Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Gila Wilderness

Gila Wilderness/National Forest, NM
After my 'escape' from the hostel in T or C, I found myself heading towards total wilderness to Gila National Forest.  It is a protected forest and absolutely breathtaking.  It has plenty of hiking trails, a catwalk, cliff dwellings and canyons.  After hours of driving I gratefully got out of the
car and walked the catwalk which took me deep inside the forest, where I could explore cave and the forest.  However, the catwalk barely scratches the surface of what Gila has to offer.

Cliff Dwellings
 Some say the best way to do it is by horse, if you ride a horse that is.  A backpacking trip, hiking the scruffy jagged terrain along the canyon, amongst  the wilderness would have been heaven.

Yet, I was alone, and I was new to this traveling and being spontaneous, and I was so unprepared for a long term hiking trip.  So, I did the catwalk, and soaked up the energy of the land shaking off the negativity that came with some of my experiences in T or C....things that actually just triggered emotions, which made the situation feel worse than it was.    I felt the freedom creep back into my body and I was thrilled to be on my own again, without be accountable to anyone or having to work.

I spent the day at Gila, a much too short of a trip, and headed on the long road to..wasn't sure where, I just knew it was going to be long and desolate.

Traveling alone on the highway for hours, through ghost towns, surrounded by the white satellite dishes, made it a bit creepy, eery.  Yet, I kept a look out for anything peculiar...alien, UFOs since this was the area.  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing, just me on the road until I came to the town of Soccoro, NM.  I checked into the newly renovated Econo-lodge there, and was so delighted with the quality of mattress, the cleanliness of the room, the breakfast they provided, free internet, etc., for an incredible deal of $35.  Of course, things may have changed, but it was an incredible deal.

Socorro, New MexicoI took the night to rest, weary from my driving, requiring time to reflect on my own state of mind, my next destination, and as always dealing with the question that haunts me through this journey, 'What am I doing?'.   Sadly, the answer is 'I don't know.'  It is foreign to me, this traveling solo, with the intention of being spontaneous, letting the road guide me.   Deeply desiring to my core that I become able to surrender to this journey, developing the trust that is needed to know I am on the right path for me, and I am okay, no matter what.  To be consumed by the feeling of peace and freedom, not fear.

Socorro, New Mexico
These times when I found myself in true solitude, I could connect with my inner guidance and I knew that this was a process that would lead me to the feeling that I was seeking - peace and a deep rooted sense of trust.   I felt as though I was wasting time, letting my fears creep in, consuming me, robbing me of that trust and peace, and joy.  I am then reminded, this is a process, albeit slower than I would have liked. And a gentleness envelopes me, allowing me to be kinder to myself as I would be if this were someone else.  Sleep overrides any need for contemplation, and oh what a great night sleep...I have to say, a good mattress is priceless!  I awoke with renewed enthusiasm and I get in the car and just drive....heading North.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Truth or Consequences

Leaving Austin, Texas was bittersweet.  I had enjoyed my time with my friends, yet I was ready for more adventures.  I also wasn't heading towards anyplace where I knew someone, so I was feeling alone, the fear emerging as I headed onto the long highways of Texas.  It took work, but I kept the fear at bay.

Truth or Consequences, NM : truth or consequences, nm
New Mexico was my destination.  I had heard of a town called Truth or Consequences, named after a popular radio show in the 1940s and 1950s.  The town had changed it's name for the sake of a contest.  I also knew the place I was searching for, a hostel-like accommodation, the Riverbend, that had work exchange possibilities, with hot springs, on the Rio Grande.

The drive was interrupted by car issues.  In the middle of nowhere-ville, Texas, my car started to die.  I would pull over and wait, and it would start up again.  I could go only so many miles before the process repeated itself.  Okay...the next town is only 150 miles was nerve-wracking to say the least.  Trucks flew by me, and not one person stopped.  Eventually, I made it to the next town, to a mechanic that was willing to look at it the next day.

At my hotel, I called Ron, my trusted mechanic in Boston.  I described the situation and he diagnosed it on the spot.  "Bring it in.", said Ron.  "Ummm, I'm Texas...I'm calling for a consult.".  He laughed, and was a great support.  Its been years since I left Boston and I still miss Ron.   Finding a great trustworthy mechanic is such a blessing.

Truth or Consequences: One of many spas by the Rio Grande
T or C, New Mexico
Yet, the Texas mechanic couldn't find the problem even though I had given him the information from my mechanic.  The details gets foggy here, but I remember him fixing something, charging me almost nothing for his time and work, and off I went.  I was so glad to have not been ripped off, because, honestly, I was alone in Texas, a single woman, and in a very small town where he could have taken advantage of the situation.  He didn't.  I was grateful.

Truth or Consequences: Sunset on Caballo Lake near Truth or Consequences, New MexicoComing into Truth or Consequences was mixed with excitement and disappointment.  The surroundings are breathtaking.  It is a funky town, which I loved.  It is run down.  It is meth-lab central.  The Rio Grande is not so grand.  Yet, here I was.  I found the funky hostel, and paid for 2 nights, and then asked to do a work exchange.  In doing so, I was initially a guest so I didn't stay in the dorm, but a guest room.

At the Riverbend
Due to the dysfunction of the place, I was able to stay in the private room while I did the work exchange, whereas most went to the dorms.  I missed the details of what was happening behind the scenes until my last day there.  By then, I didn't care that they had wanted me to be out of the guest room and move to the dorms.  They also didn't want me to leave since I was such a great worker.  Ten days into it, I knew I had to leave.  Dysfunction.  Ugh.  I crept out at sunrise to begin my drive heading towards the Gila National Forest.

Truth or Consequences: The Butte at Elephant Butte
Elephant Butte
Hot Springs, near
the  Rio Grande
What I remember most of T or C is that I loved the funkiness.  I spent hours, upon hours in the healing waters of the hot springs, alone or chatting with whomever was there. I made a few acquaintances who made my time there worthwhile, just to be connected to others, to share our life experiences, yet none became long-time friends.   I hiked the mountains and along the river.  I visited Elephant Butte.  I was thrilled to see a body of water.

The work at the work exchange was so minimal in comparison to what I did as a career.  It was mindless.  I met a variety of different folks from all walks of life, of different ages.  We gathered for meals and laughed and shared stories.  Everyone was different, yet accepted.  It felt comfortable.

Yet, that morning I was ready to leave.  I snuck out at sunrise, escaping more of the 'last good-byes' and the pressure that I was getting to stay on.  We had had celebration of sorts the night before, which was enough for me.  I was ready for the green and lushness of the Gila National Forest, and the feel of freedom on the road that would take me there.