Yes. Yes we did.
We spent the last part of the girls’ spring break in the Mojave National Preserve.
Camping is a big deal for me. Like skiing, it’s not in my vocabulary. I can only “rough it” so far — especially now that I’m older (and supposedly wiser… it makes me wonder sometimes). What we did before was not remotely close to camping in the desert in low temperatures and gusty wind conditions. And no bathrooms. Or showers.
I need my showers.
Did I mention no bathrooms? They were vaults. Outhouses with toilet seats inside that lead straight down into a hole. Where everything drops. No flush.
I flashback to our Yosemite trip, where the vaults were nowhere near desirable. I would hoist Sam and Jamie over it and pray they wouldn’t fall in.
I’d have to say – I was at the edge of my comfort zone, just about to lose my footing.
I had panic attacks. I lost sleep and I had toilet nightmares. I looked to Immodium as the solution. I wanted to back out many times.
But we were going to do this. I took a deep breath, and prepped my “vault bag”.
I bought a portable shower and a privacy tent, which was quite the entertainment for my fellow moms.
We camped at Hole-in- the Wall, an area that got its name from the uneven cooling of lava and ash from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. The oxidation of iron in the volcanic mater is what makes some of the rocks look red. And all toilet humor aside, I will admit it was beautiful.
We took a hike on Ring Loop Trail, and Jamie almost ran into a snake (no kidding).
The kids climbed boulders, and took in the wildlife. Sam loves nature, and her energy and positivity was contagious, especially to Jamie. The girls did some crafts and completed a badge or two (including the National Parks’ Junior Ranger patch!)
And we were in excellent company. I wasn’t the only mom with vault nightmares — but we made the best of the situation and lived to joke about it after.
It was also because the vaults weren’t as bad as we’d expected (except for one instance when I had to clean it in its worst state. I am forever scarred). So it was tolerable, even at 2AM in the morning when Sam would need it.
The weather conditions were rough though. The winds howled all night and snapped a tent in half. The ranger said the next morning that it shifted to 45mph and were considered “perilous”. Gee, thanks. A lot of us didn’t sleep due to the noise and the movement the wind was making on our tents, thinking they’d collapse at any minute.
So all in all, it was quite the experience. And all I can think of is: I survived. In between laughing fits, my friends ask why I put myself through all of that. Were we crazy to go despite all my concerns and apprehensions?
I only had one reason.
My little adventure-seeker and nature-lover could not be bribed (yes shame on us – we tried) to go anywhere else. Sam really wanted to camp in Mojave. She researched about it, read about it, and even proposed a presentation of the trip to her teacher. She was excited. And she got Jamie excited about it too. My timid Jamie, who hesitates through new experiences, jumped straight into this one. All thanks to her big sister’s infectious excitement.
I can’t deny this was a good experience for them (once we flush all those concerns down the drain). I would never in a million years, think to offer this to them though, but now we’ve opened new doors to explore.
My girls are the only people who can push me to the limits of my comfort zone and beyond. It amazes me how far beyond my comfort zone I’d go, to give them a chance to experience these unique opportunities. Parenting has definitely taught me to “suck it up” and “weather” it out, in a manner of speaking.
And I survived! Sleep-deprived and muscle aches in tow, I surprised even myself.
Oh Motherhood. It changes you in ways you can’t explain. And you don’t realize it until it’s there… or until the next morning when you feel your (my) aching back.