Looking for a sign

It’s difficult to write when it’s hot. All you can focus on is how stifling you feel. That’s how Caribou is at the moment. Because the weather is kind of temperate, and the place is old, no one messes with the AC. Oh well. I finished submitting my time sheets and I’m heading out for the day.

Last weekend was pretty dismal for me. I was lonely, and depressed. Missing my mom, my family, familiarity in general… I drove up to the top of Mount Pisgah all alone to think about things and ended up sitting there eating my amazing French Onion Soup (go get some) and crying the whole time.

I sat out in the rocking chairs over looking the blue rolling mountains and asked for some sort of sign that I was on the right path. That I’m doing the right thing.

Well flash forward to this week… Dream of dreams came true and I found myself scheduled to work on top of Mount Mitchell. My absolute favorite place ever. It’s partially nostalgic, and partially sheer majesty… I commented to my crew mates that it would be a dream come true to be able to work seasonally at the Mitchell Park.

Our project partner wanted us all to appreciate the work we were doing so he wanted everyone to hike up to the summit for a good view of everything. Because of my pace, I wound up hiking to the top alone, which is fine for me. As I turn one of the corners, there carved into the sand is the word MOM with a heart around it.

I stood there for a moment, staring at the message from the universe with a smile on my face. Thanks for the reassurance… I kind of needed it.

Not quite full yet

I may have had brothers and a sister, but because of our age difference, I grew up as an only child. I didn’t go to college and didn’t really room with other people. 

I  knew that housing here was hostel style, but that didn’t really sink in. For those of you that don’t know, that means cramming as many bunk beds in a room that will fit. 

There are 8 beds in my room. Four people are currently on projects working and four of us just arrived yesterday. I thought it was going to be a big adjustment. But so far none of it is. 

The four girls I’ve met yesterday are extremely nice and easy to get along with.  The shared bathroom IS an adjustment, but will only be a problem if I get up and desperately have to urinate in the morning. 

All in all, being adaptable is a great thing. Stepping outside of your comfort zone… is a good experience. And doing something to better yourself can bee greatly rewarding. 

How??

So… today’s the 1st… of December… When the hell did this happen? Time moves far too quickly, which I suppose should be a blessing considering all of the things I’m looking forward to, but it also means I have to get my rear end in gear.

Though for my month’s hiatus… I did accomplish something.

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For those not familiar with NanoWrimo – November is NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. You take up the challenge to work on a first draft for a novel and churn out at least 50k words.

Granted, I’m no where near complete, and now I’m bouncing around between three different books at the same time, but isn’t that how the creative process works?

There is no time for slacking off. I MAY be able to finish out a draft of all THREE books before I leave so I can put them in Nikki’s hands and say have a blast tearing them apart over the next six months. I’ll handle any revisions upon my return.

Before the holidays, I WILL get over to the parking garage at USF once a week to tackle the stairs for an hour in the evening. AFTER the holidays my goal is three times a week before heading home. Running just doesn’t seem to be helping, besides, let’s face it, I’m not going to be running on the trails during this outing, I’m going to be climbing and working.

 

Another piece

I’m excited to announce that I have picked up another little bit of my equipment. The Static V sleeping pad. I’m part of a wonderful group on facebook, the Appalachian Trail Women’s Group and I asked for a consensus. about eighty percent of my responses came back to try this one – so I did.

No sale, but not overly expensive to begin with. I’m 5’5″ and was worried about the size. I read the reviews and decided to stick with the medium. It seems to be a great fit. Granted… I’m SO not used to laying so flat. I usually have a pillow between my knees or under them, so I may have to spend the weight and pick up a couple of small pillows.

 

20160921_210727I tested it out with my sleeping bag and they’re pretty comfy together. They both pack down nice and quick. So far, so good. I’ll even be able to use them both on the A.T.20160921_210816

Like my yellow toenail in the pictures? Oops.

 

Lots to do

There’s always a lot to do. It’s a never ending cycle. But I’m on a time crunch now – so I had to make a list.

There are things around the house that I need to have done. Things to prepare, tie up loose ends and all.

I need to get all of my gear together. While ACE provides you a tent, room, and board and living stipend, I need to bring a multi day backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and work clothes. I will have to put these things together slowly and get them ready so I’m not breaking the bank for it.

Then there’s insurance. Bleh…. I have had to put in my resignation at my job, so I will not have insurance through them. Which means I need to pick up some of my own from somewhere. I don’t fancy the thought of insurance shopping, but it has to be done.

Get married. Yeah, yeah… I know I’ve said a few things about marriage, and my plans on it, and everything else. But here’s how our lives have played out. I have an incredible partner, that believes I should take an opportunity that will not JUST take me away from him for six months, but leave him in the care of my son which he has no technical legal right to. And he’s encouraging this to happen. He wants me to follow my dreams and he wants to help me do it – no questions asked. No conditions placed. We’ve overcome every obstacle and have ended up stronger for it. I think it’s about time I put some of the same trust and faith in him.

I have parties to plan, holidays to spend, and then comes the next step. The step toward seeing so many of my dreams come true.

ACE Adventures

Allow me to introduce you to the American Conservation Experience. The ACE Conservation Corps. It is a program designed to teach youth how to love, respect, conserve and explore nature. There are multiple programs that are offered through different age groups.

These programs, take members and volunteers into our National and State Parks to build hiking trails, make repairs, clear debris, maintain campgrounds. It teaches them the basics of Leave No Trace and many of the hands on skills required to move forward in the conservation or Park Ranger world.

If you’ve ever considered getting into conservation. If you’re an avid hiker, if you love the outdoors, if you like adventure and travel… Then check them out. Share them with someone you know who is just out or contemplating college. It’s an amazing opportunity.

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The universe is talking, if you’d only listen

I woke up feeling grumpy. It happens. I probably didn’t sleep well, or I just couldn’t get motivated. I had dreamed of mom, and that always makes me sad. I was down because I’m still in Florida and it’s been so atrociously hot that I can barely breathe. I’m stomping through the house trying to get myself ready, feed the animals, contemplate lunch.

I let out a huff. I don’t want to be grumpy all day. It makes the day miserable.

I take my first sip of coffee and relax a bit. It tasted good. Sometimes you nail that perfect amount of creamer and sugar and the coffee just tastes amazing. I grab my purse and step outside… and can breathe… It’s amazing outside, only about seventy degrees. The last few weeks had brought oppressively hot temperatures so even at eight in the morning, it’s in the eighties.

I stand there for a moment, my bad mood has lifted. I remember someone talking previously about how it was supposed to be a one day reprieve because of the storm North of us. I glance up at the sky and smile and get in my car.

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I pull up to the stop light that will take me toward work when I see her. She’s a hundred feet away, frolicking in the tall grasses beyond the school. She popped her head up and looked my way and began dancing in the grass again before vanishing beyond the building. Now you can take seeing a red fox in the morning any way you like… I chose to take as the universe reaching out to me. You see, they’re one of my favorite animal. And the only time that I’ve ever seen one in the wild… was on Curtis Creek road in Old Fort, North Carolina.

“Okay Universe, I’m listening.”

I’ve started listening to a podcast called Park Leaders, hosted by John Maberry. It’s a wonderful program, and I started it from the very beginning. You see I’ve been thinking over these few years how much I love the mountains. How I’d give anything to spend my days eyeballs deep in the Blue Ridge. And how the park ranger program might actually be something for me. I had actually emailed the Park Leaders website the night before asking for any suggestions.

The problem with getting into the program – is one – you have to be there. But you have to have experience or a degree, or be able to volunteer your time. Currently – I’ve got none of this. When they emailed me back in the late morning, they confirmed everything that I’ve been reading about these last few years. So I file away the desire as something to follow up on once I make it to the mountains.

As I sat and listened to the podcast this morning, the guest speaker they had on was a member of the Conservation Corps based out of California. He was pretty much saying how the corps teaches these young adults all the skills they need to work hand and hand with the park rangers. It caught my attention and I decided to look up what he was talking about. It didn’t really appear that I qualified for the program, but if nothing else, I have three young nephews and a handful of young friends that might enjoy the opportunity.

The website was not very mobile friendly. So I emailed them some questions. I received a response by the next day.

To my surprise, not only did I qualify for the corps program, but there were some openings that fell in the perfect time frame for me.

We are just moving in with Terry’s grandma to save some money to move. What this means is that our current expenses fall drastically. Enough so that if I take this opportunity, we’d be able to make it on one income – which ISN’T something we could have done in the past, or likely again in the next couple of years.

It’s six months of the exact experience that I need for the park rangers, it provides me with the volunteer criteria, issues an education award at the end so that I can obtain further certifications – and the best part is that it’s based right in the heart of Asheville. My heart skipped a beat. I actually cried when I was reading the email. The thought that something so perfect could have fallen into my lap at JUST such a time…. I sobbed for a few moments, blubbering my thanks to the universe for stalling everything else out so that I would be available for this chance.

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