There aren't a lot of times these days when I am not tied to a whole variety of responsibilities. Children, partner, dogs, and now, kittens, too. Fortunately, I work remotely, so I am able to move about if there is time; so when the opportunity came about that the kids would be gone for a week, my boyfriend would be on a snowboard trip in another state, and I'd be alone, I quickly jumped on the idea of heading out into the desert south west for some much needed peace, quiet and alone time. Something that I definitely do not take for granted these days. There was going to be a full moon, so it was definitely appropriate that the dogs came with. It was time to let our howls out.
As I've gotten older I've found myself gravitating towards the desert more and more. As a child, one sees the desert as a dry and barren wasteland with nothing going on. There is little living, it's usually very hot and often lacks water. Luckily with time, opinions change. As an adult, one might begin to appreciate the quietness of the desert and even develop trained eyes for the secrets that lie around every corner. The desert holds immense history as well as secrets and treasures of your wildest dreams. From desert hot springs, to stunning gemstones and seemingly endless ancient history, the desert is a sanctuary for anyone willing to love it back.
I packed up my truck and hit the road with no real plan. I stopped in North Western Arizona to visit my mom and her partner Dan for a couple of days while I waited for some mail. Being super close to Vegas, I was able to drive to Red Rock for a day to visit one of best friends, Brian, in hopes of climbing some of the iconic sandstone of Red Rock in Black Velvet Canyon. Unfortunately for us, upon arrival the violent winds picked up and nearly blew us out of the canyon. Instead, we walked around with the dogs, scrambled on some boulders, and shot photos. After a lovely day with Brian, it was time to head east to Sedona where I would meet up with my soul sister, Morgan.
Morgan and I hadn't seen each other in 3 long years. A lot had happened in those 3 years, from breakups, heartache and new relationships, to my son getting and beating cancer. We were long overdue for a soulful reunion and some fun. Morgan is now living in the outskirts of Sedona on a lovely isolated property and is writing full-time. (Check out her book, Outlandish!) I drove up the long gravel road towards Morgan's homestead, heard her unmistakable voice, got out of my truck and went running for a hug. It had been too long, yet, somehow it felt like no time had passed at all. That is a true friendship. We basked in the sun, and despite it being only 60 degrees at best, it was still a whole 30 degrees warmer than at home. Morgan called it "shorts weather".
I slept in my truck each night with the tailgate wide open, an absolute favorite of my feral soul. I do usually sleep really well in open spaces, but this night was particularly comfortable because of the fresh, cool air and new sleeping pads I had recently got. For the last many, many years, (lets just say my lifetime), I have been using two thin, ancient cot pads (older than me) that belonged to my parents, to sleep on. They're really old, did I mention that? are torn and are missing some padding. I kept using them anyways because they were free, but would usually toss and turn because of the firmness of my truck bed on my back and hip bones. I came across these self inflating 4" thick pads from UST gear that are a fraction of the price of others I had seen, and pulled the trigger. I really don't know why I never did this sooner. I got two pads because you are able to connect the two with clips for a full-size bed! Woo hoo! They also double as a lounge or a couch. A win win.
After a good nights sleep, Morgan and I woke up, made breakfast and ventured out into the desert to soak in some natural hot springs. Upon hitting the trail that would eventually lead us to the hot spring, we began hearing yelling, chanting and moaning from across the river. Morgan and I looked at each other, giggled, and wondered what the hell we were getting ourselves into. We eventually waded across the river and found ourselves at the ruins of an old hot spring resort. There were a plethora of leash-less dogs and an endless supply of young, naked hippies. After putting our things down and tying up my dogs, we got into the outer hot pool where things got real interesting. A lone man, not associated with the naked bunch, whispered to me, "They call themselves 'woke'", and I began to laugh uncontrollably. That was all I needed to hear to understand the situation perfectly. The hippies were high on psychedelics, happily in the nude, and didn't care one bit about the newcomers who just came into their openness. They were om'ing, chanting, and jumping off the 20' ledge into the shallow part of the river.
Before I knew it, one of the naked hippies approached my dog Niko (a siberian husky) wrapped her nude body around him, and began to howl loudly in his ear.. over and over and over again. Suddenly I really couldn't contain my laughter. I felt like I was getting a contact high from the psychedelics everyone else was on. Watching Niko stare back at the nude hippie in confusion, and the pure strangeness of it all, was probably the highlight of my day. Morgan and I laughed and laughed and laughed. Eventually when one of the young girls began crying because she wanted her head shaved, Morgan and I knew it was time to go. The hippies left first, and eventually we parted ways, too. Upon arriving back at the trailhead, the young girl who had previously been crying suddenly had no hair! In record breaking time, and somehow without power, someone had shaved her head and her tears had transformed to a smile from ear to ear. We headed up the long dirt road, and a few miles later came across the hippies again, this time riding the roof of their car and driving with their feet! Morgan and I set off into the sunset back towards Sedona to enjoy burritos and beer at the homestead and planned our adventure for the next day.
After another good nights sleep and delicious morning breakfast, Morgan and I set off to explore some ancient Native American cliff dwellings she knew of. I had previously done my own explorations of Sedona and the surrounding areas, but had never been to this site Morgan was showing me. It was spectacular! After a long drive and a nice hike, Morgan and I approached the isolated and immaculate site. My jaw dropped. It was incredible. As these areas are very special, sacred and in desperate need of protection, I will not go into details, but I definitely felt very privileged to experience such an immaculate place. Thanks Morgan!
Another day of sunshine, exploration, and night of burritos and beer, had my heart feeling so full.
That time with Morgan in Arizona, sleeping comfortably in my truck, falling asleep and waking up with the sun, cooking outside, eating burritos, and simply exploring without anyone needing anything from me, was just what I needed to ease my seemingly permanent "Mom stress". It refilled my cup, and allowed me to venture back towards home feeling like I could tackle normal life again with a smile.
We can learn a lot from the desert landscapes! My all-time favorite quote about this is, "Be like the desert, thrive without expectations" -Author Unknown.