A short stop in Merietta, Ohio

On our way to Hendersonville, NC from my hometown of Ashland, Ohio, Jordan and I took a pit stop in Merietta, Ohio.  We had time to grab a bite to eat, grab coffee and stroll around for a bit. 


I mention Merietta, because one it’s an adorable cozy town situated at the edge of the Ohio River before you leave the state and enter into West Virginia.  The town has a lot to offer in local shops, local brews and restaurants. Secondly one of my cousins got married in the town in the Lafayette Hotel on the corner of Front and Ohio Street a little over three years ago. So it holds a special place in all of our hearts.  It’s that little reminder of where I was at in the time of my life. 
It meant a little extra strolling around the town with Jordan along the river as I did three years ago.  It was like this coming to of remembering of what I was thinking, wanting and holding onto and at the same time trying to let go of.  The town was romantic and the mere fact that my cousin was getting married set the tone.  I though about love, romance, relationships and what it would be like strolling along the streets with someone and not just anyone. Someone I wanted to spend my time with, someone I could let in and also being a stronger version of myself mentally and emotionally. I thought a lot about whether I should let go of my past and hope for some future I didn’t t know would happen or not.   It was a lot of trust and faith in something I couldn’t see and had a hard time believing in.

                                                Merietta is symbolic to me now. 

Who I was, who I am now, who I was with and who I am with now.  How quickly life has changed and at the time I felt as if I would never be able to have what I wanted. That it would take too long and I would miss out. 

And end sap……..

We stopped in at Merietta Brewing Company for beer and burgers.  The brewery itself had a good vibe. Live music on the weekends, brick walls, open, relaxing and it seems the brewery it in the local scene.  For my burger I had the Baja Black Bean and for beer I had the brewery’s Hop Smash. The burger tasted house made with a good flavor. 

After the bar we stopped in at Wit & Whimzy to look for a gift for Aspen, my goddaughter. The store caught my eye with its eclectic Ohioian art and fanfare.  I bought Aspen a bamboo matching block game made locally in Ohio.  She loves it and her mother loves it even more for being simplistic.  

The shop has only been open for a few months now and the owner is friendly and very inviting. The shop is clean and fun the stroll around in. I hope as well easy to find something to take home or to buy a gift for someone. 

We hit up Jeremiah’s Coffee House for something for the long drive out.  It was lively for Sunday, people were friendly with a very Christian vibe.  The coffee was pretty good as well. 

If your in Ohio and in the southern reaches I hope you see stop in Merietta. Take a stroll along the river and through the several blocks of downtown.  I wish we would of had more time to explore the area.  

If you have been what did you think? 

 It looks like a good outdoorsy town and easy to bike around if your so inclined. 


Thoughts and de-processing

We are back “home” or base or however we put it within the rv, van, full time travel routine.   It feels really good to be back somewhere that i know.  I know my bike routes, my coffee shops, grocery store and local eatery.  I also find comfort in seeing all the other locals.  It gives me some balance and a routine.

 We plan on heading farther west into California and wintering there.  When we go will depend on the weather systems coming through Utah and also through the sierras.  We did get Corniella all cleaned up inside and do a massive laundry night.  We also took a rest day. Walked around downtown, got breakfast at Moores family restaurant and got a hike in as well. 

I didn’t get to blog as much on the road as I would have liked so I will be getting all caught up on that. At the same time my mind is processing everything from the road, all I saw, felt and went through.  It was challenging, rewarding and exhausting all at the same time as well as exciting.  My expectations for this trip was met and wasn’t. I was able to see family I hadn’t in years, visit my best friend and nieces and meet some of Jordan’s family.  At the same time we spent a lot of time together and not at the same time.   I got to see a lot of the cities through the Midwest and parts of the east and Jordan spent a lot of time either driving or working. 

 We spent more time in the city and towns and little in nature.  My expectations where more on being in state parks, going to a national park, hiking, exploring nature and historical sites.  We did this but it was limited to the weekends and where we where at and with whom.  I spent a lot of time in cities I had never been to which led me to getting lost, balancing my fears of safety and comfort and trying to find things to do with in a specific time frame.  

 I was pushed and pulled out of my comfort daily.  I learned from it and in a way came out of it – hopefully stronger.  My worldview as well is slowly starting to reshape itself.  I don’t know how it wouldn’t. 

Anyways, I have a lot to organize and write and share. 

With love, 

jessicaraye

Blue Ridge Parkway

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Tomorrow we leave for Virginia for a week to visit some of Jordan’s family.  I am finally starting to find my way around Asheville and Hendersonville, its a lot of getting lost, missing a road sign and having to call someone with GPS.   Today I finally made my way around with out any of these backups its a bit slower going and can certainly get frustrating at times yet it becomes rather rewarding when you can start learning the basics getting where you need to be.  If I had more time I would certainly take the time to meander my way through more back roads.

 I have learned that most roads do lead home some way or another.  I do get lost but I have never gotten so lost to the point of not finding my way back.

Over the weekend Jordan I decided to go see what all the fuss was about with The Blue Ridge Parkway.  The highway travels along The Great Smoky Mountains between a few states and in and out of state forests, parks and such.

On Saturday we headed towards Brevard, NC the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the spot for all outdoor activity.   To get to the Parkway you drive into Pisgah National Forest driving past many waterfalls.  We stopped quickly at Looking Glass Falls off the side of the road with plenty of parking and a small sidewalk and and stairs that lead down to the bottom of the falls if you so desire.  We then made our way a mile up the road to Moore Cove Falls for a short, inter-mediate hike to Moore Cove Falls.

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Spring time is the best time for the falls though we rather enjoyed the hike and being in nature.

Saturday Night we parked closer to town, went grocery shopping at a local organic store, checked hikes on the parkway and bedded down early.

Sunday morning we got up went for coffee at a local coffee shop that was a dual bike shop. Brevard is the place for mountain biking and they seem to really like their Specialized bikes.

We drove back into Pisgah National Forest to pickup the Parkway. We drove about 40 mins or so to The Mount Pisgah Trail. 14963603_1158808650877002_98309005_o

The trail itself is 2.5 miles round steep and a scramble up rocks, roots and leaves.  To be honest I am surprised and impressed with the trails out here. They are well kept and a good width for people to pass and walk beside.

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After finally making our way up and being disappointed there were no Tibetan Monks at the top to greet and bless us we were greeted with views over the whole valley on either side of us and more rolling mountain views.

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though we didn’t find monks at the top we did meet some amazingly silly women at the top who did greet us and cheer us for finishing.  We were all able to take each others pictures and have some great conversations.  They had an enjoyable time teasing Jordan and I.

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We ended up getting a group shot, sadly we don’t have it.

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On the way way down Jordan and I tried coming up with a good trail nickname for them. Something fondly for us to remember.  I thought they were a hoot and lovingly refer to them as The Cackling Sisters.  Everyone needs a good trail name.

I know for myself that the whole point of traveling is to get me out of my comfort zone, meeting new people and starting new conversations.  About whatever, new ways of living, sustainable living, learning and discovering how others live.  I want to experience nature and to also meet people.   I have this theory that we’re all not that different from one another.  I want to find out if this theory is true.

I just have faith in humanity, more than what I even believe I have.  There is always so much nay sayers and so much put up against one another in media.  I believe that is false, I believe there really is more good in the world, in humanity.  

I am on this journey to find out.

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with love,

jess

 

 

Review-Woodlands-Hendersonville,NC

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Kelsey took me into Hendersonville last week for a girls day trip.  Downtown Hendersonville is one street with lots of boutiques and restaurants to peruse.

While window shopping we noticed Woodlands window front.  There was a bag that caught my eye, possibly a pillow, some linens and a blanket that would be perfect to cozy in while cruising down the road.

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So I have been on the look out for the perfect side purse.  Something small, over the shoulder and can hold the importance.

Of course with Woodlands being the perfect little store I ended up spotting the perfect little purse.  img_1506

I was going to wait to buy it then Kelsey decided to buy it as my late birthday gift.

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We spent a good amount of time browsing the store and I wanted to buy everything and put it all into that future tiny home I am imagining up in my mind.

This will be my go to store whenever I am in Hendersonville, NC.

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Happy shopping friends…..

 

with love,

jess

Exploring Asheville

I have been looking forward to exploring Asheville, NC since Kelsey and Marcus moved out here.  There is so much to do and see and oh my to eat and drink as well.  I won’t lie this post is going to be heavy on the drink side with a side of food.

Saturday morning Marcus and Kelsey took us to Biscuit Head for brunch in West Asheville  Ummm, yum can I just say southern comfort breakfast on a trip.  The line was out the door when we got there yet went fairly quickly.  You order first and then pick a seat.  Coffee and mimosa with biscuits.  I had the Asheville Benedict Biscuit with a side of multiple house made jams……

After brunch we headed over to the Funkatorium that is the funky/sour side of wicked weed.  Its the place for sours and farm house beers.  Since it was a Saturday I got the pre-picked flight then I got a half pour of the Recurrent. I could do a whole glass of their Recurrent.

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Two of my friends out here work at breweries and Jordan and I were lucky enough to get a full scope brewery tour at New Belgium last Saturday night during all the halloween festivities.   New Belgium is a big deal and if you are a beer drinker in the craft world I am sure you already know this.  We had a great time playing ping pong, our beers and enjoying the fall weather.  It was packed in and out with a few food trucks and everyone in costume and lots of people out on their bikes.

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Kelsey also took me out to White Duck Taco in Asheville.  Thankfully they have several locations for your cravings in Asheville just in case you have a hankering for their mushroom and potato taco and side of their tortilla chips and three pick salsa.  I might have gone a second time when I had the little ones and took Aspen and I out for lunch.

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I have also gotten a chance to go to one of the best fancy chocolates in town at French Broad Chocolates and yes, I have gone three times so far.  With a stash of chocolates in the fridge.  🙂

With the group of us Jordan and I went into Asheville to go listen to a live band, El Ten Eleven at The Orange Peel.  Its a good size music venue with plenty of taps for your thirst quenchers and plenty of micro brews for your curiosity.  It is also thankfully right next door to Wicked Weed and we were able to grab some food and a beer before going in.  I had their Candy Roaster two nights in a row.  Its their version of a pumpkin spice but more fall and easier to drink for the non pumpkin drinkers.

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I have been lucky enough to walk around with the girls all day in and out of the nook and cronies of downtown Asheville.  Thankfully Jordan and I got to explore a few blocks together for a date night ourselves in town.  Which yes we did Wicked Weed and French Broad Chocolates together.

And yes, I am enjoying my time of exploring……

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with love,

jess

Mesa Verde part 1…..

For the trip to Mesa Verde Jordan and I had a little more time to plan. So while Jordan worked I researched what I could on where we could stay and a possible itinerary for us. 

With Jordan’s Van(camper) we are pretty self sufficient.  We have a stove top, fridge, bed, and toilet.  So for us its just finding a good spot to park for the night.   
A few sites I used to research the trip was: 

MesaVerdeCountry.com, 

Colorado.com, 

freecampsites.net

And yelp- to look up ice cream shops. 

The book I used was  Your Guide to The National Parks– Michael Joseph Oswald. 

For the most part I used exclusively meseveredcountry.com. its easy to use, tabs on the side bar of places nearby to explore, events happening, the towns close by, places to eat and where to stay. 

The only thing I wish this site had was something more on the trails in Mesa Verde.  This is where my book came in handy and very useful.  
Your Guide had the dwelling tours and hikes not to be missed out on. 

I wasn’t sure how big the park was and how quickly we would get through everything. So I planned for us to go to the Canyons of the Ancients and to Cortez visitor center on Sunday.  We ended up scratching these plans Saturday morning when we got to the visitor center at mesa Verde and realized we could do the three dwelling tours we wanted,  Cliff Palace, Balcony House and Long House. 

Friday night we got in late and a little turned around so we stayed at the wal-mart parking lot in Cortez.  We pulled up sometime after 2 am. 
Saturday morning we got up around 8 or 9 walked Charles and then drove over to the park. It only took 15 minutes from Cortez to the park entrance.  We went into the visitor center to take a look but then realized we needed to get in line for our tickets for the cliff dwellings. Since it is the off season we were able to do two tours in one day.  

On Saturday we did both Balcony House and Cliff Palace. There is a lot of driving time between the cliff house parking and the visitor center. So be sure to give your self some allowance on that. We had about 45 minutes before our first tour so we had a quick breakfast and then gathered with the rest of the group.  For our second tour we drove to the next and had an hour to kill so we had a quick snack, let Charles out and then met with the new group.

The tours were only an hour long each.  For hour hiking ability they were rather easy.  The paths are all we defined and mostly paved.  We climbed up ladders that are very well bulleted in. So as safety goes your well taken care of.  Just be sure to either wear a hat, sun block and drink a good amount of water. 

After our tours on Saturday, we were done for.  With driving in late and then waking up early we were ready for a nap. We took a good two hour nap in the parking lot of the last dwelling.  By the time we woke we were ready for some dinner and to explore Cortez and of course our favorite thing…. ice cream!

Yelp, helped us locate a locale ice cream shop.  There are two shops but we chose MooseandMore, they are right there in downtown. They had chocolat and house made ice cream.  I had their lemon custard….yum We settled for our scoop and walked around town scouting for a good place to eat.  

Downtown Cortez has several bars and restaurants. We walked around checking out each place trying to figure out what we would wanted.  There is a locale brewery/restaurant that sounded fun but we kept walking around and smelled pizza. 

Loung’en Lizard is kinda of an upscale restaurant, yet the prices are reasonable.  We shared a vegetarian pizza and salad and each a locale craft beer.  

After dinner we drove back towards the national park to camp for the night. We found a site near the park that is bml free parking on freecampsites.net.. We parked on a dirt road and pulled up underneath amfew trees and called it good. 

With love, 

Jess

…….cont…..

Three years

Yesterday I was riding down from my bank to kafe merc and for a moment I couldn’t remember the date.  Does it really matter at this point?  This time of the year always gives me time for pause. More than just the fact that the weather is slowly shifting or the leaves starting to change and fall, litering the ground with its leaves and color.  I realize the shifts and change in myself as fall approaches and sets in. 

 Three years ago Kelsey and I woke early to drive to Provo to pick up local energy bars that were being donated to us for the 5k that we (mainly Kelsey) was putting on.   She drove as we drank our coffee and I watched out the passanger window, silent.  Trying to calm my nerves, quiet my mind and find stillness within myself.  Trying with everything I could to keep the tears at bay for as long as possible. 

Kelsey started talking and i was grateful that it wasn’t on the conversation I had buzzing in my mind.  She talked about the 5k everything we needed to finish doing that week to prepare for that upcoming Saturday.  We talked about a hike we wanted to do, a trip we wanted to start planning. About the new guy she was starting to see (which is now her husband). We talked about everything except about what I would have to do later that day.  I was grateful. 

My tears couldn’t hold they started falling my words choking as I answered her back. I’m sorry, I’d tell her. Though I didn’t have to. She understood.  “He doesn’t deserve you.” She told me. She lifted me up and encouraged me.  “Your a good person, you try and you get back up and keep climbing.”  I nodded trying to take everything she was saying in. Trying to believe her. “Your a strong Women, Jess.” 

 “One day this will be nothing to you, one day you’ll meet someone who see’s who you really are. One day you’ll see yourself…..” 

And what we did a lot during those time she had me list of what I was grateful for.  Better to stay positive. So I listed. 

“1. For rainy days, 2. Charlie, 3. Best friends, 4. A home, 5 a job, 6 music, 7 toothpaste, 8 hardtimes.” 

I listed them, stopping to think on each one, stopping to choke down my cries. 

We pulled up into provo , into the parking lot and we had a few minutes to wait before the store opened.  It was cloudy, chilly a perfect mold for the day. We stepped out looking up to the mountains. 

“Stop there.” Kelsey told me. “Let’s take a picture of you. ” so I posed and she snapped.  “This can go on your blog, for you to remember that your strong, that your a writer, that your going places. ”

We got the bars, thanked the owners and drove back to Ogden.  My nerveness, anticipation didn’t go away but I calmed down a bit until making our way around the bend to Ogden. 

” I can do this.” I repeated over and over. 

We drove in to Ogden as if time slowed. My mind wondering.  She pulled onto my street then up to the curb in front of the house.  She stopped. “I’ll pick you up and drive you down. We’ll get some coffee before.”  I nodded. 

I went inside, grabbed my mail. Flipping through each one. I had a few hours before mediation. I thought about taking a nap but couldn’t do it. I grabbed my outfit I had picked out weeks before. Laying my skirt, blouse, shoes out on the bed.  I got in the shower, soaked and prayed. I got out and as I always did during that time. I layer on the floor, crying and praying. Asking for peace, asking for calmness, for comfort. I layed there, crying and quiet letting each one soak in.  Drifting in and out of sleep. When I was ready I got up, did my hair, makeup dressed and waited for Kelsey to pick me up. 

That whole day is engrade in my mind.  I think about who I was then and who I am now.  Laying there those few years ago I tried to imagine what my life would look like a year, two years, three and five years in the future.  I had a hard time imagining myself not as myself then. Heartbroken, in pain and lost.  Yet I did it everyday. Who did I want to be, what did I want, what did it look like traveling, writing, being in a new relationship.  How did it feel being a strong version of myself, more sure, more positive. What did it look like for myself being happy? 

 Who I am now is who I wanted to be three years ago, where i am in my life was what I couldn’t imagine but tried. I couldn’t fathom any of this but I put in the work, kept moving forward even when I thought I was going back words. 

Time heals, shifts and changes us. Makes us stronger gets us closer to where we want to be.  I have learned to be patient, more compassionate and understanding of others as I have given myself those allowances.  

 I am grateful for the last three years of my life. Those experiences could fill a novel, the last eight, nine years as well.  Yet as each novel ends as either happy or sad a new one begins. I regret nothing during those time. They are mine, to either share or keep to myself. Yet they benifit myself and others in either a direct or indirect way. 

And now as then I am ready to at least end that particular novel and to start a new one.  

She stood out in the summer rain on 25th street. Laughing to herself, her arms flung high in the air. She danced as she once did as a child. She neither cared nor worried how others saw her.  The rain washed and renewed her or perhaps she realized that it happened slowly.  She was strong, competent, happy, beautiful.  She had all she needed and more.  Thankful and grateful for the past, for the present and what life had to offer her.  There was a stillness a newness of something to come. Something Big, closer than she had ever been. She tasted it on her lips as if she tasted the rain that fell and dripped and gathered above her lip. Tasting each drop.  

With love, 

Jess