• Madelynne Juenger

A Little Trip to Richmond

I’ve always loved the hopefulness of New Year’s Day. I love the planning and the goal setting and the energized anticipation for the year ahead. It’s the one day that holds the refreshing promise of a blank slate and the tempting knowledge that any day on the calendar could be filled with an event worthy of the bucket list.

And this year was no different. I welcomed 2018 with the usual array of sparklers and noisemakers, and woke up the morning of with the usual enthusiastic optimism. New Year's is the one day of the year where I feel like my overdramatic excitement is actually justified in the eyes of the world.

I rolled out of bed to promises of snow flurries, and if you're an avid Gilmore Girls watcher, then you'll know that there's nothing more magical than the promise of snow. Especially when you're in Virginia Beach.

The day was already off to a lovely start as I sat at the kitchen table of my friend Katie's house and we discussed our plans for a last minute day trip. I had originally planned on spending my winter break accompanying my friend on a much larger road trip across the country. However, I was hit with a fever and uncooperative airplane schedules and everything fell through the week I was supposed to leave. Because of this, I had hiking boots with nowhere to hike and energy with nowhere to go. And I was feeling pretty lame about it all. Of course, I love being at home and finally having a chance to slow down and catch my breath, but I always feel restless knowing I could use this time to go on some grand adventure.

However, the magical energy of New Year's was kicking in and I was determined to channel the disappointment of one road trip setback into plans for a smaller road trip success. I've lived in Virginia Beach for seven years now (five if you subtract the time I've been away at school) and I've never fully embraced all the interesting cities surrounding it. I blame this partly on the fact that I wasn't able to drive for half the time I've lived there, but also partly on the fact that I grew too comfortable and numb to how diverse of a state Virginia really is.

So Katie and I sat over coffee and googled our way through the "must see" areas in Richmond. We made a loose plan, hopped in the car a day later, and drove to the city with a soundtrack of middle school hits guiding us along.

Our first stop was at Belle Isle, which I imagine is absolutely beautiful come Spring and Summer, but was still equally as beautiful (in a less obvious way) this January 2. Everything had been frozen over and the landscape was a barren mix of grays and browns. However, as we walked through the trails and hopped on top of rocks, beautiful patterns of ice and colorful pools of water spilled out underneath our feet. It looked as if tiny galaxies were forming underneath the landscape and it made me want to sit and stare at the ground forever.

This was a nice (and much needed) reminder of the beauty of winter. I tend to get a bit down around the days when the weather is darker and gloomier, but I've made a resolution this year to embrace winter in all its icy glory. Sometimes this just means taking a closer look at things rather than being overwhelmed by the barrenness of it all. It's not nearly as colorless as it might appear. There are beautiful purples hidden in trees, reds in frozen cheeks, and pale blues blanketing the sky. You just need to look a little deeper.

The rest of the day was spent warming up in restaurants and shops around Carytown. By the evening time, I was full on cupcakes, freezing from the low temperatures, and incredibly happy to have breathed in fresh air and experienced parts of a new city.

So this is a reminder to not let winter get you down in the dumps! Adventures are not exclusive to sunny days and warm weather! And you don't even need to plan an extravagant road trip to see the world! Sometimes you just need to set aside a day to hop in the car and venture an hour outside of your hometown.

Beautiful things are closer than you think.


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