Friday, April 30, 2010

An Invasion of My Sacred Place.

[This picture is not mine, I found it on google images]

So now that I've told the initial story of Burro Creek, you might see how much I love it. I don't know how well I conveyed this in my last story, but Burro Creek holds a spot in my heart with memories that no one can ruin.
Well... almost no one.

      My freshman year of high school my family and I moved back to Arizona for some odd reason. I began to date a guy, Mario, who had loved me since first grade. I decided to give him a chance because, well, he loved me since first grade!
This guy turned out to be the exact opposite of what I wanted or should have even gotten involved with, but stories explaining that are for another time. This story is about the time I stupidly invited him along with my family and myself on a camping trip to my beloved Burro Creek.

Oh where to begin.
I was on the phone one evening, listening to him talk about how much he loved me. I wanted to care, but I just didn't. I kind of felt bad about it, and so a stupid thought popped into my head.
"Hey Mario, would you like to come with me on a camping trip?"
"YEAH! THAT WOULD BE AWESOME!" (caps to emphasize his over-excited enthusiasm)
"Okay, let me go ask my parents."
I think I asked just to make him feel good, I did not really want him to come on this trip. I also thought my parents would object, him being my boyfriend with raging hormones, and me being their innocent daughter. To my surprise they said it would be a great idea.
At that moment I knew it was a horrible idea.
We picked him up at his house. He got in the car and insisted on sharing my headphones while I listened to my CD player (which was meant to help tune him out). He smelled gross and he wanted to put his arm around me. This was going to be a long night.

We got to camp and I jumped out of the car, taking a seat near the fire while Mario and my dad set up camp. He thoughtfully brought a Johnny Cash CD. I despise Johnny Cash and my dad loves him, so of course it was played loudly and sung loudly by both of them. My stomach churned, I looked to my mom for help and she just shrugged and looked at me with pity.
'Whyy did I do this to myself?' I groaned internally.

The night passed with little to no events. I sat as far away from him and as close to my mom as possible.
I climbed into the tent shared with my sister and went to sleep.
I woke up to him "tickling" my feet; this did not go over well. Then his soot covered hand grabbed my favorite pillow and began to playfully beat me with it. I glared at him angrily and tried to rescue my pillow, but the soot left a nasty hand print.
We all ate breakfast prepared by Dad and got ready for our hike down to the creek for a swim. When I arrived at the creek I jumped in and swam to the other side where Sarah, my sister, and I took refuge on a ledge only big enough for two.
We stayed there for awhile, keeping our distance from him.

After awhile I decided to explore downstream. I was hoping to sneak away and be alone for awhile, but nothing escaped his eyes. He followed me as I waded through the shallow part of the creek. I realized this and picked up my pace hoping to lose him. I went around a bend, got back on the shore, and made my way back through the trees and shrubs.
Not good enough, he was still there. This pissed me off more, so I began to run in bare feet across the scorching sand and from shady spot to shady spot. He thought this was a game, so he chased me all the way back to my families spot next to the creek.

Surely he couldn't be missing all the signs! It was obvious that I did not want him there!
I hated myself for inviting him.

We started to pack up our things to head back. I had just dried myself off when he grabbed a handful of mud and threw it at me. It landed on my arms and face. By this time I was extremely pissed. I grabbed a handful of hot sand and slung it in his face, gave him the evilest glare that I could muster, then tromped back into the water to wash off.
He laughed and dared to venture,
"Hahaha... women!"
to which my not so oblivious dad replied,
"I wouldn't say that if I were you..."
The rest of the day I spent sending glares in his general direction.
On the car ride home he fell asleep and slid onto my shoulder, smelling of everything gross, mouth wide open, causing my anger to flare.
Unfortunately, I was too nice back then to push him off of me onto the floor. If I could do it over again, I would tell him off earlier in the story (or not invite him at all...); but being as it was, I let him rest his grimy head on my shoulder for the first and last time.

Later that evening after dropping him off, he called me from the theaters wanting to know the average "What's up?"
I told him that I did not want to date him anymore, and asked if he was going to be okay.
He very maturely replied,
"Oh yeah, I'm tough, I ride bikes."
I laughed to myself and hung up the phone, knowing very well that he was going to hate me for the rest of his life, or at least for the rest of his high school years.  He deserved to hate me, after all I did invite him on the trip.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Burro Creek

[These photographs were not taken by me, I found them on google images because I do not have any of my own pictures of Burro Creek]

      This place holds many cherished memories from my childhood. Burro Creek is a campground in the middle of Arizona, pretty much exactly in the middle of the desert. You would think that the desert is full of nothing (a lot of dry nothing), but if you take the time to experience it then you will discover that it is full of life and beauty. The first time we camped here, the desert came alive in a way that will stay with me forever.

      We arrived at the campground, set up camp, started a nice fire, and relaxed as the sun set. My sister and I explored the campground in the fading sunlight, running as fast as we could along the dirt roads and through the shrubs that surrounded each site. That night the family sat around the fire and roasted delicious marshmallows. Our faithful dogs, Toby and Lina, waited by our side for the discarded goodies that sometimes slipped off our sticks during the transfer from the fire to our mouths. The embers slowly died with the quiet passing of time, the glint reflected in the eyes of everyone who sat comfortably in chairs around the ring of rocks that marked the fire pit. I blew on the coals, soon after realizing that they only got brighter with the breath that was meant to put them out. This reminded me of God's light in us all, how our strength should be. As our lights are being "put out" by outside forces, we should only grow brighter and stronger in our faith.
Eventually the moon was high in the sky, telling us it was time for bed. I crawled into my tent that I shared with my sister and fell into a satisfied slumber while the crickets sang us to sleep.

      The next morning we woke up to a hot Arizona morning that was especially made for hiking. There are only two temperatures in the desert... hot and cold; this day was definitely going to be hot. We put on our fanny packs (which, at the time, was a new and cool thing for me), got our water and sunscreen ready, and headed off to the find the trail. The trail opened at a twisty gate built to keep the wild burros out of the campground. A huge saguaro cactus greeted us as we began our journey to the bottom of the trail. The path led to a pretty little creek with a swimming pool. We eagerly jumped into the cool water, a nice refreshment from the desert heat.
After a while of playing here we got bored and decided to follow the creek up stream. In the distance there was a huge bridge built over the canyon, we made it our goal to hike to the point underneath the bridge.

As we traveled up stream, the foliage began to get more and more lush. Soon we reached another waterhole that was divided by a huge log and a lot of rocks. The shaded side looked like a scene from a fairytale, water flowed out of rocks and vines snaked up the wet the canyon wall. We crawled across on the rocks to explore this mysterious side. Bees buzzed angrily in the smaller side canyons as I tried to explore them too, I gave up and returned to the water's edge.
Small colorful fish swam near the top of the clear water and dark green moss coated the rocks just below the surface.

      Even though this spot seemed perfect, we were still not under the bridge. So off we went, leaving the fairytale setting behind us, back into the sun and hiking over sun dried rocks. After a while we finally made it to the overpass. I remember it looming above us, cars driving across with no clue to the beauty that lay just below them.
As we sat there, we saw another swimming hole close to us, this one being the biggest and deepest of them all. There was a huge rock that provided the perfect place to jump off into the blue water. We swam for what seemed like hours. I went to the other side, being the explorer that I am, and hiked up a little farther. This way was just filled with hot sand and weeds, so I went back.

      Oh, but what is a good hike without an injury? I tried to pull my dog, Lina, into the water but only managed to scrape my heel on a sharp rock. This later turned into an infection that began to snake it's way up my leg... but I won't get into that now, this story is already long enough.

      The hike back to camp was not as fun as the hike there, the return trips always seem twice as long. We ran out of drinkable water, the dogs chased some cows and calves that were wandering around, and my heel was bleeding and painful from the scrape. Being young and whiny (you know, those early tween years) I'm sure my sister and I were not very pleasant companions for my parents. We did make it back to camp though, fairly safe and sound.

      Also, it is rumored that there are wild horses in this area. I'm pretty sure I saw a wild black mustang and most of my time there was spent in search of it.

      Burro Creek is a magical place and I hope to go back again someday.

You Know You're in Texas When...

[This is not my photo, I found it on google images]

... you get a flat tire and open the door to find a dead armadillo on the side of the road.
... you run out of gas, get out of the car, and almost get blown away by the strong Texan winds.
... you go to a gas station where your dad finds a Nascar trading card with a man who looks just like him.
(you also know you're dad is a nut when he makes obnoxious jokes with the cashier about the trading card, buys it, and keeps it in his wallet for future jokes.)
... you drive by the stinkiest cattle fields on the face of the earth and the strong wind blows the smell right up your nose.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Night in New Mexico

[The photo was taken in Nevada]

So I feel like I need to tell a few short stories that have happened in my life. I want to get them down somewhere so I won't forget.

A Night in New Mexico.

The family had just finished a visit to relatives in Las Vegas, Nevada and we were on our way back to North Carolina, driving across country in a car. We spent the whole day driving through Arizona and we had just made it into New Mexico. It must have been around 10:00pm because I remember it being extremely dark. One thing about my family and long trips is that we never buy a motel for the night, it is cheaper and usually more fun to find a campground off the highway. Needless to say, after a few of these long road trips, we were getting pretty good at camping.
On this particular night the campground that we were looking for ended up being farther away from the highway than we had originally thought. We kept driving on this dirt road, traveling deeper and deeper into the dry and dark wilderness of New Mexico. Eventually we gave up trying to find this mysterious campground and my parents decided to find an open spot on the side of the road to camp out under the stars on our air mattresses.

We set up camp, turned off the lights, said our good nights, and sleepily stared up at the beautiful night sky packed with bright stars. As I was drifting off to sleep, I remember looking off into the distance filled with dark shapes. My over-active imagination began to create menacing animals out of the black shapes that were most likely trees, shrubs, or rocks.

We were rudely awaken to a park ranger asking loud questions.
'Have you seen anyone driving a red truck?'
(apparently someone was on the run from the park rangers)
'No, we have not seen anyone else on this road.'
I vaguely remember this conversation, as I was in the hazy mode between sleep and consciousness.
I do remember him getting into his car while throwing out a last humorous word about wild bears.
'Oh, and be careful of the bears! Hahaha, have a goodnight!'
Bears? He was joking, whatever, I'm so tired...

1:00 or 2:00 a.m.
Dad woke me up.
"Lydia. Get your stuff and get in the car. NOW."
The urgency in his voice told me to not ask questions and it caused me to move as fast as I could.
I sat in the car with my blanket and pillow clutched in my arms, my sister sat beside me with the same look of fear and question on her face. Outside my dad worked quickly, deflating the mattresses in record breaking time and stuffing everything he could in the trunk. My mom helped then got in the car and shut the door.
Dad got the last things in the trunk and jumped into the car.
The engine roared to life and we pulled onto the dirt road, traveling in stunned silence.
After a few long minutes of this, my dad finally spoke up.
"I do not want to scare you girls, but there was a bear in our campsite."
What?? A bear?? The ranger wasn't joking after all.
"I woke up with a strange feeling, I could smell it before I heard it; you know it's a bear when you smell it. Then I heard something big moving around, sniffing, close to us. I did not want to frighten it because that would make it attack, so I just started to make small sounds. I moved around slowly, letting the bear know that I was there. Eventually it left, but I wasn't sure how far it went. That's when I got you girls up."

Sometime between 1:30 and 2:30 a.m.
We drove down the road for a few miles and suddenly came upon the campground. It was surrounded by a tall fence. My guess was that its main function was to keep out the bears. The next morning we woke up to the bright New Mexican sun, feeling good to have survived the night.
That morning I learned the importance of one minute detail, I was on my period. I was 14 and not willing to use a tampon, so the only other thing to use was a pad. 
Another thing, bears can smell blood, they love blood.
Mom and Dad pulled me aside, "Lydia," said my Dad in hushed tones, "the next time we camp out and you're on your period, let me know."
My 14 year old self was mortified, humiliated, and embarrassed.
Several thoughts ran through my head at once.
'Tell Dad that I'm on my period? Are you serious?! And Mom told Dad that I'm on my period? I could have been killed by a bear last night!"

Now I look back and laugh at this story, I love telling it to friends and family.
I still love camping, but needless to say, I never want to camp out in New Mexico without the protection of a tall fence... or a tampon.

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