took a hike, took a camera: Doyles River Falls

I was the first one awake on Mother’s Day morning. My son returned home after midnight the previous night because of a band trip to Busch Garden’s. He was exhausted and my daughter likes to savor the morning so the house was quiet that Sunday at 7:15am. I filled a small pot with water and scooped some rich grounds into my french press, hearing the grounds hit the glass for maybe the first time ever. Light poured in the window as my coffee steeped, the house still and quiet. I tidied and swept the main floor carefully then tippy-toed the trash and recycling to the bin outside. The kids woke up one by one and greeted me with a hug and a “What’s for breakfast?” They ate sleepy-eyed and I packed our bag for the hike. We arrived at the Doyles River Falls lot around 11am and it felt a little like my house that morning. It was calm and still, as if our presence alone would wake up the residents. Not far onto the trail we rounded a turn and met a deer. Then, one after another, we saw lots of life on our hike: flowers, snails, millepedes (so many millepedes), gnats (so many gnats) and a snake (which I did not get close enough to photograph). We even passed our Harrisonburg friend Danielle and her boyfriend Cody on this trail! Doyles has two falls: upper and lower. The trail guide I have says “two waterfalls with different personalities.” I didn’t know what that meant until I saw the second waterfall. They were equally beautiful but so very different. And, they’re close to each other so you get two falls in one hike which is sweet. On our way back we passed a group of hikers that let us know there was a black bear ahead, peacefully turning over rocks, looking for food. I had a little tinge of fear, I’ll be honest. But it was way helpful to know it was up ahead and that the people who told us about it lived to tell us so… We saw it, I took a blurry photo of it and then we hauled it up the path. On the last leg of the climb, Ben and Blake raced to the parking lot. They each met their match…neither wanted to keep going and neither of them would quit. It was a fun sight for me and Ella, casually lagging behind. The day ended with one more pull-off along the Drive to take in the rolling mountains under gray skies followed by a Mother’s Day barbecue courtesy of my little sister, Brook. It was the perfect gift from her and a delicious post-hike meal for all.


Bonus mini-waterfall on the hike.

Upper Doyles

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Remembering Mothers

Last week was “Think Pink Week” at the kids school. On Friday they hosted an outdoor yard party complete with a bouncy house, corn hole tournaments, hot dogs, and sunshine. The kids ran and played and screamed for no apparent reason like kids do. Ear-piercing and heartwarming. They would check in with me to get a drink or ask for money or maybe even give me a sweaty-puppy-dog hug.  Ella asked if she could buy a pink balloon from the table where their principal stood. When we walked over, Ella was instructed to write the name(s) of anyone she might know that has battled breast cancer. The response came too easy for her. Age 8. Breast cancer events such as these are especially meaningful to me and my family. At this tender young age, my children have experienced the loss of two very close family members to the disease and a former secretary at their school. It is very real to them…and more terrifying than any monster under the bed. I am so so thankful for my mother, today and everyday but this time of year comes with reminders. Reminders to love and be thankful and enjoy your days and hug a mama for Pete’s sake. Happy Mother’s Day to these wonderful women:

Peggy Caulder Somers (Grandma Peggy)

Debra Lutz Custer (Aunt Debbie)

Secretary Karen Kay Puckett

…and all the survivors and victims close to your heart…


Ella and her pink balloon…inscribed with the names of her Gramma Peggy & Aunt Debbie.

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