Saturday, February 20, 2021

Chocolate, Tunnels and Presidents...Oh My!

February is one of those months where the holidays get all mashed up together and I have to pick which ones to celebrate. This year, we skipped Mardi Gras and concentrated on Valentine's Day and Presidents' Day. 

We had a family chocolate tasting for Valentine's Day. The winners were Whitman's and Godiva. The coconut chocolate from Whitman's was as good as I remember, but we all agreed that we preferred our favorite organic free trade chocolate brands to any of these. It was a family hit nonetheless.

We also enjoyed a family hike on Sunday to a state park in Virginia we have never visited. It is called Tunnel State Park and it was wonderful. We arrived to a completely empty parking lot and had the park completely to ourselves. It was a crisp, drizzly, grey day and I guess no one decided to come out. We left Tim at home so he could have peace and quiet for an "alone day," which he really enjoyed. 

The park was stunning and my photos do not truly do it justice. The water was truly blue in places where the beach was limestone. We spent a good hour skipping rocks, collecting pieces of coal that had fallen off the trains that pass through daily and just enjoying the nature around us. 

Our kids have become so used to masks that they wear them even when it isn't necessary. They said that the masks keep them warm. My dear mountain goat children wore them the entire time, even when we were climbing back up the steep mountainside that had benches at every switchback turn. 

While we were enjoying the stream, a train came through. Unfortunately, my phone had died by then. The train was awesome. The engineer waved to us and its length went by for at least five minutes. I love the clickety-clack of trains on tracks. We also hiked to Carter's cabin, which is the oldest structure in Scott's County, Virginia. On our trek home, we stopped in Johnson City, Tennessee, for dinner. We got takeout from Panera Bread and enjoyed it in the parking lot. It was an all-around lovely day.

We upgraded our Universal Yum Box to the Yum, Yum level. It comes with lots more snacks. This month was Ukraine. They all had super strong flavors -- overpowering to say the least. It wasn't our favorite box, but we had a great time laughing at everyone's expressions as they tried things. 

Has anyone else noticed that they end up doing chores around their pets? I was trying to change the sheets and left the room to get fresh ones. I got distracted for 10 minutes and returned to this. 

I kept Presidents' Day real simple this year. We looked up the Presidents' favorite food items and then checked our pantry for supplies. We picked our presidents based on what food we had and what would go well together. We decided on hoe cakes (George Washington), blueberries (John Quincy Adams), bacon (Abraham Lincoln), corn bread (John Polk), apple cider (John Adams ~ although he preferred hard cider), and cabbage (James Buchanan). We pulled out the appropriate pewter presidents from my husband's collection and made up the dishes. It was a lovely feast and our second successful themed dinner for 2021.

I hope you all are safe with the deep freeze and crazy ice that is gripping the country. We really were left unscathed here in WNC. We just had lots of rain and a bit of sleet. I'll take it.

Blessings, Dawn


  1. Warm face or not, my favorite thing is to rip a mask off my face as soon as possible when forced to wear one! I may have a kid or two like yours, though. :)

    How wonderful that you put so much time and energy into making holidays special!

    That hike is really beautiful! Makes me want to travel!!!!

  2. My kids are a mix - some don't mind the masks, a few loathe them entirely. Mine comes off asap.
    Chocolate tasting sounds fun.

  3. The themed dinner sounds delish, and a great way to celebrate Presiden't Day.

    Here's another tunnel (further north in VA) that has just opened for exploration.

  4. What a fun way to celebrate President's day! That park looks wonderful.