtrak provides options! We'll be spending a few days in Washington DC and Annapolis, visiting M's relatives and one of my friends from the summer job I worked at.


Farewell, PGH Friends!

M and I wanted to hang out with friends one last time before heading out to the trail. We invited everybody to go ice-skating in Schenley Park, with drinks at Gene's to follow. Unfortunately, we are having some pretty cold weather this week, so we didn't have too many takers on the ice-skating part. However, Jack, Sloan, Matt, Jonathan, M and I had a terrific time.

The big surprise of the night was to see the elusive Mike, a friend who now lives in Florida, show up at Gene's. M and I were so surprised to see him! We also saw several other friends that we haven't seen in several years, including Randy, from our Pitt days, and Jenna, who I've known since the sixth grade! Our knitting friend, Rita, and Tony came out; Mary and Jason, Curt and Sarah, Todd and Erin and Stan and Liz were also there. It was so good to see everybody. We will miss you! Stay in touch!


Happy Valentine's Day!

We had a BIG snowstorm during the past couple of days, but Valentine's plans could not be thwarted. Lori invited M and I to have dinner after my tutoring session, and she really impressed us with a variety of heart-shaped delicacies...pizza and (vegan!) cake.

After dinner, we said goodbye to Lori, Denise and Kimberly and headed down to pick up Pete and Meg. The four of us went to the Souper Bowl for a quick beer before the Pens game, and I ran into an old high school friend, who just happens to be a special ed. teacher also! Small world. Pens won in the shoot-out. Roads were icy, but passable. All in all, it was a pretty good Valentine's Day.


Happy Birthday, M!

We celebrated M's birthday with pizza and cupcakes, family and friends. Unfortunately, the candles looked really cool for about 2 seconds and the started to drip all over the icing. It's been a great year for M, and I think this coming year will be even better.


It's like waiting for Christmas!

I'm quite anxious about our upcoming trip...not in a negative way, more like the feeling of anticipation you get in the days before Christmas, or before the first day of school.

In the couple of weeks before our departure date, I'll be running some errands - picking up the train tickets, breaking in my boots, waterproofing the tent again, organizing our mail drop boxes, and saying goodbye to friends and family. Despite my "semi-retired" status, I've actually been pretty busy this winter - what can I say? It's my way of life. I've been temping every day at the Honors College at Pitt, done some freelance work for Teach For America, created a toolkit of tutoring activities and supplies, tutored a sixth grade student, drafted a charter for a school I might someday want to run, learned a lot of new knitting techniques, read every book the Carnegie Library has on its shelves about the Appalachian Trail, did a lot of yard work, wrote a few articles (that, sadly, remain unpublished), worked on my book, and got to be a better vegan cook.