Discoveries & Details

An amazing discovery in the Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina: A Hickory Horned Devil Caterpillar, one of the largest of all caterpillars, around 6 inches long!

As I write this reflection, it’s January 2022 and the snow is softly falling around our home in Pennsylvania. Pearl the RV is in “hibernation” (winter storage). But she took us on many adventures that yielded warm memories, during our first full year of RVing in 2021. Mother Nature herself provided many of the highlights.

While we planned all of our trips, destinations, and many points of interest during our travels, some of the best memories came from unplanned, chance discoveries. Travel planning provided the “big picture” framework, but Mother Nature filled in the beautiful, fine details.

Sometimes, in our daily lives, we are so busy with coming and going and doing, that we forget about simply being. And it’s when we have time to simply be, that we allow ourselves the time to notice life’s details, to soak in the intricate and incredible details abundant in nature.

I’ve created a number of montages that depict some of the incredible nature discoveries we made in 2021. These were the moments that made us gasp, point, exclaim, and smile. And most of these discoveries were things we observed while hiking. It seems like whenever the trail bends, there’s always a discovery just waiting, just tucked out of sight, calling the hiker onward, whether it’s a wildflower, a colorful mushroom, a salamander, or another one of God’s creatures.

You might think the majority of our encounters with nature included large animals, but actually, it was the opposite. Yes, we saw our share of deer, but for the most part (maybe because we are dog owners!), most of our nature discoveries included much smaller species. And maybe these tiny wonders actually make the largest, indelible marks on our hearts–because the tinier they are, the more I marvel: at their existence in this big wide world, and at the fact that we were in the right place at the right time to see them, within wide expanses of woods and forests.

Being in just the right place, as a witness to nature’s beauty, reminds me of John Muir’s writing:

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.

John Muir

And being observant reminds me of poet Mary Oliver’s strikingly poignant words in the poem, “Sometimes:”

Instructions for living a life:

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.

Mary Oliver

We look forward to being astonished by Mother Nature’s handiwork many more times, as we plan our RV travels in 2022.

Today’s Pearl of Wisdom: Life is made up of many experiences and discoveries, and the tiny, intricate details are sometimes the ones that surprisingly feed our soul the most.

Bottom right: the carniverous Pitcher Plant, spotted in the unique bog ecosystem of Black Moshannon State Park, Pennsylvania
More information on our unique caterpillar find!
Bottom right: We spotted this wild turkey feather on the ground, shortly after we witnessed several strutting right past our remote campsite in Weiser State Forest, Pennsylvania
Spotted in the south: bottom, center, the blue-tailed skink!
Wildflowers
Mushrooms are fascinating
More mushrooms!
We even enjoyed vineyard details, at various Harvest Host winery locations… cheers!

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