Today I am exceptionally relaxed.  All this hard climbing and hiking and sun and heat and cold feel like they are molding me, like I am bread dough under Hueco’s hands.  I feel awesome.  Tired and sore, but awesome.

Being clean probably has something to do with this.  I’ve decided that there is nothing better in the world than a hot shower on a tired body, and clean hair.  It’s amazing!  The campground has a bathroom with showers, and I feel privileged to be able to shower whenever I want.

Today is a rest day, so Jason and I are engaging in our usual activities.  We got up and made eggs and bacon.  Today was a two cup of coffee day, then shower, then head into town for propane, groceries, to find a new book to read, to get ice cream.  It seems like on rest days all I want to do is eat and lay.  My body LOVES calories.  I have an inner fat kid that wants to take over.  Not so different from what I wanted to do every weekend in Knoxville, I guess, but now I can pretend it’s what I really ought to do.  🙂

But sadly, this is our last week in Hueco.  We leave on the 31st for Albuquerque, and I’ll be visiting my grandma for a week after that.  It’s been a wonderful trip so far, a perfect first quarter. 

Favorite parts:  Morning routines.  Every morning we wake up before the sun is up, but don’t get out of bed.  It’s too cold outside when the sun is down!  So I lay there, sometimes go back to sleep, thinking of the day ahead, waiting for the tent wall to turn yellow, signaling that the day has begun.

One of the most amazing things so far, as it should be, is that we have met some really amazing people.  Sonnie Trotter and his wife Lydia ran into Kyle and Leslie at the crag and ended up staying at our campsite for a week (check out his blog, we’re totally famous now: http://sonnietrotter.com/roadlife/).  They are amazing people!  Lydia owns her own yoga studio, and she blew my mind with some three dimensional acrobatics.  Girl is flexible.  Sonnie is super cool, very down to earth, and they both have a great sense of humor– by ‘great’, I mean, close to mine, of course.  They get our jokes.  That’s important.  🙂  So that was awesome.  We will hopefully see them again, since they live in Squamish.

Kyle and Leslie also introduced us to two other friends of theirs, Dave and Leanna, also canadian, and they are AWESOME.  Every time I hang out with them, I find myself saying later, ” I really like those guys!”  That kind of people.  They live in Ottowa and have taken a year long sabbatical as their honeymoon, climbing and traveling around the states and Europe.  Sweet.  Excellent company here in the desert, and they are also on our wavelength as far as sense of humor is concerned. 

Another thing that sticks out in my mind about this trip so far is finger pain!  Not in the injured sense (except that Leslie did indeed hurt her finger), but in terms of lack of skin.  I have small, irregular circular patches on the tips of my fingers where all the skin has been worn away and just can’t grow back fast enough.  Crimping on tiny holds here also causes bruising, so all of our fingertips have small red splotches that peel off, like blood blisters healing up, as they days go on.  Except, we bruise them every day, so they never go away. 

Sometimes, after a day of climbing, the hot water for washing dishes hurts, scalding my thin skin.  It hurts to pick up the tubs we put our food in, to take the tops of the tubs off, and last night, it hurt to turn on my headlamp.  I know.  I am being faced with serious adversity here.  But it’s different from being a weekend warrior, having more time to heal.  And one of my favorite parts of the day is after doing dishes, rinsing away the soap, when the cool night air combines with the chilly water to make a perfect ice bath for sore hands and skin.  Sometimes I just stay there, near the faucet, holding my hands under the water, because it feels amazing.  Also frigid.  But great.

Probably one of the best things about Hueco so far, after all the awesomeness of the amazing friends we have and friends we have made, is the stillness, the quiet, the peace.  The desert is calm, with these small noises that are wonderful– birds chirping every morning as soon as the sun comes up, coyotes yipping to each other in the dusk (the most talkative canine, apparently), owls hooting in the trees near our tent.  I feel like in some ways, this was exactly what I needed.  Some parts of this last year have been so amazingly difficult, and sometimes I felt like the days and weeks would just pass by, with me hardly noticing.  It was like I’d wrapped myself up, keeping thing in and out at the same time, like padding some fragile object for fear it would break.  And slowly, Hueco is helping this peace find the little cracks it needs to slip inside. 

Eating breakfast, occasionally the birds will get bold enough to come up onto the picnic table with me, picking up scraps of food as I eat my oatmeal.  On rest days, Jason and I share our computer, and so when he is using it I can just sit, no agenda, lay in the sun on the concrete in front of the park headquarters, relaxing.  Basking.  Being still.

At the crag yesterday, Dave and Jason and I were left to our own devices at a climb, and we each found a small patch of sun to curl up in, resting in these little squares of sunlight, shirts over our eyes to block the brightness, cracking jokes without even looking at each other. 

Before I go to bed every night, I can see the changes in the moon as it passes through each phase.

You can watch the stars change position in the night sky as the evening progresses. 

Jason and I have seen the elusive Javelina, a small wild pig, twice already in the park.  Once after a day of climbing, when it felt like Jason literally called them into being, saying, “I want to see a javelina RIGHT NOW!” and there they were, on the path in front of us, making piggy noises.  And once on a tour, we saw a whole group of them trotting down the rock in search of more cactus to chomp. 

Hueco is crazy, with it’s rules and regulations, famous climbers every time you turn around and the entourage the inevitably surrounds them, and climbers who have no clue every other time you turn around.  But this peaceful place is amazing, worth every penny, every rule, at least right now to me. 

Things were so crazy for our last two months before this trip started– going home for Thanksgiving and the anniversary of Mike’s death, packing, moving, driving, visiting, holidays, chaos.  This peace is exactly what I’ve been needing.

And sun.  We are spoiling on it here.  I wear sunscreen every day, and I almost have to wear it at night.  Just kidding.  But the desert is a tough place if you are not a day walker.  I am pink, and probably will be for the next six months.  🙂  But it feels great.  We are getting our fill, preparing for darker days in the Pacific Northwest this winter. 

Anyway, those are some rambling thoughts from Texas, as we come close to summing up our last few days.  When next I write, I’ll be visiting my grandma, the most wonderful lady on the planet, in Washington.  Hope everyone is well, and I can honestly say I wish you all were with us here in Hueco!

Jason, being burly

Trying hard

This is Dave, aka GUNS.  Or Biceps.  Geez.

Hueco sunset

Proof!  Me, Dave, Jason, Leslie, Lydia, Sonnie, and Kyle
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