We were driving south out of Shenandoah National Park and I saw it. The sign for North Carolina, home. I was hit with the want and need for a house, a shower, and family. Part of me wanted to grab the wheel from Mark and veer right so badly.
As the end of this trip is just around the corner, my intensity of two contradictory emotions is strong. I can’t wait to be home, and I’m so very sad that this experience is coming to an end. I feel both so strongly just breaths apart. It’s expected but still strange.
On this particular day, my feelings of being ready to go home didn’t shake quite so quickly. We pulled up to our campsite and it was nothing special at all. It didn’t even have a bathroom or a shower, which makes our life harder.
So I played with the kids, made dinner, and went to bed. A rinse and repeat kind of travel day from one point to the next.
But still that feeling of ready to be done was still there.
The next morning, Jane woke up so excited that the next day was Halloween. Her excitement was contagious. I caught her bug and got pumped up for all the fun things we had in store for the next few days.
We had planned to hike in the Grayson Highlands that morning, and once we arrived and caught a glimpse of the wild ponies that freely roam there, I felt that other feeling again.
Jane strapped to my back, a mountain trail beneath my feet, a glimpse at something I know I won’t get to do often, if ever again. I thought about our plans to enjoy the nation’s capitol and then take a coastal route home to Raleigh.
This would be our last mountain hike. We’re doing some of those “last” things that I love.
While the feeling of excitement and longing to be home is starting to rear often, I need to focus and enjoy. This trip has been such a precious jewel of a year. There are so many moments that I know will come to me when I’m working and make me long for it.
I want to most savor the feeling of freedom that comes with this journey, the feeling of exploring and the feeling of timelessness, for I don’t know when I’ll feel those as frequently as I do now.