Monthly Archives: November 2018

Visiting Virginia’s Newest State Park

Aquia Creek

Last Friday, as I have for the past few years, I decided to #optOutside rather than hit the stores that morning.  I had wanted to visit the newest state park in Virginia:  Widewater State Park.  The morning was chilly but there was little to no wind so it wasn’t bad wandering around the park.

The park is small.  And it is a little difficult to find. I would suggest reading directions on the Virginia State Park’s site or using Google Maps.  The other map services didn’t have quite the right location. Once you arrive you end up next to the Potomac River and Aquia Creek.  If you like water, this is a great park.  There is a location to launch a boat and, when it is warmer, it will have paddling available.  When we entered the park I noticed there were no envelopes available.  Also, I did not see any park rangers working so there was no way to pay the fee.  Hopefully, they will have envelopes in the future because I always want to pay my way at State Parks.

Once we parked, I noticed there was also no large map on a sign anywhere.  It made it difficult to know where the trails were. Thankfully, we had seen one on our way in and walked to that. It is a short trail at only 1 mile.  It is currently the only trail available in the park. It winds by Aquia Creek, into a small wooded area, next to a pond, and back to the parking lot.  We also went off trail a bit just to get some more steps into our day. 

Looking back at the map online, I see that we could have driven to an alternate location on the Potomac River. I would have liked to do that as we did see two eagles fly overhead. Maybe we could have seen more over on the river. 

Overall, the park has great potential. It was completely quiet.  My friend and I were the only two at the park.  When it warms up, however, I think the park will be busy.  Hopefully they will add more trails to the park because the land is beautiful.  When you get a chance, I definitely suggest heading out to check out the park.

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Alone or Lonely? Exploring My State of Mind

I go hiking every year on Veteran’s Day. It’s a good way to be alone, think about sacrifices made by vets and experience nature. This year I had a lot on my mind. I’ve been in a dark place and have had a hard time getting out of it.

I have been struggling with loneliness. When I mentioned this to someone they said, “Oh, you don’t like being alone?” No. It isn’t that. I hiked alone on Monday and enjoyed it. I reveled in the quietness. I had the trail mostly to myself (I saw a ranger and 2 other women). I had moments where it was completely silent. And it was marvelous.

As I was walking on the trail, I was reflecting on this dark period. Why am I lonely? And why is it so overwhelming right now? Why can’t I get myself to the gym? Why I can’t I workout? Why can’t I find any happiness in my photos? It’s a lot. I know. I didn’t come away with any answers.

I used to have a large group of friends. I used to be invited to parties. Dinners. Events. They were all friends from when I taught and performed a style of dance and I wasn’t ever lonely. I ended up having to leave the group and of course all my friends slowly disappeared. I won’t go into details but it was painful. I stopped dancing altogether and realized my whole social life dropped away.

Since then… I have made a few friends. However, I’m closest to people who live states away from me. I reach out to others, closer, with no response. I realize that perhaps I’m not an enjoyable person. I try to be but maybe I am not seeing something. I have put out requests for hiking and get no takers. And so I go alone.

I know there’s tons of advice on curing loneliness. I’ve read it. I have a degree in social work. I know all the stuff. I know how to pull myself out of this depressions – usually. Hiking helps. Photography helps. But I really miss having a connection with someone special. The shared experiences. The jokes. That person who will meet you for coffee. I don’t even mean a romantic relationship. Someone I know who will be there for me.

I am not sure how long this darkness will last. I’m supposed to tell people and reach out but I don’t want to. I’m tired of reaching. I’m tired of initiating. I will force myself back to the gym. When I’m depressed I eat. And, well, that’s no good and adds to my depression and self-flagellation.

So no, I don’t mind being alone. I rather enjoy it most of the time. However, I do wish I had a choice. I wish the only option wasn’t always being alone.