Tuesday, October 15, 2013

my place

I'm a firm believer that everyone has a place. 
Where the air fills your lungs just a little bit fuller and the sun shines a bit brighter on your skin. 
A place where your mind is clear, and your heart is full.
The desert is my place. 
I grew up in the mountains--a green little valley in Montana. 
When I was in the 6th grade, my family moved eastward to the plains. Fields of wheat rolling gently into rocky mountains. A place I love to visit now and constantly miss, but never fully appreciated when I was a teenager ready to fly the coop.
I married a California boy, and while I always enjoyed a visit to the beach, it never had the sparkle I always imagined it would. 
So I just assumed I was a mountain girl. 
That was my place. 
It's where I was born, and our current home in Utah has mountains on mountains on mountains. 

I didn't know what I was missing.

I visited the desert a few times as a teenager. Arches and Zion National Park.
I remember being WOWd by the redness of the rock and the softness of the sand......but I was a teenager and let too much pass me by. 
On and off over the next 10+ years of my life there were bits of desert here and there, but never anything that left a mark. 
And then two Aprils ago, my little family went to Moab. (here)
I loved it. 
We explored and let the dirt fill our shoes. 
But I still didn't know.
Not yet.

The next month I found myself in Zion. (here)
We played in the canyons--up and over rocks.
And then I went for a run. 
About 12 miles through the desert mountains. 
Over the slick rock, through the powdery fine sand. 
It was deep within the walls when I knew. 
Towering red cliffs hanging over my head.....I felt it. 
This was my place. 
The dessert.
I knew.

It's my drug. 
When it's been too long, I crave it. Need it.
My mind aches and my feet beg to be stained red with earth.
I get anxious counting down the days until our next trip.....and it never, ever disappoints.
In the past few years we have been lucky to explore all different areas of the Utah desert--and each place has it's own gifts to offer. 
Moab is a giant playground.
Negro Bill Canyon
To truly experience the desert, you have to camp. 
You have to see the starry sky at 1am when you head to bed. 
You have to breathe in the cold air at night as you hide your head in your sleeping bag to escape the chill. 
You have to see the clouds open up and empty out in minutes, leaving a rainbow connecting the cliffs.
You have to wake up and climb the rocks. Find a quiet place to sit and think before you start your day.
Clear your head and prioritize. 
Study the rocks that surround you and wonder how many others have sat in that same place.
You have to go with friends. 
Friends who will play and laugh and explore with you.
You have to watch a sunset. 
Watch how the rock changes from pink to orange to a fiery red.....all in minutes.

a quick hike up to Delicate Arch at sunset

The desert is my place. 
I can find peace and excitement in the same moment.
I have ran away to the desert and buried my problems in the earth. 
The sands have stained my hands, my clothes, and left a mark on my soul.
I enter the desert with a jumbled mind and always leave with a clear vision of what is important.
And it's always, always hard to leave.

I would love to know.....where is YOUR place?
Don't know yet? Keep looking! Your place is out there somewhere.

last fall's moab trip HERE
all of our desert travels HERE


Elise Dear said...

My place is pretty much anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. The Columbia river gorge, beautiful hiking and islands and gorgeous green ferns growing on everything. That is definitely where I belong.

Julia Barger said...

Oh man...these pictures make me miss the desert like crazy!So many adventures to be had there.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little fish. I love being in the water, and I love the ocean but sometimes the water is much too chilly to get in. Like you, I thought I knew my place and I thought it was the ocean. It still is a magically place but not till I found, Lake Powell. You wanna talk magic?! That place blows my mind! Every. Single. Time. The rocks are so amazing. The deep reds and burnt oranges can put you into a trance. There is no place like it. I grew up in California and never saw anything like it. Now I live in St. George, and Lake Powell and Zion's, along with all these amazing national parks, are all in my back yard. I'm one spoiled girl!

Christa kerlin said...

I'm not sure why it didn't leave my name but the post above was mine :)

melissa said...

i'm not quite sure if i have a single place yet, but i do remember the place that made me realize that being outside doing the stuff is what makes my heart happy: backpacking with friends in grand staircase escalante np in college for a few days. slot canyons, waterfalls, desert cliffs to camp on--it helped me realize what i need and want. weirdly, i have never been back! (yet!)

Kelly Jo said...

I am a born and raised Michigander and earlier this year my boyfriend took myself and his daughter to the UP for the first time. As soon as we got to our campsite, which was right on the river and absolutely beautiful, I stepped out of the car and just fell in love. We only got to camp one night but it was a trip that i'll never forget and i cant go back soon enough. It was so different than being in the lower peninsula, i honestly felt like i was in another state. There are so many places I hope to travel to but I know that Michigan will always be my place.

julie said...

What beautiful insight . . .

Dani and Jeff said...

You are such an amazing/talented writer. You have such an incredible way with words which always leaves me envisioning everything you are talking about perfectly. I grew up in Washington and whenever I go back to the good ol' pacific north west, my whole soul lights up and I feel at home. The forest has always called my name, so very enchanting. My parents recently moved to Ivins UT, and like you, the desert is starting to call my name. So much peace and tranquility in those red rocks. Thanks for sharing a bit of your life through your blog. Your pictures are incredible. What a beautiful world we live in!

Mischelle said...

I'm still finding my place and I hope to travel more and maybe I can find it somehow. but right now, what gives me peace and makes me feel good are trees and mountains. :)

amanda said...

Oh... The garden!

Lauren from Kiwi+Peach said...

What a gorgeous world we live in?! My place is without a doubt the mountains. I didn't realize how much so until we moved and trips to the foothills became more a need than a want. All is right in that fresh mountain air. Thank goodness we will soon get to call Appalachia our forever home!

Ashley Sjuts said...

Manhattan is my place. I first went when I was 16, just a girl from the cornfields of the midwest, and me and the city just clicked. Every time I go, it's like going home. I have gone with a couple different people and even they always seem to think that seeing me in the city makes who I am makes more sense- if that makes sense. : ) I am a true believer that you don't have to be from somewhere to belong there!

Jackie said...

I grew up in a small town in northern MN, where it as flat and cold as can be. I had visited Utah two times before I moved here three years ago, each time I left it was hard. I longed for the mountains and the adventure of it all. I moved and have felt at home and peace ever since, Utah is an amazing place...backpacking, and hiking, and fishing it's rivers...truly is inspiring every time I go out. It's hard to say what place we've visited is my place, there is always something new. As much as I love Utah, the Wind River Range in Wyoming has my heart when I really think about it. It's just a rugged, amazing place, that takes my breath away. And the only way to really experience it is you have to hike or backpack in miles to get into the thick of it. You can go as far or high as you want, and not have to worry about people. The solitude brings me back every year. :)

Paula Krajewska said...

Beautiful pictures! This is my first comment on your blog but I've been reading it for almost 5 years and I really admire your writing! But what I want to say is:
My place is definitely a small village on the seacost in Spain called San Juan de los Terreros - its a magical place: sun, sea, mountain and desert - all in one!
Greetings from Poland!

Danielle Huddleston said...

Glad I am not the only one that craves a place. I love the mountains. That is definitely my place. I feel like I can breathe again. Although on a trip to the lake shore in MN I decided I could live forever on the shores of a large lake. Deep forest surrounding me. I crave woods and quiet.