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Wedding Recap #2: Formal Photos/Ceremony

20 Dec
Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Well, hello there! Again, I’m pretty sure nobody reads this blog anymore, but these wedding recaps are mainly for my own reflection. Let’s get right to it, shall we? After our “first look”, we took the formal photographs. I tire of taking photos pretty quickly, and I was pretty excited to make a lifetime commitment to the love of my life, so we kind of flew through them (plus, it was hot, and I was wearing crinoline.) 

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

ZKformals016

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

This first part of the formals was so nice. It was just after our first look, and both of us were very giddy. We just talked, walked where they told us to walk, posed like they told us to pose and smiled really big. We were so excited! I’ll never forget that energy between us. It was very sweet and just amazing.

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Life was good! Next, we did the group photos with our bridal party:

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

….and our families:

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Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

There are some shots we didn’t get — for example, for some reason there is no shot of my family with me AND Zach — but I really don’t care. Our photos are amazing, and I wouldn’t change anything about that day. I was so incredibly low stress (ok, I had a few bridezilla moments, but they were fleeting), and it was wonderful. Before long, it was time to head to our ceremony!

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

We had our ceremony and reception in the same place. This was my wedding vision — Zach and I don’t belong to a church, and since I had so many out of town guests I thought it would be nice for them to just be in one place. So our ceremony and reception took place at the hotel where everyone stayed. My family raved about this decision! They loved being able to have everyone in one place and not have to travel around much. I gave everyone maps in their rooms with directions to certain places they may need to go, and it seemed to work out very well. 

One thing I want to talk about is the sweetheart table. This is a new (?) thing people are doing, where instead of a big head table with all the attendants, the bride and groom sit by themselves at a little table and let the bridal party sit among the guests. While it was important to me to have the bridal party be able to sit with our guests (I didn’t want the bridal party’s spouses and significant others to have to sit alone), I was very opposed to the sweetheart table idea. I just found it to be…weird! Well, the day we came to set up the reception hall, Shelley (who is the coordinator at the Ramada and amazing!) had a sweetheart table set up for us and I just liked it! So I went with it. It turned out to be a really fun idea, but I’ll talk about that more in the reception recap. Which at this rate will be in a few months 🙂 

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography (can I just tell you how annoying it is that somebody put that brochure on the guest book table and it's in the picture?)

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography (can I just tell you how annoying it is that somebody put that brochure on the guest book table and it’s in the picture?)

After photos, the bridesmaids and I went up to my hotel room to wait until it was time to go down for the ceremony. Zach and the groomsmen went to the room to greet/seat guests. This worked out very well. Us girls had time to relax (and in the interest of complete honesty, I had to air out my undercarriage, haha. The dress and the crinoline + warm weather meant sweaty legs), and the guys were able to get the guests situated.

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Soon, it was time for us girls to head down.

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mismatched bridesmaid dresses for the win! If you are planning a wedding, please consider this trend. Not only did it make my wedding look super chic and adorable, but it was so easy. The girls just browsed on their own and sent me ideas along the way. Easy peasy!

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

My nephew Nick was Zach’s Wingman. He is too old to be a ring bearer, and he didn’t like the idea of wearing a bear suit (that’s what he thought it entailed), so we changed it to Wingman. It was in the programs and everything. He took his duties very seriously and did a great job. 

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

My cousin’s daughter, Ava, was the flower girl. I bought her outfit roughly a year before our wedding, estimating what size she would wear and I’m so glad it fit. Isn’t she precious? Basically, she walked into the door and threw all the flower petals onto one spot and ran away from my mom, which is exactly what I wanted her to do. I think it’s adorable when flower girls just do their own thing.

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Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Ok, so I just want to talk about the ceremony for a minute. I never could have guessed how amazing the ceremony would be. I knew it would be important, but I had no idea how much I would feel its weight (does that make sense?) I definitely felt the gravity of what we were doing, and I could tell that Zach felt the same way. It was awesome!! 

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Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Our officiant was a good friend of ours, Adam, who did such an amazing job. He worked with us a few times on our ceremony, and it was just perfect. I had several people come up to me after and say how nice it was. We also had two very close friends participate. Mandee, a close friend, read “I Like You” by Sandal Stoddard Warburg  — a common wedding reading, but I knew it was “the one” after it choked me up every time I read it. Another close friend, Patrick, sang “This is the First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes — and it was better than the original. Definitely teared up. 

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

After the reading and song, it was time to get hitched! 

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Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

You guys, I’m totally crying as I post this. That was the best day….

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

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Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Mark Webb Photography/Courtney Bell Photography

Next up (in a few months): The Reception (aka the dance party to end all dance parties!)

Question of the Day:
Tell me about your wedding ceremony! 

Crossfit Thunder: On Ramp Class #1

11 Jun

Apologies for a very wordy post. If you’re a local or interested in joining a Crossfit box, I think it’s worth a read, though. 

Since January, I’ve been attending “Crossfit” classes at the YMCA. It’s not officially Crossfit, but because we’re doing the same skills as we would be doing at a Crossfit box, I’ve always referred to it as such. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to join the On Ramp classes at my local Crossfit box, Crossfit Thunder: 

Because health and fitness is my main hobby, I read a lot of fitness blogs, and I talk to a lot of people about Fitness, so I know that the main benefit of going to a real Crossfit box is the support of highly trained coaches and the comradarie of the people who you are working out with. At the Y, our Insane Fitness Training classes were more independent and a scaled back version of Crossfit. The coaches, while totally great — I really like Jodi and Noah, weren’t Crossfit certified, although they were personal trainers (and very good ones). I learned quite a bit about Olympic lifts and the Crossfit skills. However, a few friends of mine are members of Crossfit Thunder and they saw how interested I was in the classes and they knew I would benefit from coming to the box, at least for a while. 

I’m going to be completely honest here — I can’t afford the fees of joining a Crossfit box. It’s expensive, and I’m not willing to give up my YMCA membership. I’m a runner at heart, and having access to the treadmills in bad weather is reason enough for me to pay the $44/month I pay to be a member of the Y. I will not argue that the membership fees of a Crossfit box are too high — after attending just one class, I’m convinced that this is not a rip off. You get access to a plethora of highly-skilled coaches, a nutritionist, and you have unlimited access to the box. After class, Coach Katie was talking about how different coaches will do different kinds of classes based on what fitness goals various members have — and that’s amazing! So yes, after one class I will say that the tuition is worth it — however, that money has to come from somewhere and with buying a house, planning a wedding and trying to still have somewhat of a life, there just isn’t enough money to go around, so the $44 gym membership is going to have to do for now. The only reason I have this opportunity is because a friend has offered to sponsor my On Ramp month as a wedding gift. I can’t even express how generous this is and how grateful I am! Thank you, Shannon and Ben! When my expenses calm down, I’m sure I’ll consider becoming a full-time member, but for now I’ll take what I can get. 

So, I’d like to just take you through my day at Crossfit Thunder. Starting with the drive there. 

Although I knew where the box was located, I realized only after a torrential downpour started that I had no idea where to park or how to get into the building. Luckily, I saw a friend’s car (he is a member) so I found a place to park and sat in the car. It was POURING! I saw a garage door open in the back of the box, so I gathered my things and prepared to make a mad dash to the entrance. Once I got there, however, the garage door had been closed and the door  next to it was locked. It was raining so hard, so I dashed back to the car. At that point, I was literally soaked through and not in a good mood: 

Photo Jun 10, 6 07 43 PM

 

Seconds after I got back into the car, the rain stopped. Sigh. I’ll tell you, I was tempted to hightail it back home and eat a pint of ice cream, but I sucked it up and walked inside. I immediately saw some friendly faces (Hi Shannon, Ben and Garrett!) starting their own WOD, so I felt a little better. I saw the newbies standing off to the side so I walked over to wait with them. A few introduced themselves, and I busied myself with intently looking at the Coaches’ profiles on the wall (I’m shy in new situations). 

After a short wait, Coach Drew came over and gave us a bit of a love story about Crossfit. The one thing I really like about Crossfit in general is how passionate the devotees are. When so many people love it, you know there must be something great about it. He also had us sign an insurance waiver for our first week (since the first week is free, you aren’t covered like the paying members are, hence the waiver). Then Coach Katie came over, holding her 2 1/2 month old son. I don’t know if there is a better endorsement for Crossfit than a really fit-looking girl holding her newborn son! Katie ran us through a quick foam rolling exercise and then we moved to the kids Crossfit room. She had us write our names on the white board in order to track our times for our WOD, and then we met Coach Zach. After a 200 m warm up run, he led us to another room to learn form for our first skill of the WOD — air squats. 

I love squats. Have I ever told you that? I’m a squat master. I don’t blink an eye at a WOD with 100 squats or more. So, we started squatting and Coach Zach and Coach Katie walked around fixing our form. I didn’t think I had much to learn, being the squat master that I am, but Coach Katie came over and told me that I should push my knees out just slightly and I was pretty impressed with how much better my squat instantly felt. At first, I wasn’t sure what she meant, but she put her hand where my knee should hit, and once I did that, I got it. Impressive. 

Next we learned push-up form. Again, I’ve been doing push ups forever and didn’t think I had much to learn. Wrong again. With just a few tweaks to my form, I felt a difference. You can tell when you’re doing a skill right, because it becomes easier and also feels like you’re getting more of a workout. 

Finally, we learned a bit about jumping pull ups. In the Insane Fitness Training classes, we went right to pull ups with a band, but I can totally see how jumping pull ups would help me become better at pull ups in general (they are my weakest skill). Basically, we used a bar that was low enough for our feet to touch the ground and we held onto the bar with a full extension on our arms (so our knees were bent), then we would jump so that our chin comes over the bar. Seems really easy at first, but once you get into doing a lot of them, it gets harder to reach the bar. I’m excited to try these at home to work up to where I need to be. 

After we had covered all the skills, it was time for the WOD: 

200 m run
15-12-9
air squats
push ups
jumping pull ups
200 m run

We did it in two heats. I was in the second heat. At this point, we had been there for over an hour and I was READY TO WORK OUT, so waiting for that first heat to be over was a struggle! I finally got my turn and I powered through the workout: 

Photo courtesy of the Crossfit Thunder Facebook Page

Photo courtesy of the Crossfit Thunder Facebook Page

The results are a bit skewed, because while I’m not entirely new to Crossfit, a lot of the people in my On Ramp class are new to working out all together. I will say, though, the workout was no joke. I was definitely huffing and puffing at the end.

 

After our WOD, we had a bit of a Q&A session with Coach Zach and Coach Katie, and then it was time to call it a day. I was surprised when I got back to the car that it was after 8:00 pm!! I got a little frustrated that we were there all that time for just a 7 minute workout, but I know that comes with the territory of an intro class, so I’m not too worried about it. I was mainly just mad that it was well past my dinner time. When I got home, I made this amazing salad and I felt better once I inhaled it:

As a Pittsburgh native, I highly suggest putting a few french fries on your salad next time. Yum!

I swear, there are a ton of greens under all that protein and french fries (they are baked!)

I’m excited to go back to class tonight. I hope I get to work out more, and I also hope I get out of there just a tad earlier!

Question of the Day:
Have you ever tried Crossfit? Would you join a box?

 

I Got it Right

2 Apr

Yesterday I was complaining about not being able to balance my morning responsibilities with a new puppy, but today I got it right.

But let’s back up for a second. After work yesterday, Zach and I had to go to the Sprint store to finally get me off of the family plan with my family and on to our own family plan. It’s about time! It seems like every time I step foot into the cell phone store, I’m there for at least 45 minutes and yesterday was no exception, so by the time we got home it was already after 6. I really wanted to get a run in, and I knew we had to have dinner soon, so I dashed off to the gym. Because I didn’t have a ton of time, and I knew I wanted to get those miles in, I decided to run as fast as I could:

fastest yet

…and I ended up running the fastest 5k I’ve done since my injury in November! I was pretty proud of myself.

So, still on a bit of a running high this morning, I was planning on getting up early and hitting the gym again. However, the puppy was not having it. When I got up to put on my running clothes, he was whining away and I felt bad leaving him with a still sleeping Zach, so instead we got up, played and ate breakfast.

Then we napped:

nap time

Well, they napped. I drank coffee and watched the news. I had to capture the above photo, because it’s pretty huge that those two were napping so near each other.  Tuscany is not a fan of the new puppy.

After the morning nap, it was play time again, so I dumped him into bed with Zach with some toys while I showered, and then after I got dressed I took him outside and then alternated playing with him in the living room and cooking breakfast. It was actually pretty funny, and I think I got a morning workout in anyway, as I was dashing from the stove to the living room to play tug-of-war with Frank.

I’m pretty proud of my desk breakfast today:

quesadilla

…a scrambled egg quesadilla! I basically just scrambled two eggs, and then filled a low-carb tortilla with the eggs and some cheddar cheese and grilled the whole thing. The cheese allowed the egg and tortilla to stick together, so I had a totally portable and dippable (into salsa) breakfast! Yum!

In short, having a puppy is hard work. I’m sure once he’s a little older and more independent, I’ll be able to get back into morning workouts, but for now I think I’m just going to have to skip them. It’s just not fair for me to ask Zach to get up at 5:30 when that’s just not his thing. He’s happy to watch the pup in the evenings while I hit the gym, so for now that’ll have to do! This is good practice for when (if) I’m a mom!

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In other news!

logo_girlsontherun

I attended a benefit on Saturday that I just had to talk a bit about. There is a group of ladies trying to bring Girls on the Run to the Cabell County/Wayne County area. In case you don’t know, Girls on the Run is a program for school aged girls (3rd – 5th grade) to learn self-confidence, teamwork and to believe in themselves. From the GotR website:

One girl put it this way, “I learned that I am the boss of my brain.” Helping girls take charge of their lives and define the future on their terms. You can also think of it as Can University—a place where girls learn that they can. No limits. No constraints. Only opportunities to be remarkable.

How do we do it? 

Lots of ways, but we start with helping the girls get a better understanding of who they are and what’s important to them. Then we look at the role of teams and healthy relationships. And, finally, we explore how girls can positively connect with and shape the world.

And remember, we believe that life-changing experiences can be fun too—for everyone—the girls, coaches, families and other volunteers. So don’t be surprised when you hear laughter along with self-reflection and see beaming smiles across the beautiful, confident faces of our girls.

I’m super excited about this! As the coordinator said, this program is less about running and more about learning self-confidence and awareness, and basically that girls can do anything! The girls work as a team to train for and complete a 5k race. Again, from the website:

Meeting twice a week in small teams of 8-15 girls, we teach life skills through dynamic, conversation-based lessons and running games. The 24-lesson curriculum is taught by certified Girls on the Run® coaches and includes three parts: understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork and understanding how we connect with and shape the world at large.

I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to coach a team once it is a reality, but first we need to get the chapter up and running. It’s a very time consuming and costly process, so the steering committee is organizing quite a few fundraisers in order to get the program off the ground. On Saturday, I was lucky enough to attend a fundraiser at Brown Dog Yoga, which is located in Heritage Station in Huntington.

cropped-brown_dog_yoga_small

Despite the fact that my next-door neighbor is an instructor there, this was my first visit to Brown Dog Yoga. The studio is beautiful! The waiting room is bright and cheery, with lots of hooks for your things and cubby holes for your shoes, and the studio itself is so welcoming with its wood floors and amazing exposed brick wall. The cost was $30 per person for an hour long session with the chance to win some pretty cool door prizes that were donated by local businesses.

I haven’t done any yoga at all for a while (bad Kristy!), so I was looking forward to a good stretch after a rough Crossfit session that morning. I wasn’t quite prepared for what I got! The instructor, Katrina, started the class by powering up the heaters on the ceiling and it instantly got quite warm in the studio. Then Katrina led us through a rigorous vinyasa flow that challenged me quite a bit. I even had to take a few rests in child pose because I was so sweaty and breathing hard. It was a great workout! I didn’t end up winning any door prizes, but there was a little bit of food for us afterwards (including the best orange I’ve ever eaten — seriously!), and I left with the satisfaction of a good yoga session and knowing I’d supported a great cause.

If you are a Huntington local, I strongly suggest you visit Brown Dog Yoga! I was quite impressed.

Question of the Day:
Tell me about your morning routine

My Favorite Place to Run

10 Oct

I don’t talk much about Huntington on this blog, as was the intention when I started it. As you know, Huntington was named “America’s Unhealthiest City” in 2008, and since then the city has tried to outrun that embarrassing label. I can’t say we’ve completely turned ourselves around, but we have made significant strides:

  • The P.A.T.H. (Paul Ambrose Trail for Health), a 26-mile bike and pedestrian pathway that is being constructed, providing free health and recreation for Huntington and surrounding areas. In addition, an annual 5k, 10k and walk (dubbed “Fit Fest”) is held to raise money to continue construction on the trail.
  • Jamie Oliver came to our town to film his Health Revolution reality show, building us a state-of-the-art kitchen downtown which provides free healthy cooking classes for people of all ages.
  • In general, I see more and more people out walking, running and biking on a daily basis in town.

There is much more, but those are our largest accomplishments.

Surprisingly, Huntington may have one of the best areas I’ve ever seen for outdoor fitness: Ritter Park. I live exactly one block from the park, and it’s my very favorite place. I’ll attempt to give you a ‘virtual tour’ of our lovely park:

When you enter the park at 10th street, the first thing you see is the fountain:

Photo credit: This amazing blog post about Ritter Park.

The park is a wide, open grassy area with an awesome playground (trust me, my nephew will. not. leave. it. when he’s visiting) on the East end, and is surrounded by a wide gravel running/walking path that is (I’ve heard) 9/10ths of a mile. If you follow the path under the 8th street bridge:

This bridge was painted pink a few years ago for Breast Cancer Awareness and caused quite the uproar. It has since been repainted.

(There is a path underneath that bride so pedestrians don’t have to cross the road), you will be on the continued path which goes about 1.5 miles to the World War II Memorial Arch located at the intersection of where Ritter Park ends and Memorial Park begins:

A good photo of the path that you follow around to get under the bridge, again from the awesome blog post.

I actually took these photos!

On certain holidays, the GHPRD (Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District) hangs a giant flag on the arch. If I run from my front door to the arch and back, I have run exactly three miles. If I continue on the trail through Memorial Park (where my favorite water fountain is located) and back, I’ll have gone about 5 miles.

Backtracking back to the Ritter Park loop, if you don’t go under the bridge to follow the trail to the arch, but rather keep on the trail a bit, you’ll find a set of stone stairs that you can climb which will lead you to this gem:

The Ritter Park Rose Garden! The roses are in bloom Spring – Fall, and it’s seriously breathtaking. You can have your wedding there, and it’s quite cheap, but it doesn’t seat very many people, so it wasn’t an option for us. Perhaps some kind bridesmaid will read this and throw me a bridal shower there.

If you don’t climb the stairs to the Rose Garden, but continue on to the East End of the park again, you can make a right and you will see the tennis courts. There are 4 courts, I think, and they cover two of them for the winter. I don’t play tennis, so I’m not going to spend much time on those. However, after the tennis courts, there is a huge hill which is great for hill sprint repeats!

Tennis courts and the park building

If you climb the giant hill, at the top on the left is the brand new Huntington Pet Safe Dog Park. Huntington won a contest that was sponsored by Pet Safe which funded $100,000 towards our dog park, and it turned out great. It’s basically a large fenced in area where the dogs can run. There is a doggie drinking fountain, a small dog run, and that’s basically it, but man do the doggies love it.

On the right at the top of the hill is the Ritter Park Ampitheater:

 

Where outdoor concerts and outdoor theater are held.

And that’s about it! Ritter Park is about the best thing ever, in my opinion. I consider myself very lucky to live one block from such an awesome park where I can run, walk, and interact with other healthy residents of my town.

Recently, Ritter Park was named one of America’s Great Public Spaces by the American Planning Association, along with parks located in Denver, Chicago and Anaheim.  I don’t know if the residents of those cities are as pumped about the honor as the residents of Huntington were, but I’m guessing not. It’s great for our small town to be ranked up there with big cities. I truly think that Ritter Park deserves the honor. I run in that park most days of the year, and I never get sick of it.

Question of the Day:
What’s your favorite place to run? 

 

A Fall Getaway

1 Oct

This weekend, Zach and I joined some friends for a trip to Marlinton, WV for their annual Fall Festival and “Roadkill Cook-off” — all of us had seen advertisements for the Festival when we’ve visited Pocahontas County, so our curiosity was peaked. Our friend Mandee’s husband Garrett’s family happens to have a cabin located right along the Greenbrier River and they invited us down to hang out at the cabin and check out the Festival.

See Zach and Garrett?

The cabin was great! All the comforts of home. We arrived on Friday evening and left Sunday morning, so minus our Roadkill Festival fare, we concluded that we would need three meals while we were there — dinner Friday, breakfast Saturday, and dinner on Saturday. So each couple was responsible for one meal. Mandee made us an excellent chili on Friday evening (I threw together a quickie cast-iron skillet cornbread also). I’m sad I didn’t take any photos, but I was ravenous and just inhaled it! I was responsible for breakfast Saturday morning. Since we were right on the Greenbrier River Trail, I wanted to get a run or two in, so I decided on a low-maintenance breakfast: quiche!

Mmmmm….

Quiche is the easiest. You just crack some eggs, add in some cream, cheese and veggies then cook it until it’s not runny anymore. I even used a store-bought crust because I was going for quick and easy. I love easy meals that are delicious and seem labor-intensive. This quiche turned out great. Usually I go the asparagus route with quiche, but this time I threw in some broccoli and peppers. It was very delicious. I made two, and we had plenty of leftovers to heat up and eat while we were packing up on Sunday morning.

Speaking of running (was I?), like I mentioned we were right on the Greenbrier River Trail. It’s a 78 mile trail that goes through the mountains of West Virginia, and it is breathtaking. On Saturday morning, I did a three-mile loop in one direction and then on Sunday I did a six-mile loop in the other direction. It was a really pretty run, and the weather was chilly enough that once I started sweating I was still comfortable.

I must have stopped to take a million photos.

Our cabin was located on mile marker 77, so on my six mile loop I ran until I got to mile marker 74 and then turned around. I love running in the solitude and nature, but do not try to do it without music. When I run in town, there is plenty to keep my interest, but miles and miles of river and trees, while lovely, can get pretty repetitive pretty quickly. The first morning I realized that I forgot my headphones, hence the shorter run, but then on Sunday morning I realized I brought that hat you see on my head up there, which has built in headphones. Luckily it was chilly enough to run in a hat.

Enjoying the view from the cabin porch, post-run.

Let’s talk about the Roadkill Cook-off, shall we? The Pocahontas County Autumn Harvest Festival and Roadkill Cook-off has been happening for 22 years now. The first rule listed in the WV Living Magazine article about it last year reads: The main ingredient must be any animal commonly found dead on the side of the road, including groundhog, possum, deer, rabbit, squirrel, or snake. Pigs, cows, chickens, horses, and goats are also acceptable. The animal need not actually come off the side of the road, and in fact, most of the judges prefer that it didn’t.

I’ll have to admit, I was pretty nervous. I’ve been a vegetarian in the past, so going beyond my usual chicken or fish was a bit of a stretch for me. But, these are once in a lifetime opportunities, people!

After a rainy Friday, we had some fabulous weather for the festival on Saturday. Blue skies, fluffy white clouds, hot sun and cool breeze — perfect fall weather. The Festival itself was pretty standard — crafts, food, etc. But the real fun was located in the town square. For three dollars, you got a wristband that allowed you to sample any of the food that was being judged for the cook-off:

 

The first line we got into was a booth that was serving “Possum Burgoo” I’m pretty sure they were trying to go for a traditional Kentucky Burgoo (which is amazing!), so I figured if nothing else I would like the stew itself.

This possum was incredibly life-like.

The stew itself resembled chili. I got a huge chunk of meat in mine, which I bravely ate. It tasted exactly like chicken. In fact, I swear it actually was chicken because possums are kind of gross and I don’t want to think about eating them. The stew itself, however, was bland. After that I went into it with a new attitude: Food Critic.

After the first booth, we got straight into line to try a squirrel meat rice dish. It was a little better than the Burgoo, but I was still searching for my favorite.

The next line we got into had the best presentation, in my opinion. They were serving “Porcupine Quill” which was basically a skewer of porcupine meat (are porcupines typically roadkill?) with vegetables and a yummy sweet and a little spicy sauce.

 

The boy in the middle said that Native Americans would use this recipe and use the porcupine’s quills as skewers for the meat and veggies. This was by far my favorite of the cook-off. They claimed to use the traditional Native American recipe, but it seemed a lot like teriyaki sauce. It was still delicious.

After that, we tried a bear meatloaf, which I found to be a little mushy, but everyone else seemed to like.

A few of the booths were closed down because judging was happening. This is the one I would have liked to try:

 

In case you can’t read that menu, they had a Teriyaki Venison, a Rabbit and Dandelion salad and Venison fried rice. Yum! I’m really sorry I missed that one.

All in all, we thought the Roadkill Cook-off was just so-so. While the food was interesting and exciting, other than the samples of the food being judged, there wasn’t many food vendors around. There was a stand selling goat meat sandwiches (not my thing) and a stand selling Polish sausage (so my thing). Everyone got a goat meat sandwich, but when I went over to get a sausage they were out of onions and peppers so I passed. We ended up going to a restaurant and having a few bites there before heading back to the cabin for the evening.

 

We got back to the cabin just as the sun was setting. I ran to the river to take some photos of the view, and I got the above gem. Despite the festival being kind of a bust, we had a great time hanging out, enjoying nature and each other’s company so the trip was a success!

Question of the Day:
Did you do anything fun this weekend?