Off the grid in Shenandoah

The cabin is technically just fifteen minutes from the main road, but cut off from cell reception and internet, feels a world apart. Signal entirely cuts out just a couple minutes along a winding, gravel track that requires A to engage the four-wheel drive and grip the steering wheel firmly as he navigates tight turns along a steep incline into the mountains. Looking on a map, the cabin is on the last bend of a final road backing onto wilderness. Other cabins are cut off from view by trees. We see hardly anyone during our whole stay and lean into the isolation.


When I booked the cabin just a few weeks earlier, it seemed to be the very last one available on all of AirBnb, since it seemed that everyone else had also decided to head to Shenandoah for Labor Day weekend. I feared we were truly scraping the barrel of options, so was pleasantly surprised to find the cabin exactly what we wanted- secluded, well furnished, a decent kitchen, comfy bed, and a barbecue and fire pit on a large deck in the back… also perfect for morning yoga. Surrounded by tall trees and a huge rolling lawn, we are perfectly situated.


Both of us are ready for a little break after a particularly full couple of months that included a new job for me, lots of work for A, settling into a new apartment (again – six moves in five years has been a bit intense!), and welcoming little MB, a Coton de Tulear puppy, into our family.

On one hand, working remotely comes with some perks, like wearing pajamas all day, taking lunch naps, and being able to bond with the puppy. On the other, it has been a bit unsettling to start a new job from home and not meet my coworkers directly. A month in though, and I’m starting to find my feet and just submitted my first big assignment.

Now, sitting outside on the cabin deck with a crackling fire warming my feet and the sound of crickets chirping as the sun starts its slow descent, I feel the past month of being a new hire drop away, and I relish having a few days to just be.

We take it easy over the long weekend mainly because the poor pup has caught kennel cough and is not her usual happy self at all. Usually, she likes nothing better than to frolic in tall grass, roll around on muddy trails, and splash in streams, but now she spends most of her time curled up asleep and battling a horrible, hacking cough. The vet prescribed her medicine and antibiotics to stave off pneumonia, which both assuaged my fears and also made me more concerned about her well-being. It’s particularly sad, because for the first month we had her, she was fearful of just about everything including her own shadow and definitely all other dogs. She had just come out of her shell over the past couple weeks, relishing play time with other pups and coming home happy and calm from her weekly puppy socialization camp. Our whole life now revolves around this little love and as doting puppy parents, seeing her sick has been heartbreaking.


That said, we still make time for a couple short hikes into the beautiful forests along the western side of Shenandoah. MB comes along in her hiking backpack and pokes her little face out to getting a good look and snuffle at nature. The weather is gorgeous, sunny during the day and just the right amount of chilly at night for roasting s’mores over the fire. With no internet for entertainment, we play card games, read, and watch old episodes of Survivor and movies pre-loaded onto my laptop. Around 6pm on the second night, I feel a sudden panicked feeling of being disconnected from the world, but it passes and I go back to relishing the break. A does not appear to suffer from the same anxiety, fully embracing being off the grid.


As with other trips, being here feels like a new normal, that this is our life now and that every day will open with yoga outside on the deck and close with marshmallows by the fire. Not a bad life at all. 

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