Raven Rock State Park

Last Monday, Josh and I were fortunate to have the day off. Instead of staying home and working on the apartment, we decided to get out and enjoy the outdoors with Tikka. We wanted to go where there was some elevation to our hiking activity. Unfortunately, the closest areas are about 4 hours away from our apartment.

After doing a little digging on the map, Josh came across Raven Rock State Park in Lillington, NC (which is a 3 hour road trip, but we did it!). Raven Rock provided many trails along the Cape Fear River. There are a variety of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding along with levels of difficulty.

When we arrived in the area, there were a lot of visitors who had the same idea. I can’t be mad about that because it was a beautiful day to be out and about. Tikka was all excited about the new area and groups of people. More importantly, he was excited to get out and get some exercise. Little did he know that we were going to be exercising for a couple of hours.

Josh and I decided to take Campbell Creek Loop Trail. This 4.5 mile trail gives you a challenge to hike the different elevations of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The trail also had a rockier terrain than the other trails which also gave you a challenge in stability. The trail started off on a downward slope, but eventually gained elevation as you traveled through.

The first neat feature about Campbell Creek Loop Trail is walking along Cape Fear River. I have visited this river back in 2019 in Fayetteville, and did not remember the river being that narrow (Of course, I am used to seeing wide mouth rivers back in West Virginia which gives me the assumption that all rivers are like the ones back home.) and calm. Tikka had the opportunity to play in the river for a few minutes.

Another neat feature about this trail is having access to see Lanier Falls. These falls aren’t as extravagant as you think, but the river was significantly wider and active. You didn’t get a clear view of the falls, but listening to it was relaxing.

Lanier Falls at Raven Rock State Park

After hiking and viewing these neat areas, we finished off at 5 miles when we returned back to the car. Overall the trail did have some challenges to it, but it was just enough for you to break a sweat. Of course, Josh and I are used to challenging elevations (thanks, West Virginia!). We both agreed that we would revisit the park again when we have the time. There are so many more trails we have yet to explore.

If you are interested in Raven Rock State Park, you can find the information here. If there are any other North Carolina state parks you think we would enjoy, let me know! We are always up for an adventure!

Stay adventurous,

Natalie

The First Case of Homesickness

It’s been a wild ride for us since last December. Amongst living in a camper, adjusting to new jobs, and finally moving into an apartment, it has been nonstop for us. I haven’t had much time to think about West Virginia since we moved down here. A few days ago, I mentioned to Josh that I really didn’t feel homesick at all.

Tikka has been having a hard time adjusting to the move. His behavior has been wild and he’s been anxious. I’ve been trying to set a schedule for him for when we would go to the doggie park so he can run freely. It has helped with his energy. However, he is still restless.

This week, I came across videos for dogs on YouTube. Tikka has been in love. He likes to sit and watch the animals on the tv. Sometimes he’ll become intrigued and have to sniff the screen to see if they are real. It has helped with his anxiety some. It has now become a part of his morning routine.

Today, I came across a video of cows for Tikka to watch. He absolutely loved it. I know, you’re probably thinking it’s crazy that we’re watching videos of cows grazing a field instead of just going outside to watch them. The problem is, there aren’t any cows close to where we’re living. We live close to a busy highway and flat land containing over 100 windmills. No cows in sight. 

Currently missing these West Virginia hills.

The calm and peacefulness of the video triggered something in me…I was missing West Virginia. I miss the peacefulness. I miss the hills. I miss the small town feeling. I also miss being there when this beautiful weather is taking place. I know that last weekend we came home to West Virginia, but one day was simply not enough. I am hoping to return for more than one day soon.

So what can I do to fulfill the void for the time being? Keep myself busy and continue my routine until the time comes for me to come home for a few days. It’s not easy living almost 8 hours away, but I’m glad we have technology to FaceTime with family. 

I know this isn’t going to be my only time where I’m homesick during this adventure. More will come later down the road. I just need to be prepared for it. I need to make time to come home to those West Virginia hills.

Stay adventurous,

Natalie

Archery Trade Association

This weekend, Josh and I had the opportunity to attend the Archery Trade Association with our local bow shop in Louisville, Kentucky. This members-only event is the largest and inclusive show of the year. ATA is a three day event that consists of manufacturers, retailers, distributors, sales, professional archers and hunters, and others come together and share their love for the archery and bowhunting industry. Vendors have the opportunity to promote current and new products while networking with retailers nationwide.

Archery Trade Association 2022, Louisville, Kentucky.

Networking and placing orders weren’t the only thing you could do at the ATA. There were scheduled times for seminars, coffee talks, and coaching certifications. You can learn everything from arrow building, to marketing archery products to your customers, and hands-on training. Major bow vendors such as PSE and Prime gave potential buyers an opportunity to shoot their product demos in designated ranges. No matter the reason why you are attending, there was always something to learn and/or try out.

Many of the archery and bowhunting companies promoted their businesses through free product and cash giveaways, stickers, free apparel, and so much more. We were fortunate to retrieve and purchase items such as free t-shirts and hats from QAD, D-loop material for our bows, and two Scent Crusher Ozone Go products for your car.

Josh and I representing HP Archery at the ATA 2022.

Our experience at the ATA was amazing. Although we were tired and sore from walking by Saturday night, we both really enjoyed representing our local bow shop, meeting new people and trying out products we were interested in using during 3D and hunting season. If you were to tell me that I would be attending a members only archery event when I began my archery adventure in 2018, I would have been skeptical and laughed at the idea. My first year attending will be something I will never forget.

I know we did not visit every vendor like we hoped, but we made sure to stop by our favorite companies such as QAD, PSE, Tethrd, and T.R.U. Ball Axcel. If you ever get the opportunity to go to ATA, I highly recommend it. It’s amazing to see the technological advances the archery and bowhunting industries are making that will make your competitions and hunting experiences enjoyable.

If you would like to know more about the Archery Trade Association or want to become a member, click on the following link: https://archerytrade.org 

First Landing State Park

This past weekend, we stayed at the camper and decided to have another hiking adventure. Tikka and I have been cooped up at the camper for the last few days while Josh has been working 12 hour days. It was time for all of us to get out and enjoy nature. On the plus side, the weather was going to be in the 70s. It’s a weird time to have warm weather just one week away from Christmas.

We decided to check out First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach. The park contains almost 2,900 acres of forests and about 1.5 miles of the Chesapeake Beach area. The park is rich with colonial history as it was the first area for English colonists to land in 1607. The park contained over 20 miles of trails to view the swampy areas that were once used for shipping and navigation for both the colonists and Native Americans.

First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park is known to be Virginia’s most visited state park as it is located just next to Virginia Beach. The park gives you the woody, swampy view and the beach view. As you navigate through the trails, you learn more about the plants, wildlife, and habitat among the cypress swamps, lagoons, and maritime forest.

When we arrived at our destination, Tikka was thrilled to be out of the car and ready to go on a hike. Unfortunately, we only had an hour and a half of daylight left due to travel time and recovering from a long night from the Khaki Ball the night before. The weather was a little iffy as well because it began to rain on our way to the park. Luckily, it stopped when we arrived.

We decided to take the Bald Cypress Trail which was just about two miles. The trail had a little more elevation compared to the Merchants Millpond State Park, but nothing significant. The park was a prime location for trail runners. Tikka wanted to do some trail running with the runners. Unfortunately, we had to prevent that from occurring.

Tikka likes to be the line leader.

It took us a little over 2 hours to complete the 2 mile trail. The trail felt like it took forever as we did not have an indication of when we would be turning around and ending up where we began. However, we enjoyed the tall cypress trees that have been there for almost 400 years. It’s not something you see every day, especially during this day and age. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen tall trees so magnificent in West Virginia yet (other than during the Fall season).

Josh and I wished we had more time to explore the state park. We simply didn’t think about the travel time. We hope to plan our trips a little better when we plan our next weekend adventure.

If you would like to know more information on First Landing State Park, you can read more about it here: https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/first-landing.

Stay Adventurous,

Natalie Paige

Our First Formal Event

Last night, Josh and I traded in our hunting gear for a fancier look.

Camouflage is our go to.

We had the opportunity to attend the FY 2022 CPO Khaki Ball in Virginia Beach.  The event was to recognize and honor the first year Chief Petty Officers along with those who have served in the Navy for quite some time. Our hosts served us a nice dinner and a variety of desserts. Once the formality was over, it was time to do a little dancing to celebrate.

FY 2022 CPO Khaki Ball

This was our first formal social together. Josh was dressed in his Khakis and ribbons. I was dressed in a navy blue dress from Macy’s and nude Anne Klein heels I managed to keep from my sister’s wedding from 2019. Overall I was pretty comfortable in my attire. Usually, I’m ready to get out of it and put on my t-shirt and leggings. 

No matter the event, I get a huge case of social anxiety. I am very reserved because I don’t know how to act around people. The anxiety was setting in as we were approaching the venue. Once we arrived, I made the effort and introduced myself to the other chiefs and their wives. If anyone was to ask me how to deal with social anxiety, just smile and introduce yourself. The rest will tend to follow.

Overall the event was a lot like going to your high school formal dance minus the dinner entrees and alcohol. Both of us enjoyed ourselves for the evening and were grateful to have the opportunity to spend this moment at each other’s sides. 

We arrived back at the camper around 11:30. It was way past our bedtime (9 pm is bedtime for us). Tikka was thrilled when we arrived back at the camper. To be honest, we were quite happy too. 

Last night was a new adventure for us. We are used to going to casual events and simply being ourselves. It was nice to dress up and enjoy ourselves to a nice dinner and great people. It will be a night I will cherish.

Stay adventurous,

Natalie Paige

Road Trippin’ Ain’t Easy

We’re back to our beloved camper after spending a full day in West Virginia. Even though we were home for a very short amount of time, we did our best to enjoy every minute of it. Tikka was super happy to be back in an area where there was plenty of room to play without having to be leashed. Josh and I were very happy to be able to sit on a big comfy couch and enjoy The Morning Show on Apple TV. Did I mention that overall, we were happy to be home?

Although I am on the tail end of Josh’s career, the military lifestyle has been a huge adjustment for me. I’ve never lived out of state before yet alone live more than 2 1/2 hours away from family. I’ve never had the extra responsibility of making sure my home is not on fire nor broken into while we are gone.The adjustment has been a stressful one.

Leaving home was harder this time than it was when we first moved down here. I almost forgot about the finer things in life: the space, the comfy bed, our backyard, those WV mountains. When you’re gone and return for a short amount of time, you begin to appreciate these things a little more.

I do have to say, the seven and half hour road trip is not a good time. Road trippin’ ain’t easy for two adults, a 6 month old pup, and a car full of clothes and food (most of the food will be donated). However, the views on our way through Virginia are quite breathtaking.

No filter nor fancy caption needed.

No matter where you go, there’s always going to be pros and cons. You simply have to take in the good with the bad. Right now, it’s very difficult to feel at home while we wait to move into our apartment. I’m hoping that once we do, it will start to feel more like home. For now, we will have to take it one day at a time.

Stay adventurous,

Natalie Paige

One Week

Hey everyone,

It has been a week since we’ve moved down here. It honestly feels like it has been a month. We are finally settled in for the time being. It is a tight fit with two people and a five month old puppy, but we are making it work. 

Josh and I love the idea of coming home to each other after work. After over a year of having a long distance relationship, we are very grateful to have that opportunity now. We are able to enjoy dinner together in person instead of on FaceTime. 

Tikka is still adjusting to the camper life. He is so used to living in 1,100 square foot space and a fenced in backyard. He isn’t a big fan of his leash because he likes to be free. Unfortunately, rules are rules. We give him exercise outside and playtime as much as we can so he doesn’t get bored in the camper (he starts to whine when he’s bored).

He likes to play fetch in the camper.

The adjustment has been difficult for me. I have been feeling a little homesick within the last couple of days. I know it’s because of everything going on at work. Work has followed me home, which I am not a fan of at all. I keep telling myself that it will get better. It’s just going to take some time. I knew this adventure wasn’t going to be easy, especially when it is in the middle of the school year. One day at a time…

I will continue to give everyone an update on how things are going within the next few days.

Stay adventurous,

Natalie Paige

Merchants Millpond State Park

Hey everyone!

Hey everyone!

It has been almost a week since we moved from West Virginia. Josh and I have been super busy getting things ready for work and at home. This past week, we woke up tired and went to bed tired. I started my new job last Wednesday. He is getting ready to return to work on Monday.

While grocery shopping this week, we both decided it was time for us to eat a little healthier and become more active. We both thought it would be a good idea to explore the state parks located in Virginia and North Carolina. We both love being outdoors and enjoying nature. Tikka also enjoys the outdoors as well. He is able to run off any energy a 5 month old pup would have.

Today, we decided to stop what we were doing and get out of the camper for a little bit. Because the weather in the south is a little milder, we thought it would be a great day to take Tikka out for a hike. Our original plan was to explore the Dismal Swamp State Park in South Mills, North Carolina.

When we arrived in the area, part of the park was closed due to construction. Therefore we drove further southwest and arrived at another state park, Merchants Millpond State Park, located in Gatesville, North Carolina. Tikka was ecstatic to be outside where he could get some exercise.

The park is small compared to Dismal Swamp. The trails are shorter and there isn’t very much elevation when hiking (Josh and I are both used to hiking steep hills in West Virginia). The main trail (Fire Road) is wide enough for an ATV to pass through.

Fire Road at Merchants Millpond State Park

Once we arrived at the trail map, Josh and I decided to try out part of Lassiter Trail and return to the vehicle using Fire Road. Hiking through the trail was very enjoyable, especially during this time of the year. The leaves still have some fall color and are slowly making their way down to the ground. Josh and I talked about how beautiful it was to watch the leaves fall. There is something mesmerizing to see something move at a slower pace.

Although there were leaves everywhere, it was very easy to stay on the trail. The trail was marked very thoroughly and you could tell there was still foot traffic. Tikka also made sure we stayed on tracked by using his nose. He was very happy to find a small stream to jump in and get wet during the trek.

Tikka approved today’s hike.

Overall, the hike was very enjoyable. Both of us would say it was an easy walk because of our past experiences in hiking up and down hills. An hour and 44 minutes later, we covered 4.12 miles. Both of us felt that it was a good start on our health adventure. We are looking forward to going back and trying out more of their trails.

Currently, we are back at the camper with a full belly and a sleepy pup. Josh and I were talking about exploring more hiking trails in the area. If there are any places you recommend in the Virginia and North Carolina areas, let me know!

Stay adventurous!

Natalie Paige

Goodbye, West Virginia. Hello, North Carolina!

Hey everyone!

Now that we are finally getting settled in, I wanted to give you a quick update on life. We have officially moved!  We are now living that camper life! We left our home in West Virginia last Sunday and arrived at an undisclosed location around 1 am on Monday. We spent almost 12 hours hauling a camper, our belongings, and our pup. Needless to say, everyone was exhausted (we still are!). 

Yesterday, I had to take care of some business regarding my new job in North Carolina. I was able to take a tour of my new school, classroom and met a few of my students. I am nervous because of the unknown (and it is during the middle of the year). However, I am excited to start in a new location.

Today, Josh and I took some time to take care of getting groceries, more items for the camper, and opened up a new bank account for me.

Our first camper meal

Tikka is adjusting quite well. He has smelled everywhere and everything he can within his reach. He loves taking walks around the loop, watching neighbors through the window and taking naps on us when he gets the chance.

Neighborhood watchdog

I will provide you an update on my first day of work within the next couple of days. 

Have a good evening!

Natalie Paige