First Day of 2020

Happy New Year! Each year millions of us try to set goals for the year. It’s there perfect time to change, do something different or conquer that goal. You get a full 12 months to try to do so. One of my goals was to move more or to adopt a lifestyle that is active as my job is sedentary for about 10 hours of the day. So to kick the year off, I decided to attend a First Day Hike in one of our state parks. A dear friend asked if she could join me. Not only did she go with me, SHE DROVE! Not only did I not go.to the park closest to us, I would choose one across the Chesapeake Bay called Kiptopeke! SHE DROVE! Another goal of mine was to connect with my friends more often. So one the first day of the year, I take a hike and I connect with a friend! Now I have 11 more months to make this a habit and a lifestyle.

Me and my friend Ms Kathy!
A view from the trail
Trail view
Birding station

Ranger Stan led a group of approx 75 of us for First Hike Day 2020

My Steady Love!

I’m my quest to conquer every state park in the state of Virginia, my hubby came along beside me to help me to conquer my goal. He became my camping buddy and my driver without me asking. This is my Steady love …
I think we have conquered about six state parks and the memories are so precious to me. Most of them are super funny and a handful are frustrating. Surprisingly, we learned a thing or two about leadership and teamwork. In camping, each has his or her role and responsibilities. We did not realize this at first and we made some major mistakes. Nothing we could not survive but we did learn quickly and lessons were learned on each trip. We also had to learned when there were things for both of us to handle …such as putting up the tent ‘together’. This activity took a special kind of communication because I loose interest in putting things together really quickly. All the information was in his head. When he would say ‘put this in there sweetie, hold this sweetie, no, no babe, don’t put that there’ my response would always be ‘why’. And I would stand there and debate every move with him … (If he could find me). He was so patient with me though. I actually realized I was not so easy to lead or to follow. Then I asked myself would I be the same way with my work boss or girls group or work team. The answer was no. I had to figure out how to conquer my goal and how to let him lead me there. I can now joyously report that I can put the tent together by myself if I had to. WE can get our campsite set up in under an hour!
I apologized to him for being so difficult and thanked him for his patience and not driving off and leaving me standing in the woods. His reply was, I knew you would come around and make these trips fun, enjoyable and full of memories. You always do that.❤️ He is my Steady love …
On our anniversary (December 22) he reserved a cabin in Chippokes State Park and presented me with a bracelet that had a charm from every state park we visited so far. On the back of each charm is a memory of that stay. Such a thoughtful gift.
Front of the charms
Back of the charms that hold the memory
For years I’ve called my hubby ‘My steady Love’ because he is always right where I need him. I’m a gypsy girl and I need that steady grounded person who allows me to be a gypsy but under his protection and guidance. Last year India Arie made an album with a song entitled Steady Love and yep, I sang it to my man … Off key and all!😂
The words to her song are below! She is actually one of my favorite artists. Love her messages.
The way that he looks at me when he holds my hand
He wants everyone to know I’m his woman and he is my man
We can talk about anything, he’s got nothing to hide
He’s not afraid of his feelings, he’s not a slave to his pride
I have never met a man that I wanted to be his wife
And then he came along, it’s so natural to make a life
‘Cause he’s a perfect compliment, ’cause I’m a boss in my world
But when we’re together, he just makes me feel like his girl
He puts every other man I’ve ever known to shame (known to shame)
I just wanna be with him, talk to him, sleep near him, walk with him
Be with him (every day)
I wanna be lovers and friends and mother his children
Make breakfast on Sunday and fight and then make up again
‘Cause if life’s gonna be crazy anyway
I wanna do it with him
Ooh, steady love (hey)
Ooh, oh, steady love
He’s a good father, he’s a good cook
He loves his basketball and he loves a good book
I’ll tell you how I know he’s the perfect one for me
‘Cause he’s a warrior in the streets, but he’s a king in the sheets
He’s givin’ me love, so steady
He touches my heart, now I’m ready
He touches my soul and my spirit
He’s givin’ me love, so steady (love me so steady)

The Gypsy Rides Again

There is nothing better setting out on an adventure that will take you away from the hustle and bustle of city movement and into the calm of the woods and countryside.  You pull out your checklist, you plan, and make sure you will have everything you need to have a successful and fun adventure with all the bells and whistles.

Keep reading as I tell you a story about a man and a woman who did just that.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who decided that since her children were fully mature and considered grown, she would begin to finally live the type of life she had always dreamed. Between military life and exceptional family members, she had to become the person her family needed but that underlying wild and free spirit never died.

Two week prior to the camping trip, they began to check the weather every day. When it was finally 7 days out they could see rain in the forecast. But as the week drew on, they could see that it was not predicted to rain in the area where the campground was located. The rainfall was predicted to be heavy at home but only a little wind at the campsite.

On the day of the trip, they could hardly contain their excitement as they packed the truck the Thursday before and did a last minute Wal-Mart run at 5:00 am. They jetted off to work a half day and then off they were on the two hour drive to the destination –Pocahontas State Park, Virginia!

Just as it was forecasted, they soon ran out of the rain and into crisp blue skies. They would have just enough time to get the tent set up before darkness would fall. Each time they went camping they could define a little more of who would take care of what duties and responsibilities and what needed to be tag teamed. Setting up the tent was a tag team effort as they had a fairly large tent.

Arriving at the park, dusk was settling fast as the days were growing shorter. They stopped for a late lunch so they would not have to cook as soon as they got things set up. The tent was set up in record time now that she could identify the difference in the poles and the proper direction for the fly tarp that goes over the top of the tent. But her favorite part of the setup is glamping out the inside of the tent. His favorite part was building the first huge fire and cooking over it. It is at precisely this point, this early into the adventure that things begin to get interesting. He suddenly remembers that he did not pack the air mattress or the cots and she remembers that the nice heavy quilt is on the back of the couch! Fully dark and with a fire blazing, another trip to Wal-Mart was imminent. They would have to get an air mattress but they had fleece snuggies that would keep them warm for the weekend.

Back from an interesting ride to find the Wal-Mart via Google maps and a new blazing fire and a hot toddy going, they settled in for some soft music and down time.  The hour was almost 10 pm, and cloud cover was beginning to cover the stars and occasionally the moon. She decided to go to bed and read a magazine for little while before drifting off to sleep. Sometime later she awakens to her husband gingerly crawling into bed beside her. They lay chatting for a while and planning the next day’s excursions when they noticed that the wind picked up considerably outside and it felt like the temperatures were dropping. Sound of the wind gently swaying the tent soon put them both to sleep. But around 1 am, she woke up freezing! Apparently there was a cold front moving through with some severe winds. He got up and checked the weather again on his phone. In that way that wifey way that wives can read their husband, she knew something was amiss. Turning to her, he asked if she happened to bring any other clothes than her Virginia Beach clothes. She sat up fully alert now and asked said yeah why? Frowning he said, ‘we have a Nor’easter storm blowing through and while there is no rain in the forecast, the winds are expected to be severe and temperatures will get down to 28 degrees.

Doing what the retired military wife does best, … innovate. Leggings under flannel pjs and a cowl neck sweater and fuzzy hat were donned. The picnic blanket made from denim was placed on the bed and the electric heater was set at the foot of the bed. It was cold but they were cozy … until -the wind shifted and the cold northerly winds now blew under the fly tarp and straight into tent. It felt like they were on the ground outside.  The husband grew very concerned for his wife and suggested that he take her to a hotel. She refused. After all wasn’t this an adventure? They barely slept but as the day dawned, the winds subsided. He rose to make coffee on the small stove inside the tent and that little stove warmed them considerably. But they would have to come up with a plan if they were going to stay another night as the winds were predicted to continue to blow in gusts throughout the weekend. The final decision was to find a surplus store and buy a huge tarp and some clamps to place over the fly tarp but long enough to reach down the tent so that the wind would not get under it. The plan worked beautifully but the tent looked like they were homeless! When they rode around the campground, they found that only they and the Boy Scouts were foolishly camping in a tent. At least they had electric and water hookups. Everyone else was in some type of an RV. The good thing about that was that the bathhouses were deserted but wonderfully warm and a long supply of hot water. They did enjoy a day of hiking and sight seeing around the park. That evening due to the high winds, no fire was lit but she still had a surprise for her husband. She had purchased a refurbished crock pot while at the surplus store and an electric blanket. She put on a pot of white chicken chili before they went hiking and tent smelled wonderful when they return.

But thy knew they would have to get prepared for night time when the temps were expected to drop into the 30’s and wind gusts would be quite strong. She remade the bed and added the blanket she picked up. It was a blah gray but it would serve its purpose. She also re-positioned the floor mats and rug. He made sure the tent was secure and set up the small propane heater and small propane tanks that he bought a few months earlier and they never used it but they always had it because it was packed with all the other camping equipment.  She climbed into bed to read of course and he came to lie down after he finished a few other chores. He snuggled down under the covers and remarked how warm the bed was. He would wake up later that night in a full sweat and started undressing. They turned off the small propane heater aptly named ‘My Buddy’ and she suggested they turn to electric blanket down to low. He had no idea it was an electric blanket. The following morning, they slept in and made a breakfast of shrimp and grits (the perfect camping food right?). They described this trip as awesome and exhilarating and courageous. They learned more about each other and themselves. They also found that they really would like to have an RV -travel trailer. They already know which one but that will be in a follow up post.

After packing everything back into their bins, they would headed back to Virginia Beach where the skies were darker as they arrived and soon they were in full fledged rain and winds. They scrambled inside and made a fire in the fireplace and had pizza while they talked and laughed and reminisced over the memories that were made and the priceless experience that was had. They decided that the only thing they would change about the weekend was … nothing. A few lessons were learned but they had the best time ever!

To Rest or To Be Adventurous?

We love to go camping. About 10 years ago we bought a tent, packed some food and grabbed our teenagers and headed for the nearest state park. Actually it was not the nearest but nonetheless it was less than an hour from home. Well, our teenagers just could not grasp the idea of why we had to actually stay overnight and the fact that it was more work than they anticipated. Fishing was only mildly interesting and walking to the bath house in the middle of the night was insane to them. The dog was not amused either. Every noise had that poor dog on high alert. She did not sleep the entire weekend. So we never went camping again until this year. We (minus the teenager and dogs)packed our 10 year old tent and other rusting camping equipment and headed off to a “safe” park to camp. It was less than an hours drive from home and close to a store yet still having a secluded feeling.

Now that we have been on five camping trips this year, I often find myself pondering why we like camping. This question especially comes to mind when someone asks ‘what did you do this weekend?’ My response would be ‘ oh we went camping.’ Then you get the weird incredible look because as the story develops it’s does sound strange. ‘Wasn’t it raining, cold, windy, hot, humid, deer season, bear activity, bugs, snakes, prowler, murders … you name it, we’ve been asked. So now I began to pose the question to myself, why did you spend quite a bit of money to be comfortable living outside in the woods when you pay a mortgage to ‘not’ be outside in the woods?

My answer is actually quite different from my stud muffin’s answer. I like being outside and I particularly like trees. Yup, I like trees … the tall green plants with leaves and bark. I love walking through creation and noticing all the wonder. I equally like to run away from work-life and adult responsibilities and enjoy some solitude and quiet. No music, tv, radio, noise by phone, nothing. I can sit in my tent with my books and listen to the rain on my tent for an entire weekend without going anywhere or seeing other people. I stare at the wander, I read, I sleep, I eat, I pray, I walk, I ride my bike, I think on lovely things and I stare at my handsome stud. Stud on the other hand enjoys music and constantly moving around flitting from one project to another. I write and reflect. We walk mostly in silence -me in my thoughts and he in his music, hand in hand. I am recharged, I am grateful and refreshed. Ready to head back to civilization for two more weeks before it is time to ‘come away to a quiet place and rest.

When we go camping, we see tons of people camping. We have yet to find another family or friend who likes camping. Either we know some strange people or we ARE the strange people 😂