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FEB. 13, 2014

When I’m on My Journey

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Cissy Kelton Byrd, former camper, counselor, parent and current Trustee

If you’re an Eagle’s Nester, you know the song, and it has always been a favorite of mine. Journeys are an important part of Eagle’s Nest and of life, and we are always on one whether we realize it or not. Sometimes a journey is our pathway to meeting a goal or arriving at a destination, but not always. For me, the best journey is the one that IS the destination, and I will tell you what I mean.

cissy on bike 1

My husband, Rich, and I met at Eagle’s Nest Camp in 1979. We got married, had a family and built our careers. We raised four sons, and our free time and energy was spent adventuring with them. In 2012, with our children grown and our selves in good health, we retired from work and set out on what would become our “journey of a lifetime”…on a tandem bicycle.

 We ordered maps from Adventure Cycling Association with bicycle routes all over the United States. We spread our gear across the living room floor and readied our bike and trailer. Our journey began with a trip around Florida in January, 2012 and it morphed into an adventure that took on a life of its own spanning 16 months and 16,000 miles.

 cissy and rich bliss

What we quickly discovered is that the maps, the gear, and the best laid plans were not usually what determined the end point of each day or week or month. It’s what HAPPENED along the way that directed our ride. Once we opened our minds to allowing our journey to happen rather than trying to determine its course, each day was a new discovery. Whether it be the weather, the road conditions, the scenery or the people we encountered, each moment became a journey, and adventure and a challenge. We faced wind, heat, floods, wildfires, storms, hills, traffic, wildlife and all of the trials you might imagine. We stayed in campgrounds, churches, fire stations, city parks, hostels, and hotels. We were taken care of by friends and complete strangers who welcomed us into their homes. We took side trips and “stopped to smell the roses”. We often traveled with other touring cyclists who became lasting friends. We connected with locals all over the country eager to make us feel welcome in their communities. What defined our success each day was not reaching a destination or goal, but appreciating and enjoying what happened along the way, the connections we made, and the beauty that we were a part of. And the best thing about a journey that IS the destination is that you don’t arrive at its end when you get to a certain place and time. Our journey is certainly not over. So stay tuned…and as the song tell us “When I’m on my journey, don’t you weep after me”, because bicycle touring has brought and continues to bring us some of the best that life has to offer!

 cissy bike 2

If you are interested in seeing maps, photos and comments from Cissy’s bicycle tour you can access them on Cissy and Rich’s blogs Retired and Re-Tired and It Takes Two to Tandem.

Cissy began coming to Eagle’s Nest Camp as a child in the 1960’s when her father, John Kelton, was the Program Director for Dr. Alex Waite. This is where she met her husband, Rich Byrd, who was on the medical staff for  “Diabetic Camp”. Each of Cissy and Rich’s four boys attended camp, and two attended The Outdoor Academy.  She and her family enjoy camping, canoeing and bicycling trips together.