As many of you know, my parents moved out to Colorado earlier this year. Chris and I visited them for the first time in November for Thanksgiving. This is actually my first Christmas ever that I’m spending without seeing my mom and dad, and it feels weird! My parents have always had a way of making Chrismas really happen whether you’re in the spirit for it yet or not. If I know them well enough, the house has been well-decorated all month long. The tree and decorations are up, lights are in the yard, and my dad probably gets a Christmas tune stuck in his head every day or so and hums or whistles it around the house. In contrast, my own house shows very few signs of the holidays. I just now put our little Charlie Brown tree up and that’s about it – I’ve just been too busy lately. But my mom still found her way of making sure the Christmas spirit is extended to us, even across all these miles. Yesterday we received a package in the mail with this adorable little ornament, so I’m feeling a little more Christmas-y now (I’m even inspired to get a real tree next year). And in honor of my dad, I’m humming some Christmas tunes around the house today. Love you both!
Today I had a unique opportunity to photograph something very different and new to me. My new friend, Corey, (who is dating my very dear friend, Coelle) had one of his “final exams” this morning and I volunteered to take some photos for him and the other students. Final exam to me usually means a pencil-and-paper test, but Corey’s final exam happened to consist of entering a burning house and extinguishing a fire. Corey is a volunteer firefighter in the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, and today was their live burn practical exam. I totally love that photography allows me to learn more about various things - to be honest I had never really thought about how fire fighters practice putting out fires. Today I gained up-close insight as to exactly how that practice takes place. I hope the company enjoys having these photos, and I hope that in a very small way I was able to give back to these brave men and women who put their lives at risk for the good of the community.
The live burn took place in Vienna, at a home that was scheduled to be demolished.
Dozens of firefighters and EMTs were involved in the activities.
Students (in the red hats) took turns working on teams for each burn.
This is Corey, hamming it up a bit for the camera:
Corey, explaining the various pieces of gear:
This was one of the last burns of the day:
Coelle pointed out this cool silhouette in the doorway:
All smiles during clean-up:
“And these are my gloves…” (I love how the kids are completely in awe!)
Today I was able to cross #28 – Go hiking off of my 101 in 1001 list. Chris and I went to Hemlock Overlook Regional Park based on one of the trails listed in the Hikes in the Washington Region book that I picked up at Eastern Mountain Sports last weekend. I honestly had never gone hiking “for real” before, wearing proper shoes and navigating a trail map. We had so much fun! I know it might sound a little crazy that we went in 37-degree weather, but it was perfect considering my main concern about hiking: bugs. I didn’t see one bug. We saw a few other hikers though, so it wasn’t so crazy that we were out there. The trail was rated as moderately difficult, and I feel like I did really well with the 3.3 miles of it (I only tripped a few dozen times). I commented on how muddy it was (see post title) and Chris said I was probably the only person there today that said that. I’m a beginner at this outdoorsy stuff! I get the appeal of it though – it was so peaceful and nice to be disconnected for a while, and the fresh air was good for me. I only brought the little point-and-shoot camera along since my main purpose was to watch my footing, but we did take a few pictures:
My fearless guide:
Hiking along the creek:
The expert and the newbie (I feel like I look wide-eyed in surprise or shock or something):
It may have been cold, but it was a gorgeous day.
My cute new hiking shoes before they got muddy (I’m proud of getting them muddy!):
The bit of the trail where I burned off my entire lunch. I thought the hill would never end!
Stopping for a photo op about half-way through. I wanted to make sure there was proof that I really did go!
Chris exploring a creepy Blair Witch-like structure. Actually, it’s the remains of Virginia’s first hydroelectric plant.
And a nice little message on a building back near the parking lot as we were leaving: