Travel Blog

American Walkabout

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Arizona

7/13-7/14

I stopped at the Petrified National Forest on my way to the next farm in Arizona. Backcountry camping is free there just a mile off the trails. I had a rough day on the road, something hadn’t agreed with me and I hadn’t eaten much. It may have been the heat, the changing altitude, dehydration, cramps, who knows. But it took a significant effort to haul my backpack down into the canyon in the heat of the evening.

I wasn’t sure how to judge a mile, I didn’t have any cell service or GPS signal, so I just judged roughly by the amount of time I hiked. This was my first time backpacking alone, and here I was in the Arizona desert in the middle of summer. I parked next to the closed Painted Desert Inn which is on a cliff and its the only building around. I kept it in site to maintain my bearings. I found a little hill on the edge of the clearing to hunker down next to and set up camp. The wind was strong, but it didn’t cool down much. I drank a V-8 and ate 2 and a half snack size carrots. I could barely stomach them, and then I went to sleep at just about 8pm. I slept like a baby, my tent has become my home, and it feels cozy and wonderful as soon as I get settled inside.

I woke up early. I was tempted to roll back over and sleep, but my bladder said otherwise. When I peeked my head out of the tent, I found that the sun was just about to crest over the horizon. It sent its rays over the red rocks in amazing glory. I took photos as soon as I could and even did a little yoga.

The lighting was exactly what I was hoping for on the walk back, and I took as many pictures as I could. The hike back up the canyon was incredibly difficult and steep and my pack felt like 70lbs. After barely any lunch or dinner the day before my body was weak and spent. But thankfully my appetite had returned and I ate a cliff bar for breakfast. I had brought all of my cooking gear, but I could kick myself because I forgot my coffee. Thankfully I had a can of iced coffee in the cooler in my car. That was a tasty reward after my strenuous hike. I repacked my car, changed into a sun dress because I really needed a change and drove onward to Skull Valley.

I paused in Flagstaff on the way and found a vegetarian restaurant called Morning Glory Cafe’. While I was there it started to rain, and a family went outside to play in the shower, clearly it had been a while since they had rain. It was a sweet moment. Flagstaff felt like a green mountain oasis after so much desert. As I sat eating my vegan Benedict, I knew that I wanted to return to Flagstaff.

7/14-7/18

Skull Valley Lavender Farm was my second farming stop. It poured my whole way there, and I wondered if I was truly finally out of the desert. It had really begun to wear on me. But I left the rain behind when I entered the valley and turned off onto the dirt roads leading to the farm that covered my wet car in dust. Its impossible to keep poor Coco clean.

My host Will showed me around the farm and gave me some time to get situated. Then he invited me to help him harvest lavender. I threw my hiking pants on under my dress and happily followed his instructions on how to harvest the lovely flowers. He said that only a couple woofers had the chance to help harvest lavender, soI was thankful to be there at just the right time.

My time at the lavender farm was exactly what I needed. I started my day with yoga on their outdoor platform, then a restful 20 minute quiet/meditation time with Will and Jake (another guest there), breakfast and coffee while we discussed the plan for the day. Then I would weed the garden or harvest lavender for a few hours before lunch. I cooked lunch for all of us one day and pieced together leftovers another day. And then it was full on rest during the hottest time of the day. It got to over 100 degrees and was literally unbearable in the sun. Then I would go back to work at more of the same tasks in the late afternoon or evening. Then it was wash up and eat dinner together. They have the best outdoor shower! I could shower and watch the sun set over the valley. Will is an amazing cook and master of the solar oven. While I was there he baked banana bread, made a plum pie (with plums from his own tree), and cauliflower steaks.

After dinner I was off to bed at about 9pm. I slept in a tent that was set up in the work shed shielded from the sun, and pleasantly had two single beds inside. It was easily in the 90s there during the day, so I avoided it until bed time. At night it was still warm, so I would go to sleep with just a sheet on and wake up through the night to put on a sweater, socks, a warm hat and warm blanket, because overnight it would drop down to 50 something. Regardless, it was a good nights sleep and a luxury to sleep in a bed.

Maybe it was the emphasis on quiet time, being surrounded by lavender, Will’s calm and approachable demeanor, the limitation on cell phone use, or the even balance of hard work and rest, but I really felt that my soul got a much needed break here. The farm is also vegetarian, dry and tobacco free, which also add to the peace found there. Will is a teacher in addition to a farmer. He shared great stories about his time in China and Taiwan and a methodology for conflict communication/awareness that has been a helpful addition to my life.

7/19-7/20

When I left Skull Valley I took the scenic twisting mountain route north through Jerome, a mountain side town and also through beautiful Sedona. Will had recommended a lovely vegetarian restaurant and chocolaterie where I ate for lunch. The chocolates were top notch! Then I made a quick stop along the way to get my feet in the brisk river that flows along the roadside. I will stop for water whenever I can. Then I headed to Flagstaff.

I checked into my hostel, which funny enough was located one block away from the Morning Glory Cafe where I had lunch the other day. Little did I know then, that I would indeed be back in that cool city on that very same street. I was eager for some city time, I spent time shopping around before I found a brewery that also had vegan pizza. I spent the evening on their back patio chatting with some other Flagstaff visitors and fellow travelers. Once again, there are great people out there, and when I am emboldened to strike up conversations with strangers, I am nearly almost always pleasantly surprised.

adminArizona
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New Mexico, Land of Unexpected Beauty

I can’t say that I have ever thought much about New Mexico until this year. And after spending about two weeks there, I’m pleasantly surprised about its wild beauty. Yes, it is very dry and some places look like unbearable desert, but there is also incredible beauty.

I started at Santa Rosa Lake State Park at the recommendation of my new friend Becca in AR. My campsite overlooked the large rock-edged lake, and the altitude of the park gives you views in just about all directions, handy when keeping your eye out for oncoming storms in monsoon season which happens to be while I was there (more about that later). Each of these campsites came with a solid cement shelter over a solid cement picnic table. I set up camp as the first winds started to pick up. I had seen rain off in the distance when I drove in, so I wondered if this was coming my way. Instead it was just wild and crazy wind that blew off anything light enough or not tacked down. When I went into my tent for something I discovered a layer of sand on my sleeping bag and everything else. I irritatedly shook it out and brushed stuff off thinking it had gotten in through an open rain flap. I closed it all up and started to take a wet-nap bath (its basically what it sounds like, cleaning off entirely with wet wipes). Then more wind whipped through blowing sand/grit up under the rain flaps and through the screens and coated me and everything else with the grit. I was so not happy about it, to say the least!

Santa Rosa State park claimed to have showers, but I never did find them. I could have swam in the lake, but something always got in the way, like storms or the temperature dipping down in the evening.

My second day there I went to the Blue Hole in the city of Santa Rosa. Its a crisp 61 degree spring that is so shockingly cold, it is literally hard to breathe while treading water, it was amazing! And in the afternoon I sat contently on the picnic bench sketching away while facing away from the lake. I was happy to think that I would be able to just hang out there without moving camp again until the next day. A little bit of time passed and a park ranger pulled up at my site. He warned me about a storm rolling in, that forecasters were claiming hail and 40-50 mph winds. When I turned around, I saw the ominous dark monster creeping up over the lake behind me. I thanked him for the warning and immediately became a stress ball of activity and broke camp. I took my tent down and threw it in a bundle into my car, along with all the lighter stuff that couldn’t get wet or may have blown away. Then I sat in my car parked under a meager juniper tree and waited. I read the psalms to ease my fearful mind. It was hot and steamy in coco and the rain came at a 45 degree angle, and the wind blew around fiercely. Thankfully I saw no sign of hail, and it wasn’t long before the storm was over. My nerves were a bit shattered, but I was thankful I had enough time to seek shelter. Then I set up camp yet again. It gets old setting up camp and breaking it down so much, but I am becoming a pro at it. I met a fellow camper (from Houston) who also made it through the storm. He shared tips for bear safety and general wilderness pointers that I could find useful. You can never be too prepared for bears!

The following day I went on to Albuquerque to pick up Jef and then north to Taos. We camped one night in Black Canyon National Forest and backpacked the next day up to Williams Lake above the Taos Ski Valley for the 4th of July. It was breath-taking! I couldn’t have imagined such beauty outside of the Swiss Alps. Then we got some nice R&R in Taos making good use of their Saturday farmers market. We tried morchella mushrooms for the first time, dill sauerkraut, pea sprouts and tea blends that are basically perfection (tea.o.graphy)

Then Sunday morning we drove back to Albuquerque so Jef could catch his outgoing flight, and I spent the night in a very cool and rustic tree fort camp outside of Santa Fe and on the edge of the Santa Fe National Forest. I met some really cool ladies (from Texas and New York) also staying there and we shared some of our many adventures in New Mexico. And they shared some of their most excellent coffee the next morning. I am always amazed at all the great peeps I meet when I’m traveling. Then I returned north through Taos and I spent the afternoon at Wild Rivers a park nearby that overlooks the Rio Grande trying to both rest and hike my fatigue away before I went to Questa, my first WWOOF spot, Luna Madre.

When I talked to Jenny before arriving, she asked if I wanted to go with her to help her friend build an adobe structure. I was thrilled! I had been admiring all the adobe houses in Taos and Santa Fe, and I was intensely curious about how they are built. So we joined her friend and their kiddos in playing with mud aka building an adobe kitchen with a giant window facing the beautiful Rocky Mountains still holding a tiny bit of snow.

Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw is an award winning children’s book author illustrator. Be sure to look up her work on Amazon! Her stories are heart-warmingly sweet and her illustration style is unlike anything I’ve seen. She and her husband Patrick have a 3 acre farm which includes goats, chickens, vegetables and herbs. Patrick has an ayurvedic practice in town, he is also a thai massage therapist and chai master. I mean they literally wrote a book on chai! It will soon to be available as an interactive e-book. Okay so I’m not totally trying to sound like an advertising stand for these folks, I just wanted to brag a tiny bit about how awesome they are, and why I feel honored that they let me wwoof at their place.

My time at the Luna Madre included learning to milk a goat, weaving a willow garden gate, feeding the chickens, weeding the beds, watering the plants and learning lots of good gardening points from Jenny. Their youngest Narayan Blue (age 4) was amazingly helpful at identifying plants and making sure that I weeded out the right ones. He hopes to be a plumber, fire fighter, and or astronaut. Tulsi (their daughter age 10) entertained us with a game of saying only words that start with the letter of our names to talk about who we are and what we like. She then produced a drawing of each of us according to our letters. We also worked heavily on a 1000+ piece puzzle in our down time, because puzzles are pretty awesome in my humble opinion. I didn’t get to see it completed, but I hope to see a snap shot once it is 🙂

Highlights:

Learning the importance of water (especially when without)
Perfect hair texture (even a week without a shower)
All the cools peeps
Taos farmers market
Caramelized walnuts – coconut oil, walnuts, maple syrup, salt
Bees wax to the rescue for dryed-out-ness
Narayan blue said he likes me so far
Gardening with Jenny
Hunt for willow in the perfect meadow along the creek
Making sage bundles with Tulsi
All the great recipes and home cooked food
The kids don’t watch TV and are never plugged-in to any device

Lowlights:

The affects of the desert, dry cuticles, eyes, easily dehydrated, tired, high altitude heavy breathing
Freezing fingers in the mountains
Constant dustiness

adminNew Mexico, Land of Unexpected Beauty
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The quick dash through Oklahoma and Texas

I apologize to these two states for not having too much to say. I made a somewhat quick dash through. Tulsa, OK was worth a visit to reload on my Trader Joe’s provisions and to meander through the Gathering Place. This is a riverside park with attractions for children and adults alike. Who can argue with slides and obstacle courses that are big enough for the big kid in you to play on?

I camped at Alabaster Caverns park on the very northwestern edge of the state. It was an oasis after all the flat country land that I drove through to get there. The sun setting turned the sky pastel as cool breezes made for a very comfortable sleep.

Texas the next day was a series of small beat up downs, giant silos, driving along next to the train and expanses of wind farms on wide flat lands. Turn up the good tunes and just move on through.

adminThe quick dash through Oklahoma and Texas
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Here I sit in Arkansas

I’m sitting in a coffee shop called Onyx in northwest Arkansas, they call it the NWA (not to be confused with the gangster rap group from the 80’s). Its said to be the best area of the state, which I don’t doubt. Its a mecca for outdoor activities, hiking, rock climbing, white water rafting and miles and miles of farming. This is also the home for the founders of Walmart, who have made oodles of money off their cheap goods for the impoverished and thrifty masses putting tons of local mom and pop’s out of business. But I will not turn this into a rant of any kind; I smile sweetly. Instead I have benefited from the quality goods these rich Americans have dis-guarded at the local goodwills. I mean I found a sweet Colombia fleece barely used for a mere $7, but less about that stuff.

I am staying here with my friend Greg who is staying with his two best friends Becca and Sam who are married with five kids. They are Kyla (13), Nathan (11), Malachi (8), Kierstin (6) and Lincoln (4). They have been wonderful hosts letting me crash in their sweet decked out trailer that they use for their camping/traveling expeditions. Becca home-schools these lively intelligent kids who are surprisingly self-sufficient. They have welcomed me in like one of the family. They live on a generous plot of land filled with wild blackberries around every corner, large patches of garden set back off a country road up a super steep driveway. This hilly landscape is a joy to drive through on a beautiful sunny day. I have often found myself blasting tunes and singing loudly as I drive along, not caring what I look or sound like. Its a wonderful state of mind.

The hiking around here is gorgeous. There seem to be endless trails to choose from off the Buffalo National River, and then there is of course the Buffalo National River itself. Greg and I ‘floated’ down the river in canoe, but really it was more of an easy paddle highlighted with maneuvering through rapids, and many stops to choose from to swim, hike, take pictures and rest. One of the first places we stopped was a small waterfall that fed into the river. I hiked the short distance and stood under it for a refreshing shower. A-mazing! We also did the 2 mile-ish hike up to hemmed-in hollow, a breathtaking waterfall with a breeze so strong it was super chilly to stand anywhere near close by. I couldn’t imagine doing that hike in the winter time. Though I hear that it freezes over when its at its coldest.

The hikes we chose to do the next day were to Lost Valley and Whitaker’s Point (Hawksbill Crag). Lost Valley is a simple and gorgeous hike highlighted by waterfalls, mossy boulders that look like they were tossed around by giants and an enormous cave called Cobb’s cave. Apparently back in the day settlers used it as a place of refuge, and possibly lived there; it did smell pretty stale and old. Only a panoramic picture with a person in the frame helped to display its massiveness. At the very end of the trail there is a waterfall which pours out of a cave. I read that you can explore further into the cave, following the water’s source. Its a windy tricky stretch of 200 feet where you need to duck, crawl, slink around corners, move slowly and carefully and you end up a bit wet and dirty (I recommend pants and a head lamp). This opens up into a cavern of total darkness with an amazingly loud 35 foot waterfall. Admitably I am not very fond of tight spaces, or the thought of being stuck underground, so I didn’t want to hang out there for very long. But the thrill of the challenge to get there and the obvious reward had me glowing for hours. Thanks Greg for guiding the way!

The second hike was a steeper trek leading to breath-taking overlooks. Quirky shaped rocks set my imagination to what they could really be. I saw alligators, intense faces and unfamiliar creatures in them. Most had flattened sides that made them look like building blocks, mountain building blocks. These monoliths clung to the edge of mountain heights so staggering I felt nauseous to try and look down. I kept asking Greg as we walked along if these rocks were Whitaker’s point. But he was right, Whitaker’s point was obvious when we finally got to it. Its a boulder big enough to be someone’s house foundation, though there was nothing cozy about it. Many people have fallen off the rock to their death because of getting too close to the edge, which rounds off, so the end isn’t exactly clear. It sent my adrenaline pumping to be there, and I didn’t dare walking anywhere near the edge. We met a lady and her son up here and took each other’s pictures. This continues to confirm what I have found so far on this trip that there is always someone around when you want your photo taken. Thankfully the sound of thunder hastened us along to return before we could get poured on. If you do find yourself in this area of the country and want to do this hike, I recommend a stout car that can handle lots of steep gravel mountain switchback roads, because the road to this trail head is not for many cars. Thankfully Greg was driving his truck, because I’m not entirely sure that coco could have made this trek. Even his truck’s transmission got a bit overheated and we needed to pause for a while to wait it out. I’m glad we made it though, both of these hikes were well worth it!

Highlights:

The kids catching fireflies
Picking blackberries
Canoeing and hiking along the Buffalo National River
Hanging out with the kids, getting to know Becca, Sam and Greg
Painting with Kyla
Driving through the country side
All the great travel pointers that I got from Becca (Thanks Becca!)
Finding Lovers Leap (I’ll tell this story later)

Lowlights:

Watching out for ticks
Seeing the transportation of chickens on the roads

adminHere I sit in Arkansas
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Stormy Tennessee

It rained on my drive from Charlotte, NC through the Smokey Mountains and into Tennessee. It was a theme that seemed to follow me through the state. I arrived at Fall Creek Falls in the early afternoon and by then the sun was beating down and it was toasty as I explored the campgrounds. I have nothing negative to say about their setup, and my campsite was ideal giving me a gorgeous view of the forest. When I went to sleep (my first night camping alone), the heavens let loose. Thunder and lightning woke me up repeatedly throughout the night. The wind and rain were intense. I prayed for my safety. Amazingly everything in my tent stayed dry, nice job Hubba Hubba tent from L.L. Bean.!

I spent the next morning with some rigorous hiking to the falls and around the area. The main trails there are pretty short and I opted not to explore the longer trails. I was pretty tired from driving and the lack of sleep was taking its toll. I’m learning that the hard part for me isn’t to press on and get more miles in, but its hard for me to let my body chill when I need rest. I am threatened by guilt of all that I am not getting done. If I let myself, I could run on a hamster wheel to the end of my days with piles of projects completed beside me. But life isn’t all about finishing a check list. All those lists will never be finished. This trip isn’t about filling a list of everything I have done and seen. Its about being open to the opportunities of growth. And growth means stretching. I have definitely felt some stretching so far.

After a couple of beautiful days exploring Fall Creek Falls, I headed on to a little farm I found on hipcamp called Stillwater Farm. Its about 1.5 hours east of Memphis. If you happen to be in the area, I highly recommend it! Its a super sweet farm with sheep, donkeys, chickens, quail, horses and cows. Valeria is an outstanding host eager to share all about her farm, and help in any way she can. And get this, she is from Titusville! It’s a small world indeed!

I enjoyed some much needed yoga with a backdrop of horses grazing in the field and then a shower in her quaint bath house. While I was toweling off with her plush towels that made me feel like a spoiled queen, I heard the wind picking up outside. I quickly dressed and left all my stuff and ran to up-stake my tent. Valeria rode over in her golf cart to help. We moved my tent under the pole barn as the dark clouds rolled in angrily. The wind was so strong that she had to hold my tent in place while I staked it down, and then she hurried off to seek shelter. That storm was crazy, and it seriously scared me, but nothing bad happened. I opted to skip making dinner that night and just ate the last of my pasta salad out of the ziplock bag and drank a hoppy beer while I sat in the dark. It was a low moment, but it didn’t get me down. Two of the farm dogs came out for their nightly jaunt. They played heartily giving me a good laugh.

The next day I packed up in the summer heat and headed west to Arkansas. The windy country roads were a pure delight! Its what driving across the country is all about.

adminStormy Tennessee
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A Bumpy Start

Not long after arriving in Charlotte, I ended up sick in bed for a solid day and half with a fever and lingering sore throat. This is hardly how I wanted to start my journey and even worse to be this kind of house guest at my brother and sister-in-law’ place. But I was thankful to have a place to sleep it off and it wasn’t too long before I was back up and running again.

Friday I went to pick up Jef from the airport. It was the first time I had driven my car after arriving in town. As i got on the highway, the temperature light clicked on, yellow, then red. I decided to continue the shortish journey to the airport because I knew Jef would know what to do. We stopped at a gas station just in time for the engine to start clanking loudly before it died. Apparently my thermostat failed shut causing the radiator fluid to boil out leaving her bone dry and inches from certain engine death. The timing couldn’t have been better. Jef knew how to troubleshoot what looked to be disastrous. We replenished her with coolant fluid (‘we’ means I watched while he did most of the work), and there just so happened to be a auto parts store right across the street. We prayed and thank God, my car started again and drove just fine. However the check engine light came on.

After checking the code and more looking under the hood, we eventually concluded to take my car coco to the mini dealership. They were awesome and got her right in on Saturday morning. They needed to replace a few parts (the thermostat assembly, water pump, etc), major enough to cost an arm and a leg and to keep her in the shop until Monday. In the meantime they gave me a sweet loaner, a white mini cooper s with a black top and loads to pep. Vanilla, as we called her, added to an already brilliant weekend with Jef (who was just in town for the weekend), his aunt and uncle, and my family.

Charlotte is full of active things to do, tennis and frisbee golf at the park, defy gravity (a trampoline center), the pit (go cart racing), obstacle course at the white water center. I also made it out for a little hike at one of the local nature preserves, and I have plans to hike most of the day tomorrow in one of the state parks.

I got coco back earlier this week and she is running like a top. I now have the assurance that she will make the big trip out west. I’m thankful for that peace of mind. Of course I need to figure out a few of the steps to get out there. I am researching my next steps while being serenaded by Itzhak Perlman. I’m excited about what’s to come, even though much of it is unclear I do have a wedding to go to in Colorado in early September. My more immediate plans are to head to central Tennessee next week for a couple of days before I continue west.

I know I have been a bit quiet on IG lately, but I have come out of my ‘bumpy start’ and I’m ready to get out there. Stay tuned to my instagram for photos and blog posts. 🙂

adminA Bumpy Start
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Camping and the Road Ahead

What do you do when you don’t have endless tasks rushing you onward? Can you leave those internal voices behind if you drive far enough away? They try so hard to cling on to you no matter where you go. How long will it take for their voices to get hoarse from yelling, because you just can’t hear them anymore? Life, this life, is just too important right here and now to race impatiently on to the next thing. Stillness is a gift that we must choose. Be here and rest in this moment.

I wrote these words while camping on a quaint little organic farm in Ocala. It was a great time to unplug, have fun mountain/road biking and skating, and a much needed change of scenery. I also got to try out most of my camping gear which was a lovely introduction before starting out on my journey. I leave beginning of June and head north to Charlotte, North Carolina, and then I head west. I have a loose plan with flexibility to fill in the gaps as I travel along. My goal is to reach Oregon visiting National Parks, friends and volunteering on organic farms (WWOOFing) along the way.

I’m so thankful for the time that I have had here in Indialantic, Florida. It’s been a peaceful time of rest and preparation, and continued trimming down of all the extra “stuff.” Pretty soon I will need to make everything I need fit in my car…my little car 🙂 I’m ready for the challenge! In this lovely space I have been creatively inspired, strengthened in my yoga practice, challenged in my use of positive words, and yeah I’ve caught a wave or two. I can see that this is exactly what I was needing before the long road ahead. I treasure the new friendships that I have made here; I value your love and support! And I look forward to all the paint parties here in the future.

adminCamping and the Road Ahead
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Listen to the Still Small Voice

I hear the still small voice. Call it intuition or the Holy Spirit. For me recently it has gotten much more distinguishable. But do I always listen to it? No, I don’t. Maybe it’s because I don’t trust it? Maybe its because I think its just my own unhinged thoughts. Maybe its because it goes against my head-strong will? But I am learning that it is right, and I can trust it.

It warned me about a place that I stayed. Somehow I just knew that something dark lay ahead before I went there and that I would need to leave in a hurry. Did I listen to this? Yes, I heard it loud and clear, but did I choose to make other plans? No, I didn’t. And now I sit in wake of the consequences and the ruins of an ended friendship. I did have my doubts from the beginning, but I guess I just ignored them for the sake of what seemed convenient. I will listen and heed that intuition next time. I am saddened by an ended friendship, but I will take this lesson to heart, and listen to the warning signs in the future.

“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves”

Matthew 10: 11-1

On the the flip-side, I am loving this new life. I have been making new friends and great connections. People have been so helpful, and I am being handed work left and right without even looking for it. I even had a guy I just met surfing help me fix my fin with all the tools he already had. God is so good, and I am so incredibly blessed! I am reminded of my time in Taiwan, all the right people came into my life at the right times, I had everything I needed, and I now have some awesome lasting friendships.

Art reflection: Grumpster. There is so much good in life and so much beauty, but he can’t seem to see it, or absorb it. Its sad, but hopefully some day he will find his way.
adminListen to the Still Small Voice
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Choose Life

I am officially moved out of my apartment. I am storing most of my earthly possessions, and holding onto my main necessities…that fits in my mini cooper, my new permanent residence. What on earth possessed me to make such a seemingly crazy choice? I’ll tell you. I have been sinking and becoming more stuck, mentally and physically here in New Smyrna Beach. I have had nothing but doors closing on me for almost a year now. Slowly I have been getting less work and having more trouble paying my bills. My roommate found a new job out of state and as I searched for new roommates, it hit me. How can I find someone to split rent with when I can’t even afford my half? I wrestled and struggled with God; I had mountains of frustration of where I was at this point in my life. When I voiced my raw emotions with my parents, my dad asked if there was possibly something that I was still holding onto. What hadn’t I given over to God yet?

Then it hit me on my drive home. I was holding on to my apartment and New Smyrna Beach with two fierce white-knuckled hands. So I did what I had to do, I let go. And I asked the question, “what if?” What if I moved out, what if I left New Smyrna Beach? And suddenly the sky opened up, and I could see light again, possibilities became endless. I once again had hope. I had no real ties holding me in town other than great friends. Why couldn’t I leave? It felt like 100 pounds was lifted from my weary shoulders. I have a car, a surfboard, a tent, and backpacking equipment. Why couldn’t I live out of my car, travel the country, visit friends, surf, do yoga, and hike all over? I can meet up with friends along the way and make new friends, and find new opportunities that I could only find in stepping way out of my comfort zone. My work can be done anywhere, and I can write about the journey. Ha, yes, write! Its the only thing I know that God wants me to do. And this blog can be my platform for it. The journey has no time limit or proposed route. It would be totally dependent on what God provides and where. I can literally go anywhere God leads me, and do the work He provides along the way.

I thought I had gone somewhat crazy, but when I got home a little piece of paper fell out of my backpack pocket. This was a fortune that I had been carrying around since my time in Asia. And as you might have guessed, this is what it says: “You can’t choose how you will die, but you can choose how you will live.” I was floored by this obvious sign. And the more I talked to friends, the more I could see that this was not only doable, but being supported by my closest friends and family.

Additionally I felt God was confirming this for me because I journaled this scripture which was mentioned at church a week before,

[edgtf_blockquote text=”For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19. God knows this is one of my favorite scriptures.”]

On 2/16/19 I prayed/journaled Isaiah’s 30:21

[edgtf_blockquote text=”Your own ears will hear him. This is the way you should go, whether to the right or the left.”]

And on 2/18/19 I got my answer:

[edgtf_blockquote text=”Rachel, this is my will for you. I will show you which way to go, to the right or the left. I want you to go left. This means leaving all of this behind, all the creature comforts that have been your resting place. I will provide for you each step of the way. I have been preparing you for this my child. I have been clipping away all the things that have held you back. I have so much more for you on the open road. Its exciting and scary, but know that I am with you each and every step of the way. I have been pruning you for this. Release all your cares and worries to me. I will handle all of the details. Just trust, trust, trust me.”]

And here I sit nearly a month later, and He truly has been providing for me. Suddenly I have work coming in. I have a temporary place to stay while is sell off and release my extra stuff. And this gives me some time in town still to see friends and start this long awaited blog. So join me friends on this journey, this unique calling that I am grateful God has placed on my heart. Its a challenge, it isn’t the norm, its very counter-culture, and there is no place else I’d rather be. I am stepping in faith with my Father, watching Him come through in so many amazing ways. I am utterly blessed and humbled that He has chosen me.

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