At first, being in the desert shocked me. I’ve always been fascinated by the rawness of it: barren, vast, hot and arid. It scared me, which is funny since I really wanted to live in it. Being out here alone with no cell phone service, flashlight or way of knowing where the hell I was.
The eternal stretches of flat lands then jutting mountains. The gorge. The colors. The idea of death. Which, by the way, is acknowledged and celebrated here. It was stunning and breathtaking, but a bit scary. The idea of hiking in the desert heat - crazy town!
Now the long drives from Taos to anywhere else calm me curiously. I giggle at my old fear as I drive across 586, desert surrounding me on all sides. These big, wide open spaces I was once terrified of being broken down in, I now seek out. It has become a sanctuary for my thoughts. My life. The desert has captured my soul. As I drive I think about sinking into the land and becoming a part of it. It is magnificent and magical and without words. I’ll forget how long I’ve been driving or walking or wandering. I feel no boundaries between the desert and myself on days like these. And there is nothing else around. No sound. I want to be stuck here now. I’ve even learned her curves, turns and twists. The drives and walks I used to dread now free me from every single other thing on earth. I didn’t believe I could make it out here in this old car either. We’ve named her Coyote, because what else do you name your car out here? Panic was a thing, can we make it up this mountain in this car? What if we break down? Who will find us? How much water do we have? Survival was the game. Survival has evolved into: when is the next time I can get out there and take in it’s beauty. Now, as my last days here roll in all I can think is how I can’t bare to leave it. How stuck here I actually want to be.
I must say that as a woman traveler I may oftentimes err on the side of caution. Choosing to live in the desert was really about me standing in front of many of the fears above and facing them head-on. I feel as if a big, deep part of me has really shifted after facing this particular fear. I now see the empty space and the quiet as welcoming!
Have you ever lived somewhere briefly that has changed your life or your mind about a place? Please tell us in the comments!
Also, stay tuned for our next blog posts about traveling as a woman in Portland, traveling with a dog (for two months!) and our epic Montana trip!