“I’m noticing how much added anxiety there is at night and any time I’m not in a place where I’m “supposed to be.” I keep thinking that a man wouldn’t have half the fears I have.
My solution for the present is to take it one day at a time. I need to keep focusing my attention on the small things right in front of me that make me happy, even if the world at large outside the tiny walls of my van is a chaotic mess. I suppose this is good advice in ordinary life, too. Focus on the good things, the little things you love, and the rest will follow.”
“Every day has two lives – the daytime, when I’m thrilled to be out in the parks and the country and meeting people. And then the night time, which starts at 6pm and is fucking cold. In the dark, my anxiety grows teeth and starts staring me down like a rabid wolf.”
“The park didn’t seem like much at first. There was a long, bleak drive through the Chihuahuan desert flats of the White Sands Missile Base, and the dunes looked… small.
But, after arriving, I was pleasantly surprised. The white really is striking, and once you’re on them, they seem to go on forever. Lot of people seemed to enjoy drawing penises on the sand, though. Not great.”
“Went on the Alkali Flats Trail, which is the only strenuous trail in the park. It’s only 5 miles of undulating, white dunes, and the end is pretty anti-climactic (you get to the edge of the military zone), but the dunes themselves are stunning, and it was cool to see the section that has less vegetation. It’s so quiet and meditative out there. If it weren’t for the 20-30mph headwinds, it would have been a lovelier and less snot-rockety hike.”
“I read in my van for the next couple of hours, waiting for the sunset hike. It started at 4:30pm and was lead by a really cute, portly young woman who’s a biologist. The hike was really mellow, and I dug her enthusiasm. A little boy kept walking up to everyone and giving them handfuls of sand, giggling, and saying, “You’re welcome.”
An 84-year-old man with a cute, tiny chihuahua that had long, scraggly Einstein hair started talking to me about college and music and asking weirdly specific questions, and I figured he must be lonely, so I tried my best to listen and be kind, but he often didn’t make much sense. I wondered if his wife had died, and the thought of a lonely old man wandering the parks trying to make friends broke my heart.”
“Once sunset hit, I raced across the dunes, trying to capture what I could of the dying light. It’s remarkable. The dunes are so harsh and monochromatic during the day, but at sunset, they’re bathed in honey.”
“I’ve noticed that people interact with these smaller, less famous national parks in some strange ways…
Today, I heard at least one family ask another, “Is it worth it to go in? Is it cool?”
The other group: “Sure, yeah, it’s really fun, it’s like a bunch of sand dunes.”
Family: “But it’s $25, right?”
Group: “Yeah, but it’s definitely worth checking out.”
-Another family left their large, brand new, plastic sled near the recycling bin once they were done with the park for the day.
-I’ve heard other people saying they were surprised how “strenuous” the 1.5-mile nature trail was. Or that an activity away from the car that the sign says will take an hour is ‘too long.'”
“Dude. I should not have backpacked last night. I think it would’ve been fun in springtime, or maybe summer if one hiked in around sunset, but winter was frigid, and I didn’t see anything I couldn’t have seen on a sunset hike. No wildlife comes out when it’s below freezing. New rule: no intentional backpacking when the low is under 40 degrees.
The forecast was wrong again, like in Joshua Tree. Only this time, I wasn’t in the van. So 30 degrees became 25 degrees, and you’re not supposed to hike out, because the dune field is a maze. I couldn’t get warm once I woke up at 3am, and I tossed and turned for hours in the frigid air. My tent was covered in frost all night, starting at 9pm.
So, today, I woke up groggy. Bad headache/neck ache from sleeping weird, tucked into my sleeping bag like a big, red cocoon. And I’m really on my period. Time to go to Marfa, I guess.”