trip

Forging 2016 Series: Tale One

Forging 2016 Series: Tale One

The first tale in our short series discussing the momentous achievements, struggles, and even failures we overcame and experienced on our 2016 Forging trip to Red River, NM.  Join us in this first tale as we discovered what it means to bear each other's burdens, and have our souls flourish through the struggle.

Memorials

Memorials

On a day we set aside for remembering, we also want to take a look at what that means. And shouldn't it be more than one day?  VLA thinks so, and we have trips put in place for just that sort of thing.

The Women Went To Wimberley

by Cassie Byard, Women’s Director at Veritas Life Adventures

How do you say goodbye and move on from a season that has been so full and good?  You honor it with laughter.  With tears.  With good food and fun.  With photographs and long chats.  With silence.  This is how we (the women) wrapped up our last Veritas venture.

This trip to the hill country of Texas was a meaningful one for both its adventurers, as each of us is moving into different directions on our life journeys.  Tessa, this year’s sole female participant in the Veritas program, will be beginning afresh(man ;)) at the University of North Texas this month (with a well-earned, FULL-RIDE SCHOLARSHIP, I might add!) moving on to the exciting world of college life!  As for me (Cassie), this month marks the last of my time with Veritas.  I’ll be leaving in less than two weeks to return to the mountains of Switzerland for the fall.  So, to commemorate our Veritas experiences and make a few last memories for good measure, Tessa and I headed deep into the heart of Texas and explored caverns, waterholes, lakeside cliff edges and natural springs.

With iTunes playlists ready and car packed for two nights of camping in July heat (WHAT WERE WE THINKING?!?!), we hit the road for Inks Lake State Park!  Good company makes the time pass so quickly; before we knew it we were setting up camp and making dinner in our “glamping” electric skillet :) —I must say, short-term camping with the opportunity to make fresh food instead of dehydrated meals was a lovely way to end our Veritas saga!

Who says you can't eat healthy while camping??
Who says you can't eat healthy while camping??

Watching the sun set over the lake was the perfect way to end the day, and once sun was down it was “lights out” for us, too.  Though, even with the measures we took to cool down the tent, we still had a restless night of “sleep” due to the fact that it was July.  In Texas.

Sunset fun
Sunset fun

So, how else should we counter the heat than spend as much time as possible in the water?  There’s a cove in Inks Lake with a section of craggy cliffs and large boulders called “Devil’s Waterhole.”  It’s popular for its straightedge rock face and water level deep enough for some mild cliff jumping.  I mean, you had me at “Devil’s Waterhole,” but add the option for cliff jumping and we are IN!  And here I must brag on the courageous determination of Miss Tessa Baca. While I stood at the edge of the rocks and deliberated my first jump for more than a minute, Tessa climbed to the top, peered over the edge and took the plunge with no more than a second blink!  As she swam over to me after the jump, I remarked on her fearlessness. “No, I was definitely afraid,” she replied, “But this was something I had to do, so I just did it!  I knew if I just stood there and thought about it I wouldn’t do it.  So I just jumped.”  Now THAT is how you face life.  It’s not about being fearless; it’s about staring your fear in the face, saying, “You don’t own me, and you can’t hold me back,” and pushing through it!  Waytago, Tessa!

After a snack lunch we headed down the road for an extensive tour of Longhorn Cavern, a fascinating underground labyrinth packed with mystery, history and natural A/C!  If you’ve never been in a cave, this is a great one to check out!

Fascinating underground adventures!
Fascinating underground adventures!

That evening we strolled down to the lake’s edge as the sun sank toward the horizon and performed a Veritas closing ceremony of sorts.  The plan was to light Chinese sky lanterns to commemorate the close of one season and beginning of another, but the wind had another idea.  An entire box of matches later, we said goodbye to two drowning sky lanterns that never got to fly.  Well, they flew a little bit.  Er… maybe they fell.  In style.  We’ll just say the flight was less like an eagle’s, more like a chicken’s.  But we chuckled as we watched our “futures” dashed, drowned and destroyed despite our best intentions.  At least we snapped a photo of one in the air before it died!  (p.s. we’ll do better with our actual futures ;))

just before our "dreams" crashed and fizzled.
just before our "dreams" crashed and fizzled.

Our trek home the next day required driving further south first, to experience the wonders of Hamilton Pool and Jacob’s Well.  Neither of these places can be described in words; they MUST be seen!  But even photos don’t fully capture their beauty and marvel, as Tessa would tell you (she cheated and looked up photos before we visited both places and was still blown away -but I’ll let her describe that in an upcoming blog!).  So if you haven’t been to either, plan a detour through Dripping Springs and Wimberley next time you’re near Austin.  I promise it’s worth it!

IMG_4444
IMG_4444

In only two and a half days, we experienced the perfect conclusion to each of our Veritas journeys.  Throughout this season, we have found friendship and depth, love and acceptance, challenges and encouragement.  We have overcome obstacles, faced fears and crushed opposition.  We have grown, each of us in different ways, but always moving forward.  And now we move on to the future, glowing bright and flying high —and the wind will not blow us into the lake and put out our light! :)

We are READY for ANYTHING! (Well, Cassie is. ;))
We are READY for ANYTHING! (Well, Cassie is. ;))

Every step, intentional

A 30 Days of Veritas Tale

By Grant Boatwright, ED Veritas Life Adventures

One thing I have always told the Seekers in the program is, “I will never ask you to do something I am not willing to do myself.” The same goes for my buddy David when he started this #30daysofveritas initiative. So in conjunction with his lifestyle transformation I am challenging myself right alongside him to push myself further than I have before, trying to outdo one another in honor, and keeping each other accountable in what to American’s seems an eternity of time: 30 days straight of the Veritas Lifestyle, no matter the circumstances. Like David pointed out, this would not be easy; no simple pill or instant gratification will see this accomplished, so the only thing to do to make it to day 30 is begin with…

Every step, intentional

My #30daysofveritas fell just before a long 2-week road trip my wife and I had planned for two years: journeying across southern US states from Texas, up the southeast coast, cutting across the Smokey Mountains, visiting her graduate school and family in the northern heartland of Indiana and Illinois, and finally circling back to Texas where we began. How in the world was I going to keep the Veritas lifestyle going on the road, driving for multiple hours a day, no home gym to work out in, and having to miss our church home group multiple weeks? Unable to feed my body what it needs, work it out, or feed my soul in the usual, easy, and routine ways I had formed around my house, I was going to have to get inventive.

Every step, intentional

So I packed an extra bag of small workout gear: bands, push-up stands, my new suspension TRX toy, and my body weight (plenty of resistance there) for my workouts. We got easy snacks full of nutrition and light on calories for the long car rides: dried seaweed (like potato chips but better), kind bars (for that sweet tooth), kombucha (for digestion), and superfood bars (for extra nutrition). And of course to feed our souls we got a inspirational yet hard audio book (Unbroken) to realign our perspective and see how a man in TRULY overwhelming circumstances found and kept his faith, soul, and will alive!

Every step, intentional

The first part of the trip went swimmingly. Woke up at 4 am to work out with Jashley and start the road trip off right. Didn’t buy any extra snacks at gas stations (really wanted those powdered donuts). Then the storm broke… literally. The setting was our 7-mile hike to LeConte lodge in the Smokey Mountains National Park, Tennessee; this is where we really had to remember

Every step, intentional

Just like the 30 days of Veritas, we had an end goal when we started the trail: the lodge.  At the end of the 7-mile trek, the lodge promised both a comfortable bed and equally comforting dinner. Along the steady incline, lined with beautiful ferns, towering pines and oaks, and even boasting a rainbow waterfall; the thunder rolled in, and on came the pouring rain.

JGRainbowFalls

Every step intentional

Although we knew how long the trail was, and were fairly sure we were on the right one, the trail did not have any progress markers. To further compound our anxiety, we got a late start, 3:45 pm, and needed to be at the lodge no later than 6:45 pm or we would miss the very much-desired meal.

Every step, intentional

So with the thunder rolling around us, the rain blinding us, the slate rocks on the trial growing increasingly slippery, no indicators of how far we had hiked or how much we had left, Jashley accurately described our predicament as, “not being able to see the forest from the trees.” We had an end goal, but no way of knowing when, or if, we would reach it. Every bend in the trail looked the same, every tree looked like the next, and next, and next. Tired, moving slow, the incline of the trail only increasing, our wills started fraying. But this is why I train and why Jashley and I live the Veritas lifestyle. So, with my mind and will steeled, I encouraged Jashley (and myself really) to take it one step at a time, and make

Every step, intentional

At 6:30 we finally reached the trail fork I knew was near the end, just .6 miles of steep slippery slate rock trail to go (what the lodge staff called the hellish .6); and 15 minutes to do it. At 6:45 exactly we stumbled into the dinning hall, soaking, physically spent, and mentally haggard; but there, still waiting for us, was an abundant, steaming, mouth-watering meal. After dinner, the clouds broke, a beautiful sunset was arrayed before a breathtaking view of the valley below and we found a roof and soft bed inviting us in.

Leconteview
Leconteview

Every step, intentional

I want to tell you it was smooth sailing from there, but as I have always found in life, obstacles keep coming, trying to bring you down. However, I would not let my 30 days of Veritas falter.

When one of our friends could no longer host us, and as I was stuck in a 4X4 hotel “fitness center” I still got a good Insanity Max workout in. When, at a local park near my cousin’s house I tried to get some sprints in (via David’s inspiration) I misstepped, rolled my foot to the outside, and heard an old injury return in the form of two quick pops. My high intensity plyometric and run training on the trip was finished. For every step forward, it seemed like I was doomed to take four back; but I was determined to push forward, nurse my foot back to health, and make

Every step, intentional

I am now reduced to yoga and Tabata style controlled movement interval workouts. The foot is healing. Despite the temptation to eat out since we are technically on “vacation,” I kept up with my Shakeology meals and healthy eating. Then we get a phone text. My mother-in-law took a bad fall at work and fractured her femur; the news is still coming in. Needless to say it was a kick in the gut, especially after such a great day of work and presentations the day before at Jashley’s grad school. However, with consistent prayer and pulling together I know this will work out in the end, as long as we continue with

Every step, intentional

And so, my 30 days of Veritas tale continues. It has its valleys, and its peaks; and through it all I know I have Him with me. He tells me to take courage, that He will never forsake me (Joshua 1:5-7), that He has plans for me; which He promises to see to fruition, to benefit me, and give me a life of abundance (John 10:10, and Jeremiah 29:11). I am confident now that the good work I am doing during my 30 days of Veritas and beyond will not return void; that whether in my body, my mind, or my soul, through Christ I will see His work in me accomplished (Philippians 1:6).

In summation, I am seeing my body tested, but growing stronger. I am seeing that you CAN eat healthy on the road. And in all this I continue to see my faith and spirit awakened more each day. All I need do is continue with what I started, one foot in front of the other, keeping…

Every step, Intentional 

Now I ask you, what will your #30daysofveritas tale be?

2014 Awakenings accomplished, 2014 Forgings foreshadowing

Awakenings accomplished: Without getting too wordy, per my usual, and trying to let the seekers speak for us all, I shall briefly tell you of our successful Awakening trip.  From food to fun, pain to elation, questioning to more questioning answers, anxiety to deep contentment, I believe all who experienced this 2014 Awakening trip would agree that we could not have asked for more or better.  All of the challenges this trip provided were faced and dealt with expertly, from our oldest veterans to our newest greenhorn; and we as staff and volunteers could not be more proud or overjoyed at the progress, and growth, by all (even ourselves!).  This being said, I will leave the majority of the trips explanations up to our Seekers (who led most of the trip anyway); so, if you would like a more enriching engrossment of the Veritas experience, here are a few one liners to whet your appetite, followed by links to our Seekers' perspectives:

All healthy, gluten free, dairy free food: Check.

Explore new areas of town and Carson National forest: Check.

Brave gusty gales of freezing wind: Check.

Discover that the soul is vast, yearning, connected, and full of life long questions: Check.

Hear how Christ brings it all together for our full joy in life: Check.

Conner's perspective'Familiar yet New'

Ariel's perspective: 'Always more around the next corner'

Tessa's perspective: wrote a piece on her's and Ariel's  website, 'New Mexico, New Me'.

 

Forgings foreshadowing:

This trip will be a completely new experience for our Seekers.  We have the knowledge, we have the skill, and we have planned and ironed out the logistics as best we can; however, brand new state, brand new environments, and brand new trails...well... this is going to be interesting, exponentially more challenging, and way more exhilarating to accomplish.   The massive peaks of Shasta National Forest, high altitude alpine lakes, and towering trees of the redwood forests await over a grueling six day journey that culminates in the various views and novel attractions of San Fransisco.  Actually, need I say more?  Here is to August 5th, and let the forging begin!

Forge: defs. by dictionary.com

to form or make, especially by concentrated effort; to move ahead slowly; progress steadily; to move ahead with increased speed and effectiveness.