90,000 Miles to Me

23,059 Miles • Heading Home

I left Los Angeles on a balmy fall day that could almost have been mistaken for summer, and arrived two days later in winter.

Heading east from Los Angeles to New Mexico, I discovered a museum to General Patton in the middle of the California Desert. I stopped because my dad was really into Patton, but the museum was too expensive and not on my reciprocal museum membership, so I only saw the couple of displays in the lobby and the memorial wall of names in front. I sent up a prayer of memorial for the many in my family who serve and have served.

Stayed overnight at a BLM campground in Quartzsite, AZ. The famous Quartzite, pilgrimage site for thousands of RVers every year.

  • Street name: Sore Finger Rd.
  • Sign: “Drive Hammered – Get Nailed”
  • Sign: “Driving? Park Your Phone”
  • In the middle of Phoenix: “Rural Road” —Maybe they should rename this “Formerly Rural Road”??
  • On that street is a shopping center called “Superstition Gateway” —I can’t make this stuff up

I highly recommend the 60 East (or West) between Phoenix and Showlow. A beautiful alternative to the interstate. 

Spent the night in Pie City, NM, at the free city campground on Mud Pie Lane! One of the few buildings in this tiny town is a pie shop.

It snowed a couple of inches overnight. I am very happy with the new added insulation in the floor. It would have been even colder without it. This was the coldest night in the van yet. The inside temperature got down to -10˚C, and outside was much colder than that. Well, this is December 1st at around 7,000 feet in the desert. Welcome to New Mexico.

Speaking of which, as I drove back home, I saw the beauty of the desert for the first time, and actually thought to myself that I could potentially want to live here long-term again. Not that I’ve hated it, it is just that I’ve never been one of those people to appreciate the beauty of the desert. I love big mountains and big trees and lots of green. When I’m in those places, my soul takes a deep breath. I feel like I’ve come home. 

I’ve lived in New Mexico for close to two decades, and I have a house and friends and a loving and supportive Church community here, but it hasn’t felt like home, just like the place where I live. I’ve stayed here mostly because of that Church community, and because every time I have thought seriously about leaving, I got the very strong feeling that I needed to stay. Why? I still don’t know, but I’ve mostly put it down to needing this parish. Whatever the reason, I have consistently decided to act in trust and stay.

When contemplating van life three years ago, for the first time I felt like it would be okay to go, but in this limited sort of going, where I come back frequently. In fact, as I’ve been on this Journey, I have connected back to my parish more than I have in several years, and have forged better relationships as we have mutually supported each other, sometimes in person, sometimes from a distance. 

I am absolutely convinced that this Journey was the right path for me at this point in my life, and that what I am learning now about myself, the relationships I am forming and deepening, the progress I am making in so many areas of my life, will build a foundation for and inform the character of the rest of my life, long after I settle down again. 

I’m not sure yet where that will be, but as I drove through the western New Mexico desert, it occurred to me for the first time that it could potentially be right where I started this Adventure. 

But I’m making no commitments yet. 🙂

  • Sign: “Roadside Tables” —usually these signs read “picnic area,” but here it is “roadside tables”! LOL

There’s one more sign. A very special sign. I have been wanting to take a picture of one of these signs since I moved to the state, and finally let go of my need, real or imagined, to “get somewhere” and pulled over and took the picture at the top of this page.

It is making no claim as to the actual existence of gusty winds, here or elsewhere, but somewhere in the universe gusty winds may exist.

I got home at 23,059 miles.

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22,122 • NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
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