It feels odd to sit down with so much to write about and not know where to begin. It’s incredibly frustrating to struggle so much keeping up with my writing….. Even though it’s something I truly love to do. I have started about 10 posts in the notes section of my phone (the place I do most of my writing) and then for one reason or another I get pulled into another direction and don’t finish it. Then I start another one in a new awesome spot with the intention of sharing the experience and then the same thing occurs. THEN I get so backed up that I become overwhelmed and shut down. The next part of the process is; I’m at yet another amazing place experiencing yet another incredible thing that I want to share but my mind says, “Stephanie you need this to go in order, and you have 5 other posts you need to write prior to this post so yet on one of those!” And my heart screams….. “But I want to share THIS!!! Those are gone, this is where we are and I want to share THIS!!!” And so an argument ensues between my mind and my heart, (this is a battlefield that has seen a lifetime of wars fought on it). As I am writing this it occurs to me that I can ALWAYS post a current experience and then go back sometime and post others that I haven’t been able to finish for one reason or another…… Ahhhhh such relief in the little exercise of letting go. Letting go of my tight grip of how things are SUPPOSED to go…. Like who says it HAS to be chronological???? And p.s. That’s the beauty of WordPress, you can date things whenever you want (at least I think you can hahhahaha). Oh the joys of “figuring it out as you go”.
So I’m giving myself permission to write what’s current and in my heart tonight. I’m giving myself permission to be where I’m at and also allowing myself to go back and reflect upon meaningful experiences whenever I feel like it!! So if you’re following this blog, I apologize in advance if it jumps around and sometimes doesn’t make to much sense. For those of you that know me, well, you already know that’s an exact reflection of me!!! I often applaud ANYONE who can stick with me through a conversation because it has a tendency to fly all over the place. Where we started will never be where we end, but I promise if you hang in there with me it will be worth the ride!!
Yesterday we arrived in West Virginia and I was blown away by the beauty!!! I will be transparent and let you know that my entire life I have had a preconceived notion about West Virginia and it’s people. Yes, all the jokes and Jerry Springer episodes formed this opinion. No real life experiences contributed. So the picture in my head was a cross between the movie “Deliverance”, about 20 various Jerry Springer episodes and a lifetime of awful sibling marriage jokes about West Virginia.
As we left Virginia and entered West Virginia my jaw was in my lap for most of the drive. The incredible rolling hills meeting the mountains. The endless vistas of lush green mountains uninterrupted by anything for as far as I could see. There were so many dramatic bridge views that made us feel like we were flying!!! I also came across the first Starbucks sign off the highway I’ve seen in about 4 states.
I had to pull over at a rest stop to get a little work done and it was Beautiful!! The people were so nice and accommodating. The information center had trail maps and state maps and National Park guides and INCREDIBLE information that I’ve yet to see anywhere else! As I worked, Sienna watched the weather channel on their TV (that TOTALLY counts as educational points for homeschooling right?!?!) and excused herself to the bathroom. When she came back she told me she saw a woman shaving her mustache in the bathroom and asked if she would have to do that someday. Hahahhaha good stuff!!!!
We continued on and arrived at our first “primitive” campsite since we have been on our journey. I’ve avoided them on purpose so far because it’s been so hot, being able to plug into electric has been a much needed luxury. We decided it was cool enough here (69-75 at night) we could manage without it. My big concern was the fridge. Our ALiner had a backup battery that I thought would run things for 4-5 days. WELP….. That was WAY off!!! It was completely drained after about 5 hours. No lights, no fridge, no nada!!! Which is fine except for the fridge of food that needed to be kept cold. And the fact that my phone is on its last leg and the battery only lasts about 3 hours till it’s dead, which is not conducive for setting an alarm in the morning. So we set out today to find a good cooler and get back to our tent camping roots! I was ready to splurge for a Yeti or Pelican but had an AWESOME guy at an outdoor gear shop who lived in his van for 3 years steer me toward a Coleman 5. $30 vs $300 was easy to talk me into for our needs. I’ll keep you updated on the choice. Then another twist came along and I THINK I figured out a way to run the fridge off the propane tank….. I’ll know in the morning!!! So keep your fingers crossed because that would be an epic solution!!! Oh the joys of life on the road with zero prep and no planning lol……. P.S. Since I just typed that I couldn’t help myself from opening the fridge and checking on it…….. OMG, I think I’ve figured it out!!! Now to test how long the propane tank will last! Someday I’ll be an expert at this!!
Anyway, when we arrived at the campsite, Sienna quickly made friends with a little girl in the next site over. She has this incredible way of making friends with really anyone in a campground very quickly. I watch her struggle with friends in school and even in an urban setting….. But in the woods, she’s golden! She has no prejudice, no preconceived notions, no judgement, no fear….. Just a little girl who loves to play and connect with other kids. They made friends quickly as I set up camp. I walked over and met her parents, who weren’t her parents but her grandma and aunt and uncle. I spoke with the grandmother who gave me her life story and her children’s life story very quickly, (that happens often) and as she told me tales of visiting kids in prison and various babies and the extended families and taking kids in because they didn’t have for parents due to drugs and a variety of “unfit” upbringings, (all as she served Sienna a large glass of Mellow Yellow that I didn’t have the heart to decline but a part of my soul rotted watching her drink it) I couldn’t help but wonder if this woman was on one of the Jerry Springer episodes I watched. As I struggled with my own judgments, I watched Sienna play and laugh with such joy in her heart. It took my breath away and I exhaled and my heart softened and all I could see was a beautiful woman who was doing the best she could carting all the pain and suffering she has carried for her own lifetimes….. Maybe many lifetimes! As I softened we laughed at our differences and she applauded what I was doing with Sienna and I applauded what she was doing with her grandchildren….. And in that moment we were just two women who knew struggle and heartache and brokenness and decided to laugh at it and carry on the best way we knew!!!
It IS incredible to me to see how much natural beauty is in this area and also see that the majority of people enjoying it (that I’ve encountered) are from out of town. It seems such a shame to me. Sienna and I have had such fun exploring various hikes and bike trails. The views are stunning and the history is so rich! We look forward to exploring an old coal mine tomorrow and we are going to get out on the river also. We have a few more hikes on our list for this area and I will be sure to update you guys on our favorites!!! Wherever we go we ask Rangers and outdoor locals what their favorites are so we have a sweet list from the best source!!!
Thank you for witnessing our journey….
Love & Light