Wild & Wonderful

That about sums up West Virginia.

While we were in Cracker Barrel, Alice and I felt the need to get an “Ebenezer” – a memento of the Lord’s provision as He saw us through our crazy adventure. This is what we found:

"Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’ " (1 Samuel 7:12)

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’ ” (1 Samuel 7:12)

This magnet now graces my refrigerator.  It’s a great reminder of the Lord’s provision.  His Hands were all over our adventure: from the preemptive tire changes to Alice’s new hand-me-down iPhone from her Father-in-Law (without it we wouldn’t have had GPS or a way to alert the authorities of our situation), the calmness we exuded to get us through that situation, not to mention no serious damage to the car (as far as I know….).

Despite my near-death experience, I am looking forward to returning to West Virginia.  I kinda sorta fell in love with the beauty of that state.  I think I could move there, living in the mountains.  Alice and I hope to return in the Autumn with our husbands and see all the leaves change color.

And, of course, stay on the paved roads.

We’re already looking ahead to 2024; we’ve decided not to try and top 2014.  But this is probably a good thing: our adventures are so epic, we need a decade in between them.

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The Good

10 years ago, Alice and I went on a whirlwind tour of southern England.  It solidified our friendship and despite the physical distance between us, we’ve kept in touch quite well through the years.  Since Europe, we always said we’d do a reunion tour in 2014, something just as epic and fun.  2014 became a running line with us: “Ohhh, maybe we can do that in 2014!”  “X more years til 2014!”

Well, 2014 is here.  While we didn’t have the money to hop across the pond or go international, we decided to meet halfway in between our home cities.  Our plan was to meet in Charleston, West Virginia and hike New River Gorge (it’s that place with the big arched bridge that’s famous).  We’re both outdoorsy people with a flair for adventure.  It was perfect!

Now, I’ve only driven through West Virginia.  We figured it would boring, but downtown Charleston was quite fun.  We spent the day wandering around; it was a beautiful, scenic, and well kept city.  We had an amazing (and affordable!) dinner here and then got dessert here, which just made the night.  We had a bit of map adventure trying to reach these places, but as it always is with Alice and I, the journey is more important than the destination.  We also stayed at a semi-posh hotel right in the heart of the city with a beautiful view of the river.

The next day, we headed to the gorge to hike the mountains.

The New River Gorge Bridge (its on the back of the West Virginia quarter)

The New River Gorge Bridge (its on the back of the West Virginia quarter)

A secret waterfall off the beaten path

A secret waterfall off the beaten path

We hiked up the mountain, down the mountain, and around the mountains.  It was so gorgeous, a vastly different environment from my sea level home.  Off one of the trails we found this waterfall – if you look closely you’ll see a woman in a pink top – that’s me! – I decided to be crazy and climb up this waterfall.  It felt so good to be on the rocks again!

We had a picnic lunch of Kind Bars, Cliff Bars, and water here, with the river far down below us:

"The Lord provided this rock," said Alice of our lunch spot.

“The Lord provided this rock,” said Alice of our lunch spot.

Overall, it was such a wonderful experience to share with a dear friend.  We decided after this hike, we’d go see Sandstone Falls on the other side of the park.

And that’s when the real adventure began.