When I was ten years old, and our family had horses for us to ride, I dreamed of riding off into the wilderness. At that time, wilderness was a dirt road between a weedy hay field and a the bordering rows of corn across the fence from the pasture where our horses spent most of their days while we were at school.
A sense of freedom lived in my heart at the time, a feeling I didn’t fully understand. It just felt like a desire to go anywhere, a longing to know the world and myself outside of the borders of my limited experience.
My father took us on vacation to mountains and seasides completely the opposite of the Indiana countryside where we lived in those years. My siblings and ran wild exploring and discovering in the world at large.
But then I grew up and for a good long time learned the art of responsibility. I put down roots, made a home, bought things, and raised my children. I asked the call of my gypsy heart to be quiet while I stayed put and focused on keeping my family safe and growing.
But just recently, the last of my children graduated from college and I can listen once again to the stirrings of wanderlust saying let’s go, just a little farther, over there, just over the hill.
Kestrel and I left Indy at 6:40 am flying out in front of the rising sun towards Las Vegas where we arrived at 7:10 am. We picked up the rental car and got on 15 towards Long Beach California. Even though we’d just lost three hours of time, I felt excited. Through unfamiliar desert and mountainsides, I drove while Kestrel slept, the passenger seat tipped all the way back and his jacket over his head.
We arrived in Long Beach, the place where I was born while my dad was stationed at Long Beach Air Force Base. We walked the piers to see the LMS Queen Mary, a luxury ocean-liner with a unique history sailing New York to Long Beach during the years when I was born there. It is currently moored and operating as a hotel. One day I hope to spend the night there.
Back on the road toward our camp location.
Almost two more hour of driving through L.A. traffic, and a quick stop at a grocery, we arrive a little road weary at the Peaceful Hearts Gypsy Gypsy Mountain Ranch on the Santa Rosa Plateau just south of Lake Elsinore. I found this campsite on a lesser known website, Hipcamp, which operates a lot like Airbnb but for camping experiences.
To get there, we had to drive down a super steep hillside through groves of oranges and small vineyards marching in neat tidy rows along the slopes and then into a valley with giant boulders dotting the hilly terrain. When we arrived, we met the hosts fiance Kyle and he said, find a spot and make it your own.
“Do you need to see my reservation information?”
“No,” he said, “If you found us, you belong here.”
I laughed. It was true, you’d never be able to find them on your own.
We set up our tent among the shrubby bushes, made some sandwiches and then immediately set off on a hike around the John Muir Loop. Climbing the monstrous boulders was a challenge, but the views from up top were amazing.
Put myself up to a little balance pose!
After hiking, Kestrel and I sat quietly on a swing on the hillside overlooking the horse pasture. A couple of young girls came by on the path with their Schnauzer looking for a secret hiding place. They scooted on up the hill leaving us alone.
While on the plane over earlier that day, there was an article, “33 Places Where You Can Find an Hour of Bliss.” Sitting there in the twilight of evening, I’m thinking you can find a little peace almost anywhere if you can get quiet enough and stop the noise of responsibility. Sometimes we have to get away to find that and sometimes we can find it wherever we are. If we open our heart to listen.