With apologies to Ricky Martin …
Well, we made it to La Veta by late afternoon on Sunday, but not without a bit of a problem. All seems to be well now, though.
I was dealing with a pretty massive anxiety attack on Saturday. It had started late Friday. Not sure what brought it up – might have been facing my own transcience; leaving a place that was pretty close to heaven; or perhapsthere just wasn’t any particular reason … they’ve come up with daily regularity for most of my adult life, so the fact that it had been about 3 weeks since my last episode should have been a pretty good thing.
It took me forever to finally get off my ass on Saturday afternoon to start packing. I staked Frank out by the back of the car and started pulling stuff out of the tent and putting it back into their proper storage bins in the trunk: electronics in “Bin A” … extra food staples in “Bin B”, etc. etc.
Once I finished that, I brought all my dirty dishes over to the wash house and started that job. I’ve never been good about doing dishes … not sure what the hangup is about that. Nevertheless, I got through them by continually reciting “Hail Mary”s throughout the entire process. (I managed to get everything else done in 15 minute increments … work for 15 minutes, breathing exercises for 15 minutes, and so on.)
I got a kick out of Frank. He knew something was up. I’m not sure if he was reacting to my anxiety or to all that was going on around him. I’ve been around dogs most my life and while all of my furry companions have been in tune to things, Frank is particularly intuitive. At least I think he is.
Anyhow, in the middle of doing dishes, I looked up to see how Frank was doing. He was sitting in the trunk of the car!!!! I have no idea how he got in – there wasn’t anything nearby he could have used as a ladder. And yet, he was sitting there with his head resting on one side of the car where the trunk lid would hit, looking anxiously at the wash house: “I don’t know what’s going on, but I know I can’t be left behind if I’m sitting in the trunk!”
I was able to get everything packed into the car that could be packed by about 7:30pm … just in time to join our last community campfire. I talked to TJ’s in-laws for about 30 minutes and discovered they lived about 45 minutes north of Truth or Consequences, NM, one of the places I will investigate as a retirement location next fall. They were a wealth of information (and very gracious – they saw me sitting in my chair doing the breathing and got concerned over my wellbeing … enough so that they asked TJ to check up on me. He shared some of his own experiences as a cop and how he’s had to deal with anxiety at times after certain calls and how breathing techniques have helped him. I made a real friend in him!)
Sunday morning came … we were able to say goodbye to TJ before he went off for a morning of golf (one of the few times I actually saw him take time off … I tell you, this guy works his ass off morning to night). We had everything packed and ready to go by noon (I did the heavy lifting … Frank supervised). Had some help from another fellow in camp, William, who came along at just the right time to fold up the ground tarp and get my luggage bag zipped up on the carrier rack (I’m tall, and STILL have trouble reaching the zipper when it’s square in the back, over the trunk!)
After showering and recuperating a bit from the morning exertion, we left about 1pm, but not before stopping by William’s camper so his little girl could pet Frank one more time. I tell you, Frank is gonna miss this place … everyone knew him and he was the recipient of a massive amount of attention!
The road to La Veta treated us to some spectacular scenery! We stopped at the summit of Wolf Creek Pass where Frank posed for a couple of photos. After that, we continued east. We left the mountains for a high level plateau that stretched for miles. I don’t know why I find this so amazing! We’re traveling across land that reminded me of Kansas … and yet we were at about 7,500 feet in altitude!
The “valley”, as the call it (I think it’s the San Luis Valley) is bordered by mountains on the east and west. To get to La Veta, we had to cross over another mountain pass – La Veta Pass, which is not quite as high as Wolf Creek. It reminded me of driving to Buena Vista from Denver years ago. I’ve mentioned before that I worked for a youth organization with a ranch near Buena Vista and would spend a lot of time there during the summer. The drive would take me through another expansive valley. Unless you’ve driven it, it’s hard to describe how eerie it is … to be driving through mountainous terrain and all of a sudden see everything open up in front of you into a huge valley so high in altitude. Or not. Maybe it’s just me.
But I digress …
My stomach was grumbling a bit when we neared Alamosa and I realized that I hadn’t had anything to eat since Friday dinner. Forgetting to eat, in and of itself, is a pretty remarkable change for me … not a positive one, but a change nonetheless. Food has always been a crutch and quite frankly, it’s surprising that as anxious as I was on Saturday, food never crossed my mind! But that wasn’t occupying much thought as we entered town … I just wanted to find someplace to eat!
Fast food places are pretty rare in south/southwest Colorado. I pulled into the first place I saw – a Dairy Queen. I ordered a cheeseburger and water … my Social Security payment for a few days and I was pretty short of cash, except for the camp fees for my upcoming stay. That turned out to be a good thing.
My stomach started churning less than 30 miles after finishing the last bite of burger. We made it to La Veta around 4:30pm. I met Denny and Jay, the couple who owned “Circle Your Wagons RV Park and Campground”, but before checking in, I asked where the bathroom was. I didn’t make it. I got sicker than all hell. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t pretty!
Thirty minutes later (I wound up taking a shower while I was in there), I went back into the office, told them I got sick in their bathroom, asked for the mop and told them I didn’t think I was capable of setting up camp that day. I asked if there were any inexpensive rooms nearby and that I would come back in the morning. Denny said, “There’s nothing inexpensive in La Veta,” and Jay followed up by saying, “We have some mini-trailers that are available and you’re going to stay there! And that’s that!”
They refused giving me the mop, which I was not happy about … nothing makes a good first impression like getting sick in someone’s bathroom, right? But Jay would have none of it! She brought us out to the trailer (my first question was, “Will I fit?” and she laughed – “Don’t be ridiculous!”) and then told me to sit on a patio chair … that she was going to bring me some 7-Up.
After sitting for about a half-hour, sipping 7-Up and feeling totally embarrassed, we made our way into the trailer. I won’t lie – it was cramped. But the bed was warm. Actually, there were two beds … Frank took the other one. I was asleep by 7pm and awoke around 2am to find Frank snoring away on the other bed, his head on one of the pillows and his front leg hugging the other one! One of those, “I wish I had my camera” moments.
We got up around 8am and finished checking in. Denny showed me over to the campsite. I again apologized for the night before, but he would hear none of it (“We’re just glad you didn’t get sick on the road and have an accident!”) I think I need another sheet of paper to continue “kindnesses that strangers have shown me” list.
Frank and I got the tent up and the necessities unpacked by 3pm … but not before we had to take a side trip to Walsenberg to buy more reading glasses. I have been the world’s worst when it comes to keeping them. I bought six pair this time, making it an even dozen I’ve bought since leaving Charleston at the end of May! On the way home we detoured further to see some of the rock formations south of La Veta … truly incredible!
That’s it for now … except for one thing that I would be remiss in not mentioning.
I posted something on my Facebook page about my anxiety attacks on Saturday. The support my friends posted in response was overwhelming. I’ve not experienced a lot of love and support in my lifetime and reading them on Sunday morning brought me to tears. I feel nothing but blessed by these friendships … somehow, simply saying “Thank you” doesn’t capture my gratitude and appreciation for the difference they’ve made on this journey.
I’ll post some photos in the next day or two … not sure if my photography skills will do the scenery justice, but we’ll see. I’ve not looked at them yet, either! :o)