Winter Island Solitude

I’ve mentioned before that the best time to visit the islands of the Carolinas is in the autumn, when the crowds disappear but the warm temperatures remain.

IMG_0154IMG_0026 (2)But if you are looking for a bit of solitude this winter,

IMG_0019 (2)I can’t imagine a better place to be than here,

IMG_0015 (2)where it’s possible to have the coast and all the Atlantic your eyes can see,

IMG_0007 (2)IMG_0010 (2)all completely to yourself.

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Thoughts on the Sea #15

IMG_5427How inappropriate to call this planet “Earth” when it is clearly “Ocean.”

Arthur C. Clarke

For other thoughts, you may want to check out #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, and #14.

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Girl Meets West #8: Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top

If you are just starting this tale, you may want to read part #1, part #2, part #3, part #4, part #5, part #6, and part #7 first. That way, I can introduce you to my slightly more rational side first.

***

Oh, my friends. You have not tasted of the fullness that the culinary world has to offer until you’ve tasted Navajo tacos. At first, after I’d sat for hours listening for the sounds of rattlesnakes and climbing boys, I didn’t have much of an appetite.

And then, when everyone turned up alive after all, suddenly I did.

We had it on good word from LCB’s brother, one of our family members who’d worked on the reservation years ago, where to go and what to order.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

IMG_0636The man knows his food, my friends. So while the climbing left me questioning whether I’d want to spend a summer in the dessert, the Navajo tacos and the fry bread did not.

IMG_0647The storms continued to threaten late in the afternoon, after we’d gorged ourselves to near immobility. I was thrilled; our day of climbing seemed to be over. And then LCB suggested trying to climb one more rock.

Y’all.

IMG_0651So a few minutes later, as we drove down another dirt road, when a lady in a minivan approached us coming from the opposite direction and claimed the road was impassable with the recent rains, I took the bull by the horns. I pointed out to LCB, who kept protesting that we had a Jeep and that the lady didn’t exactly look like a bastion of credible information about off-roading, that it would be a colossal pain to get our vehicle stuck in the middle of the rainstorm that was surely impending, with no help for miles in sight.

I made no mention of the fact that I secretly agreed with his assessment of the minivan lady.

IMG_0663Thus we returned to the highway and made our way to Durango, where we had rented The Best Cabin I’ve Ever Stayed In Ever.

Among other things, The Best Cabin I’ve Ever Stayed In Ever offered rest for the weary. And I was weary, weary with the weight of the day, and ready for refuge.

IMG_0681IMG_0680IMG_0673The owner had built the cabin himself, and it was everything I believe a cabin should be: clean, well-stocked, fireplace-ready, cabin-like, and moderately luxurious.

IMG_0704IMG_0710IMG_0735IMG_0732The next day, after exploring the area around our cabin, we drove out to Mesa Verde and toured the park.

IMG_0755Afterward, we continued on until we reached Four Corners.

IMG_0762IMG_0795IMG_0793IMG_0771I loved the drive out there; wide open space and a lack of heights to traverse is just my style. Of course, we all had to step on the famous spot.

IMG_0781IMG_0789The next day, we journeyed in another direction, northward and up into Silverton, Colorado.

I know this next part will seem strange to most of you. And to be honest, I really don’t want to tell this part. But here goes.

As we began our ascent that would eventually lead us into the quaint, sleepy town of Silverton, I began to notice that the roads seemed tight. And while there were few guardrails, there were plenty of sharp turns and spots where a sudden swerve could send you plunging hundreds of feet below. I began to tense.

IMG_0816IMG_0827By the time we pulled off at the spot in the pictures above, it was hitting full force. I practically ran out of the car before LCB had even put it in park, and paced, breathing deeply. The kids were enjoying the drive, so I was trying to act as normal as I could.

I pride myself on the fact that, over the course of my life, I’ve been able to reason myself out of most fears. Time and again, when the deluge hits, I have sat myself down, thought out the issue logically, and rationalized my way to clarity and fearlessness.

But this time, I couldn’t do it.

This is what drives the logical side of me batty: I am an adult who knows that acrophobia is not logical. There’s no more reason to fear heights than almost anything else in life, I know. So by all rights, I should be able to talk myself out of it.

But I found I couldn’t. I could not intellectualize myself out of this phobia. By the time we arrived in Silverton, I was a woman defeated.

Make no mistake: This internal battle was definitely about the physical path that lay before me. The road back to Durango still lay ahead, and I did not want to spend thirty more minutes descending what I had recently ascended.

IMG_0852Sometimes, however, we’re placed in smaller situations that mirror the larger tests in our lives. This was true in my case. This internal battle, then, was also about my life, and about all of my inadequacies, and about how ill-equipped I feel for certain personal challenges that may lie ahead. Many of you face similar battles, I know. On the surface, you look like a person who just needs to suck it up and get back down a mountain. But underneath, that part of you that you can’t share with many or maybe even any is being asked to face private trials that have left you fighting despair.

I could write this story and tell you that I overcame the mountain, that I made it back to Durango in one piece, having faced my fears. I suppose I could craft a darn good children’s story about this, about finally, once and for all, facing the beast and emerging victorious. Because I did make it back down the mountain.

 

But, I didn’t conquer my fears.

 

They’re still there. I’m still a grown woman, one who prides herself on being logical, and I’m still afraid of something as stupid as heights. And I’m still afraid of the future. I still feel like I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.

 

IMG_0836IMG_0849IMG_0839What I did get, however, was a bit of grace. Before we left, I sampled a hodge-podge of homemade breads and pizzas. These I washed down with a craft beer and some chocolate. (And by the way, I loved the town of Silverton itself.)

And then I prayed, and leaned back in the passenger seat, and closed my eyes.

The grace didn’t come from the food or the drink, although I can’t imagine they hurt anything. And as surely as I live, it didn’t come from me.

But it came all the same.

It was there as I sat with eyes closed, feeling the car hug the road’s curves as we moved farther and farther from Silverton and closer and closer to Durango. It was there when LCB hit the brakes as a moose crossed in front of us. It was there as we passed the last steep decline and made our way to the turnoff.

IMG_0860When we reached our cabin, I sat out on the deck, watching the last light fade from the sky. And as the evening chill and the darkness crept in around me, it was still there.

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