Home...Sort Of

We are home…sort of. We arrived in New Hampshire a few days ago and getting settled has been an utter whirlwind. We are staying with Justin’s parents, who have so generously opened their home to us and allowed our work routines and silly mutt and fragmented belongings to disrupt their laid-back retired lives. For the next three months, Justin’s childhood bedroom, the streets along which he learned to drive, the towns and highways and mountains of New England, will be our home once again.

It feels so odd in so many ways to be here. Our camper, home these last ten months on the road, feels far away as does the life we were leading up until crossing back to the eastern side of the grand ol’ Mississippi. Were we really in Wyoming just two short weeks ago? Did we really call the Sierra home for the last four months? Or have we been here in New England all along, having dreamt the whole adventure? Thankfully, there are threads that connect us back…a sweet and funny postcard from our dear friend Geoff (remember him from this trip?), a truck window full of stickers from the twenty national parks and monuments we’ve visited since January, journals brimming with sketches and notes from moments tucked in among towering trees or flowing water, hundreds upon hundreds of images shot along the way. And of course, the onslaught of cherished memories…the ways our lives have been touched irrevocably by the people we’ve met, the grandeur we’ve stood in the midst of. 

There are things about life on the road and in the camper that have been truly challenging for me, things I’ve touched upon but want to share more deeply here in the next months, because it’s important to recognize that travel and road life and tiny-space living is not all sunshine and roses (or mountaintops and micro-brew!), that the daily reality is not as glamorous as people often imagine. In just these few days of being in a real house (complete with a bathroom I don’t have to walk outside for, a shower I don’t have to wear flip-flops in, AN OVEN!), I am already relishing the luxuries large and small afforded by our current situation (and I haven’t even begun to soak in the fall leaves and Currier-& Ives-esque farm stands and apple-picking and town squares that come along with a New England autumn). I am eager to make the most of this time, these luxuries, and my gratitude is beyond words. 

But we’re not done yet. We will make the most of this lovely time here, the access to family and friends, to the ways home can make you feel, the creative spark that can come when you find a place of rest amidst the movement. But we’ve only begun our love affair with the west, with the serrated skylines of mountains we are only just beginning to know, with the wide seemingly-empty spaces between ranges. After years of promising ourselves more time outdoors, we have finally made good on it…over three full months of “vacation” time outside with so many more days enjoying the trails and rivers and mountains around where we’ve lived. We've quite likely had more time outdoors since January than we’ve had over the last 13 years together combined. That’s something.

So we’re home. Home in Justin’s childhood haven. Home in a region of the country that we truly love. Home to seasons we’ve missed. Home to people we’ve ached for. But we’ve left another home on the other side of the country. And another region we love. And other people we ache for. 

So we’re home…sort of. And that’s an adventure all on its own.

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I have just begun the process of sorting and editing the nearly 2000 images I shot on this last trip…I cannot wait to share them with you! Here’s the tiniest peek in the meantime...

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Lately...

...we've been soaking in this springtime sunshine and forcing time to slow down to our pace...

It Was Enough

We woke early and poured our steaming coffee into travel mugs to go. We loaded up food and the little bit of gear that doesn’t live in the truck and hit the blue backroads, eager to leave the highway and the press of people behind us.

We drove in the morning light, winding through the scrubby ranch land and feeling muscles we hadn’t realized were bunched tight begin to loosen and relax. We rode along in companionable silence, taking in the passing mesquite and herds of cattle chewing the rough grass. The land was rolling and golden and dotted with livestock and cactus under a wide bluebird sky.

We arrived and frowned at the crowded parking lot, hoping our quest for quiet wasn’t in vain and determined to make the most of what silence we could find. Veering away from the summit trail, we ambled with our slow-moving mutt until she’d clearly had enough and laughingly loaded her into our newest carrying contraption for a 35-pound dog. We relished the noticeable absence of road noise and smiled warmly at the few people we saw on the trail…it’s hard to stay mad at like-minded souls.

The going was easy but slow with our furry load. We didn’t mind. As we walked, we began to talk. Of nothing, of everything. Of this life we’ve chosen for ourselves and its ups and downs. Of our plans and our uncertainties. Of the work we do and the work we crave and the work we love. Of the work of love. Of fear and courage and honesty. Of space and wildness and how to cradle the feral in ourselves.

When we were through with the walking, we made our way to an open place to rest for the night. Justin chopped wood for our fire and I gathered words and light and the peace of silence again washed over us. As the night rose dark, we were staggered by the stars in their multitudes, jostling for place in the desert sky. The pond frogs and cicadas bellowed, drowning out all other sound, and we listened to their stories as we watched Orion and his constellation companions move across the night.

In the morning we woke to daybreak peering through the truck cap’s windows, nudging us out of our sleeping bag cocoons and into the shining, dew covered day. We snuggled deeper and smiled at one another, caffeinated with the simple joy of a night spent outside. Eventually we climbed out and our smiles spread to the sprawling live oak tree we’d camped beneath, the golden rim of the cactus patches, the cardinals fighting for attention in the straw-like grass. We waited for water to boil and then coffee to brew and there was pleasure in the waiting.

We refilled our travel mugs to go and wandered back the way we’d come, unloading what was left of the food and the gear that doesn’t live in the truck. We waved to our neighbors and let the distant roar of the highway move itself to the background as we resumed the duties of home. 

It wasn’t an epic adventure. There were no summits bagged, no miraculous vistas, no trials of man and nature. It was a simple outing- just a bit of walking and a bit of fire and a bit of quiet. But it was enough to unkink our necks and our shoulders and our weary souls and fill us with the everyday miracles of pond frogs and cicadas and the stars in their multitudes. It was enough to allow our laugh to come easier, our patience to last longer, our kindness to extend farther.

It wasn’t an epic adventure, but it was enough.