Tears in my eyes as I bid the ocean farewell… I don’t know when I’ll see the sea again, you know. I now sit on a ledge overlooking an expanse of desert. Harsh rocky land with ocotillo, cholla, yucca, and my beloved creosote. How overpowering to take my first whiff of that beauty after so much time and so many miles and smiles and tears have passed. I feel almost like I never left. My first solo camping trip was here last January and I again feel uncertain yet liberated yet lonely yet proud… sad and happy and heartbroken and overjoyed.

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Boy does it get chilly as soon as the sun isn’t hitting anymore. Twas 60 when I got here and could got in the 30s tonight. I’ve got my 2 sleeping bags, blanket from Connie, and liner all prepared… on top of 2 sleeping pads. I am not going to be cold tonight! I am thrilled to not only sleep outside in the desert, but to do it with my head in a creosote bush. This place really is something. Something that people don’t ever see. People know about mountains and beaches and sandy deserts because they’re in movies, paintings, postcards… but rocky desert hills like these with cholla that glow at sunset and ocotillo that wave hello and the tiny pincushion cacti that crouch in cervices and wait for you to stumble upon how cute they are… and the silence, the silence is something unfathomable, you hear your heart beating and maybe the low chatter of black-throated sparrows… and all the while you’re cradled in the aroma of creosote, that unmistakable odor that smells like earth and joy and gravel washes… the stuff dreams are made of. The hills are darkening around me and the salmon clouds have faded to a light gray. Something lets out a series of peeps to the west. A car bumbles down the road here and there. I have 2 neighbors tonight. I’m hoping coyotes will sing me to sleep, or even awaken me in the middle of the night! I must go about without comparing my experiences to past ones. Is that an impossible or unfair task? I do feel a calmness and connection here immediately that I haven’t for a while. Back in the ole American West! That is for sure because I saw a saloon advertising cold beer and hot chicks, a bakery advertising beer and apple pie, and on my hike I found an American flag stuck in a cactus, waving before the desolation. Amen.

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