Spring Break in Zion

camp girl

Bug and I just got back from a week’s vacation in Zion National Park, in Southern Utah. It was amazing. I don’t think I’ll be able to write a proper post with little stories about each picture I took because that would just take me too long. But I do need to write a little something about it because this trip was monumental in so many ways.

oh Zion

Mostly because I took this trip with Toby. When he first asked me to come along I flat-out refused. There were so many reasons I couldn’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t go. It was crazy that he would even ask.

Firstly, I had been out of work for a complete month because my laptop died. I couldn’t afford to take a vacation now, of all times. Secondly, he’s my ex! Do I really want to spend that much time with him? Thirdly, well, there really wasn’t a thirdly but number one and number two counted enough. It was just a crazy idea.

But he talked me into it. Of course he did. I think what really got me was knowing that Bug would have a better time if I went along. I know it’s all in my imagination. I worry like crazy when she isn’t with me and it’s silly. She always has a good time with her dad and he takes great care of her. But I always picture her missing me or maybe he would forget to feed her on time or keep her up later than she should be up and she’d be tired and grumpy, etc…. (Not that that doesn’t happen with me too—heh.) I just felt like I could make things so much better if I were there.

Then there was the fact that I really love camping. Toby and I used to camp all the time. That’s what we did back in the old days. I want to say “the good old days” but those days were troubled too so I shouldn’t really cast a golden glow on them. But I am sentimental about them nonetheless.

It’s a strange thing about divorce. I don’t want to stay married to Toby and I know we are going our separate ways. (He’s moved on. He has a girlfriend. Someday I will probably move on too.) But it is still hard to let go. We had so many dreams together. I think in a way this trip was a goodbye to those dreams.

Not that the future is grim. It’s not. We both have bright, shiny new dreams and they are still overlapping because we share a child. But they are not the dreams we once had and I have to admit there is some grieving that goes along with saying goodbye to those dreams. We’ll never have that house in the country together with the greenhouse with birds and orchids. We’ll never listen to that King Crimson album again playing from a stereo in a living room with a wood floor that we daydreamed about for so long. We won’t make crepes in the morning or buy a fancy espresso maker together. He won’t take me to coffee shops along the Eastern Sierra because he knows I’m jonesing for some civilization in the middle of nowhere.

There will be a new woman doing those things with him and even though I’m happy for her and someday I want to meet her and be friends with her, there is a tiny piece of me that is sad that I am not her. She will fill the cracks that I couldn’t. I tried so hard. I really did. But I couldn’t do it.

I am moving on. This is my new life and I choose it. But I don’t choose it lightly.

And that is why this trip was such a big deal. It was a turning point. One that has been a long time coming. If my life were a book it would be a very very slow boring one with way too many chapters. I think I am finally in the middle of the story.

But it was a great trip.

on the road again!

We didn’t fight along the way. Toby played his music while the hours slowly crept by with the creosote bushes and Joshua trees. We made jokes and taught Bug about our favorite songs. I sat in the back with Bug like I always do. Strangers don’t understand but that’s okay.

road trippin'

Bug is probably the only one who will see us both as who we really are.

entering Zion

We finally got there and it was exactly how I remembered it. Zion National Park is so beautiful. The Grand Canyon is crazy big and awesome but Zion will always have my heart. The Mormons called it Zion because it was like a sanctuary from the outside world for them, a refuge from being persecuted. I understand that completely. When the walls rise up so high on both sides of you and the air is so still in the narrows of the canyon, it does feel kind of like the reverent quiet you experience when you are in a great church. The sheer size of it reminds you how small you are and how great God’s gift is to us.

sanctuary

finger

I want to share all my pictures with you but they don’t really capture the magnitude of what it was like to be there. You’d probably nod off. So just make it a point to go there at some point in your life and sit on the canyon floor for a moment or two. You will understand what I mean.

crowded

But don’t go during Spring Break because it is crazy crowded there. The weather was perfect, there were no bugs, no mosquitoes, no humidity, not much cold…it’s perfect that time of year and everybody knows it. You can’t find a campsite for the life of you and you can’t go up or down a trail without having to stand aside for big giant groups to pass. But it was still awesome.

camp

I love camping! And I love teaching my girl to love camping.

Woke up to wind.

Kindercone!

hot chocolate!

cozy fire

The tent, sleeping outdoors, the campfire, the campfire food…it’s all a bundle of fun and wonderfulness.

camp

Post hike.

Dinner! Everything tastes 10 times better when you are camping. We are hungry!!

Nothing tastes better than campfire food when you are starving. Nothing.

hopping along

The hiking…

rock grommet

rock climber

through the narrows

The exploring…

hanging on

The hanging-on-for-dear-life-ing…

rocks

The rocks…

not the only ones here

The canyons…

horsey

The goofballs…

me

The Virgin River

The rivers…

river girl

Bug is a true river rat. She was writing up her Spring Break report for school and it was all about the river for her. Maybe I’ll have her write a post about it here later.

click

I let her borrow my small waterproof camera as her camera for the trip and she got some great shots.

underwater photography

down by the river

snap snap snap

little photographer

Of course I got some great shots of her too. That’s the funny thing about taking pictures when you are on vacation in a beautiful spot. You want to take a picture of everything but you know when you get home, those pictures will be boring for people to look at. What makes them interesting are the people in the shot next to the amazing scene in nature. Because a picture of a river in a canyon looks the same in 1973 as it did in 1923. The only thing different would be the quality of the film or the clothes on the people in the picture. So when you’re so busy trying to crop out the tackily dressed tourists and their giant lame motor homes, maybe you should reconsider.

In fact, I thought maybe I should have made a point to take pictures of the tourists instead of trying to crop them out. That would be an interesting documentary. What do tourists have in common? How are they different? What makes someone who is obviously out of shape want to take a two hour hike up a rugged path to see a waterfall? How far will they push themselves? What epiphanies do they have when they get there? Are they working out stuff too? Sometimes you have to strip away your busy day-to-day life to figure out what is really going on and what is really important. That’s why we take vacations right? Something to think about. It’s not always escape.

walk this way

The Emerald Pools

these shoes are made for...

I wore my Crocs the entire time. Hiking, camping, kicking around in the river…they were great. And then when I got home I dusted them off and wore them to church.

heading down to the drips

red mud

Maybe you’ve noticed a theme here. Everything is red! The dirt is red. It’s something to do with the iron and oxidation. It’s pretty.

cave dweller

(She was tired. It was a long hike.)

read road

Even the roads are red in Zion.

practicing

I even got some painting done but it quickly put me to shame. How am I ever going to teach a class on watercolor this weekend? Eeek!

can't we keep her?

We made some new friends.

perched on top of the world

learning the ropes

And we survived our week! It was a great week, actually. One that I will treasure because it will probably never happen again. Toby and I talked a lot about it. He kicked around the idea of camping together again someday but I know deep down it probably won’t happen. Not unless his new girlfriend and I become fast friends. I like to daydream that we will but that’s probably silly. We are a new family now. A family of two parts.

manzanita flowers

Two parts that made one spectacular person. We are so lucky to have her. All of us.

Still in the Woods

Untitled

I cannot wait until I can write a post called, “And then I lived to tell about it.” But unfortunately I’m not there yet. My computer is back up and running. I have all the software I need to work on a day to day basis but I can’t use my apple mail or safari. Both cause ram-crunching memory leaks.

It’s really weird. It’s either a virus, which I haven’t found any evidence of, OR some kind of cache issue where Carbonite backed up so many versions of things that my email and internet browser can’t find the cache they are looking for. I just need to find those caches and throw them out but I’m floundering because I can’t tell what is what.

The good news is Toby is helping me out. He’s been a real friend through all this. It’s funny how I have all these mixed up feelings about our disolved marriage and where things should be with our (still pending) divorce. But stronger than all that is our friendship. It seems to have stood the test of time. I am so thankful for that. It doesn’t make sense to the outside world but I just have to tell myself that outside opinions don’t matter. We are a still a family. Not a traditional one but we still put each other first which is really cool.

Anyway, when I finally get it all sorted out I’ll try to write a comprehensive post about what happened to my hard drive and why the restoration process went so wrong with Carbonite. I’m sad to say I can’t recommend Carbonite as a product if you own your own business. It’s handy if you need to back up 30 gigs or less but if you have a mac I wouldn’t recommend it. They say they are compatible but they aren’t.

In the meantime, I’ve got a busy week! Work has been flooding in which is a real answer to prayer.

It’s funny, before this whole computer problem happened, I prayed that I would be more motivated to work. I was in a slump creatively. Nothing really made me feel excited anymore and I hate that. It’s really hard to be creative when you are bored. I can’t really do my best work unless I’m on fire over whatever project I’m working on or I have a deadline looming. Deadlines are good for inspiration.

If neither deadline nor interest are present in a project then I tend to while away my time cleaning my house and watching Netflix. It’s stupid and pathetic. There is a reason why creative people are not good business people and this is it for me. I can’t afford to be a domestic goddess or up on all the latest tv shows. But when the juices aren’t flowing they aren’t. I’m a blob of stagnant energy.

Kick the computer that I work on out from under me for a month and suddenly the urgency to make money is knocking me down so hard I wake up with panic attacks every night. It was getting really bad. I would lay awake for four hours every night doing nothing but stress out with such concentration that I could almost feel it like a bag of bricks on my chest. Everything from impending cancer to eviction to the possibility that there is no God…my brain worked so hard pedaling backwards in it’s tiny hamster cage, I think smoke came out my ears.

Normally, when I can’t sleep I just open my laptop and start working on something. It’s the best cure for insomnia and underproduction. If it’s boring it puts me back to sleep. But I had no laptop. I had an ipad that I could watch movies on but I couldn’t turn off the smoking hamster wheel long enough to keep track of any storyline. Every five seconds I would launch into some new anxiety attack.

Well, anyway. I’m sure I’m not unique to this. Many many bloggers have written about their battles with mental illness or depression or financial troubles. I don’t think I’m mentally ill. I think I just hit on some hard times. Hard times are happening to all of us. It’s not an easy time in history to be providing for a family but it’s not going to get easier either so we best buck up and make the most of what we have, right?

I can say that I started reading my bible every day and praying on my knees. I used to just say a prayer wherever and whenever. Doing dishes, taking a shower, sitting on the pot. Whatever! God doesn’t care, right? Well, I think he does. I kept thinking how the bible always talks about prayer and fasting together. I’ve never really gotten around to fasting but I’ve started praying with more purpose. I actually get on my knees, put my head down and then pray for ten things. I count them off finger by finger and it takes me outside my hamster wheel brain just long enough to stop the destructive cycle that has been my thoughts lately. You can call it whatever you like. Maybe I’m fooling myself with some kind of mental meditation or maybe God hears me and prayer actually works. All I can say is that it’s helped me a lot. I was so down and now I feel hope again.