Well, it’s beyond ridiculous how long it has been since we’ve blogged about our traveling discernment adventures. Here are some brief highlights, accompanied by a promise to post more frequently from hence forth…
Southern Virginia was…Southern Virginia.
It was beautiful and filled with the bright colors of fall foliage. It was heart-breaking to see this beauty hampered by Confederate flags, soggy with endless rain, billowing systemic racism to all who pass by. We experienced some amazing people, like Jack and Nancy, who just happened to stop at our campground amidst the downpours because their camper leaked while moving. Parked and properly covered, we struck up a conversation only to discover that they live, not only on the east side of the Big Island of Hawaii, but precisely one mile away from where we’re staying during January and February. What a wild, small, beautiful world we live in. We also experienced a fair share of closed-mindedness, the likes of our queer family raising myriad eyebrows and causing some to assume that I must be Riah’s grandmother or aunt since we simply both couldn’t be his moms.
Because of all the rain, we joined a gym in the closest town and by the end of our month in Virginia, we decided it was the best money we’d ever spent! Riah had time with other kiddos in the childcare, we were able to work out even in the rain, and they had a heated indoor pool; plus the entire gym had stunning views of the Jefferson National Forest.
Riah’s fabulous birth parents came to visit for Riah’s second birthday. We had a blast celebrating together with Lindsey’s new rescue dog, Papaya; my mom and brother also helped with the rescue, but that’s a story for another day.
We also managed to become the talk of the town of Sugar Grove one evening. Our Carbon Monoxide Detector rang for a few seconds before shutting off. We vacated the camper (fortunately it was just cold and not raining). Our camper’s handbook indicates that you should call 911 anytime the detector rings. Since it only rang for a few seconds, I thought this was a bit extreme, but still wanted to take precautions so as to not kill us all in our sleep. So, using the landline phone hidden beneath a bucket for protection (there’s no cell service), I called the local sheriff’s station. I was informed that they’re required to dispatch the fire department. I pleaded with them not to send a fire truck, or blaze sirens. Five minutes later an enormous red fire engine roars into the tiny campground, lights blazing, followed by four pick-up trucks. A total of 14 volunteer firefighters showed up; one managed to figure out how to work their Carbon Monoxide tester. Everything was fine, but the “two ladies with a toddler in a pop-up camper” were certainly the talk of the town for weeks to come.
While in Virginia, I also led several retreats, had an art show, and preached in Boone. It was meaningful and fun to work with the justice-centered community at High Country UCC. It also whittled my traveling Holy Women Icons art show down from 18 to 11, which is always helpful to our bank account!
Atlanta was…full of family…and traffic.
From Virginia, we went to Lake James for a few days to spend time with Elizabeth’s mom and Papa Steve. Next we drove to Atlanta where we stayed at Elizabeth’s dad’s garage apartment behind one of his rental units. Though we spent a lot of time with my family, training for and running a half marathon, we mostly oscillated between the steam shower and soaker tub. Seriously, after four months of camping—3 of which lacked running water—we had some dirt deep in our pores. After almost a month in Atlanta, I’m convinced we’re clean and ready to get dirty again on our cross-country road trip.
For one week during our Atlanta-stint, we drove to Florida to have an early Thanksgiving with John and Jackie, Elizabeth’s brother and his fiancé. Then we celebrated Thanksgiving with four generations of the Harrell side of my family at my papa’s farm after Elizabeth, my cousin Katie, and I ran the Atlanta Half Marathon. And then we began our cross-country adventure by stopping in Birmingham to visit the Rodriguez side of my family. Between our families, and especially Riah’s grandparents, we have enjoyed having multiple babysitters as Riah has soaked up being the center of attention, and we enjoyed some much-appreciated grown-up time.
While in both Virginia and Atlanta, we checked out some potential retreat properties, expanding our search to include the rural areas surrounding Winston-Salem since we may simply be priced out of Asheville and Boone. There’s so much possibility and we’re excited about what may be in store for the little ecofeminist retreat/education center we’re creating.
Now we’re…off on an epic cross-country adventure.
We’re taking one month to pull the camper across the country with stops in New Orleans, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Las Cruces, Tucson, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Once in the bay, the camper will hang out at the home of the one of my former congregants while we fly to Hawaii for three months.
Adventure. Beauty. Family. Challenges. Learning. Gratitude. The Year-of-Adventure-Discernment has given us so much already and we can’t wait to see what is to come! More soon…