Day #18 of 21 Days to Disciplined Writing


From Camari Carter-Hawkins

Gooooood Morning! We are so close to the end of our 21 Days Writing Challenge. I hope you had a great time with this challenge. When this challenge is done, I want you to continue to wake up every day at 6am and get some writing in.

Today, I want you to write about the best place you have ever visited. Write in detail, make the place come alive for everyone. Write so that the reader can feel as if they were on the trip with you.

The place you write about doesn't have to be a broad. It can be a local park, the city next to you, the beach, etc.

Camari

#21DDW

We were intrepid travelers, putting up our tent wherever we went, sleeping in odd places, feasting on whatever local cuisine happened to be, all in the United States. I have seen 48 of the continuous United States, stepped foot in 47 of them and I have been to Hawaii. I only have Alaska and the U.S. possessions to see.

It is odd but every place I think of to describe ends up being what I did where I was not exactly the scenic wonders I saw. It is odd as I have had my breath taken away so many times but the most important things I remember are what I did and who I was with.

For example, the night we drove into Big Bend National Park at the very southern tip of Texas, bordering the Rio Grande River. My boyfriend and I had been traveling all day and miscalculated how long it would take us to get to the park. We thought maybe we would be at the campground around 10 or 11 PM but at 1 AM in the morning we were still driving. The park entrance was quite a distance from the campgrounds. We took state road 118 into the park but then we had to drive and drive and drive to get to a campground. Normally we would throw the tent up wherever we were and let it be but we didn’t know this area at all and it was desert, something we knew little to nothing about. We would spend twenty-five years in Phoenix, Arizona as a married couple and then as an unmarried couple, but that was much later.

On the way to our campground we had quite an adventure.

The first thing we saw was a herd of Javelina. They are the stinkiest and quite ugly creature. They are a distant cousin to the wild boar and their range is in the desert southwest including Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. If you ever pull off the side of the road and smell something really bad, it is not your car mate, it is probably the droppings of a herd of Javelina.

Though they scattered in fear, the herd was large enough that we had to slow down and ease through them as they parted, like a herd of sheep would, on the road. I was pretty excited but some of them were huge. They looked like the size of small bears and their faces could have looked right in the windows of my small Corvair. My boyfriend was wise and didn’t want to take the time to say hello. I was excited and wanted us to slow down and look more closely at them. He said, “uh…no!” Besides, we had a much longer distance to drive than we knew.

The next thing we ran into as a swarm of mice. We had no idea what they were. All we saw was these small mice-like creatures hopping all over the road. We did slow down for them as we didn’t want to run over them but there seemed to be hundreds, maybe thousands, of them. They hopped!

“What the heck are they?” I asked my boyfriend.

“I don’t know,” he said. “They look like mice..” he said, after some reflection on the hopping creatures.

“…but they hop,” I interrupted. “Mice hop?” I asked him.

“I don’t know…” he said, mumbling, not sure.

"We have to move on," he said.

"Don't kill them!" I said.

"We don't want to be here all night," he said.

I surrendered knowing he was right.

Next thing we saw was something that startled both of us causing my boyfriend to stomp brake causing us to skid on the gravel road, sliding ever so slightly to the right, our headlights facing left. A huge mountain lion jumped onto the road and crossed in our headlights, trotted across the road and jumped up onto the embankment, on our left. She just stood there. Looking at us. We could see the light reflect in her eyes. Her sleek body was large and tan and she had a loose skin on her underbelly. Had she just had babies? She stood there for at least 15 seconds but it felt like 10 minutes. We were in awe. I whisper yelled, “Hurry, get the camera. We need to get a picture.” I scrambled, looking for the box. “We need to get out and get a picture!” I was loud whispering, afraid she would go away.

“I’m not getting out,” my boyfriend said. “You get out,” he added. I laughed. That was funny. I would have gotten out but she was gone by then. We sat there in awe of what we had seen. It was a real cat. A huge mountain lion of a cat.

We finally got to our campground and were in bed by 3 AM but I laid there wide awake, excited to have seen such wonders and worried if she might come and get us. I was young. I didn’t know.

The next morning showed us the wonders we had missed driving into the park at night. We didn’t see the colors of the mountains and the clouds that hugged the peaks and the magic of the desert. We had our breakfast and went to the ranger station. We had so many questions.

When we spoke to the ranger he was excited for us. He told us all about Javelina and “the mice,” he said. “They’re kangaroo mice. That’s why they hop.” He laughed with us when we spoke of our experience and he teased us for not knowing about mice in general.

When we told him about our cat experience he almost didn’t believe us. We told him how big it was and the coloring and the shape of the body. He showed us pictures of various cats in the park and we identified the type of cat it was. At first he thought it might be a smaller cat but we said, no it was this particular size. Then the man became a little pensive and quiet. He looked at the two of us, hippie kids, twenty-somethings, traveling through, having adventures and said, “You know, I’ve worked at this park for 16 years and I have never seen a cat.” He didn’t need to finish his tale. We understood and felt honored that she decided to show herself to us. We thanked him for the information and went on our way.

Namaste’ y’all

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