Posted by: Rachael | August 31, 2010

You know you’re in Shenandoah when…

So I just got back from a wonderful weekend adventure with my 3 besties in the beautiful (and sometimes indescribable) Shenandoah Valley. I feel like I have so much to write about, but as the thermostat in my 2nd floor apartment currently reads a whopping 97 degrees, I think I’d better choose my words carefully before both myself and my laptop melt into a puddle right here on the floor!

The weekend began with a short Thursday night flight to BWI and a somewhat longer commute to Georgetown to meet up with the girls!

Love these ladies! Liz, Lauren and Caroline are pretty much the sisters I never had. I mean, Lauren and Caroline are actually real sisters, but I pretend I’m adopted sometimes. Seriously though, whenever the four of us get together, it’s always a great time! We laid low Thursday night watching old It’s Always Sunny in Philly episodes (love, love, love that show) and hit the road early Friday for our cabin camping adventure!

Welcome to the Goose and Gander! These little babies make-up the Gander Island River Log Cabins in Luray, Virginia, a small town located in the Shenandoah Valley just a few hours south of D.C. After my four-day legit camping experience at Bonnaroo this year, I was a little hesitant to return to the wilderness again so soon. Luckily, these cabins were absolutely perfect – and came complete with all the amenities a good log cabin should: loft, satellite TV, fire pit, wood stove, AC, grill, and a jacuzzi! Basically, we hit the “camping” jackpot! Of course, we started Friday off right with some cocktails at our picnic table…

The weather was so beautiful this weekend – and since we knew ahead of time that we had a grill and a stove, we came prepared with plenty of goodies to make some amazing meals! Friday night was grilled chicken and veg with a beautiful tomato, mozz and pesto salad that Laur threw together with leftovers from her CSA. She also made these cute little grilled zucchini topped with a dollop of pesto that were to die for! I need to remember to make them the next time I get a million zucchini in my CSA bag! So quick and easy on the grill, but SO much flavor! Dessert were delicious snickerdoodle cookies from Safeway (yes, we forgot to buy stuff to make s’mores) that we enjoyed around a lovely campfire that only took us about an hour to start. I’m ashamed to say I used to be a girl scout….my troop leader would have been so disappointed at my apparent lack of fire-starting abilities. Once the buggies got to be too much, we called it quits and got a good night sleep in preparation for a Shenandoah National Park hike in the morning!!

I’m going to write about the hike itself in another post since I took so many pictures en route, but here’s a preview of the amazingness that we experienced:

Yeah, it was gorgeous! I used to go to school in Virginia and am sad to say I had never before been to this park! What a shame! It’s a hundred miles of beautiful trails and views – I will definitely be going back next time I’m in town!

After our time at the park, we immediately headed back to Luray to stock up on some essentials at WalMart. As much as I hate shopping there, it really was the only option for miles – and when you need a case of beer and firewood in a hurry, I’m sorry but you just have to do it! We also picked up a pack of Smirnoff Ices so we could do this:

Oh yes, we all got “iced” once during the trip – it’s amazing how you can fall for this even when you think you are prepared. Regardless, Saturday was a top night – we made some amazing man-meat burgers with caramelized onions, mushrooms and swiss cheese, baked sweet potatoes, and more zucchini bites. We even had a couple of Laur’s work buddies bring a pick-up truck full of firewood so we could finally get a decent blaze going! Luckily, we remembered to pick up some s’mores stuff this time and had a blast making some delicious marshmallowy, chocolatey goodness. I keep telling myself that I should be snapping photos of all this food I’m describing, but mostly I am too busy stuffing my face to get out the camera! I promise I’ll get better though! For now, let’s just say the meal was epic! =)

On Sunday we packed up camp, said goodbye to the cabins, and headed back to the city. Of course, we enjoyed one last reminder of where we were as we drove out of Luray:


You know you’re in the Shenandoah Valley when people are smoking in the beds of their pick-up trucks while their children sit unbuckled in the cab…and they weren’t the only ones we saw this weekend! Sometimes I forget how different things are in good ole VA! After an insanely exhausting car ride home – the last 20 miles of which took the longest due to all the D.C. traffic – we returned to civilization! Sadly, I had to leave the gals and continued on my way to the airport (picking up a delicious treat from the Whole Foods salad bar on the way). I got home to Albany super late, so I’m already feeling really behind this week – hence why this post is so late! But, the good news is that I’m getting back together with Laur and Caroline this weekend in New Jersey at their family’s house for a fabulous Labor Day BBQ! Can’t wait to see them again so soon – and I promise, this time I’ll take photos of the food! =)



  1. Looks like so much fun! I love going and staying in cabins. Its the best of both worlds. In the nature but still have running water! LOL

    • Absolutely!! In my opinion, camping should always come with these amenities! =)

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