I haven’t forgotten you — the ‘you’ who first visited this website when I was dedicated to hiking, camping, and backpacking posts.
I still am. Andy and I still are. Promise.
We still plan to hike the Appalachian Trail. We still hope to hike the Pacific Crest and American Discovery trails. I still have the delusional desire to hike the most extreme trails in the world. We still crave to see as many forests as we can, and we still find sleeping in a tent in the middle of nowhere the place we feel most safe.
Really, we do. Hiking, camping, and backpacking (alongside of travel in general) is our top priority.
It’s because of this though that I want to apologize because you have been patient, still popping in to see if our writings even mention trails, but instead you have slugged through words that feel coated in oil and grease to skim talks of wet versus dry compression tests and bearing and bushing installations.
You weren’t here for Clark Cortez motorhome posts when you found this site, and heck — that’s all there have been lately.
Here’s a good-hearted dose of honesty: I’ve been feeling the same way. I’ve had. a bit of a bitterness towards our antique RV … and it’s entirely my fault.
For two years, Andy and I put our full energy into restoring our RV — no pausing and no stopping in our free time. We did this because there is only a little window of time that we both have to work on it, which is weekends and vacation days.
However, spending all free time on our retro relic came at a dramatic cost: We no longer hiked as much; and you can talk to me about the importance of balance in life, but the truth is I lack equilibrium … which is why my bit of bitterness (or, okay, a large amount depending on the day) is probably wrongly placed on the Cortez.
Still, our Cortez knows us — our flaws and weaknesses, and it likes to push us into uncomfortable places because what our steel beast most enjoys is teaching and humbling us. It’s here in 2021 that I realized a valuable lesson:
Some jobs are not meant to be completed instantaneously. Some jobs take time, and it is okay to pause and even divert attentions elsewhere.
This is a new lesson for me, as I showcase my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder tendencies.
Essentially, I gave myself permission to return to hiking.
And what better way to return to trails than with Andy’s and my sweet son, Lysander.
Ly is an exceptional cat — He was raised with our highly intelligent, disciplined, and truly perfect pup Paris. Highly curious and equally intelligent, Ly absorbed all Paris did. For instance, when Paris did tricks, Lysander copied and quickly learned additional tricks, too. When Paris wanted to go outside, Ly meowed for a harness to be put on him also. When Paris went on walks down city sidewalks, Ly figured this was natural as well. When Paris stuck her head out of car windows on rides, so did Ly. Ly was P’s shadow, and I feel confident Lysander had zero realization that he was a different species — To him, he and Paris were identical.
When Paris passed, a massive fear I have remains that Ly will forget his canine qualities and discover feline traits instead. This would destroy me because all I have left of Paris is through Ly. My worry sometimes consumes me, which is why I push for Ly to come on hikes with us.
Our first hike with our son was at Virginia’s High Bridge, and we considered this a slow introduction to trails because the walk was in a new location with little challenges beyond its popularity, meaning Ly’s socialization training was at its high due to people wanting to meet a cat on a leash hiking.
For our next walk though, we wanted to prepare Ly for more remote forest trails so Andy and I figured it wise to continue our hike trainings at state parks. This is when we sought out Virginia’s Powhatan State Park, and its one-mile River Trail.
I’m a huge fan of Powhatan State Park because Powhatan County is not heavily developed, and the park itself is very quiet — We see maybe two people when we go.
Ly seemed thrilled with our decision too as he sniffed the bodies of giant orange and black millipedes whose legs scurried under his nostrils.
It was a beautiful May day, and the park was a vibrant green. Occasional flowers bloomed along our dirt path as we made our way to the James River.
Ly sometimes wandered off trail to hop in the long grass before darting back to the path and walking between Andy and me. Often he wanted to go back the way we came more than continuing to move forward, but this was solved with a quick encouragement pick-up before he squirmed his way out of our arms to frolic again.
Together, Ly and I would run in the wider grass paths that were recently mowed before reaching dirt again where our son stretched out under the shade of trees.
I love seeing the world through Ly’s eyes, and I suppose this is what parents say about their skin-children. His interest, excitement, and confidence led him to jump onto fallen trees where he would survey the area — feeling proud and mighty — before another distant thing caught his eye and off he’d dart once more.
Soon, we made it to the river where Ly was quick to jump from my arms to explore the area.
Of course it helped that there was another fallen tree at the water’s edge because this picture captures too perfectly how proud Ly felt to stand atop it …
Ly seemed content on his tree, sniffing and looking, as the freshwater slowly lapped below … until he determined it was suddenly time to go and up the steps he hopped.
At the top, a tall structure captured his attention …
and this only meant he had to fully explore a wooden platform.
By now, we could tell Lysander was starting to tire so, after he had his fill of climbing and lying on the platform, we moved back to the path to finish off the River Trail loop. From here, Ly would venture some distance to walk back to the car before pausing to stretch on the dirt in an attempt to let sleep over taken him. When this happened, Andy or I would bend to pick him up and carry him several more paces until Lysander determined he had miraculously recouped his energy and wanted to continue to walk, so the cycle of being placed down, lying on the ground to sleep, being picked up continued again and again.
It was during one of these pampered moments of carrying, we saw our first wild animal — a large brown rabbit in the tall grass. Ly was fascinated by its existence (his first bunny!) and refused to look away.
Eventually the rabbit hopped off and was camouflaged. We let Ly attempt to follow it until the brush became too thick for a casual bunny stalking. From there, we turned our son back toward the trail and back towards our car.
“Ly always surprises me with how well he does,” Andy told me — and this he tells me every time I want to take him with us on walks.
Ly is exceptional, no doubt about it, and this walk filled us with hope that when we get him on mountain trails he will do even better.