In a lot of ways, our two month sabbatical did not go as originally planned and was far from my initial intention. I didn’t “do” nearly as much as I had hoped to do. I had high expectations for myself that I would write and engage more, read more, travel and explore more, and get involved more with local environmental organizations. But in so many other unexpected ways, this adventure was far more enlightening than I could have imagined.
All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. – Martin Buber
We did not originally plan to spend the entire two months in Del Norte, Colorado. Our first plan was to travel to the Colorado Rockies and then northbound from the Sierras in Southern California to the Cascades in Washington visiting a new national park each week along the way. As amazing as that adventure sounds, we didn’t have nearly enough funds to see that through and in hindsight it would have been especially difficult on Old Man Wilson, our ten year old English mastiff.
So we modified our plans to better fit our circumstances. With a very small budget to work with and two very large dogs in tow, we decided we needed to scale down and choose just two or three locations to visit for a few weeks at a time. We’d get a better rental rate on the cabins and it would be more comfortable for the dogs. We were very lucky and found an awesome deal on the Del Norte cabin for the month of April and decided we’d figure out our plans for May once we got to Colorado. You know, we’d just wing it… or to be more poetic, we’d set our sails and see where the western winds took us from there.
So here’s the funny thing. We really loved Del Norte. We loved everything about it… the cabin, the mountains, the town, and the community. We did venture to northern Colorado for a week to a small town called Fairplay, but we were highly disappointed. This area seemed either too industrialized with rock mining (in Fairplay) or too touristy (in Breckenridge). It just wasn’t our cup of tea. And for a while we researched other areas to visit in Utah, Wyoming, California, Oregon and Washington but we couldn’t find anything remotely close to the price or beauty of the Del Norte cabin. It was as close to perfect as I can imagine an off the grid mountain cabin can be. We had everything we could hope for there… the rustic charm and simplicity of the cabin and the exquisite peace and beauty of the surrounding mountains. So, we decided to go back to Del Norte and stay the second month as well.
For everything this idyllic locale offered us it was lacking only one useful amenity… a reliable access to internet or phone service. I hesitate to use the word lacking, because lack of wireless service can actually be a wonderful thing. You’re forced to get off your screens and open your eyes to the magnificent scenery before you. You’re forced to disconnect from your addictive devices notifying you incessantly of every frivolous update in the world and instead reconnect with the rhythm of your own breath and heartbeat and find peace and happiness in the natural world that’s within your reach.
I found myself stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, I had all intentions of blogging and engaging more frequently. And I had wanted to do more environmental research and get involved with some local advocacy groups. But on the other hand, connecting to the internet meant driving 15 miles into town and visiting an establishment with reliable wi-fi access which we did once maybe twice a week, but on those days we tried to knock out as many online and off-line errands as possible to minimize trips. Every day into town seemed chaotic and rushed to do all of the things we needed and wanted to do. To be completely honest, those days just felt like one long unpleasant chore. Hand washing our clothes seemed less cumbersome! I’m sure given more time, we would have adopted a more efficient plan of action, but we decided to just go with the flow, make the most of it and embrace the lack of service for two months. Besides, we didn’t drive 1800 miles across the country to spend most of our days driving into town to get online. We drove 1800 miles across the country to lose ourselves in the unknown wilderness. We wanted to escape the so-called reality of life momentarily… just long enough to catch our breaths and find new purpose.
And in this time of quietude I began to hear the whispers of my heart… that I adore nature, I desire simplicity, I need quiet, and I want to slow down. I’d heard these whispers before, but they were always faint and easily overpowered by the drumming pandemonium of life. But here, in the serene stillness of these canyons, these whispers started to resonate with greater depth and clarity. And as the excessive clatter started to fade, I could almost feel the instrumental pieces start to harmonize and I knew I had found a rhythm of life that soothed my soul.
Chase whatever it is that fills your heart with music and make sure it’s a beat you can dance to. – Matt Baker
Stay tuned for my next post when I try to put it all together to debut my heart’s new composition on life.