Waking up all alone in a desert is not something I ever want to do again. The whole night long I went through terrifying what-if situations I'm not going to repeat here. The worst part was that none of them felt far fetched. At no point did I say to myself, Sally, get a fucking grip. Never. Everything seemed completely plausible. Thank God for my friend Maggie who sacrificed her own good night's sleep and texted back and forth with me at 3 in the morning. I was in a hard place.
And then I had an 11 year old with an ear infection.
We went to urgent care. I sent everyone else to the grocery store. I sat with London for over an hour waiting to be told that yes, she had an ear infection. The doctor was chatty, an old rancher type who wanted to know all about our trip and where we were from and so forth. I was happy about all that. I walked out with London and there was the rest of my family, holding a giant cup of espresso and whole milk over ice from the starbucks that obviously was inside the grocery store they'd gone to.
We went to the pharmacy and I waited again for the antibiotic and the buckwheat honey he'd recommended. He was a big buckwheat honey fan. We'd read the same study.
I tackled my coffee in short order and we headed into White Sands.
Again, I'd been here at age 12. There are pictures of us on the dunes. Until I planned this trip, I thought we had broken federal law being on those gypsum dunes. But no. It's totally legal. As we were filling up water bottles, a young hipster couple approached us.
“Would you like a sled?”
They'd been given a sled by someone else, and now wanted to pass it on. We totally took the sled. We drove out into the dunes on a hard pack gypsum road. Ate lunch. Sledded down the dunes, which acted more like snow than sand. If snow was a solid at 100 degrees. Isn't that a Kurt Vonnegut story?
It was exhausting and hot but it was fun. We got back in the car and I promptly fell asleep for a couple hours, waking up near our next campground. We were going to set up camp and then head to Carlsbad Caverns (we are also headed there the next day), but it was hot. And there was a pool.
And then...I jacked up my knee.
I've hiked along the rim of the Grand Canyon. Down into Bryce. Through Devil's Garden in Arches. Along the wall of Zion. All over the place the past two weeks, not to mention last month in the Smokies. And I jacked up my knee walking across the campground parking lot.
So we swam. I stretched a little in the water. I took a hot shower. I came back to the camper, turned on the AC, and sat myself down with an ice pack.
At least it's at this point in the trip and not day 2. I don't know if I'll make it into Carlsbad Caverns proper tomorrow...but everyone else will. Either way, I'm going to watch the bat flight tomorrow evening. And it will be all right.