|At home in the trees!|
|At home at Woody's Crab House!|
Our campsite was near the bathhouse, which was clean and cabiny. I woke up around 8, washed up, made a fire to heat my tea over and sit by while I read my book (Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, totally recommended). Dave slept for a few more hours, and by the time he got up, I had gotten sleepy and decided to take a nap. So, a restful morning preceded another long day of driving. By 1pm, we packed up camp and got back on the road for the ride to our ultimate destination, the Outer Banks, North Carolina.
That day's driving felt more exhausting. We had about 50 miles more highway road to cover than on the first leg, but worse, I had been so happy at the campground that the last thing I wanted to do was pack up and get right back in that car! But we had plans to keep, and so we drove all day and into the darkness. Bluegrass and bible thumping dominated the radio as we passed through the farmlands of Virginia and North Carolina toward the Outer Banks. Finally, we began to drive in the pitch black night over the long bridges that connect Hatteras Island to the mainland. Past water, and sandy road spotted with deer, past beach shops and mansions, we finally came to our destination, Quinnebaug House, around 11:30pm on Sunday.
Dave's mom greeted us, as did Fuji the Shiba Inu, who woke up his owner, Dave's sister. We were tired. After a quick tour around the house, which they had arrived at earlier in the day, we brought our bags in, unloaded our food from cooler to fridge, and went to sleep. The next morning we could really see how lovely Quinnebaug was, with its position on the sound, 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, long boat dock with a swing at the end of it, a short walk to a general store and a long walk or short drive to the beach. A perfect home away from home!
|Right on the sound side, at the end of Hatteras, so that the surf side (beach) was only minutes away.|
|You can't see it, but there's a porch swing in the gazebo. I totally fell asleep on it one afternoon; awesome.|
|This was right after we saw 3 dolphins swimming right where we'd been swimming! Magical!|
|Spent much time in this room, as people tend to do. Love a great kitchen!|
Now since this is a blog about what I'm doing to lower my stress levels, coexist with my emotions, and increase my body's happiness, you may think this is a post about how going on vacation does just that. But here's the twist: it threatened to be just the opposite. Between the stress of the driving, the pressure of wanting to be a good guest and vacation companion to Dave's family, and the changes in diet, exercise, and general routine that accompany travel, my body and mind were definitely in a stressful state for much of the trip. Here are the things I did, and tried to do, to get myself through the foray away from my home and comfort zone:
- First and most importantly, I tried to remind myself that wherever I am, and whoever I'm with, I'm still me. Be in your body. Attempt to have an experience as fully as you would if you were meditating, alone. This is mindfulness on the go. It can counteract the feeling of being overwhelmed by your surroundings.
- Be as generous and helpful as possible. As a teacher once told me, keep your side of the street clean: this refers to focusing on your own behavior, and keeping your conscience clear at all times. It made me feel good to do whatever I could do to help our entire group, be it cooking or shopping to contribute to meals, setting up, cleaning up, or just being present and open for interaction and conversation. Keep your side of the street clean and serve others as much as you are capable. It's not always the easiest thing to do in the moment (arguably letting others serve you may be easier) but it will leave you feeling best in the end.
- Maintain your routine as much as possible. I had my shakes for breakfast every morning and made sure I got the grocery items I know I need to feel best, ex. bananas. I did take the week off from exercise, but I got lots of sun and fresh air and slept really well all week.
- Valerian root. I'm so into it.
Sunday, September 1, was our last morning on Hatteras. After packing up our cars, cleaning up the house, and writing in the guest book, we all took off on our separate journeys home. Dave and I drove 8 hours, back through Virginia (where we stopped to buy a big piece of hog, locally grown peanuts, some funny/awesome Jim Beam drinks you can't get here, farm-stand vegetables, and fireworks) and on to Pennsylvania. We arrived at the Appalachian RV Resort after dark and it was totally lively there, with fireworks in the sky, kids riding bikes, people in a long line waiting for ice cream, and later, a band played until midnight. I loved this place and I want to buy an RV and have 5 kids just to go back for the full experience. (I'm joking and not joking simultaneously. This place rules.)
It was after 9pm, we hadn't had dinner, and we had just set up the tent and started a fire. It was incredibly buggy and muggy, and I thought about being cranky, until I cracked open a Jim Beam and cola. We unpacked our cast iron skillet and cut up the fresh tomato, chicken sausages, and spinach we had bought. We stuck cobs of farm-stand corn right into the fire and had a feast in the dark at the picnic table by lantern light. Afterward, we lit our sparklers next to the fire, talked about the trip, and listened until the band stopped playing, and only the crickets and other bugs buzzed.
|...speaking of buzzed...|
Finally, back at a campsite, I could really relax again. In truth, the stress of trying to be on my best behavior, with regard to sharing space with, and trying to make a great impression on, Dave's family, had been a lot. I struggle with finding a balance between being myself and being what I think of as my best self. The pressure I put on myself and my behavior leads to tension and anxiety. Maybe I need to let go more, in lots of ways, and I think that's why I love camping so much. The more in tune I feel with my surroundings, the less I tend to get trapped in the stressful environment of my own head, and in the interpersonal dynamics I have with others.
|We had a really beautiful campsite to end the trip!|
Your happy place always surrounds you, once you realize that your body is your home. <3
|Don't worry, be happy! and/or goofy.|
p.s. 30 days 'til my 30th! Started Beta phase of T25! Will post more on Beta soon. :)