AL Spotlight: Eva
Okay. Let’s ask the basics first. What’s your name? What do you do? Where ya from?
Eva. I help non-profits raise the money they need to do the awesome work they do. Specifically, I work full-time for Samaritan House in Virginia Beach as their Marketing & Events Coordinator. Originally from good ol’ Lovettsville, VA. Was in Hokie-land for four years in between the two.
What are your favorite outdoor hobbies?
Camping, hiking, kayaking, pressing pause to watch a particularly stunning sunrise or sunset, being near water - I don’t discriminate on which kind. There are quite a few ocean hobbies I really ought to explore while I’m lucky enough to live so close to the beach, surfing being top of that list.
What first drew you to the outdoors?
I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I got my first camera, but having that thing in my hands was the catalyst for a constant curiosity of the world around me. Around that time, my mom was just starting to chase her dreams of running her own organic flower farm, and her green thumb became my muse. I was always outside exploring, trying to create artsy shots, and that has continued ever since. Growing up with parents who valued spending time outdoors as a family was very influential as well. We would camp at Assateauge or Dolly Sods, WV at least once a year, and while being the baby of the family and having the littlest legs sometimes sucked for family bike rides or hikes, I’ll always be appreciative for them planting that seed within me. Honorable mention to Chrissy for introducing me to Banff Mountain Film Festival, which is enough to inspire anyone to get their ass outside and play.
Tell us about one of your favorite trips or moments outdoors:
Hands down, my favorite is the roadtrip I took (intentionally solo) this past summer during a pivotal point in my life. I had 10 days off before starting a full-time job and I didn’t know when I’d have the opportunity to go on an adventure next, so I just went for it. I drove from Norfolk to Asheville, camping around Leicester two nights and hiking some of the local spots. From there I popped down to Table Rock State Park and Twin Falls in SC. I took the long way to visit Pretty Place, then stayed in arguably the coolest little Airbnb cabin on a creek in Balsam Grove at the edge of Nantahala National Forest. Next, I headed up the Blue Ridge Parkway to snap some shots along the scenic overlooks. I went ziplining in the rain once I made it to Tennessee, and crashed at the parents of a friend of mine who was actually biking across the country at the time. Next up was a pit stop in Chattanooga where I connected with a local woodworker who took hours out of his day to teach me how to make my own cutting board from start to finish. Finally I made it to one of my favorite cities, crashing with my oldest brother and his girlfriend in Nashville for a few days. (At this point, getting a real shower after essentially living out of my car for the last week felt heavenly.) I drove back from TN to VA, certain that this was the most important adventure I’d ever taken, and proud of the fact that I’d planned it completely on my own with zero mishaps. There’s this ridiculous stigma that women should not travel alone, and would be absolutely crazy to want to hike or camp alone. I love joining women like Jess who are flipping that narrative on its head. There is nothing more grounding or empowering than reaching a mountain summit, with no cell signal, just a backpack of the essentials and your thoughts, and feeling connected to this beautiful-beyond-imagination planet we live on. Plus, you get to go at exactly your pace and make pit stops for whatever you want, whenever you want. I recommend every gal out there gives it a try at some point in her life.
I noticed that you’re really passionate about volunteering in Haiti, can you tell us more about that?
How much time you got? Seriously, the tiny island country of Haiti has stolen my heart. I visited for the first time in July 2016 as a photographer for the Maison Fortuné Orphanage in Hinche (central Haiti). I’ve been lucky enough to make 3 return trips since, leaving more chunks of my heart there each time. This organization provides education, housing, clothes, medical care, and biggest of all, hope, to over 250 children I now consider family. Traveling to a third world country is… staggering. The sights and smells and emotions are not something you can really prepare for. But not only are Haitians a beautiful, proud and resilient people, their country’s landscape is absolutely breathtaking. I hope by sharing my experiences in Haiti, more people consider experiencing it themselves. I mean, just look at this…
Okay rapid fire…
Favorite trail snack: Jerky and apples
Best music to listen to while on a long road trip: Reggae or books/podcasts.
One piece of gear you can’t live without: Luci Solar Charged Inflatable Lights
Who’s your #1 adventure buddy: My mom, and we’re overdue for one. (Stonehenge Summer Solstice 2009 never forget!)
Sunrise or sunset: Sunrise. All the way. It’s become almost a sacred ritual of mine. It requires concerted effort to see sunrises, whereas sunsets are caught on accident all the time.
Favorite brand of camera: I’ve been rocking a Canon 6D for close to 3 years, but I’m contemplating breaking up with Canon to go the Sony mirrorless route.
What do the outdoors mean to you? Has your experience outside changed you?
To me, wilderness represents duality: Stillness and movement. Wildness and captivity. Freedom and preservation. Fleeting moments and the infinite. How miniscule we are yet how connected we are in the very same breath. I think there is something incredibly sacred about the outdoors that all of us have a responsibility to both respect and protect. Picturing a day where there are no untouched, undeveloped lands left should terrify all of us.
We gotta know, what are some of your bucket list destinations? Have you already crossed any off?
My long shot destinations are Thailand, Iceland, New Zealand, Patagonia, Montenegro, Italy, Nepal and Banff. But there are so many places on my list in the lower 48: Tetons, Zion, Horseshoe Bend, Oregon coast, Napa, Sedona, Little Haiti in Miami… I have hopes of crossing some of those off in the next few years.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Feel free to email Eva if you are interested in learning more about the Maison Fortune Orphanage in Haiti!)