Day Four: Desert Attack

Woke up, put on coffee and ate a bag of peanuts on the east side of the van, where Pippa and I met up with Sunshine for breakfast.

Sometimes she just stays like this for a minute or so. Nose up. Still. Soaking it all in.

My in-house batteries (responsible for running my fridge, lights and electronics) are good for almost two days if I’m not driving, and since I was staying put, I plugged my solar panels into the same generous sunshine that was fuelling us.

Pip and I went for our morning walk, came home, and I enjoyed another bag of peanuts for lunch. Writing helps one recognize emerging patterns. Like deteriorating eating habits.

This afternoon I set up art camp in the shade created by my open hatch. Art is something I struggle to make time for, when I am with other people. I feel like I’m visiting an old friend when I set out my watercolours. More emerging themes.

My art playroom.

I refer to my arting as “channeling my inner four year old.” This helps me to adopt a spirit of playfulness and avoid perfectionism. Although it seems to me, I did tear up her perfectly good doodle a couple days ago in a full-on hissy fit over decaf coffee. Note: This is why writing is helpful. It creates a certain accountability.

Today, I sunk right in. I was thinking of all the women out there dreaming of hitting the road but finding themselves deep in the weeds, looking for the path. Taking care of business, kids, parents, finances, health problems. Attending to paralyzingly fear. I got thinking how long it sometimes takes to arrive at the places we dream of. And how easy it is, to imagine nothing will be right until we get there.

I talked to them while I art-prayed. I hoped they might find a sanctuary close to where they live right now , where they can consult with Nature as their Mother-in-Residence. I wished for them, that they find a way to discover the rich world of their inner selves at the bathroom mirror, even in the waiting. I wished for them the tenacity to carve small slivers of sacred time to travel their own Innerstates before they hit the actual highway.

Dont Wait” I found myself whispering. The work of living doesn’t begin at Mile Zero. It begins now. You think you are going to find yourself out here. But you aren’t here. You’re already there.

Today’s Art-play. A wish for all those who dream of the road.
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I don’t worry too much about Pippa getting thorns in her feet in the desert. This is our second season; we have some street smarts we didn’t have before. I keep her out of the dense desert and if the terrain is sharp, Pippa wears boots. She isn’t allowed to wander. The roads here are lovely for walking so I haven’t put her boots on. Pippa knows the desert floor here is no place for a greyhounds paws, so she sticks to the road. If I go in to look at something, she waits. Until today, of course.

Pippa was trotting a bit ahead of me. I saw her ears perk up, but before I could intervene, she took off into the dense growth after a ground squirrel. She didn’t get far, however, before grinding to a halt, yipping. Even from ten feet, I could see the problem dangling from her foot. She’d been jumped by a Teddy Bear Cholla!

The “Teddy Bear Cholla” Cacti. It’s arms, if brushed, “jump and attach” to the intruder. That ain’t no Teddy Bear Pippa!

I ran in after her, scooped her up and made quick effort to get the spines out before she went into full panic. They have little barbs, but thankfully none detached under her skin. Pippa had 8. (I count under stress) Most of the rest of the rogue cholla arm ended up in my hands, because I didn’t have a tool to pluck them, and had to use my fingers. And as you can see, there is no safe space for a finger to get to the offending spine.

A detached Cholla Arm. If it knocks at your door, don’t let it in. This is what was dangling from Pippa’s paw.

After a quick internal “block and delete” of this little experience, and a generous road-side cuddle and re-assessment, we both decided we were just fine and it was dinner time. No blood, no barbs, no more pain. Now we were just hungry. So we headed back to camp.

And I didn’t eat peanuts, although I did stay in the legume family

Corn tortilla with retried beans, mole and goat cheese. No peanuts.

Oh right, and on coming back to camp, I realized I must have set down my keys in the desert, while tending to Pippa and I, after the Teddy Bear Assault.

I have a second set, so didn’t panic (Always carry a second set of keys. Or two extra sets. You will NEVER be sorry) I made a plan to go back after dinner. I tucked Pippa into the kennel (it was cooler now), donned long pants and my hiking boots and set off to retrieve them.

Do you think I could even remember approximately where the crime took place? The details had all been erased. Was it at the beginning of our walk? Or the end? How far had she run into the vegetation? All gone. Having a block and delete button to take care of stressful events is a fantastic coping mechanism, until you have to find keys. The act of trying to remember something just makes it worse, and I start to question if it happened today, or was it yesterday? Was this the second or third time I had looked for them? Did I even bring them? The more I try to remember, the more confused I become. I dwell. This is called perseveration. Which isn’t helpful. So I call on Gram.

Gram was legally blind at age 80 but could see and still pick up a stray thread on a patterned carpet. When my kids were little and asked me to find something for them, I’d send them back to look for it “with Gramma’s Eyes.” They thought it was magic, it worked so often.

So, Ill go back in the morning sunshine, and look again with Gramma’s eyes. And google Dodge dealerships nearby, just in case I need to get a new set made. I can’t expect Gram to do everything.


8 thoughts on “Day Four: Desert Attack

  1. Another great post from what looks like a wonderful and fulfilling day of freedom in God’s country.
    Congratulations, Kit, your writing puts a smile on my face every time I read it.

  2. Good Morning Greetings from Deb in Oregon ☺︎ I am thoroughly enjoying your posts and thank you for sharing your journey! I’ve been an avid boondocking RVer for over 30 years, taking some time off from the road to work on some dreams here at home this winter.

    I’m writing to share one of my hard learned lessons dealing with Cholla spines, and to ask a question about your recent ‘Bloom Where You Are Planted’ artwork.

    Because I also let my dogs have some off leash time on our daily walks in the SW, we’ve had several encounters with the dreaded Cholla and other prickly plants. I now walk with a variety of travel size tools…the most valuable in this case being a small set of pliers for deftly removing all kinds of sticky things from the dogs and myself. I think I bought my first one at harbor freight…having replaced it a few times though I’m not remembering where I found the others. Now I have about 3 of ’em….one in my pack, one on my car, and one in the RV.

    On another note, I’d like to copy your Art-Play graphic and paste it toward printing on transfer paper and applying it to a rock. I’ve recently taken up rock painting, which includes collecting, preparing, painting or applying artwork, then hiding for others to find, keep or re-hide.

    Thank you again for sharing your life on the road💜Deb

  3. Another amazing post, thank you.
    I hope you realize how important your posts are, on many levels. For those of us determined to undertake a goal, of a road trip soon, and never done before, thank you for being encouraging.
    Attitude is gratitude, realizing what really matters and having people say “just do it” is so needed. I thank you for this.
    Hope you found your keys, Pippa doing better and each day you are both happy and safe. Terrific watercolor.

  4. In my opinion, this is one of your best posts ever. Perhaps because I related to the part about women waiting for our adventurous life to start! Hubby is still working full time and Mom is 95. I really can’t get out for more than one weekend a month. You opened my eyes to remember to practice the “sacrament of the present moment”. Give darling Pippa a kiss for me (we are hoping to get our new pup this weekend – a 13 week old rescue that might be Lab and Border Collie). Hope you found your keys!

  5. Oh dear, I hope you found your keys, good to make note of having extra sets. I am inspired by your posts and travels. Starting looking for my van.

I love to hear from you :)