I guess you could say I'm officially settling in to West Virginia life.
This week I've been spending hours upon hours in any given establishment with wireless (my favorite: the Chestnut Revival coffee shop). Work has been fairly busy, so I'm grateful for that, otherwise I'm not sure what I would be doing, since Luke has been gone all day every day running another camp somewhere even MORE out in the middle of nowhere than here.
It's a different world here, for sure, but I've been enjoying observing all the little things that make this place special. First of all, the mighty New River flows directly below the town of Hinton, and we're tucked away here in the mountains, which makes for incredible scenery.
Hinton is a tiny town and people here are living a totally different lifestyle. You'd be hard pressed to find a single store open past 5pm. Luke and I have running tabs at the joints we frequent the most. In fact, Jerry and Mrs. Alice over at Kirk's Market keep a tab for us all week long and then, when it's time to settle up, they quote us some absurdly low number (last week it was $6.50 for a week's worth of meals PLUS a jar of strawberry rhubarb preserves) and won't accept more money when we try to give it to them! You guys!
One of the most incredible things I've seen here so far were the falls at Sandstone. One day I decided to follow some vague signs on the other side of the river to what I hoped would be a good place to spend the rest of my day while Luke was still at camp, and I found true refreshment for my soul. It has been so long since I've allowed myself to be in nature with no other distractions, only writing, thinking and taking the outdoors in.
There was a boardwalk over the marsh and plenty of trails, but I wanted to see the mighty falls. I passed this...
...and thought that was it. Beautiful, but not as mighty as I'd hoped. I found a little place beside a creek and wrote for a long time. Then I decided to venture a little further until I came upon the river. Looking upstream, I saw even better falls.
I veered off the beaten path and forged toward those falls, hoping for something better. To be on the banks of the water is a really comfortable place for me. My feet always feel nimble hopping from stone to stone; ducking under branches, I can move quickly over rough terrain. The house I grew up in was surrounded by woods and just a little ways up from a creek, and I would often find myself alone, trekking through the woods or along the water, daydreaming, taking in the sights, smells, and sounds of nature. It was a beautiful place to find myself in once again. I felt like part of me that had been submerged was rising to the surface. And it was so worth it--the falls I came upon were beyond anything I was expecting to see. The sight took my breath away. And I was completely alone with God and the falls, and I knew he had led me there just to show me something beautiful.
Is there anything better than the sound or sight of rushing water? It's scary, too, to think of the sheer power that lies within that much water. But I sat on the massive rocks, knowing I was safe, knowing I was there for a reason, and stayed as long as I possibly could. What a glorious day.
Overall, I'm really happy and content here. There's something about our environment that is rejuvinating us. My relationship with Luke is being challenged and built up in incredible ways. I am so lucky that he is my one and only. To see him in his element as a coach, making connections and building mutual respect with these guys, helping them better themselves as athletes and men--it makes my heart so very proud.
It was really tough to make the decision to come here. When the question was first posed, I was so hesitant to step out of the comfort and familiarity of our life. And then when it was decided that we would do it, I was like "Couldn't it be somewhere other than West Virginia, for crying out loud?" But now I can't imagine if we didn't do this. I would encourage anyone at any time to detach themselves from what is comfortable and typical, take a risk, and place yourself outside of what is normal life. You never ever know what you will learn about the world or yourself.