Because of the kindness of a stranger, I was able to experience life on a remote unknown island off the coast of Georgia.
I wasn’t even aware that the island existed until recently, a man named Henry invited us to come and stay at his house because our previous travel plans to Yellowstone National Park were cancelled. He said it was a place for healing.
Not anyone can travel to Sapelo Island; you either have to live there, or be an invited guest. Tourists are not allowed. There is one passenger ferry that transports people back and forth to the mainland. Round trip tickets cost only $5.00. The island is known as one of the earliest Native American colonies to have existed in the United States and is rich in history. Sapelo Island, sparsely inhabited and not easily accessible, is both beautiful and historical.
A local friend of Henry’s met us at the ferry and gave us keys to Henry’s truck that was parked at the dock. He told us to follow him as he guided us through a series of unmarked island roads. After about four miles, we arrived at Henry’s house which was beautiful and rustic and looked like a scene from a movie set. The structure stood on wooden stilts and had a large balcony, a porch swing, and a hammock. Huge oak trees covered in Spanish moss hung over the house, giving it an ancient southern feel.
We found a couple of mountain bikes and decided to go out exploring. It was late afternoon and the sun was shining as we headed down a dirt road wondering where it would lead us.
The dusty narrow road was tree lined and led us through a sugarcane field. After riding another two miles, the road turned into sand as it opened up to the oceanfront. We kicked off our shoes and walked the isolated beach barefoot for hours. Not a single person was in sight. The southern sun started to sink into the sky, so we decided to leave because we knew that we may not find our way back in the dark.
Sapelo Island, a gift from a stranger, not only provided us with an exciting new travel experience, but the greatest gift he gave us was the reminder of the goodness of others.
I was recently honored to celebrate White Mountain Apache Day at historical Fort Apache in North East Arizona. I was given a traditional Camp Dress to wear and joined in the celebration which included cooking Ash bread, storytelling, singing songs, a women’s dress competition, watching Crown Dancers and eating fry bread for the first time. I was also given a beautiful homemade burden basket, which is used for gathering berries and wild foods.
The White Mountain Apache is a proud and powerful group of people who have a lot to teach us in ways of the world and in the ways of nature. Everything has meaning and purpose. Somehow in the west, we have lost our roots and inner connectedness with the land, plants, and animals that share our earth. The White Mountain Apache have never forgotten this.
The day was a celebration of White Mountain Apache tribal life. As the day came to an end, I left with an appreciation for tradition and for people who are holders of ancient ways.
I knew that I was traveling to a remote part of the country, but I didn’t realize how far away I was actually going until I boarded my last flight out of Phoneix on a tiny Pilatus PC-12 aircraft that seats eight passengers maximum, eventually landing on top of the beautiful White Mountains of Arizona.
I was informed that I would be tired as I adjusted to the elevation of over 7000 feet, as my body began to build red blood cells to adjust to the thin atmosphere. Not only was I tired due to the altitude, but I also had to adjust to the time change after having traveled over 2,200 miles, beginning in Eastern Standard Time and ending in Mountain Standard Time.
My week was spent exploring the area, meeting interesting people and hearing their stories, as some travelled through, while others have made their homes amongst the mountains.
Mountain life is different from the mainstream, but if you are seeking a place of raw natural beauty, where the goal of life isn’t commercialism or consumerism, then the White Mountains is a place where you will find happiness through aromatic ponderosa pines, beautiful lakes and rivers, and seeing elk and wild horses roaming the landscape.
My week in the White Mountains gave me a taste of mountain life and a respect for the people who live there. A beautiful place with heart and wild natural soul.