1300 hikers in two months, dragging out fourth grade homeschooling for almost a year, battling what to do with our photography and how to fulfill our need to create, working on our marriage and ourselves as individuals and being thankful for the opportunities we have created for our family. And a kitten…we have a kitten now too.
Why has Jesus placed us in a small town off of the Appalachian Trail for over eight months? We built a home out of a school bus but we have stayed in one location for months. Why?
We have met people from all over the world being here in Pearisburg, Virginia. Working at a hiker hostel has provided the perfect opportunity to learn how to love people without judgment. People from all walks of life, countries and beliefs hiked hundreds of miles to find some rest and to recharge here and we took the opportunity to love on them all.
When we decided to build the bus into our tiny house we had no idea what experiences we would have. We knew that we obviously would travel across the country and with that we would meet different people and see different cultures. We absolutely had no idea that we would then park our home in a Southern town that has rich civil war history and is where we would fall in love with the long-term hiking lifestyle. We have the gear and did a practice trip so it is in our future, at some point.
What have we learned so far:
1) Don't judge people based on their appearance.
2) The bus hatches are still leaking and there are several other leaks.
that we need to seal.
3) Hikers smell bad. Really bad.
4) Cold weather is much better than the nine months of the Florida heat.
5) People are broken. We are broken. And that’s okay, because Jesus is enough.
6) People handle (or deny) their brokenness in so many negative ways. Others, hike or focus on tackling their demons.
7) Stressful situations can either be dealt with humor OR fear. Humor has a better outcome.
8) This lifestyle is very challenging and doubt creeps in daily.
9) We consume too much food everyday. We are emotional eaters.
10) Small town folks are extremely friendly.
11) Laugh, laugh and then laugh some more. At yourself especially. And others, like your spouse.
I could go on and on. The most important part is that we have experienced all of this together as a family. We have absolutely grown as individuals and as a family of three.
It was exciting to see how Bryce interacted with all of the hikers and how age or race or gender or nationality didn’t sway him from having a conversation. He taught us that all of those common (and unfortunate) “guidelines” or “standards” that all of us use to determine who we should talk to or help were not obstacles for him. Instead, I would witness him talking to a 78 year old man from Germany, a middle aged man from China, a twenty-something year old college student and a transient man with dreads without hesitation.
If only the “real” world worked this way.
We had tons of laughs and connected with several hikers who we now check up on as they are back in their “normal” or off-trail lives and they do the same with us.
We were unknowingly looking for a community to be a part of that had similar beliefs and could understand our alternative lifestyle. Parking and helping out at a hiker hostel in a small town definitely provided that.
So, what’s next? We will be in Georgia and Florida in October for several weddings and shoots we have and then back to Virginia to prepare the bus for our next chapter. We will start fifth grade and our first stop will tie into our first history lesson about the first settlements in America.
Then we hope to find a Workaway host out west, possibly Utah or Arizona since we really love that part of the States. We are hopefully going to find a host with kids so Bryce can enjoy being around kids a little more than just periodically like in Virginia. (I know, that’s the big concern…what about Bryce and having friends and playing with kids. Well, he is thankfully a very social kid and has met several boys who live down the street from the hostel and had no problem making immediate friends with them. It’s amazing how he does that!).
I want to either start the YouTube channel again (it just wasn’t the right time for us to continue it and we both felt like we were forcing the content) OR maybe we will start a Podcast. Either way, we will continue to share our journey on Instagram and through this blog.
We also would LOVE to focus on shooting small, intimate destination weddings and elopements with couples who love the outdoors and are not afraid to start new wedding traditions (i.e. being with each other all day, traveling to their favorite place on Earth and having an intimate ceremony, etc.).
Thanks to everyone who has supported us throughout the year through social media and with personal interactions here at the hostel and around the country. It is our hope to meet many diverse people and to have real and honest connections all across this nation and beyond. We know not everyone understands what we are doing and cannot accept our way of living and that’s okay. We don’t judge or condemn and we can only hope for the same.
Be Bold and Seek Adventure,
Liz, Mike and Bryce