So last weekend I was off-roading with a friend of mine, on an expedition with Mountain State Overland. (Check them out in links at the end, not only are they skilled overlanders, but an amazing group of folks, bringing together other rad peeps and likeminded individuals.) Driving from Virginia Beach across much of Southern Virginia with the most picturesque scenery, we traversed the mountains from VA into West Virginia. The trip was unreal. Such a memorable, fantastic experience. I will circle back around to it in just a minute, or like 5, mmmm after proof reading maybe more, measurement has never been a strong suit.
The week before the trip, I got out my old hiking pack, and sorted through its contents. I hiked a lot in my old life. It was one of the things during the chaos of an abusive relationship, that I remember fondly, mostly. I remember the first time I saw a natural waterfall. I can still hear the growing rush of the water crashing on the Earth below, snow melting by the second moving the ground and dirt and rocks, in to this majestic flow of beauty. So powerful it could down trees and cut right through rock, the water has a way of unearthing the life below the surface, shifting everything around and finding all the more water along the way, harnessing its power. Symbolic really, and I was intensely drawn to it.
I remember hiking in boots too small that created blisters so bad, I was donned with the trail name "Blisters". They were my size, these boots, but I learned quickly, hikers need a half a size bigger on their journey usually. Walking through tears streaming from the pain, because he would never have allowed me to slow his hike down, I almost stepped right on a snake. Boy did that wake me up and shift my focus! He came running for that, to get credit for saving me of course, (since I was such a mess I wouldn't ever be able to help myself, I was conditioned that way, by him, fucker). But I also remember being behind, so far in fact, that I felt I was the only one out there. Symbolic, again. What I was amazed at, though, was that there in the woods where I could have disappeared and no one would have known, was that I was not scared. Now sure, the concern of being eaten by a bear, is forever present in the woods, but more like I felt I was not alone. I was no longer as lost as I felt, daily.
I discovered I actually was not alone out there. Long before, having abandoned my religious roots, I had had the feeling of being disconnected from my Faith. But out there, It found me. Every step, each inhale, all of the deafening quiet, I was NOT alone. I was in fact, surrounded by all the beauty, the life of the woods, the clarity in my mind, the full connectivity in a "disconnected" way. It was glorious. For a few hours I walked to the beat of my heart. I processed life, and was away from the terror that existed in my day-to-day. Just for those moments, I was free. I was instantly smitten with Nature (yes I used a capital F on purpose).
While looking through my pack, I came across a few words I'd written years ago, I managed to stick in a pocket and forget about until now. As I came off the trail, at least 11 to 13 years ago, and most likely headed straight for a pizza joint, (because who doesn't crave carbs after a 13 mile day?!) I scrawled out the following on the most perfect card I purchased in the town. On the front of the card is a sketched picture of the Town Inn in the small city. On the back:
"And above all things have fervent love for one another; for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another; as good stewards of the manifold GRACE of God." ~Peter 4:8-10 (how serendipitous to me, my life and how I choose to live #BELOVE)
Inside I wrote: "There are so many life thoughts and quotes driven by the trail, path and woods. This weekend was a reminder as the ideas of 'life's path' floated through my brain. I am never closer to my Faith than when I am in nature, and this weekend was exactly where I needed to be. Grateful, hearts.
- Even when the path is hard to see there are always guides, signs and reminders to help open your eyes to the right way.
- You can branch off the path, but you will be guided back without fail. Wandering is not lost, as the saying goes.
- Even if you do not reach the end, your journey is what matters. It is where the living is.
- Sometimes your path takes you off track a bit, you must see it through to find all of the beauty in life, it is there just beyond the comfort zone.
- Take time to enjoy all that surrounds you.
- Obstacles may be just the test you need, to make you stronger, better.
- Not everyone has been through exactly what you have, but we have all faced struggles and challenges on this path of life."
Now in the thick of that time in my life, to find this now, and know that back then I was still okay on fundamental core level, gives me a belief in my own strength that just sets my heart on fire. To know that I was in immeasurable pain, mentally and physically and socially, financially, as a parent, woman, lover, my life raped daily down to nothing of myself, and I still managed to be this human... WOW! Something to be proud of for sure, but more so, to propel me to advance this human condition of acceptance and adventure and love and growth as far and deep and wide as I can, because I can!
Needless to say Nature is where I can most easily connect, recharge, heal etc. And last weekend, current time this time, was still very much needed. Jumping day one off with the rolling mountains, unfolding each peak with more breathtaking views, we arrived in Bedford, VA to make a stop at Blue Ridge Overland Gear. A quaint town, with a delicious little coffee shop (there is much more, but it was a quick stop). B.R.O.G. is located inside a building that as I walked past the basement doors, made me imagine bootleggers delivering their moonshine there. It is old, but what a beauty of a building. It has those good bones. Woodwork that makes you want to take a picture, which I did, and lighting that makes the beautifully worn floors look bright, columns that make you want to touch them and remember the generations of people that existed there before. I got to meet the owner and some friends and instantly knew they were my kinda people. (y'all know who you are if reading this far... high five to hammock man, keep on keepin on with the hot pants. Chris, I understand why others say they feel like they've known you forever. Your soul is a special one, now keep clear of the creepy's).
We continued on to Covington, to a piece of Virginia land, with the oldest standing home in VA. *** revision per Jacob "Oldest house in the county. Not the state. (; 1778" thanks for reading! *** Merry Go Round Farm is absolutely breathtaking, and the owner/farmer Jacob fast became a group favorite. He is funny and easy to adore, but he also let me hold a 3 hour old piglet, so basically I love him. We set up camp, checked in with family, got to know the rest of the group, had dinner, listened to music, got a rockin bonfire going, and stared up at the vast twinkling sky above. We shared stories and laughed lots, and of course, I broke out my moonshine! Certainly it didn't make it on the rest of the trip, but don't panic, I had plenty of brown water, (bourbon for those who don't know me) and the group brought even more. Sausage, you are an awesome guy, filled with all kinds of history, knowledge and compassion. Tell my babies I miss them, and take mama for a walk, her 700 pound booty!
I left Covington beginning to relax and sink in to the adventure. Often, my anxiety makes the transition from routine to vacay tough, I need a timeline so I know what to expect. I am not in need of planning all the details, but a guideline so that honestly, I don't lose my shit. I can prepare my surroundings and people so that if I do lose said shit, that I am safe and I can get myself through it eventually. Yep, that's me, #crazygirl over here... eye rolls... but this time, I had an easier go of it, I was excited, I was happy, and I was in that place, like back in the woods, not alone.
The next two days were spent crawling over rocks, and up steep hills, and wading through door high streams and "puddles". The vehicles were impressive, but the drivers - you guys deserve a cheers! When the locals stand back and say "y'all ain't gonna make it through there with no damn vehicle" and then watch as you do, maneuvering with skill and confidence, and the rush of adrenaline at times... bad asses... all of yas! We camped remotely, and had the privilege of some pretty amazing weather, sites and sounds, and challenging and beautiful terrain. I got to watch the majesty of massive windmills swooping (if you've never seen one, or been to a wind farm, you must), see how some true to WVA country folk live, and sit in awe over the history and awesome country we are blessed to live in!
To say the trip was fantastic, just doesn't quite cover it. I have attached some pics, and you can also check them out on my IG: @uncontrollably_me but my suggestion to all, because the pictures really only serve as personal memories of the actual greatness and do not really do it justice, is to get out there, see the world, or just your back yard. Get to the beach, the mountains, the trails, the gardens. Take them in, hold them close to your heart. I mean what is the point of a memory if we don't keep some amazing stuff in there?
We are not lost, we are on an adventure. Go on lots of them!
Find your clarity, your peace, your passion, amplify it with things you love. Surround your self with beauty in the purest form and people that make you wanna love harder!
Mountain State Overland http://www.mountainstateoverland.com/ follow their IG: @msoverlandand and watch their youtube videos for more *** Merry Go Round Farm IG: @merrygoroundfarm *** Thanks to my friend Adam for taking me along, follow him on IG: @overland_history Huge shout out to Gaby and Rachel for cooking the most delicious meals, Jason for navigating like a BOSS, and saving my life with the better bag, Papa lemonade for being the fire-man and comedian, and all of the other overland crew with unreal rigs, Y'all ROCK! Cheers!