Our Way Up North

It has been almost two weeks since our departure from Florida. We first traveled up the east coast to South Carolina and then made our way to Virginia, next to Minnesota, and are currently in Wisconsin at Kyle’s parents house! So we have officially made it up north- Solvi in tow behind our Mazda3 all the while.

While in South Carolina we spent a weekend on Kiawah Island in South Carolina for my grandfather’s 80th birthday.

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My Grandfather’s 80th Birthday Party

It was wonderful to spend time with family that I hadn’t seen in some time and to introduce Kyle to my family. We had a great time hanging by the pool, relaxing, napping, swimming in the ocean, and enjoying each others company. Kyle and I were also eager to show off Solvi to my family so we were thankful to be able to share her.

The following is an entry from my journal that gives some details and our favorite parts of our road trip journey up north:

7/3/16- It’s a Sunday morning and I am unaware of what time it is. I am sitting in my camp chair next to Kyle who is splicing line for Solvi’s sailing rig. My Mazda is to the left of me with Solvi towed behind. We have camped at a rustic campground that is surrounded by pines and many other tall trees. Our small opening of a campsite has some large boulders poking out from their home in the earth and there is tall grass and wildflowers strewn all about. All I can hear is the birds talking through the trees and the constant buzzing of bees, flies, and mosquitoes trying to get past my barrier of “OFF! Bug Spray” that lingers around me. Sometimes a gust of wind comes through and although I can not feel it, I hear the trees moving about at their highest point. My favorite part is that if I stand up and walk a couple hundred yards in front of me I come to an opening in the trees and brush. This opening is different as it seems to burst with smells and colors because it leads to a large fresh water lake- Kawishiwi Lake in Superior National Forest in Minnesota. Vast and beautiful. Surrounded by trees in all directions. A small boulder protrudes from the water off to the right and an island full of life stands tall with pines to the left. Soon I will be swimming to that boulder to jump off and enjoy the refreshing water- this makes me smile in anticipation.

Kyle and I have been living out of our Mazda3 named Molly (while towing Solvi behind) for about two weeks now. After spending a relaxing and much needed weekend in South Carolina with family, we made our way to Virginia. Starting at Grindstone Campground in Rye Valley, we did a two night, three day, 20 mile backpacking loop through the Grayson Highlands and Mount Rogers Wilderness Area. This section was one of my favorite places on the Appalachian Trail from my hike two years ago, and I had been eager to share it with Kyle. And to our delight, it could not have been a more beautiful and enjoyable three days. Our first day we hiked about 6 miles until we got to a vista that we just couldn’t pass up.IMG_0473

In all my time camping and backpacking I think I can honestly say this was my favorite place to call home for a night. We were on the Appalachian Trail surrounded by fairly dense forest climbing up a mountain towards a ridge when Kyle noticed a side trail which we took a couple hundred yards and suddenly the trail opened up to the most spectacular area. Green, green grass seemed to glow in an open meadow completely surrounded by forest. Views of mountains miles away in both directions. Boulders the size of a car spaced out in the grass. Wild ponies at the lowest point in the meadow grazing for hours on end.

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Wild Ponies Grazing

Blue skies with white puffy clouds standing by in the distance. We took a few minutes to just sit and take it all in before setting up our tent for the night. We chose a nice place just in the tree line to be protected from any weather. As soon as our tent was set up we grabbed our books, some snacks, our sleeping pads, and the camera and headed to the big boulder. There, on the highlands of Virginia, we spent our afternoon. Reading, drifting in and out of sleep, and taking time to sit completely still and quietly take in the sights, smells, and sounds that surrounded us. That evening there was a magnificent rain storm that came through the valley and we said our thank you’s, warm and dry in our tent, for such a beautiful day. The rest of the backpacking trip had a similar feel to our first day; we were constantly greeted by wild ponies, endless vistas and views, and great hiking weather. I was so grateful to have had such a wonderful experience for Kyle’s first real backpacking trip. Life sure is good!

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