Adventures of Adulting While Poly and Queer

Merriam Webster defines ‘adult’ as follows:

To ‘adult’ is to behave like an adult, specifically to do the things—often mundane—that an adult is expected to do. It’s also common as a gerund—that is, in the form adulting as a noun, as in “Adulting is hard” or “I’m not very good at adulting.”

Prior to my graduation in May 2017, I had no idea I would be catapulted into adult life in such a drastic fashion. But, as I reflect on the past 5 months, I recognize that dedicated adulting looks pretty good on me and my beautiful family too. Since moving to DC in August, it seems we are finally beginning to feel settled in our new home.  We haven’t been able to get outdoors much, other than our amazing trip to Seattle, and we hope to get back out there soon. But for now, we have been growing and loving as a family, running around our front yard with Chaco, and taking the adult life adventure head on. I am in love with my job as a teacher through all its many challenges, Roz is gracefully managing the challenges of working in education as well, and Lo will soon begin a barber apprenticeship at a salon in DC.

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A shot from our impromptu Christmas Birthday Extravaganza photoshoot. 

Working in education is something that Roz and I get to share the joy of, which is such a strength of our relationship. Last week we were lucky enough to be sent, by our employers, to the Creating Change Conference 2018 (CC18) put on by the National LGBTQ Task Force. Oddly enough, this year’s conference was conveniently located basically in the backyard of our Washington DC apartment. We vigorously reviewed the workshop session descriptions a few days before attending, but no amount of research and preparation (Roz’s expertise) could prepare us for our fruitful and interesting experiences.

There were a variety of session offerings that piqued our interest like We Define Family: Alternative Family Models, Fundamentals of Training, Listening to Heal, Promoting Trans Mental Health and Awareness, Relationship Builders: Laying Foundation, Maintaining Structures and many others. We were able to take away so many ideas and lots of information about ways to enhance our growth as individuals and as a family. We may or may not have taken some small bites away that could possibly be applied to our occupations too.

While I wasn’t surprised at the beautiful array of Queer and LGBT+ people present, I was surprised at how often I heard someone mention their partners (yes in plural) and relationship dynamics when they opened up to share their experiences during sessions. It was so inviting and refreshing to be in a space where I could talk about my experiences without having to first explain my polyamory. It was evident that Queer and LGBT+ identity was not the only commonality between attendees. The number and variety of intersectionalities was overwhelming. When I sat down in any space, I consistently found that the person sitting next to me was Black like me, or poly like me, or kinky, or an educator, or 23 like me, or I found out that they grew up in the same neighborhood as me. I admired and appreciated the dedication to making CC18 accessible to all people. This fostered such a great sense of safety and community throughout the conference, that I have yet to experience anywhere else. We spent equally as much time in workshops listening and sharing as we did outside of them. Much of our time was spent connecting with people from all over the country talking, sharing, and laughing a whole lot! You could just sit in the hotel lobby, without attending any workshops, and still leave with a wealth of knowledge and shared stories.

One of my favorite parts of CC18 was the Advanced Polyamory caucus (you guessed it there was polyamory for beginners too!) We got a chance to talk about anything under the sun, and mostly things that we’re always dying to get insight or opinions about from other polyamorous people. How do you manage time? How do you deal with jealousy? Are you just a little compersive or does the joy of your parters and metamours give you all the yummy bright sun shining feels? We discussed so many kinds of relationship dynamics including ours which is an open triad. But, other people talked about being independent poly or having hierarchical relationships. For me, the best part of it all was the affirmation of my relationship that came from me simply reflecting on my happiness as well as our ability to face the challenges of our relationship with such brave and open hearts. I strongly believe that our success in life both together and as individuals is a testament to how well this works for us.

Our adult life adventures have been fun and fulfilling but, we hope to get back outdoors very soon and take all of our new insights and experiences with us. After all, our intense adulting definitely needs a generous reward. I’ve heard the phrase “The Outdoors is Calling” so often, but I’ve never had such a strong personal connection until now. Right now, I would give anything to be surrounded by trees and sitting by the fire with my beloveds. I think this year, our goal might be to continue the feeling of such great representation in one space, and translate that to outdoor spaces, inviting more people from our intersectional communities to venture outdoors with us. It is always a pleasure to combine our identity and love for our community with our love for being in nature. In the meantime we’ll continue to read books with children, create spreadsheets, and make sure the shampoo is fully stocked, but know that inside we feel just like Chaco.

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Lake Moomaw? Appalachian Trail? Ohiopyle? Is that you? 

Until then, if you’re out there, commuting, paying bills, going to therapy, answering emails, any of the things, know that we see you. You’re doing great! And we can’t wait to meet you back outdoors soon!

Love and Lavender,

Jaz

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Preparing For a Family Trip Out West; The First LGBTQ Outdoor Summit

Hey Everyone! It’s Roz here. Long time, no type.

A photo of me enjoy the mountain views in Chertsey, QC.

The family has been crazy busy in the past few months and the road ahead looks even crazier.

I’m going to do my best to brief what we’ve been up to since our last post and then get into the details of heading to the West Coast and the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit! If you don’t have the time to the read the entirety of the post in one sitting, please skip down to read about the Summit as there are words on privilege in the LGBTQ community.

So, here’s the quick update since we last posted:

In June we went to Canada and stayed about an hour outside of Montreal in Chertsey, Quebec, it was gorgeous! We camped a little in Vermont and New Hampshire and then we got busy preparing to move. After a lot of planning and apartment hunting, in August we left Philadelphia and moved to DC (FINALLLLY!). With the move to DC came big changes. Jaz started working at a progressive independent school. The school not only loves her outdoor experience but, also accepts her as the polyamorous queer she is. Jaz scored big time with this job, Lo and I couldn’t be more proud! Lo started working for an amazing DC-based coffee company then, Lo got surgery on zir foot and has been on bed rest for a couple of weeks. King Chaco has transitioned well to DC, the area has more green space and our dog-friendly neighborhood keeps Chaco motivated to get outside. And me? I started working with a DC organization on education reform about, a month and a half ago. The most recent “thing” we did was attend our first queer wedding as a triad! Our good friends Katie and Allie got married. Score for the queer community!

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The fam at Katie and Allie’s wedding. Aren’t we cuties?

Alright, Alright, Alright, AWC is heading to the West Coast!! Say whatttt?!?!

Here it is:

About a month ago Jaz noticed an email that I might have ignored. She told me I might want to read it so, I did. The email was from Julie at Hipcamp. Good ol’ Julie (whom we’d never meet) was writing to ask us a HUGE question! She wanted to know if I would be interested in flying over to Seattle for the first ever LGBTQ Outdoor Summit. “Uhh Hell Yeah!” Hipcamp decided that they wanted to send a good representative from the LGBTQ community that also has affiliations with the company. That lucky person just so happened to be this here guy, me!

The LGBTQ Outdoor Summit is a gathering for LGBTQ people to come together in a safe space and talk about the outdoors and our intersectionalities. The first of it’s kind, the Summit is being hosted by Pride Outside and OUT There Adventures. As a Hipcamp representative, I was asked to talk on a panel. The panel topic will be on “LGBTQ barriers to accessing the outdoors”. Too often LGBTQ people don’t feel safe heading to destinations that are predominately populated by cis white males. During this panel we’re hoping to share both positive and negative stories to help others learn, grow, and find the confidence to get outdoors. I’ll also be co-leading a break out session talking about ways in which we see the LGBTQ outdoors community transforming in the upcoming years. In the break out session, I want to touch on QT youth and holding ourselves accountable for change. The Summit will host speakers from all over the US and is sponsored by some amazing companies. The first day will have more of a conference feel, while the second day will be more active outdoors.

My family really couldn’t be more excited to head to Seattle for this Summit. We’ve always had plans to get to the West Coast by or in 2018 but, we didn’t expect our trip to happen by way of an amazing event. In saying that, it’s important that I recognize the privilege that comes with being able to have access to this space. My family is able to attend this trip to the Summit because Hipcamp provided a stipend. Had Hipcamp not offered this stipend, it would have been impossible for us to purchase round-trip tickets and housing for just me alone. The struggle is real! If this event is successful, we want the host to continue with Summits across the nation in order for others to have access. Of course, there will then be an issue of purchasing tickets to the summit but, for a conference that’s providing lunch, being hosted in an REI, and providing free rock climbing, the host have made the cost as small as possible.

When we return from Seattle we have plans to recount the amazing things we hear, talk about, and discovering during the Summit. We will be live tweeting on our twitter (@AWchaco), posting on IG (@adventureswithchaco) and following up with a new blog post. We want to be able to make these conversations more accessible to those who don’t have access to these spaces. As queer people of color, we are excited to have our voices heard at this event. Considering the location of the event we expect that not many people of color will be present. So, I feel a lot of weight to share stories and messages of barriers people of color face when accessing the outdoors. If anyone has something they would like me to keep in mind, please send us an email at adventureswithchaco@gmail.com.

In order to take the most advantage of our trip we have a lot of plans to check out some state parks, bookstores, the Wildrose bar, local pet stores, libraries, coffee shops, game stores, and of course Pike Place Market. The trip will be a perfect way to sit back and admire all that we have accomplished in the past 6 months.

If anyone has advice on places we should visit please send us an email. If anyone wants to say hi, send us an email. If anyone want to tell us we’re cute, send us an email. If anyone wants to meet up in DC or Seattle, send us an email. If anyone wants to Facetime, send us an email. We love making new friends and hearing other peoples stories.

Thanks for reading. We hope you come back to read about the summit when we return!

Until Next Time.

@roznavigates

 

 

 

Where in the World is AWC?

A self made Q and A to answer all of the questions you were thinking about maybe having and some FAQs from our friends, loved ones, and followers. 

So you’ve gotten to know us a bit; who we are, what we enjoy, how we ended up outdoors…

But now you’re wondering, “Where are the Adventures?” “Where is Chaco?!”. And the answers to these questions and more lie ahead in your near future.

Q: Update please?

A: We’ve been lucky enough to adventure pretty much every single weekend since I graduated in early May. Beginning with a few trips close by in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, ending with our most recent trip back up to the beautiful state of Vermont this past weekend. Our adventures have included family events, summer camp for adults, and field scouting for an awesome company called Hipcamp!

 

Q: What’s Hipcamp? 

A: Hipcamp is an amazing community of over 3 million people (like us) who are looking for new places and new ways to adventure outdoors. It’s basically like AirBnB, but for the outdoors. You pick a place on the map and suddenly a bunch of cool farms, orchards, cabins, yurts, tree houses, and basically anything you can think of pops up. You click on anything that interests you, see what that place has to offer, book it, and then you go. Set up your tent, or cozy up next to a cabin fireplace with a soft blanket. Relax! and enjoy the outdoors.

Q:Okay, So What’s This Field Scouting Thing? 

A:Why not get paid for doing what you love right?

Roz is constantly asking this question, and finding ways to make it happen. Basically, we can plan a trip from a list of sites new to Hipcamp. Our job is to go to those places, speak to the hosts, and capture our experience through professional photographs and thoughtful reviews. It can often be a lot of work, but it definitely beats whatever it is we do during the week. So far, as field scouts we’ve been to 5 different sites, each fostering remarkably unique experiences. A highlight of this amazing opportunity has been seeing the same sunrise and sunset from so many different perspectives. It amazes me how tree lines, clouds, mountains, open skies, and varying landscapes can change the way the day begins and comes to a close.

If you go on Hipcamp.com you can read our reviews and see all of the many pictures we’ve taken at Tullamore Farms, Wrights Farm, Watermark Mountain Farm, Loafer’s Glory Wilderness Camp, and Woodbury Meadows.

 

I caught my first fish in a pond at Loafer’s Glory!

Q: So Which One Was Your Favorite?

A: My favorite so far was our visit to Wright’s Farm, a beautiful 453 acre orchard with hundreds of apple trees, peach trees, and berries. As we approached the farm we could smell cinnamon-y baked goodness coming from their huge farm store. We walked in to a large space with a variety of apples, and jars and jars of colorful jams and sauces. When we finally reached the back of the store we could see through large windows, the open kitchen where they were making the donuts. I talked about these donuts for the rest of the day, into the night, until the next morning when I finally got to taste the yummy donuts, with a hot cup of French pressed coffee, of course! The donuts weren’t the best part though. I loved running through the apple trees in early bloom, being silly as always with Roz, Lo, and Chaco. Our hill top camp site was the best for seeing the sun set and then rise over the vast view of the Shawangunk Ridge. We also saw about 6 or 7 skydivers throughout the day diving out of planes above us down to the unknowns of the mountains below.

Enjoying the breathtaking view of the Shawangunk Ridge with Roz. Artfully captured by Lo behind the camera.

Q: What About Chaco? What About His Adventures? 

A: Right. So I personally think Chaco and I share the same favorite. He loves hopping out of the car without the restrictions of a leash to run and roam free. At Wright’s Farm Chaco made a new friend named… you guess it! Paco! Paco showed Chaco the lay of the land and Chaco showed Paco what a farm loving city dog can do with a weeks worth of built up energy from all day naps. Chaco also enjoyed racing alongside the car as we drove around all the acres exploring the farm. Chaco is generally an expert at running trails at almost any farm we go to. And because Chaco is as sweet as can be, he sometimes will return after a sprint down the trail to walk alongside his slow two legged humans.

 

Chaco and Paco. Best farm dog friends for life! 

There is a part of Chaco’s adventures that he doesn’t enjoy so much… THE CAR. If we could magically transport Chaco to our destinations without having him ride in the car, all of our adventures would be near perfect. But, unfortunately the car makes Chaco anxious and car sick and as a result we spend a large portion of our travel time cleaning up his throw up. We’ve tried multiple remedies and strategies, but we’ve pretty much ended up hoping for the best and being prepared for the worst with Clorox wipes, spray bottles, paper towels, plastic bags, and even a tarp. We try something new each trip, and I guess thats just become a part of the adventure. We spoke to our family friends who used to travel with their dog, and have been given hope that he might grow out of it in a few years. Sometimes it is too much, or our destination has a no pets policy so we leave him in the loving care of Ally, an old partner and good friend of Roz, who is basically Chaco’s favorite dog best friend in human form.

 

Q: Summer Camp for Adults? 

A: Last weekend we were in the woods, but we weren’t exactly camping like we usually do. We went up to the Pocono Mountains to Lake Owego for Camp Bonfire. A summer camp for adults to make friends, experience camp for the first time, or relive their favorite childhood memories. Roz and Lo were counselors and I was a camper. We made some connections and shared some of our experiences with people at the camp. I had a blast as a camper, hanging out on high ropes, dancing, and making mosaics. But, we encountered some not so great experiences being out as a queer poly family. While the space was pretty inclusive of many things, it didn’t quite feel like a space for us. We spent the whole weekend missing each other a lot! (Possibly more on this in the future)

Q: Is There Anything Else? What’s Ahead?

A: We’re going to Canada! And also, we’re finally moving out of Philly and back (for Roz and Lo) to the lovely DC Metro area. And we are always in the works of planning even more outdoor adventures. Eventually we will be on the West Coast, doing some exploration and adventuring over there. The beauty of this family is that we never know where we’ll end up, but we have the best team for making things happen!

 

I’m excited for more experiences to share, but in the meantime grab some cuties and create an adventure of your own. I promise you won’t regret it.

 

Until next time.

Love and Lavender,

Jaz

Never to late to get out there…

Growing up, I didn’t have a strong relationship with the outdoors. On occasion I’d help my mom in her backyard garden, turning the compost whenever it was a chore on my list. But we never really did much beyond backyard adventures. I can recall just one time that my mom packed my brothers, my godsister and me into the back of our van and drove us an hour away to Sugar Loaf Mountain in Maryland. We “hiked” a trail, meaning my brothers raced up the steep hills and I whined the whole way wondering when we were going back home. I think it’s fair to mention I had lots of foot and leg issues as a kid that went unattended for a while. My parents just thought I was a brat, and my orthopedist had her work cut out for her. Anyway, I put that trip in my back pocked, logged in my long-term memory as an event that sucked, and kept on with my childhood.

In the neighborhood I’m from, not many kids got to go to camp, or do anything adventurous. If you were lucky, you had a friend from a few towns over that would be willing to have you tag along on a family fishing trip or camping trip they’d planned. But for the most part my summers consisted of doing indoor activities: day camps at elementary schools, the dreaded vacation bible school, work at my old high school, etc. I wasn’t really exposed to any kind of outdoor activities until college, when I met my boo Roz. Roz would tell me about all the awesome summers at sleep-away camp, the trips to the lake, waterskiing, rock climbing, hiking, and a bunch of other awesome adventurous fun things I’d never thought possible for a Black kid like me to experience. Maybe it was because I was limited to what was accessible? Maybe my mom registered that I had a shit time hiking as a kid and made sure I never did it again? Who knows. But hearing Roz tell these amazing stories with glimmering eyes, I knew it was something I didn’t want to miss before it was too late!

me and Roz breaking in our new ENO hammock back in 2014, one of the many investments we made before ANY of our adventures. 

As time goes on, and I spend more time with Roz, and now Jaz, and of course Chaco, I feel that getting outdoors is not only a summertime getaway, or a means to just have fun. I’m learning the positive impact that being amidst the trees and water has on me on a daily basis. 

When I take photos of landscapes, and I’m capturing my experiences in the moment, I feel alive, I feel driven. There’s so much that I’ve missed out on as a child when it comes to getting outdoors. I could be disappointed about that, but I now take it as a blessing, realizing that when I have kids one day with my family I’m going to want them to grow up each day appreciating how wonderful getting outdoors can be. And I’m with the best crew to start on that journey! 

my poly babies!!

-Lo

Exploring Old and New Places; Our Spring Travels

Hey Everyone!

It’s Roz on the mic! The crew and I have just finished two weeks of traveling on and off and things are finally starting to slow down. I thought, I better blog while we can before we find ourselves on some random trip with no wifi, no electricity, and no recent blog post! Excuse me for yet another extra long post written by yours truly. I have a lot to cover.

To fill you all in on what we’ve been up to, I have to give the back story.  Back in January and February very last minute, I decided to apply to grad school for Library and Information Sciences. In those two months I was frantically gathering references, writing papers, and working overtime to pay for the applications. I decided to apply to grad school because I want to get my schooling out the way young but, I also want to begin working on preserving information and archiving information during this technology shift. Another really exciting part of going to graduate school is relocating! The crew and I are more than ready to get out of Philadelphia and relocate to somewhere that’s new and greener. In March I learned that I was accepted into University of Iowa, University of Tennessee, and University of Wisconsin: Milwaukee.

Last weekend over our three day Easter Break we road-tripped from Philadelphia to Wisconsin to check out UW. Though we have traveled to many states we had never been to Wisconsin, we were stoked. However, attempting to pull off such a long trip in 3 days was HARD. It was Chaco’s first car ride that was longer than an hour and the kid gets car sick. To give you a bit more understanding, Philly to Wisconsin is about a 14 hour drive, give or take. I’ll speak for myself and say I was freaking out. We had to strategically fed Chaco, we bought him car diapers in case he had nervous accidents, he already had a seat belt, and he had plastic bags for vomiting everywhere. I was nervous beyond repair for the little guy. The only thing that was really motivating us was that upon arrival to Wisconsin we were staying on a flower farm for two days before visiting the school. We knew from past camping trips that Chaco would have a blast on the farm. Overall the long car ride would end amazingly well for the pup.

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Chaco exploring Stillpoint Farm in Brooklyn, Wisconsin

We found Stillpoint Farm through Hipcamp (a sort of Air BnB for campers and outdoor enthusiast, highly recommend). The farm had just been purchased in October from it’s previous owners by Penny and Phil Molina. Due to the long winter season in Wisconsin we were their first EVER campers. It was phenomenal because during Easter Wisconsin had perfectly warm weather! We spent our nights by fireside on one of their campsites, which was a little walk into the woods. We spent our mornings eating at a communal picnic table, out looking the flower patches. Onsite there was the main cabin, a yard with a flower maze, a horse shaped swing (made of tire) and, another small building (pictured above) that has housed wedding parties, classes, and numerous other events. While we stayed at the farm we played scrabble inside the small building with their current WWOOFER (outdoor farm volunteer) Roberta. Roberta, was so sweet. She made sure we knew where everything was and she was really welcoming to our lifestyle. She was the cherry on top of our stay at the Stillpoint. Another thing worth noting is that Penny had a dog named Rory who Chaco got along with great. They chased each other through the forest, ran off far but, always returned. It was a dogs dream!

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We spent our mornings soaking up the sun and sipping coffee in this little spot!

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Jaz at Stillpoint Farm in the Flower maze.

After two nights at the farm we visited University of Wisconsin Milwaukee on Monday morning. We spent the first half of the day in Milwaukee then around early afternoon we headed back to Philly. Lo and I drove for about 17 hours straight (we caught traffic in Chicago) to get back to Philly for work on Tuesday morning. We were drained but, we all managed to get to work only being about a half hour late. The drive to Wisconsin was much harder for Chaco then the drive back. On the way to Wisconsin he threw up twice only being an hour away from Philly. On the way back to Philly from Wisconsin, Chaco didn’t throw up at all. The kid is a super star! Because he is still a puppy we are hoping his car sickness is something he grows out of in the next year.

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Jaz, Lo, and Chaco packing up Lil Su’. Obviously Chaco was the only one serious about packing, Jaz and Lo had other plans! 🙂

After getting back from Wisconsin we barely had time to settle down. We had friends visiting during the week and then by Saturday morning we were on the road again to Madison, VA. This past weekend was not a trip to visit a grad school but, instead a trip to Smith Farm, one of the places where I began to develop my love for the outdoors. I have become a returning guest of Smith Farm through my relationship with my best friend. Her parents were invited to the farm by their friends many decades ago and the tradition has been a chain reaction ever since. Though I have been with Lo for 4 years, myself and my bestfriend’s parents (Bob and Kathy) haven’t been able to get us back down to Smith Farm, the timing never worked out. So, waking up Saturday morning (Earth Day) knowing that it was finally the day to show my partners the farm, I was bursting. We packed up everyone into the car on Saturday morning and arrived at the farm later that afternoon.

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Smith Farm; Big Pond.

When we arrived at the farm it was alarming to see about 15 other cars. Bob had mentioned that he would be cooking a beef roast for the farm but, what he failed to mention was that this weekend was a potluck. I had assumed that Bob, Kathy, and the crew would have the farm to ourselves with maybe one or two others. WRONG! In the first two hours at the farm we hiked around the 130 acres, in the rain looking for the others. We learned down at the little cabin that everyone had taken a hike to go see the new 17 acres that was purchased a month ago. We failed to find the others during our hike but, we did have a blast watching Chaco boss the trails, bolting back and forth. He’s SO FAST!!

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Jaz and I hiking up to the flower Orchard.

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Jaz and myself tickling each other with wildflowers up at the flower orchard at Smith Farm.

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I caught this shot of Lo in her element 🙂

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Jaz, myself, and Chaco hiking some of the trails of Smith Farm.

Upon our return from our hike we went inside the big cabin to warm up by the fire and get ready for the potluck. Initially it was a bit awkward walking around and introducing ourselves because we were three queer people of color in the midst of a group of non-POC Baby Boomers and, Bob and Kathy were at the local brewery. Once we got over the weird stage and started to talk to more people we meet Karen. An Oldthymer (Smith Farm hiking group), Karen has been coming to Smith Farm since the mid 80’s. As we sat by the fire, Jaz and I turned through a photo album of the farm. With Karen sitting close by she was able to tell us about almost every event that was documented in the photographs. Jaz was able to see photographs of Smith Farm’s original owners Ed and Ruth Smith in action. Ed and Ruth passed within weeks of each other in September of 2016. Together Jaz and I learned that when Ed purchased the property in 1965, there was no wildlife, no trees only, unnourished grass. In order to create a sustainable habitat Ed and Ruth planted thousands of trees and wildflowers, which Ruth loved. The couple and a lot of their friends,  built wood cabins, ponds, flower orchards, and trails through 113 acres of land. The photo album held pictures of each seasons farm gathering. We learned that the event Bob and Kathy invited us to this past weekend was called Wildflower Weekend. In the past Wildflower Weekend was a hiking tour of the farm lead by Ruth, who studied plants. This year in order to keep the tradition going the Wildflower hike was lead by another Oldthymer, Mary Ann. Unfortunately we missed this years hike.

After about an hour of talking and a quick run to the local brewery it was finally time for the surprise potluck. The amount of dishes that everyone presented was amazing. The local beer and wine was an extra touch. It was a delightful meal. Towards the end of the potluck the group of Baby Boomers and the three of us had the opportunity to vote on this years book club book. To my surprise when Mary Ann asked for suggestions, I suggested “The Nature Fix” by Florence Williams. I’m not sure what made me suggest the book. I think I was just in such a good mood, and feeling so connected to these people through nature I thought it would be a good book for the group to read as a collective. After suggesting the book I went outside to have dessert by the camp fire with Jaz and Chaco.

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Jaz, Chaco, and I having dessert by the fire.

The night was warm, the air was crisp, and the animals were loud. The sun was almost all the way down and you could hear the dishes clinking inside. Lo comes walking out of the cabin.

She screams, “Rozzzzz, Rozzz, they chose your book. It was a tight vote but they chose your book”!!!

We all began to laugh. Spring had officially sprung!

-Roz The Navigator

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s me Jaz!

Hey! It’s me Jaz (@_ jazzyfizzleee) cute girlfriend, natural beauty product obsessed, children’s book lover!

So you’re wondering… 

How did a city girl like myself – lover of sensual baths, sugar scrubs, and body butters, end up outdoors with two fire making, road tripping, Catan players? 

Well I could tell you a long, drawn out, intertwining story or I could tell you that in short, I love experiencing new things with great people. I was taken on my first camping trip sometime in June or July by Roz. I thought for sure I’d hate it and force Roz to drive me off the campsite within only a few hours. But, I woke up to the smell of bacon and a cute face leaning over the fire, prepared to hand me my first cup of coffee for the morning and I knew I’d officially fallen in love. With, the cutie who had miraculously started a fire and the freedom of being outdoors. 

After that first trip, I’m sure I bugged Roz every other day, “Sooo when are we going camping again?” And finally my craving for the outdoors was satiated by a second trip , this time with Lo and a couple other friends. It was on this trip that I learned all about the game of Catan. I was teamed up with another Catan newbie, also named Jasmine and we successfully conquered the experts on our first try. Trust me my initial camping experiences exceeded expectations of what my cousins and I had imagined when making forts to play games and have tea parties in. There’s nothing like actually living out some childhood dreams as an adult.

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So… Summer camping was followed by early and mid Fall camping. And then…

Someone had a brilliant idea to ditch Christmas. My birthday has conveniently fallen on December 25th every single year, without a doubt since 1994. Thus providing me with an interesting childhood, filled with half ass gifts and no time for proper birthday celebrations. Roz and Lo thought “lets celebrate your birthday by taking you on a road trip!” Though I was terribly nervous about the cold and my inability to use my beloved shower products for days at a time, I agreed. And… I had one of the best birthdays of my life. I learned that fire making is a sexy skill to have, but it’s even sexier when that fire is being built as a necessity to keep warm. 

I won’t say that winter camping is my absolute favorite. But when I look back I’m always proud to say that it’s something I’ve experienced. Even though all of my birthday phone calls went something like “Happy Birthday! Are you sure you’re alright? So you’re really outside? You know it’s winter right?” 

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Of course, this trip was my birthday gift, so Roz and Lo made sure I ended up in a bathtub at some point. Even in the middle of nowhere upstate New York we managed to find a LUSH. So I was a happy camper! And somewhere along this trip I recognized how amazing Roz and Lo were as a couple and as individuals. Though I had already been dating Roz for some time, I began dating Lo after a cold night in a Tipi that didn’t quite work right. But for now, I’ll leave you hanging here with more stories to come about my two favorite people and some of my favorite things to do while spending time outdoors with them! 

In the meantime, I’ll probably be off taking a bath!

Love and Lavender,

Jaz

Taking A Chance

Hey Folks!

In this post I (@roz.navigates) want to share some of the story of when our travels truly began. It’s a rather long story but, most definitely worth reading to understand how we’ve grown into the outdoor loving family we are today!

So it begins…

Back in May of 2015 Lo and I were heading to work at a sleep away camp in West Virginia. I was thrilled to get Lo outdoors, and show Lo the country roads. I had attended this camp for seven years when I was a kid, and worked there back when I was 17. Lo was going to be working as the head of the wood-shop and I was going to be a high and low ropes instructor.  I knew this was going to be the best summer of our lives! Though, I have to admit we were nervous about heading to West Virginia as queer people of color. We didn’t know what to expect during our time off and days in town. Having attended camp and working on camp in the past I knew that camp was a safe space for queer people of color.

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A beautiful shot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in WV. Taken by @lo.arts

In the first two months of camp, Lo and I had very different experiences. Lo who worked with kids around ages 8 to 12, was having a blast! I who worked with teens around ages 13 to 16 loved my campers but, felt a good amount of racism from my immediate staff. Because Lo and I weren’t working with the same age groups we rarely saw each other and had different staff groups. When I had the opportunity to see Lo, she was surprised to hear my daily recaps. It was unreal for Lo because, we had come to love the West Virginia locals and never felt discriminated against in town. So, for Lo to hear of discrimination on camp by staff from all over the world was confusing. It was only when Lo witnessed the discrimination first hand, on a cold West Virginia night that things truly clicked. After sleeping on what we had experienced the night before, Lo and I woke the next morning and decided we should resign as counselors.

Making the decision to resign from jobs that we had planned on for about 8 months was not an easy decision or ideal for us. Lo and I have never been wealthy or financially stable for that matter. I was still a college student and Lo had just graduated a few weeks before the start of camp. We had cut any other employment ties to work at camp. When we made the decision to quit we had no income except, our final camp paychecks. Regardless of our financial standings we felt it was better to remove ourselves from a negative space than to stick around and waste our summer being unhappy. We packed up our old 2000 Chevy Blazer (White Fang) and in a matter of 45 minutes, we found ourselves departing from camp before breakfast. On our way back to our hometown, we stopped at the lake closest to camp to say our final goodbyes to the state of West Virginia. While swimming in the lake we talked about what other lakes in other parts of the country might be like and if we would ever be able to see them. We recapped on the fun moments we had at camp, small towns we came to love, and the few friends who understood our story. Then finally we left West Virginia.

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Our final goodbye to WV. Taken by @lo.arts

Upon returning home to D.C. Lo and I were bored out of our minds. We dreamed of driving across country and returning to the outdoors. We couldn’t handle cutting our outdoor adventure short. It felt like we broke up with the love of our lives. We sat on the couch at home and mourned the lost of fresh air. Then after a day of being at home we decided, why not just blow our final paychecks and drive to the places we wanted to see. The money we made wasn’t enough to pay for much but, we thought we could at least manage driving down to Tennessee and back. I had about a month and a half before I needed to start my final year of college, we had the time. We called our friends and told them of our plans. After talking to my best friend she had convinced us to “just drive to see her in COLORADO”. It made no sense for Lo and I to attempt a road-trip of this magnitude! We had a crappy truck, only a few camping supplies, and about $500 bucks. We had never driven longer than 7 hours before and had no idea what it meant to cross-country car camp. So, we did what any two crazy twenty-something year olds would do, we went for it! I had the skill sets of navigating, researching, and keeping us motivated. Lo, had the skill sets of fire building, money management, patience, and minor car mechanics. With those things combined we figured sure, a 19 state road trip…EASY! Hell, it was our dream! We planned the trip in one day, and three days after quitting our jobs at camp we were on the road to Colorado!

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Lo, White Fang, and I at our first road trip stop, Smith Mountain Lake.

Lo and I’s first road trip was the start to many road trips and outdoor adventures that have passed and are soon to come with our new family. Of course I can’t write about our entire 19 state road trip in one post. So, look out for more parts to this story to learn more about the first road trip and how things turned out!

Have a Good Week & Get Outdoors!

@roz.navigates

 

 

 

Hey there!

Hi everyone! This is the launch of our new blog! Super exciting because this is something that we’ve been planning on for many many months, but now we’re in this beautiful position where time permits us to blog regularly.

Roll call!

I’m Lo! DSC_0272

Normally I would apologize for this photo, but I won’t.

I’m a nature enthusiast who’s been creating in the art and music worlds for majority of my life! I’m a djembe playing, theater set painting, road trip driving, super awesome person! I should also mention that I’m polyamorous, which is something as the blog grows and we post more, you’ll get to learn a little bit more about that. But enough of that for now, back to introductions I’m engaged to a lovely human named:

Roz!DSC_0027

This super cute beb and I have been together for four years, adventuring and exploring all the corners of the earth. Roz is a film photographer, library enthusiast, information guru, nature fiend, and harmonica aficionado. And along our travels, well actually right here in our current home of Philadelphia, we met this super cute, super amazing honey named:

 

Jaz!

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C’mon, is she not the sweetest?! Jazmine is an educator, children’s book lover, bathbomb/Lush product expert, puzzle solver, and all around best smiler.

Roz, Jaz, and I have been camping, road-tripping, and traveling together as a pod for 3 months now. And in the midst of us growing and loving as a family, we thought it was high time for us to broaden our circle even wider. That’s when we adopted:

CHACO!

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This sweetie pie is a 1 yr old (we think) Collie/Beagle/Pit mix, but honestly we’re just shooting in the dark here! He’s been in our home and hearts for 3 weeks now. And right away he fit right in! Chaco loves playing with his ChuckIt, running between trees, spinning in circles in the snow, and playing with other dogs!

That’s all for now! We’ll be sharing more photos of us camping and exploring. Keep an eye out!!

 

 

@lo.arts