Once Upon a Time in Big Bend

It seems that the most interesting feelings on spending thirty days in a tent occur on the first days home. With Boss in the driveway, packed full of soaking wet tent and dirt encrusted gear from our last two nights in a rainforest on the Florida panhandle, we sit on a cushy sofa in a perfectly climate controlled environment and exhale. There is no reason to be so sore from sitting in a truck, yet we ache. Camp will need to be set up one last time, this time in the front yard, so that equipment can be cleaned and dried prior to being stored. Stored until when?

When streaming (The Curse/Showtime) and reality (Terlingua) collide.

For a brief moment in time, we are able to see the world with fresh eyes. We know that soon enough it will all seem normal again, and we will not notice the difference in day to day living. But for now, it feels strange to turn on faucets and showers and have potable water stream in abundance at any desired temperature. That is not the only thing streaming. Televisions, laptops and devices now freely stream on unlimited electrical power and gigabit bandwidth. We are back in a world where we are told we need to be thinking very hard about what to do about wars, politics, climate calamities and social unrest in lands near and far away.

As much as I could use a shower…

A news feed stokes drama over Texas burning. Apparently a large wildfire has been burning some three hundred miles from our site at the base of Rincon Mountain. It didn’t affect us then, in fact, we and those few rangers around us had no idea it was happening. Ironically, now that we are two thousand miles removed, it needs to occupy space in our head. The fire is the result of maybe outrageous behavior, climate change, or tourism, or vandalism. We can’t quite follow all the details but we know we need to feel strongly about it.

Bunkhouse Art

How big is the world in which we are living day-to-day? Thirty days in a tent forces us into a small world where the narratives running through our head are focused on gaining what comfort we can and surviving everything else. Tent-life in all of its rustic ruggedness, is luxurious in its forced isolation. We are forced to be in the moment, in the environment, our head and our body occupying the same small world. A modern connected digital society does not make it easy to function there but we find we are clear minded versions of ourselves when we try.

Big Bend’s version of a Meditation Center

For a brief moment on return, we are living in the promised land, appreciative of our physically comfortable environment and equally appreciative of our mentally simplified headspace. If we had the skills of a Buddhist monk, perhaps we could have saved all of those miles on the truck and got to this place through meditation or a silent retreat at the Kadampa Meditation Center’s Urban Temple right in downtown Sarasota. If only it were that simple. Everywhere people are searching for a Nirvana mindset, inner peace, happiness in the chaos of modern life. All we know is how to pitch a tent in empty spaces.

Life out of the bed of a truck.

Cancel the streaming services. Trade our Verizon iPhone 15 for a Straight-talk Tracfone flip. Plant a garden and grow our own food. Declutter those closets and drawers. Simplify life to its essence. We are full of good ideas and idealistic dreams that we also know are not going to happen. We know the world will suck us in with its tentacles once again, capture and manipulate us just as it always does. There is a County District meeting tomorrow where the impact of the new Target Super-store being built next door will be a hot topic. What can we do about the situation in Ukraine? Israel? The southern border? This is the moment where mentally we are still in our lonely place, fighting off the cold, crawling into a tent but physically we are back in the burbs. Traffic to Walmart, lines in Costco, gates going up and down to access our hardwired, more bathrooms than people home.

Rincon reflections.

We saw some amazing places with soaring mountaintops glowing in the setting sun, steep slot canyons in near permanent shade and wide open ranges bereft of another human from horizon to horizon. It is so fortuitous that that kind of beautiful exists and also gives a healthy dose of mental serenity. We moved from a Class A motorhome to a 5th-wheel trailer to a tent because with each iteration we were able to dive deeper into a world removed from modern conveniences. Regression can’t last for ever, and in truth we would not want that. Thirty days is about how long our “mature” bodies can crawl onto a sleeping bag, haul water into a shelter, and set up and take down our Big Top circus show three times a week. Thirty days in a row is enough. More of them, please.

Sun sets, temperatures drop, and 30 days end.

Once Upon a Time in Big Bend