This photo was taken before my first smartphone, in a campground nestled in Cherokee, nestled by a small creek. The next day I would be traveling by myself, coming home to get ready for work. Since I was in the mountains, I figured, why not go ahead and visit some of the SC State Parks in the mountain region.
There was a catch though.
I had no GPS.
I grabbed my map, what now might seem like a relic to some, and began plotting my return home. First, I’d drop in at Jones Gap State Park, Caesars Head and then finish up at Table Rock State Park. After I planned out my route I stood up and snapped this photo.
The route seemed natural to me; however, I was nervous. My first trip, by myself, only using a map. Could I really do this?
Wait… Could I really do this? Is that really a question? Of course, I can do this, and I did. Go figure the only time I got lost was in the Travelers Rest area. When that moment occurred, I asked for guidance. Before I knew it, I was on the interstate heading home.
What I didn’t realize was that my journey to self-discovery was only beginning. Up until this moment I had worked multiple jobs; a full time job at a wood mill and a part time job at Dreher Island State Park. I was also closing out a mentally and physically abusive relationship that had lasted two years. I felt bruised and damaged. But I never questioned how I got to that moment. I had been in a series of failed relationships since I was 15 years old and at 22, I needed a breather, I needed to get to know who I was.
Over the next year and a half, I traveled to all 47 of the South Carolina State Parks. At first, I was intimidated to travel by myself. I found myself overwhelmed and would often invite friends to join me; however, by the end of it I was traveling by myself and I looked forward to the alone time. Travel brought me close to my friends and loved ones. It showed me how to love and value myself.
When I began sharing my travels it started as a Facebook album. Then it became another and another and yet another all titled Operation Adventure. Operation Adventure has been a constant companion. One that shows up smiling whenever I need it the most. Last year I decided to start it back up. The content structure changed just a bit. I wanted to add a journalistic approach to a vlog style of filming. I didn’t do it for the views. I didn’t do it for anyone else. I did it for myself. In total 11 episodes were released before I was diagnosed with leukemia. Several episodes sit unfinished. And as my strength grows and my health rebounds, I see my old friend peeking its head in the door enticing me to join it for yet another adventure.