Overcoming avoidance is key to healing from trauma. This is a story about overcoming fears through nature and healing through cooking.
I thought I’d go back in time and tell the story of my solo overnight camping trip.
My son, his girlfriend, our big dog and I had gone on a trip to this same area of Northern New Mexico earlier in the summer and stayed a couple of nights, so I felt ready to do this. I wasn’t exactly sure why, but something was compelling me.
For me, it’s scary being alone, especially at night. See my earlier post, “On Conquering Fears: Outbound” https://on-conquering-fears-outbound
I wasn’t fully conscious of what was driving me at the time, but there was a transformation happening with me. That was something I had been aware of for a few months by then.
Anyway, morning of the trip, I pack up.
Even for one, packing takes some time. It’s very helpful to have bins of staple items ready to go, as with most types of adventures that require gear (camping, skiing).
As you’ll see, I wasn’t exactly all alone on this one – I brought my little dog, Nibbles, with me. She is my constant companion but not much of a “protector.” She does have a LOUD bark though.
The ride up is totally uneventful, but glorious. Windows open, taking in trees fragrant and brilliant green, we climb, above the 8,000 ft elevation mark.
For this car-camp, I want a semi-developed site, which means one that is off of the road but that is accessible by 4-wheel drive car. It’s muddy, and I definitely don’t want to get stuck out here all alone! Yikes!
These aren’t developed sites in campgrounds. They are ones where folks have accessed areas off-road and built fire rings with rocks and have flattened areas of ground with their tents. Some have remnants of plastic bottle lids, aluminum foil bits, and other trash.
Shaking my head, I wonder if it’s just carelessness, hurriedness, or other reasons people can be so thoughtless. Most complex behavior is multiply-determined, so I settle on that.
There are people around, but the “sites” are spread out enough that it would take a little bit to access.
I have a hard time finding a spot. There aren’t many and the ones that are accessible are all taken.
I’m nearly at the end of the canyon where the tall trees enshroud. Any further north along the road and the canyon opens up to a wide high plain. No one camps there. It’s too exposed along the road and not beautiful.
My spot is quite sweet – it even has a stream running right through the middle.
Nibbles is too afraid to get out of the car. This is new for her.
I know how she feels.
Letting her get her bearings in her own way and time, I set up camp.
Camp table, 5-gallon water jug, old Coleman grill, cooler.
I get out bags of food supply, flashlight, lighter, my bin of cooking and cleaning utensils.
Air mattress, pillow, and sleeping bag.
If you’ve ever been camping, you’ll know that one of the very first things you do is set up your tent. Did I do that? No.
This time we are sleeping in the car! 😜 😜😜😜😜😜
We go fishing down the road, didn’t catch anything today, so time to get a fire going and start dinner.
I wanted something really easy but yummy and light enough.
This is an egg and bacon green salad with radicchio, avocado, and grapes. Here’s how it looked when I made it at home:
Served with a vinaigrette, baguette, and butter this is amazing! You can find the recipe here: https://bacon-and-egg-greens-salad-with-radicchio-grapes-and-vinaigrette
It’s been a nice day. Earlier, a couple walked by my campsite. I could tell they were wondering what a middle-aged woman was doing up here all alone. Or maybe not. It’s funny either way.
Chilling by the fire with Nibbles, who has relaxed by now, I also feel totally relaxed, at peace.
Two cups of Mexican hot cocoa later, it’s getting pretty dark, stars becoming brighter in the night sky. Without the interference from city lights they are so brilliant. One of the reasons I love Northern New Mexico.
Did I tell you that my sister and I used to camp out just the two of us? We were young when we first started – age 11 – on the neighbor’s land. They owned 100 acres. We were never afraid.
That was before.
Nibs and I settle in the back of the car. It is definitely roomy enough, and comfortable. I am not afraid at all now. The windows are rolled up. And we both fall fast asleep.
Sometime later I wake to the sound of an alarm blaring. WTH??
It’s the freaking car alarm. Is there someone around? What is happening???
Grabbing the flashlight, I investigate each side of the car through the windows.
An animal? A person? Eek…
No – nothing. There is nothing out there.
And then it hits me: I probably set the alarm off when I turned over! It’s that darn auto-alarm feature! OMG, LOL!!! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
I’ve experienced this before.
I find the keys and shut off the alarm, thinking about the couple camping aways down the road. I’m sorry, folks, I really am.
Anyway, I go back to sleep.
After that, I swear, I must have set that alarm off maybe 30 times. 😂😂😂
Sooner or later, I decided to just keep the car key in my hand so I could shut off within a second or two.
Those poor neighboring campers.
Feeling chagrinned the next morning, we were up pretty early. We pretty much booked it out of there. Hahahaha!!! 😆😆😆🤣🤣🤣
But we made it through the night – even got some sleep!
This is an enormous win for me.
I make some coffee, pack up, and clean up the site, looking around, thanking the wild for offering solitude.
Nibbles doesn’t want to get in the car.
I know how she feels.