Into the Desert

"But in the desert, in the pure clean atmosphere, in the silence - there you can find yourself. And unless you begin to know yourself, how can you even begin to search for God?" ~Father Dioscuros

An offer for Justin's next assignment came in just last night and we've accepted. We officially know where we're heading next and have a start date and the first draft of a plan.

Tucson, Arizona.

I've never lived in the southwest corner of the United States. Never called the true desert home. The closest I've come is Texas, but I spent my time there in the Hill Country, which certainly has some desert qualities, but also grows enormous live oak trees along creek banks and hides clear blue springs behind spanish moss. Tucson is desert. True desert. Home to the sentinel saguaro and the fuzzy cholla and what seems like 17 species of rattlesnake.

We brushed by Tucson last spring on our way to Reno and were impressed. We watched a mighty storm roll through the landscape and had the smell of creosote etched forever on our hearts. It is a city that seems to have space that is readily accessible, which matters tremendously. After this time back home in New England, I'm aching to feel the wide western spaces as I break myself in once more to nomadic life.

Desert isn't always my first choice for wild places to spend time. I have a deep, deep love of huge trees and flowing water and mountains that hold secrets buried in the understory. But there is a place for desert in me too. The desert is a very good place to face down fear and truth- it has a way of stripping things away and leaving the bones bleached under it's ceaseless sun.

I suspect that I have things to learn in the desert. And I suspect that I am ready to learn them at last. It took me awhile to get here and it took a lot of work, but I am eager to listen in close to what the rattlesnake and the saguaro and the cholla have to say.

We are going into the desert. Tucson, here we come.

---

A few favorite shots from when we passed through Tucson in May...

2017 In Pictures

I will warn you right out of the gates...this post is a beast! So. Many. Photos. But 2017 was a big year and these images still barely skim the surface. In a nutshell...

  • We visited 22 national parks and monuments (and a bunch more state parks, national forests, and wild and scenic rivers!)
  • We road-tripped a total of just over 12,000 miles (these are road-trip miles, not the miles put on in daily life or excursions made from where we were located at the time...our truck actually put on more than double that!)
  • We lived in 4 locations: Alna, Maine / New Braunfels, Texas / Reno, Nevada / Hollis, New Hampshire
  • We took just shy of 13 weeks of designated vacation time total, generally in three-week increments
  • We visited six whiskey/bourbon distilleries (and more micro-breweries than I could even begin to quantify...)
  • We spent more than 50 nights sleeping outdoors either in a tent or the back of the truck (the camper doesn't count and I stopped counting calendar dates when I hit 50...)
  • I guided close to forty whitewater trips down the Truckee River (with just the one "dump-truck" that ended my rafting season!)
  • I shot more than 25,000 images for myself and for clients

There are a million things I can't count...number of campfires sat around, wildlife seen in action, hours spent in the hammock, friends visited and made, belly laughs, wrong turns, gps failures, mountain lakes swam in, moments of awe, moments of growth, moments of clarity.  

This year was harder and better and fuller than I've had in longer than I can guess and I am deeply proud of what we've done with our time. As we begin winding up our time here in New Hampshire and prepare to head west in just a few short weeks to pick up the camper and begin the next year of adventure, it's been a gift to go back through these images and my journals from the year and to step back and process just a bit. I suspect that I will continue to process these experiences for years to come, but for this one moment, I'm simply going to revel in the reflection of this year in review.

 

Maine > Texas (mid-January through April)

CindyGiovagnoli_2017_YearInReview-001.png

Pulling away from the Alna house...

In front of our wedding venue in Williamsburg, VA...

CindyGiovagnoli_2017_YearInReview-007.jpg

Let the Kentucky distillery tours begin...

CindyGiovagnoli_2017_YearInReview-026.jpg

Not every night is a scenic campsite...there were plenty of Wal-mart parking lot nights this year!

CindyGiovagnoli_2017_YearInReview-037.jpg

New Braunfels, Texas...

One of the perks of being in Texas was getting some time with my family, especially some outside time with my little brother!

CindyGiovagnoli_2017_YearInReview-080.jpg
CindyGiovagnoli_2017_YearInReview-083.jpg

Texas > Nevada (May through September)

CindyGiovagnoli_2017_YearInReview-084.png

Driving out of Death Valley's 100-degree temps and into the high Sierra's freezing ones in the same day was mind-boggling...a 70-degree difference in a matter of hours!

My love for Reno began with the bulging snowmelt currents of the Truckee...

CindyGiovagnoli_2017_YearInReview-153.jpg
CindyGiovagnoli_2017_YearInReview-168.jpg

California > Oregon > Washington (12 days in September)

Nevada > New Hampshire (October through January 2018)

CindyGiovagnoli_2017_YearInReview-274.jpg

Once back in New England, it's been a whirlwind of client work that has taken me all over this region as well as to New Orleans combined with reuniting with friends and family we haven't seen in a year. Snow and walks in the town forest and laughter over dinners with friends. I haven't had my camera out for much of the personal stuff, but I can feel that itch beginning and you can bet you'll see a bit more before we leave this place in a few short weeks...

A safe and happy New Year to all of you. My gratitude for your presence here is unceasing. Onto 2018 we fly, my friends!