I swear, it was my full intention to update this before I left BUT I was so busy with Adventures Accessed, supporting the Outdoors Empowered Network Summit and getting life squared away for this journey that there was sadly little time to sit down and write.
So if you're wondering, yes I have left Chicago and have made a few checks in the box like the Bell Mountain Wilderness, Buffalo National River, Davy Crockett NF and now, I'm in Austin, TX! It's been a great week so far and it was nice to grab a shower and eat Texas BBQ.
In the past few days I've had the opportunity to visit some truly special areas, like the Buffalo National River. I was blown away. Why isn't anyone speaking about this place? It was OUT-OF-CONTROL beautiful. Wild and pristine and so, so so so so inspirational. It's in the Ozarks of Arkansas and I didn't give it a fraction of the time it deserves.
All physical beauty aside, I want to mention another thing of beauty; something that embodies the Wilderness and Friendship tour to a tee. While I was hiking along the river, I met Ayesha, a young woman, out to explore the area just like me. Out to embrace freedom and natural phenomena, just like me. We hung out and became friends, and as friends, we invited another lone traveler to join our fire. Keith, our newest pal, is a retired geologist who also played the guitar professionally. And the three of us jammed for a while. Keith strumming and singing, Ayesha showing off her voice, and then me...just kinda dancing and toiling at the fire.
It was the second night of the tour and I had unlocked master level wilderness and friendship.
This is the power of nature to bring people together. Three randoms from different parts of the country unified around a simple fire and gentle smiles. If a few strangers can connect seamlessly, imagine the bonds one could strengthen by experiencing a place like the Buffalo with some friends?
I'm hoping the love continues into the new leg of the trip which I'm calling "spring break" for all the natural springs I am hopefully going to find. Wish me luck.