People often talk of one of Shenandoah National Park’s most popular cascades: Rose River Falls. What they do not know though is that if you wander off trail and follow the river down, you will be rewarded with an even larger waterfall.
President Thomas Jefferson and I have something in common: We both were charmed by Falling Spring Falls, a mystical eighty-foot waterfall in the beautiful blue Alleghany Highlands mountains.
I plunged my paddle into the water to fight back but my kayak did not move forward. Instead, I was pulled into some type of slow-swirling whirlpool. And this is a small glimpse at what our first kayaking adventure looked like . . .
Andy and I spent a massive amount of time talking, brainstorming, and debating over the type of vehicle we should get before venturing into vanlife. Here is our vehicle-thought process . . .
I thought about much as the machine breathed beside me and my infusion medication dripped into my arm, and I realized that I’m actually living a better life than I ever have, that I’m lucky, that MS has opened my eyes.
We set off for a sunset at one vista before hiking in the moonlight to another where we would watch a sunrise the following morning . . . but nature had other plans . . . other plans as in tornado watch right where we were . . .
And it was around here — in the middle of the most breathtaking color-change — that I . . . um . . . Reader, I’ll just be blunt with you: I dropped Andrew’s phone off the mountain cliff.
Welcome to New York where people hustle on the sidewalks faster than the cars on the roads and where the sounds of horns, exhausts, advertisements, music, more explode in the air. New York, an alternate fairytale where skyscrapers are enchanted and stretch so tall that they become invisible in the clouds and where colors — loud and sharp — blur to create a vibrant energy all its own . . .
Andy and I stood back to look long and hard at our work. Even though it was a small task, this was our first job we could see, our first visual gratification . . .
Sure we could be embarrassed about admitting that we forgot to use our 1965 Clark Cortez’s choke . . . but instead, we are simply happy it means we can ditch the starter fluid and get our motorhome running easily!
It took six days — six long days — to tackle our brakes. It started with our first horror-filled rides in the Cortez then continued to a blend of wrong parts, sawed off brake lines, and angle-grinded exhaust pipes. However, it ended with us finishing the job, which I can say now — There’s no better feeling of accomplishment!
Sure, there are discussions on ensuring all preparations are in order. There are talks on planning routes. There are conversations on emergencies. These, though, are not ones that we wanted to share. Here are our vanlife ramblings . . .
“LET’S DRIVE IT AWAY!” I yelled over the roar of our beast’s engine, pointing straight ahead to an unseen spot in the future where we would be traveling down some backcountry dirt road, following the Milky Way. Andrew honked and honked and honked the horn because OUR CORTEZ STARTED!
We followed the trail of flowers where butterflies danced in front of us, zooming in and out of the blooms to suck more nectar . . .
It’s our first stop at the Cortez since it was delivered and we learn it has a dead starter and corroded engine wires.
But we expected issues like this — and we will continue to expect this as we work on our fifty-four-year-old motorhome. But hey, we chose this because we don’t want easy. We want different.