This year, weddings are bringing me everywhere from Nashville to Philadelphia to West Virginia and beyond - besides all those that are in my backyard of Richmond and Hampton Roads! I love having a mix of weddings that allow me to travel to places far away, and then those that let us be home in our bed that same evening. My latest trip brought me to Adventures on the Gorge in West Virginia, and oh what a trip it was!
For this particular visit, my sister was able to come with me for the weekend. Since she's in college a few hours away I don't get to see her nearly as much as I wish I could, and I was thrilled to travel with another buddy. That Friday was one of the longest days I can remember. First I drove to Virginia Beach for a sweet little courthouse elopement, then I drove back home to back up my files and go on a long run. After that I headed out to meet my sister in Richmond so we could travel the rest of the way together.
From Richmond it was a 4-hour drive to Lansing, West Virginia. The first 3 hours were pretty smooth sailing along I-64, but the last 30 miles were an adventure. After missing most of the food stops we were desperately hungry and were about to resort to gas station food, when the clerk told us there was a Taco Bell a few miles down the road. That was good enough for us! We were in such backwoods that it was the only restaurant around for miles, so stopping there was a must.
The fact that the road to the campsite had a 55mph speed limit is a joke. There were hairpin turns everywhere you looked, and I was content driving slower than normal. We finally arrived, thankful to have driven in the daylight, and checked into our little cabin on Sunnyside. After settling in we headed down to the most picturesque location - the Gorge Outlook - and stood in awe at the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The next morning, after a big breakfast at Smokey's, we went on a hike and just happened upon a little trail into the woods which brought us to another gorgeous location on the river. Everywhere we went was another scenic view that absolutely blew our minds. Finally we dragged ourselves back to the room to rest and relax before the big wedding day ahead.
Normally Nathan accompanies me to every wedding, but this was a last-minute special circumstance and he was not able to take a day off work, so my sister filled in for him. I originally brought her as more of an assistant than a second photographer, but after realizing I could set up the camera for her and give her some light direction, she absolutely rocked it! It is beyond fun to bring family along on these adventures, and she was helpful all day long even after her feet started aching and the bag got pretty heavy.
The next morning I woke up pretty early - I don't set alarms after wedding days, but with all the adrenaline that goes into it I haven't been able to sleep in lately. Even though my head hit the pillow after 1am, I was up a little after 6am the next morning. We grabbed some coffee at Sweet Java Falls and hit the road not too long after I woke. Of course I let Megan sleep as much as she wanted to - I think she knows what post-wedding 'hangovers' from photography feel like now!
We ended our trip in the best possible way - by seeing family all along the journey. Now that my parents have moved closer we are all within a few hours of each other, so we stopped by and gave our niece and nephew some snuggles before church, before seeing my parents and returning Megan to her car. I drove home, listened to the Broncos win on the radio, and finally got home after 7.5 hours of travel between all the stops, a low tire pressure warning, and lunch. The weekend was long, exhausting, thrilling, and wonderful, and I hope to photograph another Adventures on the Gorge wedding next year - because I can't wait to go back!