Chrissie Bader
I guess I maybe had it in me my whole life. This longing for adventure and wilderness. I grew up in Central Florida surrounded by orange groves, sand dunes, and creature infested swampy lakes. I used to spend my days catching tadpoles and frogs for pets, covering myself in Spanish Moss and pretending like I had long hair and was a swamp princess, and going on all day outdoor adventures focused on avoiding snakes and gators. My childhood was pretty. freaking. amazing.

When we moved to Georgia in 1989 when I was 10 years old my outdoor adventures consisted of wading in creeks and traversing "cliffs" of clay over creeks and riverbeds. Being indoors was never a good option in good weather, but especially during thunderstorms, which was a mandatory front porch event (still is).

Truth is, I've always been in love with being outdoors and having adventures. But it wasn't until a trip to St. Louis with my dad one summer and a visit to the Gateway Arch museum and intro to Lewis & Clark that an obsession was born. My family is from Missouri and that's where, I guess you could say, my genealogical roots are established. So, one summer, I'm thinking it must have been 1993 or 1994, after our annual trip to my grandparents' house we drove up to St. Louis for a side trip. I get my spontaneous side tripping bug from my dad who would often, on the weekends, load us into the car and just start driving for nowhere in particular.

We went to the Gateway Arch museum and watched an IMAX film about Yosemite and walked the museum for hours reading and learning about the 'gateway to the west' and Lewis & Clark. I fell head over heels in love with the entire story and Lewis & Clark became my everlasting heroes. My dad bought me books to take home and study on their adventures.

A year or two later, in 1995, again on our yearly summer trip to Missouri, my grandparents invited me to go with them on their annual trip to Colorado. I was 15 going on 16 and full of wild rebellion. I wanted a great adventure! I wanted to experience the world! That was the age when the 'rebellion' overtook my soul, I believe. I couldn't understand being tied down to a place or a thing or a job. The world was mine to be explored! I said yes very emphatically to going with them on that trip.

The very best part of this is that I had just begun journaling at that time in my life so I very much documented my trip west. Albeit in a young teen's words but the sentiment at the imagery and the scenery is still awe-inspiring to my heart, even today. I feel it all over again when I read my own 'teenager's heart' words. My first sight of the plains of Kansas. My first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains, which in my journals I imagined must have been extremely similar to what Lewis & Clark felt the first time they glimpsed the tiny specks on the horizon and the immense awe they must have felt daily as they beheld the "specks" growing larger and larger and wondering just exactly how large those mountains could be really be!!! Oh, the wonder of it!!! I get excited all over again just remembering how amazing it was!!

I remember mostly that whole week, while driving around the towns of Colorado and Manitou Springs feeling envious and angry that the people who lived there must take their view for granted on a daily basis. Did they not know what a blessing it was that they lived in the shadow of such beauties every minute of every day? It was unfathomable! And the beauty yanked on my heart the entire time I was there. It weighed on me. It beckoned me. I felt one with it. I felt as if I should be enveloped by it. The moon and the stars seemed to speak to me. The mountain peaks seemed to speak my name. I felt peace and fear all at once. Peace because it felt like "home" and fear because there was adventure yet to be had. It was wild and unpredictable and I wanted it. I wanted it so much!!

See how close we were standing to the edge? Most people would freak out but he and I were both exhilarated. He was my "on the edge" buddy for sure. :)

Mammaw wouldn't stand at the edge but only by the inner snow banks, lol. The heights terrified her. 

We took every opportunity there was to stand "on the edge" of the mountain and look down on Forever. 

Alas, I did have to go back home to Georgia. But that calling to the wild, unexplored places of the earth remained in my heart. It has been a core place in me since that time. My life's desires are focused around returning to that which is timeless. It may have been 20 years for me. I may look and be 20 years older than when I was last there but I guarantee those mountains are just as majestic and breathtaking as they ever were!

And I still want to show my kids! That part was born also! A desire to show my kids all the beautiful things that exist in the world and to have them experience them like I never truly got to. It is my WHY, which has evolved since I'm now living what it once was. Now I want to witness them as they witness the Earth and all the splendid things God created for us all to behold. Beauty is His greatest gift to us and I intend not to miss it.

Peace out!

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