Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Sweet Unknown

As a young lass growing up I developed a sort of wanderlust that has never really left. In college, any time I saved up $1000 it soon turned into a plane ticket to Europe.  After college, my interests shifted to our Latin American neighbors (to my poor mother’s anguish—she worried about me hitch-hiking my way into white slavery).  It seems to me that the only cure for restlessness is to keep moving. During the past couple years I’ve spent a little more time getting to know different parts of the U.S., usually in short bursts whenever I could fit them in. One skill I am proud to say I’ve picked up along the way is being able to go an entire vacation without ever paying for a place to sleep. Sometimes it is a matter of waking up and getting out of there early enough not to get caught, but more often it just means finding a free patch of land to pitch a tent.

Lake Roosevelt

Shortly after writing my last post I loaded up my camping gear and took off on a rather scantily planned trip. First stop was the bright-starry-night-sky of the Gila Wilderness where I slept down by the river and picked up two hitch-hikers on my way out. From there it was on to the unrivaled beauty of Lake Roosevelt in Arizona. Oh my, please go if you ever have the chance, it radiates calm. After that I hit up the Arizona Trail for a little backpacking in the Mazaztal Wilderness, another spectacularly beautiful and untouched part of our great American landscape.  Then on to meet Joe where I spent a few days as an eagle trapper.

During my stay with Joe I received an email from the symphony letting me know that the mid-month event I was supposed to play in had been cancelled. With no reason to return to Las Cruces, I didn’t. Woefully lacking in supplies, my solo journey continued into the gorgeous four-corners region where I stared in awe at ancient ruins over and over again. Heading up through Utah, I found my special place in Canyonlands. Across Arches, Capitol Reef, and finishing with a delightful, and crowded, hike in Zion before dropping down to Vegas.  It was certainly refreshing to talk again after so many days and nights of isolation, it was also very refreshing to spend time with friends and family.
Utah, Arizona, Colorado

Louisiana sunset
Joe and I got back to Las Cruces at the end of last month, only to unpack, repack, and leave again a day latter for Mississippi.  Our trip started off during one of Las Cruces’ crappy dust storms. Those things are absolutely crazy and wreak havoc on a driver’s visibility. We made it a couple hours into Texas before calling it quits for the day. Bleh, Texas. Thankfully the dust had settled when we woke up the next day, so onward to Austin we went. A harpist friend of mine from college lives there and recently had a baby, so we dropped in on her and caught up over lunch. It was a nice break from an entire morning of driving through the bleak Texan desert. That night we slept near the fishing docks in a sleepy Louisiana bauyou town; it was wonderful. With amazingly fresh seafood in our bellies for lunch, we spent the next evening walking around New Orleans before arriving at my Grandparents’ house in Mississippi.

You may be asking yourself what occasion would bring a person to ole’ Miss. Fair question. My grandpa turned 80, so his kids (my mom and uncles) put together a great big party for him. It was a lot of fun being down there and visiting with all those funny people that I don’t usually get to see.  And nobody makes me laugh like my grandma. She usually isn’t trying, she just says really funny things.
Typical interaction with my Grandpa
The Clarks

We only stayed for three days because we still had to conquer Texas on our way home. We did, but it wasn’t easy. Before venturing into that behemoth we stopped for a quick dip in the Gulf Coast and some fresh shrimp creole (Mmmm). As a rather grotesque exercise in tolerance, we decided to drive down to the very southern tip of Texas and head west from there. The reason was to try to find a rare falcon that nests on a refuge in the south. We found it, and so help me if we hadn’t. That bird is the only good thing Texas has going for it.

We got back two days ago, tired and cramped from so much sitting. On Monday we are leaving again, this time heading south… far south, out-of-the-country south. But don’t tell my grandma, she’ll worry. We’ll be there for a couple weeks, and it wouldn’t be entirely unlikely for that trip to merge directly into another trip up in Northern Nevada, which will probably lead to a few more weeks in Arizona (all for Joe’s work, I get to tag along because I have nothing else to do).

Living out of a suitcase doesn’t bother me at all; in fact this transient lifestyle makes my heart beat at a regular pace that “real life” just can’t do for me. But there is a downside, and it’s a big one. While away from home I can’t practice, and that is hard. But for the short term, spending time out in the sweet unknown is worth a little stiffness in my fingers, they’ll find their way again soon.  

Animals we met along the way:
Porcupine, alligator, tortoise, owl,
copper head, bull frog, Harris's Hawk, "Speeding Kills Ocelots"


Carol said...

Wow! Just, Wow! Camping alone-scary-but, you survived to tell the tale. Whew! I love reading about your adventures.

Ron said...

Bleh, Texas? ? ? No, wait, you picked up hitch-hikers and we didn't read about you on Unsolved Mysterys?