Well, I floated out of Alamo Lake on a river of tears, but not before I blubbered all over my two walking-friends, and sniffled with the ladies at the Wayside. I’m sure they all think the Canadian is a little sideways.
Well, I am a little sideways. My variety of sideways includes crying when I’m happy, sad, confused, inspired, in awe, tired, frustrated, arriving, missing, hungry, watching parades, hearing bagpipes or being triggered by leaving a place that moved me. And sometimes when I pump gas.
I think of tears as high-potency soul cleansers. By the time I got 20 miles down the road, my first layer of emotion was quite sudsy and almost ready for a rinse, so I stopped in the sunlight of the desert to eat a banana, take a stretch with Pippa and enjoy some yogurt.
It was time to start thinking about what was to come next.
Maybe I take my practice of mindfulness to a bit of extreme, but I now have trouble planning much further than ten miles at a time, and can’t seem to do any of it in advance. Someone in the restaurant this morning asked me where I was heading to, and my honest answer was “I have no idea”. They assumed I was joking, I’m quite sure.
But ten miles from where I was parked, eating my banana, was the little hamlet of Wendon, so I decided I would re-visit the shop where I bought a pair of cool-night-tights and a tank top earlier in the week. I wanted to say goodbye to the proprietor, De Vona. Weird, right? In retrospect, I think I was maybe just practicing my goodbyes while the practicing was good. But I was also curious about her.
Finding a little shop like De Vona’s in very rural Arizona was quite a surprise to me. If you are in this area, do stop and enjoy a conversation with her. A great spot to pick up little gifts you might want to send back home.
She’s warm, engaging and in the process of creating a little community “hub” behind her shop, where she hopes people will come to enjoy the shade of her 500+ year old Mesquite tree. She thinks the space would be great for yoga classes, or art shows. She appears to be gathering a tribe of local artisans and community-builders. I ask her if she ever felt lonely in the area, and she smiled. “Build it and they will come” she replied. “This would be a great location to show art, and have music”.
Before heading out of Wenden, I stopped just a few yards down the highway to visit a second gallery, housed in the historic “Sunset Motel”. Here I meet a lovely woman who shows me around and then sets me free to explore the many artists’ works displayed in the various “units”.
Almost back at the van, she calls to me – would I like a coffee or tea before I go? It’s cold. This leads to a pleasant half hour of chatting, and what do you know? She knows all about Sedona, and encourages me to take a back route which will take me through a number of interesting little towns with unique things to see.
I am tempted to write them down, but trust my memory to remember the ones that will matter. My hot coffee in hand, I smile because I now know where the next 20 miles or so are going to take me.
The weather turns weird and snarly as the afternoon proceeds. I have lunch at a pull-off; hot leftover chilli warmed up on the pull-out stove whilst marveling over a couple stray snowflakes dancing on the icy wind. I take note of changing plant-life – new cacti that need names. Hills rise from the desert, and I with them.
By the time I reach the little town of Congress, AZ, I’m torn about what to do. I stop for a moment and close my eyes in a random parking lot. It’s a bit cold for desert exploring and soon it will be time to find a place to camp for the night. When I open my eyes I note the name on the building I am parked in front of- Nichols-West. This is a restaurant that was mentioned by the woman at my last stop!
I give Pip a quick walk and then settle her into the kennel so I can go in and enjoy a warm, light dinner and use their wifi to complete yesterday’s post. Cell service is spotty out here, even for my phone, which roams for the best signal. Random, indeed.During dinner I check my ALLSTAYS app and discover BLM land just five minutes up the way, and we get settled just in time to enjoy a spectacular sunset and a bit of a walk now the wind has died down.
Instead of parking close to anyone (there are only a handful of campers out here) I choose an area that is quite distant. I am going to enjoy a quiet night, alone, and I’m not afraid. Pippa and I are fed, watered, and warm. Nature and I, we’re becoming buddies.