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Featured Guest: A Family Escape With Ariel Horton

Earlier this year we hosted Ariel Horton and her family at Getaway Shenandoah outside of DC for a rejuvenating escape to nature. Here’s what she had to say about their experience.

Imagine that your living room has become a school gymnasium, where your husband teaches health and P.E. online, using your laundry baskets, canned goods, and socks as equipment to teach kids how to throw underhanded. Envision that your little home office houses three classrooms – one for your son in his virtual kindergarten class, one for your own virtual kindergarten class that you are teaching, and one for your three-year-old, whom you decided to home school during the pandemic. Your day consists of finding the science page your five-year-old needs (you thought you already pulled it out… where could it be?), teaching your students how to make ten while trying to help their parents find the mute button, keeping your daughter from painting on the walls and asking your husband to count down more quietly because your son’s teacher has asked him to come off mute to answer a question. Throw in a pandemic puppy and you can imagine why we felt the need to Getaway during our spring break!   
Our experience of learning and working from home was not unlike many other families’ experiences. We coped with the unknown by having nightly dance parties, taking up new hobbies like biking, and trying our hand at building a patio and firepit in our backyard. Prior to the pandemic, we spent a lot of time in the city, which is a short 15-minute drive from our home, visiting museums and going out with friends. The most time we spent outside would be at the beach or a cookout. I would never have described us as “nature people”.  All that changed during the pandemic, when we spent more time going on trails, hikes, and family walks than we ever had before. Had we become “outdoorsy”? Hesitantly, I told my husband about Getaway – this would be a good test for us.  Excited for the first time in a while about something new, he wanted to go for it. And so we booked our trip to the Virginia outpost.   

While I read several blogs about camping with kids, I was so unsure about what to expect. But I knew one thing – the very sound of a meeting alarm was starting to give me anxiety and so we happily left our computers and iPads at home. This was also our first time traveling with our puppy who had grown to fifty pounds in the five months she had been a part of our family. The outpost was only a few hours from our home, so the drive felt quick and easy. When we finally arrived, I was relieved to see that though the cabins were spaced apart, we were not entirely alone in the outpost. It gave me comfort to see other families visiting and enjoying the same beautiful space albeit extremely spaced apart.   
As a family, we bonded over a new shared experience – my husband and I had never been camping as adults and it was thrilling to find something new to do as we were growing weary of teaching during the pandemic. As a mama, I loved seeing the wonder in my littles’ eyes as they explored the “magical forest” and “discovered” the tiny creek down the path. We used the campfire to cook (or rather, burn) our hotdogs and laughed as we made s’mores. We went on a scavenger hunt and found a waterfall on a hike in Shenandoah, not too far from the outpost. At night, my husband and I talked under the stars, the most romance we’d had in months. The only time we used technology was to take pictures of the kids taking it all in.   
To any family considering a Getaway, do it! If you’re traveling in the spring, be sure to pack a jacket, especially if you plan on hiking. It gets chilly in the evenings. If you are traveling with a pup, Getaway provides dog bowls so that is one less thing to pack!   
Getaway helped us to give our children a great memory even in the middle of the pandemic – a car ride and cabin trip, hiking together and cooking outdoors, morning walks by the creek, and scavenger hunts at sunset. I guess we’re officially an outdoorsy family. 

Ready to make some memories? Book your Getaway today.