mountain getaways and granola

We have a whole lotta stuff to gush about, so let’s begin where we left off…

Last we updated, we had begun the May marathon of visiting friends across the country. It all kicked off in Kansas City with my oldest and dearest girlfriends, and it continued the following weekend on the East Coast. Four years since moving away, I was finally returning to our previous home in Washington, DC.

Well, I should clarify that… I was really heading to Shenandoah for a Virginia mountain getaway with my grad school gals. DC was simply a happy bonus.

Four years is a long time to be away from a place that once defined one’s post-grad years. It’s here where Jason and I began our long-distance courtship; here where I learned about investing in a city’s creative class; here where I earned my graduate degree and, subsequently, my first job; here where I gained independence and discovered who I was when left to my own devices; and here where—most importantly—I met some of my closest friends on the planet.

These girls and guy [hi, Ethan!] are the first friends I made out of college. Perhaps it was because we were all lamenting and celebrating the field of arts management, or maybe it was because we found ourselves navigating our new home of DC together, but our friendship became quickly forged in all things new: new lives, new knowledge, new careers, and new chapters.

dogfish dash

Our annual pilgrimage to Dogfish Dash in Delaware

christmas

Ugly sweater + dance parties

twilight

More fist-pumping…

gur's weddingGathered for Gur’s wedding

It just so happened that we had an amazing playground to experience it all in.

Jason and I may have left DC on less than ideal terms—jaded by the daily grind and the power hungry culture—but returning felt like a breath of fresh air. It reminded me why we loved it in the first place: the walkability, the public transportation, the architecture, the food and drink, the people, and the art, oh, the art!

I only had one working day in the city, but I made sure it was full of the best things. A walk down Connecticut, a chaipuccino from Open City, a jaunt to Adams Morgan for a reminiscent working morning at Tryst [where I wrote much of my thesis], a seafood lunch in Farragut with some beloved former colleagues, an afternoon working from the National Gallery of Art amid the Rothko’s and Calder’s, and drinks and dinner with my arts mavens and mentor on U Street. It was a day down memory lane, to say the least, with the added perk of some “underground” art exposure at the end of the day.

tryst

Working from Tryst. Because memories.

adams morgan

Adams Morgan architecture

white house

Working from a bench in front of the White House. Some things never change…

national gallery of art

Afternoon work haven at the National Gallery of Art

pink line

Pink Line’rs up to our old tricks on the Pink Line HQ patio

dupont underground

After-hours access to the Dupont Underground

And that wasn’t even the best part of my visit. The best part was that I was able to retreat for the entirety of the weekend to the mountains in search of some genuine bonding time with my leading ladies—Becca “Campbell”, Becca “Gur”, Wynsor, Cara, and Trisha. Many of them traveled to Colorado last year, so it was my turn to come to them out East.

crested butte

Last year’s Colorado reunion

The weekend certainly didn’t go as planned. We barely made it up the steep mountain to our cabin, and a weekend of constant rain prevented us from getting back down for our previously planned winery and hiking escapades. But that didn’t stop us from making the most of our time together.

We slept in, took turns cooking meals [thank goodness we’re all planners and coordinated our meals so efficiently!], played every game in the book, attempted [and mostly failed] at hot tub’ing, roasted marshmallows, ate and drank everything in sight, hiked as far as the misty roads would lead, and caught up as if no time had passed between us.

marshmallows

Professional marshmallow roasters

loray

Wine with a view

bacon jalapeno cheese ball

Our Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball [aka BJCB, aka “Don’t Fear the Gorilla Cream Cheese”]

hiking

Our one successful hike

We laughed harder than any of us thought possible and even cried a few tears. In the end, I think we were almost thankful for the rain, because it brought us closer than ever before. It also solicited quite a few more inside jokes—ones that I know we will be quoting for a long time to come.

In the end, this weekend served as yet another testament to these people that I am blessed to call friends. Who love me despite my heavy suitcases, rollercoaster emotions, obvious immaturity, and comical tendencies. They are loyal, loving, and laughter-inducing to their core, and I adore them with all of my heart.

the girlsI could gush even more about our relaxing and riotous time together, but instead [and per usual], I leave behind a link to a recipe that served us well during our rained-in cabin weekend. You’d think it would be the Homesick Texan’s Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball [aka “Gorilla Cream Cheese”] that we devoured in a single day, or Ambitious Kitchen’s salted brown butter chocolate chip cookies that lasted all weekend, or even Bobby Flay’s BBQ butter and grilled corn that earned me the title of “grill master”, but you’d be wrong.

It is, in fact, Wynsor’s granola recipe from Runner’s World that made the lasting impression, at least on me. It was the first thing I wanted to recreate upon my return home, simply to keep a piece of that weekend with me for just a tad longer. It only made sense that it would come from Wynsor, our “mother hen”, who hosted me in DC and made each and every one of us feel at home, even in the remote mountains of Virginia. This one’s for you, Wynsor!


Either click here for Runner’s World’s original recipe or see below for my tweaked version [based on what I had in the pantry at the time].

granola

Mountain Getaway Granola

Ingredients

  • 2-1/4 c. oats
  • 1 c. dried fruit [blueberries, cherries, and apricots all work!]
  • 1/2 c. pecan halves
  • 1/4 c. raw almonds
  • 1/2 c. shredded coconut [sweet or unsweet both work]
  • 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground or crushed whole allspice
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 2 Tbs. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, fruit, nuts, coconut, sugar, allspice, and pumpkin pie spice.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the maple syrup. Pour over the granola and stir to coat.
  4. Spread granola on the baking sheet and bake 30 – 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until it is golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cinnamon.
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