As we worked to pack up our car full to the brim with all of the very necessary (and unnecessary) camping gear for the next few days, I couldn’t help but take advantage of our parking garage’s acoustics, and belt out my best rendition of “Into the Unknown.” And really, it felt perfectly fitting. For one, we had just watched Frozen II, and I literally cannot seem to get this insanely catchy tune out of my head. But secondly, this has been quite the week.
The reality of this very serious global health pandemic has been a bit overwhelming at moments. We are definitely in a place that I don’t think that any of us could have possibly imagined being in. And personally, I find that the unknown is often the scariest place to be. And then completely insignificant in comparison (but our current reality), we have also been dealing with the fallout of a flood in our building. A result of which has welcomed endless workers into our apartment, and having parts of both of our bathrooms ripped out.
At the start of this past week, we had to make the quick decision to delay our camping plans to Joshua Tree National Park by a few days because of the heavy rains and flash floods that would be passing through the desert. Yes, you heard me right – thunderstorms and flash floods in the desert. (Just our luck apparently.) Then by the middle of the week, we had to postpone again because of our own personal flood experience. And then by the time that we had reached Friday. . .well, our local health concerns had really heightened, and so we started to question if we should be going at all.
During times of struggle, I think that we all have different ideas about how to handle things, prepare for things, or create balance in our own lives. And what I think is most important, is that we do what works best for each of us. And so for us, we knew that we needed it. We needed some time to get away, some time to disconnect, and some time to be quiet in nature and just unwind. In the midst of all of these unplanned events, that is exactly what we needed. And so we finished packing up our car, and we headed out in search of peace.
After a few short hours of driving, we excitedly arrived to a surprisingly crowded Visitor Center. I mean yes, it was a Saturday. But the weather was still kind of iffy. And with everything else going on, we were kind of anticipating that most people would be wanting to stay home. But it appears that we all had the same idea. Get out, and get into nature.
We parked and hustled ourselves over to grab a map, and to talk to a ranger about our plans for the next few days. But after said ranger laughed out loud at us when she heard that we had not yet found a campsite (not the best ranger manners in my opinion), we decided to skip the small talk and head straight into the Park to find our spot. Fingers crossed that we would get a campsite. After all, the whole trip was basically riding on that one little detail.
We both had our top picks for campsites in the Park, but we were also beginning to realize that there might need to be some flexibility. So flexible we stayed. And we drove. For about three hours to be exact. We drove for almost the same amount of time that it took us to just get from our house to the Park. Yes, we drove a lot.
But after those three hours of back and forths between different campsites, of checking tickets, and of desperately praying for any sort of cell reception (which there is literally zilch by the way). . .of following maps, of talking to fellow campers, and of even being offered to share sites by a few, we got a spot. We had the absolute dumb luck of running into the only camp hosts at one of the biggest campsites. And because the weather had been sort of awful all week, they had a few cancellations, and a few spots to give away for the night.
Pretty much nothing had gone as planned. We had ended up spending enough time in the car to reach Death Valley National Park (which we were most definitely not amused by), we had yet to do any sort of “touring” of the Park (unless of course you count the 3 hour campsite hunt as touring), and we were exhausted. But at least we had a spot. Yes, we would be having to wake up early the next morning and move again, but we had a spot. And as odd as this might sound, this is exactly what camping is all about – finding the humor and the joy in the unpredictability, and making the most out of the unknown.