How Was Your Trip?

I have been putting off this blog for awhile now because I can’t seem to find the right words. I have probably been asked over a hundred times since I’ve been back: “how was you trip?”  I usually answer very simply, “it was awesome.”

But, it was so much more than that. We went on this trip not as a vacation, but as an adventure. We set off back in November knowing that this trip would change us. We knew there were answers we needed to find, and by staying in Connecticut we would not get those answers. We needed to leave the comforts and safety of home and see what else was out there. We needed to leave our daily routines and jump into the unknown.  Only by doing this would we be able to answer some questions that were burning within.

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During our 5 month trip we experienced a lot.  We saw some amazing places.  We met some amazing people.  However, more than anything it was what we FELT.  It was the highs, but just as importantly the lows.  Obviously, there were revelations that I will keep to myself, but here are the top things I learned and I will share:

  1. If there is something that keeps pulling at your heart and you can’t stop thinking about it, GO DO IT!  Until you do, you will never know. Do not wait for the perfect time, it will never come. Instead, trust that once you make the leap, the pieces will fall into place. All of the things you stress about….the “what ifs”, they probably won’t happen. And if they do, they are NEVER as bad as you create them to be in your head. I recommend the book The Alchemist to guide you to follow your heart.
  2. Social media is NOT reality. This is something that I thought about a lot on my trip. While I was posting pictures on Instagram and others would respond how beautiful it all seemed, many times I wanted to respond, “it is, but..”  This is a big reason why I got off of Facebook. It is just a highlight reel of peoples life, leaving others to think their life is awful while others are amazing. People are obviously not posting pictures of themselves bored on the couch, just as I did not Instagram the bums that congregated on the outskirts of Savannah. Or the dogs that barked incessantly at the campground making us want to scream. Please, take social media with a grain of salt. The blogs, facebook, Instagram, etc. It is a HIGHLIGHT REEL.  Always know that the pictures don’t have the ability to tell you everything. Maybe that beautiful shot of the campsite on the beach is swarming with sand fleas. Maybe the park in Europe that looks like a dream, smells like dog poop. Maybe what looks like a peaceful spot for dinner on a river has loud construction right next door that the picture doesn’t capture. I don’t mean to be a downer, but just know that things aren’t always what they seem!!! That being said, we DID see some amazing, beautiful things 🙂
  3. We have way more than we need.  We lived in a 20ft camper with 2 plates, 2 coffee cups, 4 towels, etc. We brought less than 1/5 of our clothes and we still had too much. We had all we needed, even though it was so little and it felt so good. As Zac Brown says in his song Homegrown, “I have everything I need, and nothing that I don’t” When we got home we couldn’t believe how much stuff we had, and we probably have 10% of what most have. Our condo feels like too much wasted space, our plates way too heavy, and our coffee pot way too big!
  4. While there were times I felt like I could spend the rest of my life in a camper, traveling full time, I did not expect to miss my network of fitness peeps so much. Not only did I miss the ability to text someone to ask them to run with me, but also being surrounded by so many inspiring people. As time passed, I started to get comfortable with an average life when it came to fitness.  I was mostly around people who thought 3 miles was a long run, and a morning walk was their exercise (side note: this is fine, any exercise is good!!!! It’s just not me). I started to convince myself that I didn’t need these crazy fitness goals of 50 mile races and a happy life for me can consist of just getting exercise every day and eating well. Then I would do a challenging workout and it would spark that fire again. That feeling that ONLY pushing yourself past comfortable can bring. Or I would talk to a client on the phone and remind them of why we do these crazy races. Why we aren’t meant to be average. These workouts and conversations would make me miss my mission FITNESS family like crazy. They remind me why average does not bring me happiness. Happiness is on the other side of fear. It’s on the others side uncomfortable. And too often we convince ourselves we are happy and average is fine. When it comes to fitness and life, we HAVE TO do what we think is impossible to really see how far we can go and how happy we can be.  Surrounding yourself with a network of positive people and those that will inspire you is HUGE!!
  5. When you go see how much there is in this world, your problems seem pretty small. When you step away from the confines of “Small Town USA” you see that there is a hell of a lot out there and your life is not that serious in the scheme of things.  For us, we were also comforted in knowing that if for some crazy reason we ever lose everything, we are happy with a small trailer and very little stuff 🙂

So, as we drove away from our final stop on our journey, we drove away different people than we were when we left.  For reasons I have listed, and many more I did not.  And, as the Zac Brown Band song, “Free” came on the radio as if on cue….a song we have listened to for the last couple of years dreaming of a life on the road….I starred out the window as Erik drove.  With the camper in view in the rearview mirror, our hands met on top of the center console.  As we drove home, we knew that we were forever changed.  We knew that this was our beginning, and far from our end.  So, when you ask how the trip was, the simple answer is, “awesome”, but the complicated answer…..”it was life changing”

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Charleston, SC…..the place everyone is talking about!

Charelston, SC may have been the most highly anticipated stop for us. For the past 6 months when we told people it was on our “places to see” list, the response was overwhelmingly positive.

“It’s my favorite place in the world”
“It is such an artsy, cool area. It is the next best town”
“You guys are going to love it”

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So, with all of that being said, we made it our longest stay on our way to North Carolina. We stayed at James Island County Park for 4 nights, 5 days. It was less than a 15 minute drive to downtown Charleston, and the park itself was worth a days visit. It was huge, with over 6 miles of running trails, a huge water park, a splash playground, a dog park, a lake, several ponds, and during Christmas they apparently hold a light show that can compete against any in the US.

We spent the first day settling in…going grocery shopping and exploring the park. We bumped into a full timer, who spends her winters Workamping at James Island and summers working at gift shops at different National Parks. One great part of camping is the people you meet and the stuff you learn. Every idea of “normal” is suddenly (pleasantly) stripped away, leaving you with so many ideas, plans, and dreams. And the full timers seem so happy and so eager to help you pursue a similar life.

We spent the next day checking out downtown Charleston. It really was an amazing place. So many different sections.

There was a lot of history.

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There was a lot of character.

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Amazing parks.

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Southern Charm.

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Beautiful homes.

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It had anything you would ever want.

The next day we spent exploring different tourist attractions. I have to say that TripAdvisor has been my best friend during this trip.

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I found a winery/distillery that we visited. It was really awesome and different. Definitely a Southern Style Winery.

Then we visited the Charleston Tea Plantation, the only tea plantation in the USA. My favorite part was the unlimited cold and hot tea 🙂

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Our last stop was the Angel Oak Tree. This tree is thought to be the oldest live oak in the nation, possibly the world, estimated at 1500+ years old. While it was pretty crowded, it still had a majestic feel to it. Pretty incredible. Especially for a big tree lover, like myself 🙂

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The next day we went back into downtown Charleston to explore..and get poured on :-). Oh well, even through sheets of rain it was a beautiful place!

Beaufort, SC

Beaufort, SC was on my “places to see” list for awhile.  It originally sparked my interest back in 2013 when I saw it ranked #1 on America’s Happiest Seaside Town List in Coastal Living Magazine.  So, as we made our way up the Coast, we booked a stay at Hunting Island State Park located on one of the many Sea Islands in the Low Country.  This State Park is the most popular one in South Carolina, offering over 3 miles of natural beach, over 5000 acres of undeveloped land, and just 15 minutes East of Historic Beaufort.

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When we arrived at the campground it didn’t take long to fall in love. Once crossing a bridge and entering Hunting Island, it seemed as though you were on a secluded island.  Then, we quickly realized that the campground was practically on the beach.  I’m sure this was something I knew, and had seen in pictures during my research, but we were traveling and exploring so much that at times I don’t even remember what state we were in!

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Unfortunately, it was raining the day we arrived (common theme lately).  However, around 330pm the rain stopped, allowing us to get out of our camper for a walk on the beach…..

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IMG_20150224_221617exploring the Lighthouse….

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and the trails, which I quickly fell in LOVE with!!

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And then it rained some more…and more…and more.

So sad!  So much to explore and such a beautiful campground and the COLD and RAIN kept us in the camper. (Which we are still loving!)

I couldn’t stop thinking about the trails…and even tough Beaufort School Systems were closed because of freezing rain, I went out to run 8 miles worth of amazing trails.

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When it finally stopped raining, we ventured to Historic Beaufort area.  While it was still cold (probably in the low 40’s) we bundled up and got out there. And I’m so happy we did.  As I have said in the past, the one good thing about the weather being as bad as it has been, it has allowed us to explore all of these areas that would normally be busy, in a way that makes us feel we are the only people on earth.

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We sat on these swings as we could hear the gun shots in the distance, coming from close by Marine Corps Training Facility on Parris Island.  This had a specific meaning to me, since it was where my Dad was stationed for bootcamp while in the Marines.

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Then we made our way to the side streets, were just like Savannah the old Southern homes, with the Live Oaks with draping Spanish Moss stole the show.  Each corner we turned brought with it a more beautiful home, as well as an unobstructed marsh view.

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This campground is definitely one that we will revisit, and hopefully we will be able to explore the area more with nicer weather!

Exploring The Golden Isles of Georgia

We officially departed the sunshine state and it did not go unnoticed by us.  Southern Georgia blessed us with record lows, with the temperature barely making it’s way out of the 30’s during our first 2 nights.  BUT, that did not stop us from exploring like we always do!

We stayed at Blythe Island Regional Park in Brunswick, Ga, just a short distance from St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. The park got great reviews online and we could see why. It was a beautiful park, surrounded by marshes and a huge fishing pier.

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We visited St. Simons Island our first day which was voted America’s #1 Favorite Romantic Town as well as America’s #1 Favorite Beach Town by Travel + Leisure Magazine.  Even with the freezing temps we could easily see what all the hype was about in this town.

Does this picture not scream BEACH TOWN!?!?

Does this picture not scream BEACH TOWN!?!?

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I was so excited to find the banner that I have had saved in my Shopping Cart at Natural Life at a cute little shop in St Simons. It was half the cost plus I always love purchasing from a store so that it comes with the memory of the day. I wasn’t sure where we would put it in the camper, and it actually didn’t look too good in the spot I had in mind. BUT, it worked perfectly to fit the spot above the bed I was trying to fill. YAY!

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The next day we went to explore Jekyll Island. This day was crazy. First, the negative….. IT WAS FREEZING!!  This island is perfect for bike riding, as it has the most amazing bike trail that goes around the whole island. I was not willing to give up a bike ride. So….we froze. SO. FREAKING. COLD. That being said, I had an absolutely amazing day. This island was magical for me. I NEED to go back when it is nicer….I may end up living there!

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In the picture above you can see the bike path that winds its way through marshes, live oaks and past the waterways.  Below is the fishing pier where we were able to watch at least four dolphin swim and play until our fingers couldn’t stand the cold any longer.  Again, in nicer weather, Erik would have had to drag me off this island.

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Jekyll Island, I will see you again.

Change Your Life: Steps 3 and 4

Steps 3 and 4 are going to be practical steps.

Homework Steps. Choose a 24 hour period to try each of these.

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STEP THREE: Look Up, Make Eye Contact and Say “HELLO”

This is something that seems so simple, but is not done often enough. Being from the Northeast I can say it is definitely something that needs to be done more up there. I can’t tell you how many times I have been on a run, seen a runner approaching, look at them with a smile about to say, “hey there” only to be greeted by the top of their head as they wiz by, head to the ground. After this happens enough times, you stop trying.

Well, being in Venice, Fl (home to many HAPPY retirees) it awakened the “hey there” that had been lost inside me so many runs ago. Walking through downtown being greeted by so many lovely, smiling faces and it made me realize I need to get my swagger back.

So, on my runs I would set out with the intention to look at EVERY person and, whether they look back at me or not say, “good morning” …”hello” …etc. What happened in this process was amazing. People who came towards me with their head down would hear my “good morning” and their heads would shoot up with a smile and cheerful return greeting. Could it be that these people were once the greeters who after many neglected “hellos” stopped trying? Could it be that maybe just one person in my experiment spent the next mile of their walk saying “hello” to all others that passed? What I know is that by saying hello and smiling at each person I gained so much. I would return from my runs with so much energy and so much joy. My runs became a lot more than physically enriching but mentally and spiritually also.

There was one instance that really stood out to me. As I was running I saw a gothic, edgy young teenager walking toward me. She had her head down, a pout on her face like she hated the world. As I approached a had a mental battle….should I say hello to her? I decided, why not? I gave her the cheeriest hello I could muster up. The look and smile she gave me was priceless. Like she couldn’t believe ANYONE would say “hi” to her.

Try it out. I guarantee you will have an instance like this that will impact you like you wouldn’t believe.

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STEP FOUR: DO NOT COMPLAIN FOR 24 HOURS

If you are like me you will read this one and say, “oh boy, that’s going to be tough”. However, I think many people may read this one and say, “I don’t complain much”. And most likely those people have no idea how much they really do complain. Which is why this one is such a great exercise. I think so many people are so disconnected with their true being that they don’t even realize HOW MUCH THEY COMPLAIN!!! I would suggest you have a loved one who is with you often to help you out. As hard as it may be on your ego, you may need someone to point out your “complaining” since you may not think of it as that (I am including negative comments in complaining) Like, “I can’t believe she’s wearing that. She looks so awful.” Negative. Not needed. Bad energy.

So try it. Break it up into 2 different days. See how these small steps can change your life…..or at least that 24 hours!!!

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