Every morning at FloydFest there were ukulele lessons for the kids in the Children’s Universe which we were camped right next to. One morning they sang John Denver’s “Take me home, Country roads” and changed the words to “western Virginia” instead of West Virginia. At the time the sang was written and when John Denver recorded it, none of the song writers had ever been to the area so they may as well have been singing about Southwest Virginia.
I never thought I would fall in love with a place the way I have fallen in love with that little corner of the world. It was never my plan to live in the South. I had been trying to move out west and not having any luck with employment when the job in Roanoke became available and I decided to take it. Even then it wasn’t my plan to stay long. I thought maybe it would be a stepping stone to a position out west. Now I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Well… I guess I could still see myself living out west. So it must be the mountains. I apparently need mountains. But it’s more than the landscape. I have grown to love the culture, and community. I plan to move us back someday (hopefully sooner rather than later) and I’m torn between living in Roanoke (the convenience of a city, but still with a small town feel) or living out in the country where we could have same land. One of my favorite “I’m bored at work” pastimes is looking up land and farms for sale in Floyd.
I jokingly refer to Annelise and I as Appalachian refugees, so our trips back each summer are more like homecomings than a vacation visit. This year we were there for just over 10 days. It’s never long enough. I’m already trying to manipulate my schedule next summer to be there for a couple of weeks. We never have time to visit all our old stomping grounds or see all our friends. So if we missed you this time around, don’t worry we’ll be back. I’m definitely planning a trip for winter break, and possibly a long weekend in the fall.
We left for Virginia right after I took my exam for my summer class. Drove straight through and got into Virginia about 2 am. Annelise was a great little traveler. We only had to stop once in Ohio for gas, supper and a potty break. She managed to stay awake until we crossed the Virginia state line.
Measuring to see how much Annelise has grown since last summer…
We spent the first couple of days in Roanoke trying to catch up with our friends. First thing I did the morning after arriving was to go for coffee at our favorite coffee place. I was experiencing a bit of whiplash. I had been going nonstop since January and I could finally sit still. As I sat there sipping my coffee chatting with friends I had these waves of panic feeling like I should be doing something. I wasn’t use to being able to just sit.
Of course our visit coincided with a heat wave. Triple digits almost everyday. So we sought relief in the water. We spent a day at Smith Mountain Lake. An urban canoe trip on the Roanoke River. A morning playing in the Elmwood Park fountains. And several trips to the Johnson-Deel pool (seriously the best kiddie pool in town).
Of course the highlight of our trip was FloydFest. It’s always hard to write about FloydFest. It’s something that needs to be experienced. I hope we can continue making it part of our summer tradition for many more years. This year the kids were a little more independent which always makes it easier on us parents. There was a lot of talk this year about them having their own tent. Annelise slept in it the first night and did fine, but I didn’t. I kept getting up every few hours and going to check on her to make sure she was covered. She spent the rest of the nights in my tent but everyday would drag her cot back to the kids tent. They’d sit in there and talk about whatever preschoolers talk about.
Pictures are always better than words anyways so here’s some of the highlights this year.
Annelise was particularly drawn to stilt walking, juggling, and hooping. At some point she may join a circus. I bought her a Chinese Yo Yo which she has enjoyed trying to get to work and we brought home a set of block stilts so she can practice.
Leaving Virginia is always hard. While we were there it began to feel like we had never left. As I drove around town it just felt like we’ve always been there and that’s where we belong. We got a later start than I had planned so we drove straight through the night. Its been a long time since I’ve had to do that and the first time doing it without the dogs. I always felt safe stopping for power naps in rest areas when Izzy was with me. I made it all the way into Michigan and to about three hours from home before I had to stop. Annelise was once again a great little traveler. She slept most of the way and woke up at just the right time for me to get gas and a coffee refill.
I had to jump right back into work when I got back. But I still had several weeks before classes started, so I kept my work hours at a minimum and we had some other adventures.
This trip confirmed in my mind that slowing down and waiting another year before nursing school is the right decision. Annelise and I seemed to have disconnected. This trip made me realize how much I missed this past year while I was working out of town and taking classes. We just weren’t in sync like we use to be. At times I almost feel like I was already dealing with a teenager. Things have been a little better since we’ve been home and we reconnected on a trip we took to Wisconsin the week after we got back from Virginia. She’s growing up, I want to hold on to these moments as long as I can.