Category: Virginia

Hiking at Lake Audubon

I participated in a 4.5 mile hike today at Lake Audubon in Reston, Va., with the Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group. Even though it’s officially spring, it still looked a lot like winter today, and the air was chilly and damp.


It was a wonderful hike, and as a first sign of spring, we saw lots of skunk cabbages poking up in some of the swampy spots.


Spring will get here, it’s just taking its own sweet time!

Coffee… Cats… Life is Good!

My Little EmmaAnyone who knows me knows that I really like coffee… and cats! Fortunately, I know of two places in the mid-Atlantic region that feature both — so I don’t have to choose!

Merlin’s Coffee

Located at the Outlet Shoppes at Gettysburg, just outside Gettysburg Pennsylvania, Merlin’s Coffee features coffee drinks handmade by friendly, knowledgeable baristas. On a recent visit, I sampled the Peppermint Patty — a delicious peppermint/white chocolate latte.

The shop is decorated with an assortment of cute cat pictures, posters, and knick-knacks. Merlin’s roasts it own coffees, and each variety carries the name of a feline member of the family. There’s even a poster showing adoptable cats in the area. That’s because the shop owners support the Appalachian Cat Rescue. Merlin’s Coffee gives you a great excuse to stop by the mall when you’re traveling on US 15 in Pennsylvania!

Stray Cat Cafe

Ragesoss, “Dark Roasted Espresso Blend Coffee Beans” October 22, 2010, via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution.

The Stray Cat Cafe in Arlington, Virginia, features cat-themed art and an extensive menu of items with names like Finicky Feline Dip, Nachos Gatos, and the Kit Kat Club. Coffee drinks include the Mocha Mania, made from “Seattle’s Best coffee blended with Breyer’s coffee ice cream, caramel and milk, topped with whipped cream.” Mmmm!

And, while you’re enjoying great eats and an urban vibe, you’ll also be helping animals. According to its website, the Stray Cat Cafe supports the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation, which “rescues and places over a thousand abandoned dogs and cats each year.”

Be sure to take the Black Cat Cafe’s Virtual Tour, so you can get an idea of the fun they have in store for you!

Shenandoah Hot Air Balloon and Wine Festival

Photo: Ellen Windmiller

Each October, the Longbranch Historic House and Farm in Millwood, Virginia, holds its Shenandoah Hot Air Balloon and Wine Festival.

This year’s event took place from October 15 through 17, 2010. Activities included a hay bale maze, pumpkin carving displays, hay rides, and colorful balloon launches at sunrise and sunset.

Festivalgoers were entertained by performances — from Irish music, to Appalachian folk, to funk — and had a chance to sample a variety of Virginia wines and microbrew beers.

The festival, located near Virginia’s Skyline Drive, offers fun-seekers a great place to unwind and take in the gorgeous autumn scenery.