The Adventurous Woman

There is nothing more inspirational to me than seeing a woman in the outdoors. Whether she’s bagging peaks or simply relaxing at her campsite, it’s refreshing to see women out experiencing the natural world. I truly believe Instagram has done wonders in forging ahead a new path for women in the outdoors. It has given us an easily accessible platform to share our experiences and motivate each other into participating in activities which can still be considered taboo in today’s society. When I open up my feed, I am flooded by photos of women back packing, hiking, camping, rock climbing, surfing, road tripping, traveling to foreign lands, and breaking ground further and further into a world previously and arguably still, dominated by men.

I have always considered myself an independent woman. I have never feared being on my own, and I have never thought twice about being able to do and doing all the things that the boys can do. Although, this honestly doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me the more I reflect upon my background. I have come from a long line of incredibly strong women who have been pioneers and strongholds in their fields. My Nana is the absolute strongest woman I know. She survived two wars in England, two bouts of TB, and several types of cancers. She was separated from her family many times during WW2, and eventually left her home behind to move countries and start a career in medicine. She eventually became head of an entire hospital ER department down in South Florida in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. My grandmother moved around countries with my military grandfather before the collapse of their marriage, where she went on to work full-time to provide for the four children she raised on her own. This taking place in an era where this was looked down upon. My mother is a powerhouse in all aspects of her life. She spent 6 months studying and backpacking around Europe in college, and is now a professor in exercise science, leading grant research and educating our future doctors and scientists. She has always been a go getter, and has thrived in a heavily male concentrated field. Independence and strength run through the blood in my family. We are a line of women who don’t back down, and who don’t see the lines in the sand indicating what we can or cannot do.

However, these stories, my stories, are not just my stories. These are the stories of women all over the world. Families of women coming into their own and breaking down the doors of opportunity. It shouldn’t be surprising that more women are venturing out, pushing the boundaries, and eliminating the confining ideas of what is thought of as safe and appropriate activities for us. We are approaching a fascinating time in our history, where we are raising young girls in a world that is starting to show that we as women are truly capable of whatever we set our minds to. We are learning from the women that came before us, and passing on our knowledge and experiences to the next generation. These social media platforms, as much negative as they can carry these days, are also the very tools we have needed to put our outdoor women (and any woman conquering life) on a canvas for all other young women and older women alike to gain inspiration and realization that we can accomplish our dreams.

There are so many women out there that I have never met and will likely never meet, that I have drawn so much courage and motivation from. I see their pictures post back packing trips and world travels, and I say to myself, “Well if she can do that, I certainly can.” I have spent umpteen hours perusing the accounts of women I admire, pulling ideas from their endeavors. I have a bucket list the size of an encyclopedia and it’s only growing. It’s for this reason that I find so much joy in sitting down and sharing my experiences and knowledge with others seeking out their own adventures. I want everyone to be able to experience what I have. You learn so much about yourself when you can go get lost in nature or delve into new and unfamiliar landscapes and cultures. The stories I have read of women coming to crossroads in their lives, hitting rock bottom, fighting through illnesses and disease, overcoming devastating obstacles and finding healing and strength in the wild, is beyond what words can describe. Personally, it’s like getting back to my roots, hitting the reset button on all the “stuff” that weighs on me in every day life. It’s a state where I can just be me, through and through. Every time I travel or spend a couple days in the outdoors, I rediscover the woman I know and love within myself. That woman is a force to be reckoned with, kind and compassionate, open minded, freely flowing, and strong enough to climb mountains and beyond. Sometimes she falls by the wayside, but she is always there, waiting for me to get back out there to the wilderness to remind me of who I am.

The adventurous world is not just for men anymore. We are here to experience every daunting peak, every snowy slope, every dirt road, every dense forest and jungle, every winding river, every endless desert and ocean. We are here to experience the tingling of our nerves as we enter the unknown, the butterflies in our stomachs in anticipation of a new day, the sheer sensation of awe and disbelief at what this earth has created, and the euphoria that comes with these aforementioned feelings. We are here to get dirt under our fingernails, get bruises and bloody knees, light our own fires, put up our own tents, pack it in and pack it out. We’ll discover foreign lands, summit the highest peaks, surf the toughest swells, and climb the steepest canyon walls. And who knows, maybe we’ll do it all while in a dress. It doesn’t matter. We are strong and courageous women out here traveling the world, finding joy and life and freedom. We are mother nature herself, no matter how many “Be careful,” “Don’t go alone,” or “Are you sure that’s safe?” comments we get. We are women of the wild.

 

 

 

Witches and Sunsets

It was another foggy morning in Rhode Island as our traveling trio loaded up in the Astro van. We had plans to make a quick stop in Boston before heading up into Salem, Massachusetts. John-Hilton is very particular with his upkeep and care of Max the van, so we took Max in for an oil change before making the drive into the Bay State. My mother was staying in Boston for a conference, so our plan was to go say hello, check out the location of the Boston Tea Party, and then spend the majority of our day in Salem. I was eager to visit Salem as I love history and have always been fascinated by the somber events surrounding the Salem Witch Trials. Plus, I think witches are pretty awesome and now I kind of want to go watch Practical Magic.

It began to sprinkle a bit during the first stretch of our drive towards Boston. Ole Max threw out a sputtering protest from the engine which caused John-Hilton and I to look at each other with concern. However, the van kept chugging along and I dozed off to the lullaby of the windshield wipers and spattering rain. When I awoke we were stopped dead in traffic trying to get off an exit for downtown Boston. We were basically parked on a downhill slope and when we finally got some movement to start moseying onward, Max cut off completely. In situations of van malfunctions, I’ve come to learn that my immediate reaction is to look at John-Hilton with a face of sheer terror. Eyes wide and frozen like a deer, I wait for him to speak words of comfort and reassurance. It doesn’t help when he looks worried as well, so then I begin to bombard him with a million questions, “Um what’s wrong? Did the van turn off? Why did it turn off? Why aren’t you saying anything? What do we do?” I’m sure it’s really annoying. Thankfully, Max cranked back up this time. Key phrase being “this time.” (That there is some ominous foreshadowing of our days to come, FYI.) We blamed the incident on idling in traffic for so long and drove over to my Mom’s hotel.

Traffic was a nightmare all over the city. We later figured out it was Harvard’s graduation weekend along with normal city traffic. As there was really no where affordable for us to park to get lunch or walk around, we visited with my mom in the lobby drop off area. Bella seemed very alarmed by her presence. I’m sure she was wondering how on earth mom could randomly be in this foreign and bizarre location. After catching up and showing my mom pictures of our trip so far, we hit the road to see the sights in Boston. The historical buildings were architecturally gorgeous. I was thoroughly impressed with the downtown area. John-Hilton and I both agreed that the city would be a cool spot to visit if you were able to fly in and stay without a vehicle for a couple days. It’s definitely the kind of place you want to experience on foot, avoiding traffic and outrageous parking costs.

The journey to Salem was relatively unremarkable. Our most significant moment was a stop for coffee and a free donut at a DunKin’ Donuts for Free Donut Day. Shortly after our pit stop, we pulled into the historic section of Salem, which I didn’t expect to be so tiny. I mean it makes total sense thinking back to the late 1600’s but still it was a little surprisng. We parked the van alongside Salem Common, a large field across from the witch museum. After some extensive googling, we opted out of visiting the museum, although in retrospect I would not have minded paying the 11$ for the described cheesey displays. Instead, we proceeded to the NPS visitor’s center to grab a map for a self guided walking tour. We passed by homes, churches, and other building structures from the late 1600’s and early 1700’s. The historic walk around town was fascinating, albeit incredibly sad. Imagining the suffering and fear of those accused and/or convicted as witches was a horrifying feeling. My heart ached as I walked around the memorial for each person who was prosecuted by a narrow minded and fear ridden society. Each life taken serves as a reminder that we as a people living on this beautiful planet must never find ourselves in such a panicked and fearing state of mind that we would so mercilessly seek out and destroy the life of another innocent human being.

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Back at the van, John-Hilton and I debated our next move. It was only 5 pm, early enough to keep moving, but late enough we could probably stay in Salem and find something to do. We sat with the doors open, breeze circulating through, while Bella played with her squeaky rubber ball. After hanging out for about an hour, the decision had been made to keep traveling north. Back in New Jersey, we had run into a girl who recommended that we make a stop in Rockport, which was only about 45 minutes north of Salem. John-Hilton phoned a local campground called Cape Ann Campsite where we could stay for the night. After arriving at Cape Ann, we picked out a nice campsite that sat up high on the forested hillside and drove into Rockport to hike around Halibut Point State Park. We were arriving just before sunset, which wound up being perfect timing. Halibut point is the site of an old rock quarry of which you could see the different structures and rock formations used to aid the quarry workers. The grounds were stunning. The rock pit that had been kept dry from water during the mining days was filled with a glassy pool of water that reflected the setting sun. Further past the pool was an overlook point which offered vast views of the ocean and granite rocks. We wrapped around the point and followed a trail down to the shoreline. The sun was low in the sky, filling it with visions of yellow and orange swirls while waves crashed peacefully on the large slabs of rock. The whole setting and experience was fantastically meditative and relaxing. In between the rocks were small pools of vibrant green algae of which we hopped around and inspected. Just up on the sandier part of the shore, we built a small rock cairn to join the many others that were balanced among leftover pieces of quarry granite. We left feeling rejuvenated, looking forward to spending the rest of our evening nestled up in our campsite on the hill.

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