I’m writing to you from the one-week point of my road trip, and the week and a half point of being out of a job. For this post I’ll go back in time to a few days ago, where my mind was in a quite different place than it is now:
After a day hiking in Zion National Park, I spent a layover day in town, lurking in the library switching off between watching Grey’s Anatomy and looking for jobs (well let’s be real, I was mostly watching Grey’s). Searching for jobs sent me into a spiral of doubt about what I was doing, living out of my car in Utah with no job prospects. My only future plans were to fly to the east coast for closing weekend at camp, and then fly back and keep traveling. I had a couple hours of slight panic- could I buy an earlier flight east? What was I doing here, wandering in Utah?? I could be home in DC or helping out at camp, sleeping in a bed in a mentally comfortable place!
It was getting towards evening, so it was time to get back in the car and find the next campsite before darkness at 7 pm. I drove out of Zion through the Carmel Tunnel, and stopped my car at a gorgeous slickrock slope. I got out with bare feet and ran up the slope. The red rock beneath my feel, the wind whipping over the desert, my tiny car below me, the bright blue sky… my doubts melted away.
My thoughts went kind of like this: I am in southern Utah! I love southern Utah! I’ll play on the slickrock barefoot! I’ll watercolor! I’ll hike! I’ll read! I’ll write and reflect! I’ll nap in the sun! I have a whole few days to play here, and I should live it up!
So I did! The next morning I drove to Bryce and got myself a bear canister and a $5 permit to camp in the backcountry. I was going to bite the bullet and embark on my first solo backpacking trip. I spent the day stopping at view points and reading and going to a rad ranger talk about plants in order to earn my Jr Ranger badge. Then I packed up and hiked in to my site, set up camp, and made dinner. And honestly, I was pretty scared the whole time. As I type this I’m currently solo camping in my car, but it feels quite different in a tent a mile into the woods.
But you know, despite a night of kinda bad sleep (because I was too scared to get out of my tent to pee), I had a really good experience. I had days to myself in Utah, to challenge myself and also just do whatever I want. As I keep telling every retired couple I chat with (there have been a LOT of them, my gosh, so chatty), I don’t know what’s next. But as of right now I’m a lot less stressed out about it. I am seeing some beautiful country, taking some time for myself that I haven’t had in a while, seeing friends, and getting my car camping skills down pat.
I’m hoping tonight will be clear enough for another stellar show of the meteor shower that I glimpsed last night. I don’t know where I’ll be, but it’s sure to be swell. And now that I have only one day left here in this slickrock land, it's not enough! I could play here for at least another week! But alas, I gotta travel on. To be continued