We left for Texas on a Thursday, our Tundra stuffed to the gills with, well, stuff. The flotsam that surrounds a hunter going to Texas; a 9-month-old baby; and a, cough, slightly anxious mother embarking on her first major road trip with said baby.
Our dog, God love her, stayed with a friend. My sanity will only be tested so much.
Going from Albuquerque to south Texas is a long drive, plain and simple. We split up the trip to make it easier on ourselves physically and mentally. But Caroline did fine! Maybe it was my deliberate overpacking of food and toys for her, or maybe she’s just okay with long car rides (fingers crossed for the future), but she took the situation more or less like a champ. I did a lot of exhaling as we pulled up to our friends’ cabin.
And that’s when the character-building really began. The cabin was well-built, with homey décor. It also had:
- No air-conditioning. Multiple fans, but no AC. In Texas. In the summertime.
- A semi-functioning toilet – it flushed, but we had to manually refill the tank with each use.
- No kitchen sink. Dishes (i.e. baby supplies) were washed in the bathroom. With hand soap and water of questionable potability.
- A shower, but no hot water.
I hadn’t known any of this beforehand. I assure you that I am no germophobe and that I enjoy camping and the outdoors. But there was a LOT of “NOOOOOOPE [expletive] [more expletives] nope nope noooope” dominating my internal dialogue that first day. Or two. Outwardly I managed to remember my manners, and the fact that there really wasn’t an alternative. I think I belted out a lot of nervous laughter.
Okay. Before I spiral too far, it’s important to note that there were a lot of good parts. Such as:
- The people. Our hosts, Chuck and Kym, are fabulous. Generous, kind, smart, good-humored, tough. Basically, Texans.
- Their two kids are also fabulous. They took an immediate shine to Caroline, and she to them. Watching them, it was easy – and wild – to imagine what Caroline will be doing in only a year or two.
- We ate most of our meals outside, which makes all food taste better. And the food (lots of grilled and smoked stuff) was already delicious.
- On Sunday afternoon, it rained. IT RAINED. Even having lived in New Mexico for 11 years, rarely have I appreciated a rain like that. All of us, including the baby, went out and basked in it. I may have danced a little.
- Plentiful little moments of magic: taking a short walk with Robin Hood one evening and seeing a whitetail doe. Picking the fruit off of prickly pear cacti. Watching my baby play blissfully on the porch in nothing but a diaper. Taking her outside when she was hungry in the middle of the night and feeding her under a celestial blanket of stars.
I was honestly a little sad when the time came to go home. But come it did, and we made the drive back in one day. Now THAT was a long drive. But once again, Caroline took it in stride, and we grown-ups? Well, we maintained a steady intake of coffee.
And we did it!!
What did I learn?
- Babies/kids are resilient. Way more resilient than most adults.
- I’m more resilient than I think I am. Nicole Antoinette, who has a podcast and a heck of an Instagram account, wrote, “Nothing is wrong, it’s just hard, and I can do hard things.” That became a mantra for me.
- ….And in doing hard things, there is fun to be had. It just takes a little time to adjust. Eventually, you learn to embrace the suck, so to speak, and roll with it. Then things get better.
With this adventure, and several showers, now under my belt, would I go back?
Yes. Because lessons borne of sweat and rocky roads and dirt and uncomfortable growth and laughing in the face of it all? Those are some of the best lessons around.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to do one last tick check.