There is almost something magical about the first time that you visit a new trail. You are about to embark on a journey, one that others might have traveled before, but is wild in its own way. That hyper realist moment when you leave that civilized world, and enter into the primordial the original part of you. Each step you travel closer to finding some hidden truth, finding not only yourself, but the collective spirit of who we all are. You chose this moment, the universe fills it with creatures with life, with moments that can never be replicated, that time that you are present in the trail is yours alone. That is the magic of nature, that stirs in the blood and makes you come alive, some spend their entire lives searching for another taste of that adventure. That first time on the trail is both scary and exhilarating. In many ways that is what it is like to start a blog.

Welcome, I am Nathan, a historian, musician, nature enthusiast, and photographer. In the past year, I have traveled around the United States taking pictures of some incredible places. I've traveled to the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Niagara Falls, Acadia, Shennandoah, Blue Ridge, and the Smoky Mountains. While these are just a few of my adventures, in the next few months I have big plans for adventures in the great American West. I am leaving in May and this is a blog to try to catalogue my adventures and to share some of my photography.

Speaking of photography, the gear that I use is in the process of a major overhaul. I started taking photos last year on a iPhone, then purchased a Canon T5. That seems like so long ago now.  I currently am using a Canon 60D as my main body. I purchased this last year and I have really enjoyed the dynamic range and capture abilities of this camera. The lenses I use are primarily: Canon 17-40mm f/4 L, 70-200mm f/4 L, and Tamron 90mm macro. I'm in the process of upgrading my camera in the next few days and will hopefully have an update on that. I found that this combination is a great way to capture the minute details of a waterfall, or the distant setting sun. While I have loved learning how to take photos, really it is more about being outside and engaging in nature for what I enjoy doing.

I grew up in East Tennessee, where it seems like one can take almost any interstate exit and find natural beauty there. I grew up wandering in nature almost all my life, spending hours at Norris Dam, being lost with the moment and my thoughts. There is a comfort that nothing else can describe. While I love nature, music and history were two things that had my interest from an early age. There is a song in the way that the wind moves through the leaves and a story that the woods tells you if you are only willing to become in tune to what they are saying. The Greeks used to call this, being in harmony with the vibrations of the planets, but the same holds true if you just stop and breathe. I often find myself hearing a song each time that I go into the woods and become lost in the tapestry of the moment around me. Often times, there is never a separation between being outside and music in my mind, it is one of the syncretic experiences that is beautiful but also hard to explain.

With that, it might be time to explain my goals with this blog. First and foremost, this blog is to get me back in the habit of writing on a regular basis. I've heard that great writers write a minimum of two pages a day. Since graduating from Appalachian State University in 2014, I don't think that I've written that much in a very long time. This is my opportunity to start writing to get back in the habit, regardless of academic, personal, songs, poetry; writing is writing. Second, is therapy for the past year of my life. This time last year, if you would have said about half of what has happened, I would have laughed because it seems implausible. For example, last fall I was to start my PhD in Latin American history at a major institution, but because of many factors, I am now teaching full time at a well known regional college. The mercurial qualities of life are what makes it the most interesting.  Third, my goal is to share some amazing places. This summer, I have planned to go almost all over the Southwest and Pacific Northwest. I am planning on spending about two months on the road and I'm looking forward to it. I've never been to the Pacific Northwest, so this is a true adventure for me. The places that draw my interest the most are those in the National Park system. Not only are they national treasures, but they also have some magic that is only captured by being there in the moment. For the next few weeks, I am traveling, trying to prepare for this long trip by going to small adventures in and around Tennessee to get ready.

Nathan Widener