By Chelsea Rose Moore
Photos by Yetta Reid Photography
For many couples, “going out” means an evening filled with a romantic dinner and perhaps a movie, but for Drew and Laura Scala, “going out” quite literally means going outside together. Their dates are frequently centered around hikes, mountain climbs and travels to exotic places. Prioritizing the outdoors is representative of their commitment to live to the fullest.
“Being in nature is good for more than just the fresh air,” said Laura. “It gives you a fresh perspective on life. By living in Northern Virginia, it’s easy to get swept up in the hustle and busyness of everyday life. But letting yourself take a break and giving yourself time to explore and marvel at the beauty of the world provides a sense of peace and calmness that’s hard to find elsewhere.”
Even in the midst of hectic schedules, the Scalas are relaxed and easygoing people. Drew works in law enforcement, and Laura is a digital marketing consultant, but on weekends they unplug and head outside. They often work at target practice in the fields behind their home, cycle through Loudoun County on the W&OD Trail, and hike local mountains on their days off.
“We love the outdoors,” said Drew. “We try to go hiking and walking outside as much as possible. It’s a really good release for both of us. Our hope and dream is to have the outdoors be a part of our life in the future as much as possible.”
During the week, they incorporate yoga, running, weight lifting and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into their morning exercise routine. They save longer activities for weekends, and they take evening bike rides or runs together. One of their goals for 2018 is to summit Mount Kilimanjaro together. To prepare, they are hiking the Appalachian Trail with weighted backpacks and participating in a variety of workouts.
“Early in our marriage, we started embracing the mantra of ‘We want to make memories and not collect material things,’ ” said Drew. “We didn’t want to own things; we wanted to experience things.”
Although they’ve been married for nearly three years, they carry a deep-seeded wisdom combined with a profound respect and adoration for each other. Being intentional in life—from prioritizing the outdoors, to organizing their time, to building their marriage—is a fundamental part of who they are as individuals and as a couple. They focus on finding fun things to do together and sharing hobbies and interests. Their love language is “quality time,” which means participating in activities together builds their relationship.
They have regular “check-ins” with each other by asking questions like where they each want to be in five years and what their long-term dreams are. “I always refer to Laura as my teammate,” said Drew. “If you are a team, you have to communicate. Communication is also about listening well. I know for us specifically, when we communicate, we are learning about the other person and how they learn and how they’re motivated.”
Their relationship began over a Fourth of July weekend (“We saw more than one kind of firework that weekend,” Laura teased) and was filled with plenty of outdoor adventures. When the time came for an engagement, Drew planned a day centered around the things they loved most: the outdoors, adventure and friends.
He asked Laura to reserve a specific Saturday for climbing Old Rag Mountain in the Shenandoah National Park. He told her to be ready at 1:00 in the morning so they could climb the mountain and watch the sunrise from the top. Originally, he had promised some friends would meet them at the mountain, but later, he came up with excuses for why they couldn’t be there.
Laura and Drew began the strenuous, nine-mile hike in the middle of the night in complete darkness. Drew was hiking it “at a crazy speed” because he was worried they would miss the sunrise. After climbing to the top, they were relieved to have arrived, alive, and in time to catch the magnificent sunrise. They found a spot with a 360-degree view of the Shenandoah Valley and stopped to soak in the views and take some photos. Drew began setting up his camera on a tripod. He got down on his knee and asked her to marry him. She said yes, of course—and his camera captured it all.
After they hiked down the mountain, she discovered he had planned a fun-filled afternoon with her closest friends, and then he whisked her to a romantic dinner at Purcellville’s Magnolia’s at the Mill.
Meanwhile Drew’s family and friends were setting up a secret engagement party on a private farm in Purcellville. Before Drew drove Laura down the quiet country lane, he asked her to close her eyes in order to unveil the celebration once they drew close. She opened her eyes to discover a roaring bonfire with hundreds of Edison bulb lights sparkling in the twilight sky. Friends roasted s’mores over the fire and enjoyed a selection of wines, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, while acoustic music played in the background. It was sweet, the kind of moment you want to bottle up and remember forever.
They were married in Indiana on Laura’s family’s farm, the place she grew up. Their love of the outdoors played a large role in their wedding: The ceremony was held beneath a tree, and the reception was inside a tent, with a full-grown tree inside. They spent their honeymoon exploring Hawaii.
But adventure doesn’t always mean experiencing mountaintop moments; Laura and Drew walk through valleys together too. Drew suffers from debilitating migraines, which has landed him in the hospital on more than one occasion, including New Year’s Eve.
“It’s a humbling feeling when you are in that much pain and are dependent on somebody else,” said Drew. “It’s a crazy feeling; it’s so helpless. Laura is the best teammate and will pick up the slack. And you are so thankful that you’ve found someone who would do it lovingly and without question.”
Although primarily hereditary, his migraines are also triggered by a combination of stress, climate and allergies, but sometimes they even come “out of nowhere.” His health will sometimes prevent him from doing normal activities, which is deeply frustrating for him. But as with all things in life, they are taking it one step at a time, walking the path together.
If you head to their house for dinner, Laura will mix you a cocktail from their minibar, while they prepare a healthy and delicious meal. You’ll immediately feel relaxed in their presence and inspired to fill your own life with more intentionality and adventure. The walls in their home are filled with maps and photos of their adventures around the world, sparking conversation and tales of their travels.
“Our relationship in general could be described as an adventure,” said Drew. “From the proposal and climbing the mountain at 1:00 in the morning, to spending time in the hospital together. Life is pretty cool, how it twists and turns and changes. You’ve got to choose every day to love on the
other person.” ML