Virginia Tech and Cascades Recreation Area

It was time for an out-of-town adventure and time to check off Virginia Tech from my bucket list. But a 4+ hour overnight trip would not be filled with just a visit to a university campus. In researching things to do in Blacksburg, Va, the Cascades Recreation Area in the Jefferson National Forest seemed like a worthwhile and fun place to visit. What seemed enticing was not only the hike, but the reward of seeing a magnificent 69 foot waterfall. (Seniors, you can get in free with your National Park Pass).

To get to the falls required a round trip four-mile hike which I thought would be a piece of cake considering I had done an 8.15 mile walk in the Great Aloha Run. Studying the map at the beginning of the hike, it appeared that the lower trail would be more scenic and “easier” because the upper trail was described as being more challenging because of the hill. Hence, we chose the lower trail and began our hike along the lovely Little Stoney Creek.

“Easier” is a relative term — easier if you’re younger and “grueling” in my book with having to step over all shapes and heights of rocks, twisted roots, numerous steps, and narrow pathways. Knowing what was at the end of the trail, I could not give up. Truthfully, I could not have done it without my husband. Well, maybe I could’ve, but it would’ve taken all day and there were dark clouds above and a thunderstorm looming. As we passed people coming down, they kept saying we were almost there and it was worth it.

There comes a point where the lower trail and upper trail meet and it becomes just one path to the falls. I asked a group if they had taken the upper trail (the one we had not chosen) and they said yes and a gentleman explained that it was a road that the park uses for maintenance. Therefore, it was wide and smooth. What a relief that we had an easier way back, but it was raining so the mud road was a little slippery. But, we could still walk much faster and get back to our car.

It took about 1.5 hours to get to the top and it was definitely worthwhile. I was drenched in perspiration on a cool day, but what an awesome view and an exhilarating feeling of accomplishment. I had an apple for nourishment which my body really needed. Unfortunately, it started to rain so we did not have much time to enjoy the view and had to start our descent on some slippery rocks and steps. However, once we got to the maintenance road, it felt as though we were home free.

It was a wonderful trip in every way — one of the best front desk people I’ve ever encountered (Ritz Carlton quality at a Hampton Inn), excellent service and food at Sal’s Italian Restaurant, and on the way home we stopped at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum in Staunton, Va where we had an excellent tour guide. That was the icing on the cake. Oh, and yes, the visit to Virginia Tech and their hokie stone buildings was also awesome. Now I know why they’re called Hokies.

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Great Aloha Run and Commitment

Before leaving for Hawaii a couple of weeks ago, I made a commitment to walk the Great Aloha Run. My sister was running in it so I told her I’d cheer her on. Then she said a lot of people walk it. It never crossed my mind to do anything like it, but I wanted the “Finisher” t-shirt to demonstrate something that I’d never done in my life. It was amazing that just making a decision was the greatest hurdle to overcome. Once I made the decision, the practice and training fell into place.

When we find that we have something that we have difficulty getting started … could it be that we simply have not made the decision to do whatever we need to do? For example, as seniors, we all know that death is a greater reality than it was when we were younger. We have many decisions to make, one of which is where to live out our life. Older seniors are advising us to pack up and move now. Move closer to family. Sage advice, but we haven’t made the decision.

I look at my neighbor in his early 80’s. He’s not made the decision either, although he’s on a wait list at a senior facility and has been called about an opening. And because he’s not yet made a decision or commitment, he is having trouble getting started on the project to move. Unfortunately, as seniors, we have to face the reality that the longer we wait, our bodies may not be in any condition to handle such a huge project.

Going back to the Great Aloha Run … it was an 8.15-mile run (walk). I was advised to soak in the tub, preferably in Epsom salt, after the race because I was catching a flight that afternoon. I also wore compression socks on the plane and was fortunate to get a seat where I could get up and walk around on the new Airbus 330. That night in my hotel room my legs felt really heavy, but I rubbed a generous amount of Sunjing, the only all-natural analgesic that I know of, and the next morning I was up early in almost perfect condition to continue the journey back to the East Coast.

Sadly, we were actually in Hawaii for my husband’s mother’s funeral. She died suddenly at age 93 of a massive heart attack. She enjoyed the outdoors and in her later life did a lot of walking. So we took her spirit along with us and I’m sure she helped us complete the Great Aloha Run.

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