Last week was our “hell week.” We were in Boulder, Colorado and we had 4 presentations in 4 days (Lone Tree, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Boulder) and then on the final day we filmed video for Backpacker Magazine for 8 hours and then went directly to a presentation where many of the Backpacker bigwigs watched us perform. Luckily, by the time that presentation arrived we were too tired to be nervous and by the time we fell asleep many hours later we couldn’t remember ever being so exhausted. It was the first time in a long time that Saturday meant something.
Sheri and Randy, who had our job before we did, film video while we take a break.
We’ve given 10 presentations now (we’ll give 60 total) and we’ve both become pretty comfortable with it. We can (and do!) recite the script in our sleep. There’s a part of me that’s still shocked that we can stand up there without panicking because, this is a strange dichotomy, we both fear public speaking but also enjoy it.
After hell week wrapped up in Boulder we went to Oklahoma and Arkansas, two states I’ve never been to before. To be honest, for the most part the days have blended together in a medley of campsites and outdoor stores and peanut butter sandwiches and gas station fill-ups.
In Oklahoma we camped at Lake Thunderbird State Park. It was freezing when we arrived and we were all alone except for a friendly retired camp host named Tony and a group of hard-knock campers who may have been cooking methamphetamine in their tent. We slept in the Subaru the first night because it was so cold but by the second night it had warmed up and we were able to sleep in the tent. The sky turned a beautiful blue and the trees began to bud. Spring, it seems, has finally arrived.
In Arkansas we camped at Lake Fort Smith State Park. We found the people of Arkansas to be incredibly friendly, offering up their backyards and spare bedrooms to us and telling us the best places to hike in Arkansas but only after swearing we wouldn’t tell the magazine (we won’t). Arkansawyers (that’s what they’re called!) believe that Arkansas is the best-kept secret in the U.S. and I’m inclined to agree.
It’s been about a month since we left on this adventure and I’m happy. I love sleeping in a tent and waking up to the sunshine streaming in and the birds singing in the trees. We have camp cots that have saved our lives and I’m sleeping better in the tent than I did in many of the beds that I encountered around the world.
But while the tent is okay the moving around is getting to me a bit. I’ve found that when my best thoughts come to me in the shower it means that I’m not spending enough time on my own just staring off into space. I need time to think, to process and to generate new ideas. It helps my writing and about every other aspect of my life. So this is my new priority: More time to stare into the silent space and think about whatever comes to mind.
Finally, for those of you that read this blog and have come out to the presentations- it has been so wonderful to meet you. Really, I cannot put into words how great that has been. When I write here on the blog I feel as though I am writing to friends, to people that may have very different lives than my own but the same sort of spirit, so to meet you in person has been a true joy. Thank you and keep coming!
I use this blog as a sort of online litmus test to track the ups and downs of this journey. I’ve been writing here for so long now that I can read my old posts and see how I’ve changed over time, how I’ve relaxed and opened up and let go. The fact that I can even live comfortably (happily!) out of a tent is proof of that evolution. So I write this in the early days of this new adventure of living outside for 7 months in order to place the stake in the ground, the pin in the map, that says, “I am here,” in order to judge how far I end up going.
On our way to somewhere.