Baby Steps at John Bryan

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4 miles hiked.

Difficulty: very easy

It isn’t much. In fact, it’s pretty similar to training for a race by running thirty seconds at a time (which incidentally is something else I’m doing). But it’s a start! It’s more than we did yesterday and it means that next time we’ll hike somewhere a little more difficult and we’ll carry more and eventually, almost by accident, we’ll be pushing ourselves further than we thought we could. I am a big fan of baby steps.

We spent our afternoon/evening at John Bryan State Park in western Ohio. Ohio is no mecca of good hiking and I will be the first to admit it, but my sore feet and tired legs by the end of the day also mean that the hiking wasn’t as easy as it should be for somewhere so flat. The important thing is that it was easy enough to be fun and encouraging, which is quite a good start. I’m more than happy to save the inevitable painful-and-discouraging times of getting in good hiking shape for another day.

Fortunately, spending time out in the woods was definitely as easy as it should be. It’s a remarkable thing to suddenly have a deer cross the path twenty feet ahead of you. Or, while exploring a small outcropping, to happen upon some woodland magic like this fairy house.

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I fell asleep on the car ride home, I don’t know whether it had more to do with a short night or a long day. But I was trying to imagine how it will feel a year from now to spend day after day hiking and falling asleep twice as tired every night. It’s a little beyond my imagination right now, but even getting a little taste by spending an afternoon walking through the woods is enough to keep us headed in that direction.

In the Bleak Midwinter

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Winter. Those dim, cold months of short days and long nights. We have kept inside so much from the snow and cold, building up our warm cocoon of blankets and frosty windows.
And we have been scheming.

Appalachian Trail 2015! Already two years in the making. It started with a handful of change Levi had collected from work. He jingled it into a giant empty pickle jar and plunked it on the counter.

“This is for the Appalachian Trail.”

And we’ve been doing it ever since. On slow shifts of serving when people leave piles of coins on the table there is the comforting knowledge that those noisy bits of change in my pocket get emptied into our jar of dreaming. It’s important having this plan, it’s something to talk about when we’re tired and feeling a little hopeless with life.

Or to write about when the thought of homework and another year and a half of school is frustrating and old. Which is also a good time for looking up the perfect lightweight backpack!

Granite Gear Crown VC 60

For a touch of technicality, but as quite an amateur, I like this pack because it looks to be a lovely blend of lightweight comfort and durability. I’m hoping to break it in with a wintery Spring Break hike in a few weeks.

What dreams keep you warm and hopeful through the short days of winter?

Starting Small

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Snowed in, sleeping in, and now on my fourth cup of tea for the morning!

I love a good winter when the piles of snow and negative temperatures keep us snug inside our cozy home or bundling up for blizzard’y adventures. Being called off work and school cancellations are an automatic pass for spending the whole day in pajamas and drinking as much cocoa as you can stand.

I’ve been thinking about adventures, the way that it’s easy to talk about all the things you want to do and so much harder to have the gumption or the funds to do them. This is the double advantage of starting small! After spending all of Saturday afternoon and evening on the couches watching snow fall Levi was feeling quite cabin feverish. Nothing to fix cabin fever like a glass of cold water and a barefoot scamper in a few feet of snow! So simple, short, and fun. We were laughing for a good five minutes after we came inside. A homemade sauna of warm house and freezing snow. It’s amazing how neat and adventurous it can make you feel just to do something unexpected.

We went skiing yesterday as well, a bigger kind of adventure and requiring a little more funding but still an easy path to wonder and delight. As I came bombing down the slope, the wind blowing tears out of my eyes and burning its rosiness onto my face I felt the unmistakeable excitement of being part of something bigger just a little bit out of control. Now this feeling is not necessarily the best one to have while skiing, but it is full of the addicting flavor of adventure.

I enjoy being reminded that it’s possible to find these small adventures. It keeps me content during the times of my life that are filled with school, homework, and responsibilities.

How do you keep your life interesting?

A string of colored beads

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Within the first year of our marriage we have experienced and learned a great number of things. From snowy backpacking trips, to lonely evenings filled with the moving, unbearable and beautiful story of Battlestar Galactica we are taking in life one day at a time, sometimes with an apathetic sip and sometimes with a gulp that is so much and so clear it is a little overwhelming. Over an uncharted course of hesitant decisions and sudden changes we have stumbled into a new school, new (but familiar) jobs, and the third new apartment of 2013. And we have learned more and more what we have suspected for a long time: this is life as we love it best, unexpected and simple.

Plans are tricky, and when we make plans we often find ourselves changing our minds halfway through because Levi is really craving Taco Bell, or the laundry room flooded or we are suddenly summoned to watch an episode of Sons of Anarchy right when we are climbing into bed. So plans don’t generally work well for us, but maps are cool. When you look at a map one of the fun parts is seeing how many different ways you can take to get to the same place. It all changes depending on if you’d rather take the scenic route, not pay tolls or arrive at your destination A.S.A.P.

Well, we are people who like to take the scenic routes (we also like to not pay tolls, a sadly inevitable part of life). We hope that these scenic routes help us discover new adventures, tell new stories and keep us always exploring our surroundings.

So here we be: a $200 car, less than $100 to our names, a lot of bills and enormous dreams but we are off to find and experience the most interesting life that money can’t buy.

Hooray 2014!