Mountains appeared on the horizon this morning just before 10. I knew they were coming, as the roadsides started showing topography upon entering Wyoming. I am in the west now. The American West. I first set foot in this state 4 years ago and it looked the same as it does today – pale, light blue sky, strewn with thin, wispy clouds, and green hills, with freight trains inching by. I’m sure they’re not actually inching, they probably travel at high speeds, but the landscape is so massive that they appear to just crawl along.
I was greeted warmly by Bill and Jo as I pulled up, and I was told to stay for days. Bill got the sauna going and we sat in there for a while chatting. It was nowhere near as hot as the sweat lodge, but still intense. Upon entry the warmth was a comfort from the wind outside, but very quickly my face seemed to be melting off. You think that is a figure of speech, but I used my hand to investigate the situation multiple times, pushing my cheeks back into place. He threw water with peppermint oil on the rocks, which was an odd sensation, as adding water makes steam that intensifies the heat, but the mint entering your orifices and gaping pores feels cool. It is easy to forget there is a world out there when you are sweating. When I re-entered the yard I was overwhelmed by the deep gray clouds and pare aspen shaking in the wind. I staggered to the creek side feeling cleansed and rejuvenated, though dizzy and drenched in my own sweat, and I remembered why I am here. Not in Wyoming, but in existence.
I crossed the Mississippi last night as dusk settled on the plains. In Illinois the trees of Michigan and Indiana turned into fields, and at times, the air was heavy with chemicals. I just said goodbye to someone I’ve spent nearly the past 120 days with. Friends and family frown and ask me why I am leaving then. Well, I am always leaving something behind. I couldn’t stay right now anyway.
I slept on some hunting grounds north of Des Moines. Those places are always good because it’s public land. The night was mild with starry skies and I awoke only once from coyote cries blaring from just beyond the bushes. It had been so long since I’d heard such sounds and the volume alarmed me at first, until my sleep soul remembered they are just fiends in the night. In the morning I awoke just after sunrise to a full choir of red-winged blackbirds and a screeching jay leading the bunch. It is Sunday morning.
Exhausting being on the road – lots of time for the mind to wander. I made it within 20 miles of Wyoming but I can’t go any further tonight. Very defeating to drive through Nebraska all day and not make it out. Driving straight into the wind, might I add. I had no sleeping locations in mind tonight but I found a park on the map that I was hoping I could sneak into for the night. Turned out to be a free campground… so I am not even breaking any rules this time. I am excited to sleep under the stars for the first time since the fall. I hear a duck from the dark void to my right which is the reservoir. A few chirping frogs. Something unknown. Periodic splashes, large ones – geese? Distant drone of highway men. So happy to be horizontal (and) on the earth.
Beautiful robins poking in the grass made me smile today. I saw two mating yesterday – what a commotion!
I am concerned about my life. The magic of traveling can’t last forever. I’m somewhat done being homeless. I feel that I want to go home… though I am here in Michigan. That is supposed to be home. I would like my own place, though, and nobody to answer to. I’m tired of being a visitor everywhere I go. But I don’t really have much option at this point, do I? I should probably figure out how to make money.
Enough bellyaching… I am choosing to be miserable. Instead of whining I could take measures to move myself away from despair… startingggg NOW!
I cried about 6 different times on the drive up here, remembering back to the first time I drove up the 5 last April. I was so young then. (Hah)
Highway signs still bring tears to my eyes, even though I’ve been out west for a year and a half now. And even though I’m not a fan of San Francisco and I’ve gotten over that false romanticized idea that midwesterners have of it, my heart still races when I see road signs with that name on it. It’s the realization or reminder that I’m living the dream. I’m in California. The place I dreamed of going since I was 13. Here I am. It’s amazing.
I went into the field yesterday with Katie. And I found a female song sparrow building a nest and a tree swallow cavity! Hah. It was more fun than it used to be, when it was my job.
I have experienced so much beauty in the past week I could never explain it all sufficiently. I feel like the luckiest person in the world. These days have been so rich, so full and saturated with life and marvel. Scott’s oriole and rufous-winged sparrow hanging from flowering ocotillo. Rufous hummingbird zipping before a field of blooming honeysuckle. Hutton’s vireo perching 2ft away from my face. Elegant freaking trogon nearly flying into my head. Elf owl silhouette in the tree no bigger than a robin. Yellow freaking prickly pear flowers on the roadside. Owl perched on a sign at dawn. Magnificent hummingbird flashing it’s neon green throat in the midday sun. Deep, deep fuchsia flowers on the hedgehog cactus. 4 little calves occupying my campsite. Waking up to the breath of a mother cow grazing 30 meters away. Arizona woodpecker upside-down on a branch, with her puffy little head pointing down. Moon so bright I have to cover my eyes at night. Windy night outside Joshua Tree. Prancing on seemingly another planet among those whacky figures and funny rocks with tiny dots of yellow and purple below. Creosote, creosote and more creosote. The oldest living stand of creosote in existence. Rings of creosote out in the desert barrens, under a hot, hot soothing sun. The landscape turning from brown to green in the blink of an eye. Being in the desert when the sun goes down and lying among giant sequoias in the Sierras when it comes back up. The most massive slabs of rock I have ever seen in the Yosemite Valley. Water. Green. Rushing water, crashing waterfalls. Green exploding from mountainsides and moist meadows. Gigantic ponderosas with that beautiful cinnamon bark. Gigantic cedars with those deep green scale leaves. Giant sugar pines with giant pinecones. Rocky meadows purple with lupine. The smell of lupine rushing through the car windows on a windy mountainside road. White-headed woodpecker hopping up a tree trunk. Brown creeper sneaking up a pine. Morels pushing through a blanket of pine needles. A view of pine tree silhouettes before Lake Eleanor from a steep ridgeside. A silhouette of a spotted owl perched on a limb and his eyes blazing like the near-full moon beside him. (That right there is one of the more majestic, storybook-esque sights I have ever witnessed. We briefly lost our own when he took off, and I found him there.) Falling asleep beside a roaring creek on a beautiful flat rock with that moon lighting up the beautiful souls surrounding you…