West Virginia and North Carolina

[This is part of my vanlife series. I've spent 7 months and 25kmiles on the road in 2 years, exploring and rock climbing around the US]

We fell in love with the New River Gorge in West Virginia. It was a short 5 day stay with rain and wind, which made for a couple lazy days reading in the van and a couple great climbing days. The rock is hard sandstone, so hard that I often thought it was granite, and with much more varied features than the Red. Trad lovers will find about half the climbs unbolted. So far it's been my favorite rock on the trip.

New River Gorge rock climbing

I love the forest in the South, and West Virginia didn't disappoint. There's a ton of outdoor activities around the Fayetteville-Charleston area, notably white water rafting. I believe I've heard Jeremy say it's been his favorite state so far!

It's so hard to think about living a demanding life in a bustling city after I've finally decompressed from work after a month. Days are measured by sunrise and sunset, not work-lunch-work-dinner-work. There's a grounding routine of getting up in the morning in our "home," making coffee, setting out for the day, and keeping our house neat. Life has its own structure now--we have milestones to meet to get to friends or families in different states, our climbing days have their rhythm, rest days are used for work (Jeremy), reading, laundry. Neither of us could be on the road in eternity and abandon the comforts of a house, but this trip certainly puts the merits of that life in perspective, especially long-term.

New River Gorge camping AAC New River Gorge rock climbing approach

From WV, we headed to Monroe, NC where most of my mom's side of the family lives (aside from the small part in PA). Here our desire to own more than a small matchbox house and 7 trees really grew.

There was land, lots of land. My cousin can say he has a lake in the front yard and huge field in the back yard, and he's working on making the lake bigger. Years ago it used to be my grandma's property. I have so many memories of fishing and running around those woods.
North Carolina lake North Carolina lake North Carolina lake North Carolina farm North Carolina lake

Then there were guns, lots of guns. We had an afternoon of shooting skeet, shooting other guns, and pumping guns.
skeet shooting skeet shooting skeet shooting smith & wesson 500 muzzle shot skeet shooting gun show

Family, lots of family. My sister Maegan and her husband also made it out from Durham!
family reunion

Farming, lots of farming. We hit the first non-rain patch NC had seen in 3 weeks, so everyone was out combining soy beans. We helped cousins and uncle with moral support and ice cream.
North Carolina farming North Carolina farming

Flatness, lots of flatness (compared to the Sierras!) We hiked to the top of Crowder mountain, summiting at about 1600ft. It's a long way from starting out feeling oxygen deprived in Tahoe!
Crowder Mountain Viewpoint

We're moving on down through the South, where we really wanted to spend time on this trip!