The Dawn of Vacation

Sunrise is one of my favorite times of day. I love how the colors blend and change dramatically against the dark stillness of the earth. Sometimes, like this morning when I was settled in the car as my husband drove, I play a game where I name the various colors in the sky. Midnight royal violet. Light spun gold. Dusky lavender. Cerulean. Bright aqua. Rose petal pink. Each new streak of color brings the hope for something wonderful to happen; dawn is the most optimistic time of the day.

Today is also the dawn of our first real vacation in far, far too long. We had to cancel our trip to the Smoky Mountains in June when our dog fell sick. Although we did travel to South Carolina for Thanksgiving, that trip was filled with family obligations and didn’t feel like a genuine vacation for us. Of course, our vacations generally involve disappearing into the wilderness and going completely off grid, so it’s no wonder that having air conditioning and a king-sized bed didn’t feel quite right! I don’t think we’ve had a vacation for a year and a half when we last traveled to Glacier National Park. We are ready to disappear!

One of our favorite winter destinations is Big Bend National Park. The park is so large that we’ve visited two other times and still have large swaths of the park that we’d like to see. We particularly enjoy the diverse geography with the dramatic Chisos Mountains against the sweeping plains of the desert. The park is lovely and isolated. Our favorite place that we’ve ever been is up on the south rim in the Chisos Mountains. The south rim is several thousand feet above the desert floor with a steep drop akin to the Grand Canyon, except there is no opposite rim, just the expansive desert below (and no throngs of people!) We once spent a glorious afternoon up there, reading, writing, and watching a pair of golden eagles swoop and glide for what seemed like an eternity.

We plan to spend Christmas camping at the rim if we can so arrange the permit. We even have a backpacking meal called holiday in a bag with mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, and dehydrated vegetarian sausages. Our previous attempt to find a backpacking menorah failed, but we did stash the moose menorah in the car for the final few days of Chanukah on the road.

On our trip, we plan to cross into Boquillas, Mexico. We’ve brought both of our passports and quadruple checked that we had them. This may seem extreme, but we had planned to cross into Canada at Glacier National Park. Unfortunately, my husband packed my passport … and my expired passport. Whoops! He also forgot my bag of packed clothes on that trip, which was, coincidentally, our last vacation. Let’s hope we haven’t forgotten anything of vital importance this time!

No matter what happens on this trip, I intend to enjoy being out in such a  desolate yet vibrant location. I’m not sure what my body can handle in terms of backpacking because we haven’t really tried since I’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. So many of the trigger points are on the shoulders, right where the straps of my backpack will fall. We have to carry all of our water because we cannot rely on any creeks or rivers in the desert, which adds a significant amount of weight to our trips. My husband is planning to carry the bulk of the water. Despite these obstacles, I know that we will power through as a team and enjoy ourselves immensely!

See y’all in two weeks. I have some hiking and stargazing to do! And, of course, watching the sun rise over the desert!



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