A few months ago, freelancer and ATU journalism student Hannah Butler pitched a story idea to me about introducing ABOUT readers to the various forms of recreation available in the region through her own first-person participation.
I thought this was a fine idea. After all, a large portion of the character of the River Valley is derived from how we interact with the land, waters, and community. So after carefully winnowing down the options for a first installment and then scrutinizing over the angles and style, Hannah presented a finished draft a few weeks before deadline.
And then everyone’s world was turned upside down.
In light of the new norm we’re asked to embrace and endure for safety’s sake, Hannah and I had to rethink just which activities we could responsibly promote.
We settled on a trio to keep participants busy, with an eye toward flattening the curve, while we wait for things to get back to some semblance of normal. Two are solo acts you can do in your home, so minding your distance and wearing a mask aren’t required. But the third should be undertaken with some care and thoughtful interaction. You’ll likely encounter other folks trying to enjoy the spectacular views and strenuous hikes in our great outdoors. But a little common sense and courtesy should be all you need for a fun and safe time.
My typical routine when I get rid of items is mostly just convincing myself I will need everything I own in the future — a movie ticket from three months ago to see the second Jumanji? Keep it! I’ll look at it later and reminisce on what a slightly funny movie it was. Am I a psycho? Who rationalizes that? Just me? Okay, fine.
And when I finally part ways with an item of clothing or that dumb movie ticket, I don’t miss it. So why do I keep it?
The truth is (and this may not come as a shocker), I’m a semi-hoarder.
But I live in a small apartment with roommates. My bed takes up most of my room and my jeans are stacked up in two drawers and the rack above my closet.
I’m tired of living in excess. I’m tired of having clothes that never get worn. So, I’ve purged.
Spring cleaning has increased ever since I became aware of Marie Kondo’s method, which forced me to ask if my items bring me joy. I thought about using just that, but I wanted to go a step further.
I evaluated my closets, bathroom, book stack, storage spaces, social media, and yes, my receipts. My rule for clothing was to keep only what I actually liked, wanted and consistently wore. So it meant keeping the old T-shirt I sleep in but getting rid of the stylish, striped button-up that I’m not planning on wearing anytime.
I gave everything to MARVA, the thrift store on South Arkansas in Russellville. I’d been there a couple of times, but this was my first time donating.
I got rid of a few pairs of jeans and shorts that didn’t fit me anymore. There were some that didn’t fit me physically; others didn’t fit me as a person.
I got rid of a few necklaces, a few dresses I’ll never wear, work clothes that just aren’t my favorite. A rugged, hand-me-down copy of “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway was given away. There’s no doubt that it’s a wonderful book, but I figured I would rather have one in better condition.
I was slightly stumped when it came to my facial cleansers and makeup. Could those be given away? I had no clue. I’ve used a little bit of all of them. Not knowing the answer, I decided I’d better not. I wouldn’t want a facial cleanser or eyeshadows that were used by someone else. Even if you use clean brushes, it just felt icky. I decided I might see if my sister or mom might want to use them.
I also got rid of a few unnecessary items like old classroom notebooks and razors. Those did not go to MARVA. Those went in the trash. I’m happy to report that all receipts and movie tickets were thrown away, too.
Out of everything I got rid of, the hardest item to part with was my pair of Chacos. They were gray and white, well-worn and well-loved. They had been with me for four years and it showed.
It was easier once I reasoned that they aren’t shoes I can wear year-round. If I ever needed a new pair, I wanted ones that I’d at least really want to wear.
As for everything else, I’ve decided to try and clean out continuously. I didn’t feel I could clean out my car and my social media as easily as I could my closet. I cleaned out a few random items in my car but I’ve found it’s best for me to set aside days to reevaluate what I keep in there.
The same goes for my social media. At a certain point in my life, I was accepting every friend request, following every single person that followed me. By now, I’ve realized it’s unnecessary. For this, I do actually want to use the Marie Kondo method. Do these posts bring me joy? Do they add value to my life?
That seems like the most healthy way to clean.
It’s the funniest thing. When my company officially announced that we were working from home, I got really worried about my weight.
When I’m working, I’m at least moving around the office — talking to my coworkers, running to the bathroom and such.
It, literally, takes five steps to get to my bathroom from anywhere in my apartment.
It’s super small. In my room, I have nowhere I can even lay down to do sit ups. Jumping jacks are completely out of the question.
I needed to find some physical activity that I could do. Otherwise, my days would be filled with me either laying on my bed or at my desk, working. So I went for a walk.
Then, Força Martial Arts & Fitness started releasing at-home workout videos. Força is one of those places that I’d always wanted to go to when things were… well, normal. I didn’t think it could hurt for me to learn self-defense or even just do simple workouts.
Cora Wilson, co-owner of Forca, was featured in ab and arm workouts, which are perfect for me because I’m self-conscious about both. Yes, I’m totally for self-love and loving yourself in your own body. I’m also human. For me, it’s not about being perfect. I just want to feel good about myself and work to be healthier.
So I started trying them out in my apartment. I opted for the living room, which subjected me to the embarrassment of my three other roommates watching. I felt like since we’re all under quarantine they would at least understand.
The first ab workout I did killed me. It was simple enough: a three minute ab workout to Katy Perry. Fun, right?
The workouts are basically different versions of your typical crunches, then holding, or pulsing for a couple of times. But it’s effective. No typical crunch will get you to that sort of burn. Trust me.
Next, I did a seven-minute workout. It was actually a lot of fun. I could spend it working on my arms and other parts of my body. On the video, Cora encouraged moving around or doing squats while we did some of them.
I did one of Cora’s “butt burn” videos as well. PSA: if you want to do this one, I totally recommend it. But I would not recommend doing it on the living room floor of your parent’s house. One weekend when I was home, my dad caught me doing it and it was weird. Just learn from my mistakes and save yourself the embarrassment, OK?
This one, too, killed me. At one point, Cora said, “To get a full effect, do this multiple times a day!” I half-remember yelling at her, “No, thanks!”
Once a day is enough for me.
These videos have seriously changed how I work out, though. I feel like when I go to the gym I’m always intimidated because I don’t really know how to use half of the equipment. When I’m done, I just feel like I didn’t get what I wanted going in.
With Força’s videos, I have no excuse to not work out. When I was running around every day for school and work, the last thing I wanted to do was go to the gym. Now, I can do it from home whenever I need to.
It’s also given me the opportunity to do yoga with Dr. Erin Clair, which has been awesome and much needed after a workout. And, if I ever want to, I can take it to the next step with fitness kickboxing, or mixed martial arts.>>
I chose a beautiful day to go hiking. The sun was shining. There was hardly any wind. And as I drove up the steep curves to Mount Nebo, I heard Johnny Story on the radio reporting the weather for the weekend.
I thought, “This is likely the most River Valley-esque I’ll ever get.”
I had my sights set on the Rim Trail at Mount Nebo State Park. It’s a hiking trail that’s supposed to have a waterfall, and I was ready to see it. I was excited.
I drove up to the visitor’s center first to get directions and grabbed a map, but I asked the lady at the register to better understand the route.
“It’s out back,” she told me.
“Literally, just right outside of the visitor’s center?” I asked.
Also right outside the visitor’s center? Blues, greens and dark purples for miles.
Excitement ran through me as I headed down the rocky, steep steps. A sign directed me toward the exact hike that would lead me to the place I wanted to go. I could have taken the trail to sunrise point, which sounded beautiful, but I was ignoring TLC’s advice. I wanted to chase waterfalls.
Unfortunately, the lady at the register forgot to mention that Rim Trail was closed for construction. The trail, instead, pointed me in the direction of Bench Road Trail, which my very handy map told me would take three to four hours.
I did not have three to four hours.
I had wandered down Bench Road Trail anyway because, for a moment, I thought Rim Trail might just continue further down.
It did not.
But, the next day was supposed to be warm and I’d have more time for another trail that promised waterfalls: Gum Springs. As I left, I saw the sign that would point me in the direction of the trail, so I was confident in my ability to find it.
The next day wasn’t super warm. It might have been if the wind hadn’t overtaken the day. It was cloudy, too, but neither the wind or lack of warmth could deter me. I was going to hike Gum Springs. And I did. And it was hard. Fair warning to anyone who has kids: do not bring them to this trail.
The trail loops around and around with masses of rocks that are potentially dangerous, which you have to consistently step down. At one point, the whole trail is just uneven rocks — that is, literally, all you are stepping on.
It was a first for me to see a trail like that. I braved it anyway, but there were times I wished I wasn’t alone just to have some help. After this trip, I learned a very important lesson: if you are going hiking, it always nice to have a hand.
On the bright side, it didn’t take me long to actually get to the waterfall. It’s five minutes into the hike and you can walk under it. That day, it was muddy but I imagined that the area would be absolutely beautiful if the weather was just right.
The trail even crosses over some water, which was exciting.
The hardest part, truly, is the trip back. After 45 minutes of hiking, the steep rocks gets super difficult. Bring some water and some good hiking shoes. Without those, I’m not sure I would have made it.