Almost two years ago today I drove over a thousand miles from Oklahoma to Virginia. As I was on the road, I knew I would forever be nostalgic for those three days of solitary travel.
Despite all the nerves I had leading up to the trip, as soon as I pulled onto the highway, I felt a strange peace that I will never forget.
The scenery, the solitude and the acceptance that my entire future was a complete unknown was somehow comforting. Despite feeling guilt and unease for leaving everything and everyone I’d ever loved in my rear view, I knew then that I was heading in the right direction.
I remember when the Blue Ridge Mountains first came into sight, so awe inspiring and the complete opposite of the flat Oklahoma landscape that had always been the backdrop of my life.
I felt calmed under the shadows of those looming peaks, a feeling that usually eludes me.
And so I was glad, after all the turmoil of the past month, that I’d planned a trip back to those mountains for the calming remedy that nature can provide.
I will admit that I can be a little prissy when it comes to certain outdoorsy experiences, especially those that involve spiders, but I have always been drawn to nature during hard times.
Tom and I hiked for almost five hours on Saturday, climbing and ambling over eight miles with some of seriously incredible views along the way.
It was my first real hike, and a challenge, but as I focused on on each step, making sure my footing was secure, I felt safer than I have in weeks.
I have a tendency to hide from my problems, to try to drown them out with sarcasm, or food, or wine. I have a hard time reaching out to people when I’m hurting. But up on that mountain I felt like I was facing life head on, in an honest and truly healing way.
I felt so lucky to be there, breathing in the clean air, able-bodied and alive in spite of the pain and sorrow in my heart. To feel joy, you have to know sadness. I needed that reminder.
Okay, I’ll stop now and let you take in the views, of both the mountain and my ass. Gorgeous scenery, indeed.
We hiked the Signal Knot Trail near Front Royal, VA in the George Washington National Forrest. I would highly recommend it if you’re looking for a scenic, challenging hike in the Shenandoah area. It is designed to be a 10.5 mile loop, but since I am a hiking newbie we cut off one overlook to reduce the distance a bit.
The rest of the weekend was very enjoyable as well. We stayed in Winchester, VA which turned out to be quite a quirky little town. We watched Gastby at the Alama Drafthouse Friday night and had two fantastic meals at the Butcher’s Station and One Block West. A perfectly relaxing getaway.
The weekend concluded with a round of golf (Tom played, I watched) and more mountain views on Skyline Drive.
I couldn’t get enough.
I know I skipped over Mother’s Day. It’s a hard day for me for many reasons, but I celebrated the mothers in my life with honesty and many thanks. They are wonderful, and I wish I could have spent it at home with them. But it wasn’t possible this year and I’m learning to accept that that’s okay – not perfect or easy, but okay.
Two years after making that drive east, I’m still confident I’m heading in the right direction, despite the many challenges that arise. All I can do is focus on the path ahead… keep steady… keep going.