Out West.

by janinelidell

Somewhere out west, in Joshua Tree actually, I realized our trip east was not going to go exactly as planned. Katherine and I had already driven all the way down the California coast. The weather was perfect. We saw elk by the dozen in Humboldt County and whales off the coast of Big Sur. Yet I was distracted.

We shucked oysters at Hog Island in Tomales Bay and hiked at my favorite childhood spot, out to the point at the cove near Hearst Castle. Elephant seals shouted from below.

There were so many moments during those first days and weeks of our trip that struck me as straight up magic. But I knew we had places to be. Friends had offered up beds to sleep in and needed to know when we’d arrive. Camp sites had been booked and the fear of winter weather in the south and beyond kept us from getting too wrapped up in the sunny states.

Though I had grand ideas of reading books on warm rocks in the desert and learning how to finally relax, It’s harder to slow down and be present then it looks.

And then we arrived in Joshua Tree at sunset. We had driven from San Luis Obispo that day, had made a stop or two along the way and pulled up to our Big Rocks campsite as it was getting very dark. That wasn’t the plan of course. But as we began to unload the car to rescue camping gear the sound of coyotes not so far away was a reminder of what full emersion we had created for ourselves. We were nervous about the deserted campground on the outskirts of the desolate city. Probably for no reason other than exhaustion but we felt something in the air and knew to move on.

After a few moments of debate, we packed the car back up and drove down the mountain where along the way we saw the best moon rise of my life. A giant moon lit the road and seemed literally drawn in the sky.

We found a funny little motel where while checking in we noticed that U2 had stayed there during the recording of Joshua Tree. So this motel in the middle of the desert saved us from a sleepless coyote filled night and gave us the realization that small amendments to plans that once seemed so concrete were exactly what we needed to feel a bit more free.

The next few nights we booked an airbnb tiny house up on the mesa. That time in the desert shack, the sunsets and rises along with the kale salad and bloody marys at Pappy and Harriet’s saved the trip. That and one last sunburn while hiking in Joshua Tree before heading to the new arctic of Maine.

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