Monday, October 17, 2011

Where I ought to be

Last year in the late summer I took a little vacation by myself to The Mojave Desert Preserve. The year before that I drove out to Death Valley. I used my four-wheel-drive to get to Mahogany flats, an eight thousand foot mountain in the middle of Death Valley National Park. I took a long drive out there, made my meals, marveled at the night sky and explored the park the next day. Both trips I was alone for the whole time. I called these getaways sabbaticals. One of the good things about these was looking forward to them as they approached. The planning and anticipation sometimes made the weeks leading up more thrilling.

Over the past month or so I was putting together another sabbatical back to Death Valley. I was going to take a slightly different route to Mahogany Flats and spend more time there. I was planning on reading at least one novella while up there. I would leave later in the day and skip Badwater Basin this time, still taking the long stretch of highway down to Baker California on the I-15 and then home. The air conditioning on my little 4WD Toyota has been broken for almost a year now. I figured if the pioneers and the Joad family could do it then so could I. But the truck also needed a few other little repairs. And I would be filling the gas tank perhaps four times for this trip. The costs all began to add up. The trip was supposed to be this weekend. I canceled it. The plan was that right now I would be alone in my little tent maybe thinking about waking up and cooking breakfast for myself. Instead I’m sitting here composing my blog while my kitten burrows and kneeds inside my bathrobe.

It would have been sour grapes to wish for a gully washer of a thunderstorm to hit the desert out there this weekend. But the rest of this entry is not sour in any way. I’m not bitter about this. I had a long day at work on Saturday. I was planning on leaving very early Sunday morning. Turns out that Sunday morning I was pretty tired and sore. It was nice waking up in my own bed and taking it easy yesterday afternoon.

And last night I built a fire in our little outdoor fireplace. After supper we went outside and sat around and watched the flames get warmer as we waited for good coals to toast marshmallows. We watched the International Space Station fly over as forecast. We cooked marshmallows on sticks and sang campfire songs, Sunday school songs and whatever else we could think of. (Prajna drew the line at the worms crawl in the worms crawl out song.) We fed the fire endured the smoke and told jokes. Nathaniel told a bizarre story about a boy who wanted to go to South America but his father said he couldn’t because they didn’t have French fries in South America. The boy argued that they did and continued to discredit his father’s sources to that information. I’m not sure how much of the story Nathaniel made up on the spot, but I don’t think he can ever tell it the same again.

I got to bed earlier that I usually do on work nights. I’ve had several blog topics in my head. I don’t usually run them by Prajna but she advised me against one about Halloween. So this morning I got up a few minuets before six thinking about the campfire last night and maybe writing about what a mook I was 20 years ago and somehow linking it to last night. Then as I sat down and the kitten jumped up I got out my MP3 player. I remembered my playlist titled “Sweltering”. I made it years ago mixing up instrumental surf music with spaghetti western type music. It’s my desert music. Then I remembered where I was going to be this morning. The kitten settled in and I had my topic. Yeah, I am bummed that this year’s sabbatical is off. Mahogany Flats closes for the winter months and there is no good weekend for a while now. But I have been busy at work and content at home and for the first time in a long time a disappointment like this hasn’t sent me spiraling into depression. And it isn’t a great feat by me as much as it’s friends and family looking out for me that helps me accept this. The population I sought to escape from ultimately is what I need. Thanks everyone. It’s good to be home.

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