A Wild and Wonderful Land

On Saturday morning we went to West Virginia. Because why not? While eating breakfast, we realized that Violet was the only one of us who hadn’t been to the ‘wild and wonderful’ land known as West Virginia (e.g. Our Quest for 50 States). And that seemed as good of a reason as any to make our way to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

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I find the idea of waking up and just going somewhere for no other reason than to experience someplace or something new exhilarating and utterly addicting. Thankfully, I married to someone who feels the same way. And our children are following suit – always up for an adventure (with the occasional 4-year-old-and-14-month-old-tantrum/breakdown thrown into the mix). As we drove away from the sprawling suburbia of northern Virginia and toward the rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley, we soaked in the views and commented how we could happily live among those trees. One reoccurring theme we’ve encountered throughout our domestic travels and opportunity to live in a variety of places is how we find ourselves saying “I’d be perfectly content if we lived here.” I find this to be a very good thing. The ability to adapt and seek out the best of any situation are attributes I hope will take us far in life. If anything, they help keep us sane.

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Before making our way to the actual park, we found an orchard and picked some apples. The temperature couldn’t have felt less-fall like but we made the best of our time in the scorching sun and tornados of bugs. One peck of apples later and we were bound for the site of John Brown’s Raid.

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We unknowingly chose to visit Harpers Ferry during a National Park Free Admission Day so it was quite busy. We learned the hard way that packing a picnic lunch is the ideal method of food consumption – the restaurants in Harper’s Ferry were underwhelming and oddly seemed quite unprepared for tourists. Nonetheless, we didn’t let the mediocre food spoil our views while walking around the confluence (totally had to look up that word – hello 5th grade geography!) of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers.

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On our drive west, I piped John Denver’s Take Me Home, County Roads through the car one too many times and Clay finally used his driver’s veto. But the singer/songwriter’s call for the country roads to take him home to the place he belongs reminded me of my own desire to figure out exactly what I’m meant to do during my time in this world – determining where I belong, so to speak. I’m happy in my current role of wife, mother, friend, and volunteer. But I know I can do more. It’s just going to take some time to discover exactly what more entails.

Embracing Discomfort

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A ship in the harbor is safe. But that’s not what a ship is built for.

Locating the origins of one of my favorite quotes has proved to be difficult. It’s been attributed to a theologian, a department store founder, a one-book author, and even anonymous himself, which is a shame because it really is quite fantastic. Lately I’ve been wondering if I’ve been become too comfortable in my proverbial harbor. I can’t help but think that I am avoiding discomfort a little too much – taking the easy path, so to speak. One of my biggest fears is not taking advantage of the opportunities lobbed my way – softballs just waiting to be knocked out of the park. But I also fear not putting forth the effort to search out the opportunities that aren’t as easily found – the one’s that require more work than just swinging the bat at the right time (enough with the softball analogies already…sheesh). As I make plans to re-enter the work force in the near future, I need to think of myself as a ship – a ship that shouldn’t spend more time in the harbor than necessary. I just need to figure out where I want to go. And not being caught off-guard when the umpire yells “Batter up!” (okay, one more).

“To the United States Army”

On Saturday night, we attended an Army ball in Crystal City. It was our second time attending this particular ball (the ball last year was cancelled due to sequestration) and we couldn’t have asked for a better evening out. It was great knowing quite a few of the attendees (we had just moved to the area shortly before attending the last one) and seeing familiar faces.

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Clay was at a conference all weekend in the DC area so the ball was one of the few times I actually saw him over the past few days. And he left again this morning on TDY so it’s back to business as usual around these parts. But I am incredibly thankful to have been able to dress up and spend a handful of hours socializing and dancing together. He has missed a number of formal functions due to deployments so the fact that he is home and able to attend such events is enough to put a big smile on my face. And the food was about as good as hotel banquet food can be, the alcohol was flowing, and the band played a great selection of 60’s dance classics…what is there to complain about (other than the outcome of the Clemson/FSU game, of course)?

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We’ve come a long way since our first military ball together – he was a 2nd year cadet and I was college freshman completely overwhelmed by the pomp and circumstance. Thirteen years later and now we feel like old pros. I remember attending an Army ball when Clay was a 2nd Lieutenant and thinking that the officers in Mess Dress looked so much older and so much more experienced. And here we are now. This particular ball was a little classier than some of the {fun} combat brigade balls we’ve attended in the past – there was no grog and I only spotted one inappropriate dress (complete with a tiara!), but despite the lack of rowdiness, we still had a fantastic time. I know that not everyone enjoys military balls but I absolutely adore being able to experience the tradition and established formal practices every once in a while.

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We did manage to follow the Clemson/FSU game on our phones and we ventured down to the hotel bar to catch a few plays. Sadly the game did not end in our favor but we didn’t let that ruin our night. Although, one of the servers taking away my tiramisu before I was finished almost did (Kidding. Sort of). And aside from carrying on a conversation with a Colonel with lettuce in my teeth, I didn’t have any gaffs. Please tell me that I am not the only one out there to have an irrational fear of spilling a beverage on a General Officer…