I took my son on a 60-mile bikepacking trip from West Virginia to Washington, DC. The trail was called Chesapeake & Ohio scenic trail, and we stopped by multiple historic towns and lock ruins along the way. The path ran along next to the Potomac River, where we camped and hunted our own food (just kidding, we brought ramen and sandwiches). At night, the "frogs" were so loud that they sounded like people talking and humming. Given that the area used to be an active Civil War trail (and believed to be haunted), we chose to believe they were just frogs.
I went on my first solo backpacking trip in West Virginia. The trail was called Spruce Knob and Seneca Creek, and it was supposed to be a 16-mile loop, but I got lost, so I ended up walking an extra 6 miles (22 miles in total). I camped next to a waterfall, and I wandered around in the dark at night to take pictures (literally, no one was in the trail on both days). At night, the temp dropped below freezing, so in the morning, some rock surfaces were very slippery (I ended up slipping on one of them and landed on my lower back - long story). The trail also has a plane-crash site that I explored where 2 people lost their lives in the 70s (sad).
I caught my first bull Red drum when I went on a spontaneous fishing trip in Florida. I was totally unprepared for the fight, but luckily my fishing gear held up. The fish weighed around 36 lbs and about 44 inches long. Thankfully, some people driving by saw me reeling the fish in, and they stopped to help take my picture (or this would've been just another fishing story, but I would have definitely doubled its actual size when I told people about it). The fight lasted around 15-20 min because I didn't want to stress my fishing line to failure. After some mandatory selfies, the fish was safely released back in the water.
I almost drowned in a whitewater rafting trip during the Gauley season in West Virginia. Our raft capsized in a class V rapids called Pillow Rock, and all of us got pulled down this whirlpool called the 'Toilet Bowl.' After we surfaced, we were scattered along the river, but I drifted towards another rapid where the water flowed under a huge rock. The people who were watching were yelling at me to swim away, so I swam as hard as I could until just enough that when I got pulled underneath, I didn't go directly under the rock, and I avoided getting pinned. It was exhausting keeping my head above water even with a floatation vest on. Luckily, someone in a kayak came and towed me away from the rapids.
I took an epic 5-day solo road trip through the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the foliage in the Fall. The parkway is a scenic highway that spans 469 miles from the Smokeys of North Carolina to the Shenandoah mountains of Virginia. I camped (at campsites) and hiked multiple short trails along the way as I worked my way north. It rained and stormed most of the time, but I think that's what made the trip more memorable. Hiking and camping in the cold rain is a special kind of fun (sucks, I couldn't make any bonfires though). The best thing about the rain is it made waterfalls look more stunning and foggy trails more enchanting.. - and I got used to wearing wet clothes every day.
I had a fantastic time with some good friends building a home in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, for the Hurricane Katrina victims. Years after the great storm, many of the small communities in the area were still struggling to rebuild, and Habitat for Humanity was one of the non-profit organizations that were helping them. Since they lacked the manpower and funding, my school friends and I volunteered our Spring Break to help them rebuild. Although it was hard work, we all had a fantastic time and felt great that we did something meaningful. During our off times, we hung out with the locals, explored some beaches, drank some southern sweet tea, and ate my first gator sausage. That was also my first time experiencing the great Southern hospitality.