fly fishing the new

Ever since we arrived in the gateway to the New River Gorge, Luke has been dying to go fly fishing. I remember him packing up his final items just before he left New York, looking like he was on his way to big boy camp with his golf bag and fly rod in tow, a huge grin on his face.

So last night he finally got out there and took some of his players along. The river and the dusk made for picturesque surroundings. I sat on the rocks and read Garrison Keillor. Their plan was to catch a few fish and fry them up for dinner over a campfire, since we are still without power.

 

I was mesmerized by Luke fly fishing! I knew of his affinity for it but had never seen him in action. It was truly beautiful. Just like Paul MacLean (if you've never seen it, watch it).

 

Luke and Carter (in the picture above) actually ended up getting carried away by the current...so scary! It was crazy, because the river looked so calm, but water is so easily underestimated. The rocks they were walking on dropped off suddenly, and as soon as they lost their footing they were pretty powerless against the flow. Thankfully they made it out safely, but both of them had a pretty good scare. We ended the evening with a campfire, PBJs, and soup heated by the fire. Country living at its best.

In other news, we are going on day four without power. Luke and I had an interesting conversation this morning about convenience and comfort--how little of either we have currently, but how content we've managed to be. We have no electricity, no cell phones, no internet, no hot water, no way to do laundry, no food and no way to cook it. In the back of my mind I'm looking forward to going back to our cozy apartment and the conveniences of regular life, but I'm really okay with this way of life (which has me more convinced than ever that I'm a country girl at heart). I think it's been really good for us to be forced to go without all of the luxuries we're accustomed to. Again, it reinforces my belief that going outside of your comfort zone can only result in good things.

 

 

hinton life

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.

 

wild and wonderful west virginia

I've arrived in West Virginia to spend the next month and a half with Luke! It was a whirlwind week. Last Wednesday morning at 1:15am, my two sweet friends Courtney and Tawnie drove me into the city to catch an overnight bus to DC (thank you girls!!).

Bye NYC! Times building at 1am

Four hours later, I arrived to Union Station to catch another bus to Christiansburg, VA, where Luke drove to meet me. This was my first time traveling a decent distance on a bus (10 hrs total), and I would definitely recommend Megabus. My entire journey cost $44 total, the bus was a double-decker with WiFi and outlets, and I didn't have a seat-mate for the second leg of my trip, so I was able to sleep easily.

When I met up with Luke at the final stop, my heart was completely giddy with excitement to see him. It had been over a month (the longest we've EVER been apart!) and I was so ready to share life with him again. My normal had become a daily life without him--and that's not exactly what I had in mind when I married him! I'm so thankful to be back together again. It's been completely blissful. He was so so sweet in how he prepared for me to arrive. He spent hours cleaning our little shanty (this is the name we've given to the place we're staying this summer) and he bought some new flowers and plants to brighten up our little porch. Don't know why I deserve such an amazing man, but I am sure thankful for him and the love we share! I don't want to be apart for a month ever again!

 

 

After a yummy dinner at Cabo Fish Taco (a Charlotte favorite we found in Christiansburg!) we stocked up on some necessities that I couldn't fit in my luggage (towels, dishware, etc.) and headed back to WV where I met a number of Luke's soccer players. So far I have been super impressed with this group of (mostly college-age) guys. They are such nice guys. I got to go to my first Warriors game on Friday! In true West Virginia fashion, we enjoyed a little pre-game and post-game entertainment from a bluegrass quartet. Awesome.

 

 

The Warriors worked incredibly hard to earn their first win of the season. I was SO glad to be there to see it. Fireworks and bluegrass were enjoyed by all for the occasion. Everyone was super excited. :)

 

 

I have to tell you all, West Virginia is a totally different world than New York. Before I left home to join Luke here, he said to me "Margaret, you just came home from a foreign country (referring to Costa Rica), and you're about to enter another one." He was right. However, it is also absolutely breathtakingly beautiful here--mountains, rivers, blue blue skies, and so much lushness and green you wouldn't even believe it. I already have quite a few stories that I want to share with you. I also have a couple of posts and photos from Costa Rica that I want to share! I've really fallen out of touch with blogging and often don't have the patience or desire to make it a priority. What makes me want to keep at it the most is thinking of how much I love reading YOUR blogs--Kaylan, Arryn and Heather just had beautiful little babies I could look at every day, Melody makes all kinds of wonderful things and is creative in every way, Mary beautifully documents weddings and her personal goings-on...this list could go on and on.

In light of that, I'm going to try to keep you updated on my West Virginia happenings. I want to introduce you to Jerry and Mrs. Alice at Kirk's Market, Gayle and Layla and their horse Denali, and my favorite coffee shop, the Chestnut Revival. We're going to have a fun summer. 

 

an update

Luke just hopped in the 'Finder and took off for Southern West Virginia, where he will be the assistant coach for a men's PDL soccer team this summer!

The quick update is this: Luke was contacted several months ago by his old soccer coach, Scott Reitnour. Scott is the head coach for a new team (the King's Warriors) in the Professional Development League, and he invited Luke to be his assistant. It wasn't easy, but I agreed with Luke almost immediately that it would be a great opportunity he shouldn't pass up. We believed it would require us to spend the whole summer apart, though, and that sucked. I was able to convince myself for awhile that this was okay, but as time drew nearer for him to leave we started to feel the weight of that reality. It felt like an actual, sinking weight on my chest--I kept thinking, "Wait a minute, three months? I married you so we wouldn't have to be apart anymore!" So after a chat with Bryn (my boss, who is far more understanding and accommodating than I could have ever hoped) it was settled that I would join Luke in WV and work remotely for the summer.

I'll be heading to Beckley around June 3rd, soon after I return from a 9-day trip to Costa Rica! Anyone know anything about Beckley? If you do, please don't share. My dad simply started laughing when I told him that's where Luke would be spending the summer, so I'm guessing Beckley doesn't break any West Virginia stereotypes.

Anyway, I'm SO incredibly grateful I'll be joining him soon, but I'm already feeling pretty lonely without my husband. Just before leaving, Luke asked me if I was alright. I was, and told him so. He said "I know. You're independent and I love that about you." But now that he's gone, I'm sitting in the apartment wracking my brain for things to do. Walk downtown and do some work? Go through my closet for clothes to get rid of? Watch a movie and nap? I can't think of a single thing I feel like doing without my best friend, so I'm scrolling up and down my Facebook news feed over and over, looking at pictures of people I barely know, refreshing my Twitter feed, and occasionally zoning out to feel the emptiness of Luke not being next to me, deciding together our next move for the day.

Independent? I once was. In many ways still am. But I'm feeling anything but that right now--all I'm feeling is that I am so much better, so much more fulfilled and effective when I am part of the team that is Luke and I.

Thankful beyond belief that our time apart is only three weeks. Hope they go by fast!

 

Here are some other quick update blurbs:

Luke and I accompanied the church band today. Our church is seriously blessed with gifted musicians, and we were privileged to join our friends onstage. Luke played the cajon (that's the box drum he's sitting on below!) and I sang backup vocals.

Practicing. Caper the chocolate lab was loving the music.


I finally got an iPhone! I've been waiting for awhile to update my 5-year old, $5 flip phone. My favorite things about my iPhone so far? Instagram, Maps, access to email on the go, feeling like one of the cool kids.

 You served me well, little guy.

 

As I mentioned above, I'm going to spend some time in Costa Rica at the end of this month as an intern at a health and wellness retreat. My friend Maria is running the show and I'm so excited to see the sights, try a one-week juice fast, and chill on the beach!

Photos by Maria Brubaker

 

May, I love ya, but I'm really hoping for the next two weeks to fly by. Let's just get you over with, shall we?