I opened one eye. There was a deer licking frost from the passenger window. The “shotgun” window we used to call it. Slowly I opened the other eye. It was a doe. I’ve never been that close to a wild deer before.
If I had twitched she would have been gone, so I lay motionless in my sleeping bag and watched that delicate pink tongue and those big brown eyes. Every so often she would pause and survey her surroundings, her sensitive ears swiveling around like little radars scanning for any sound that didn’t belong, her black nose tasting the breeze. Suddenly, for whatever reason, her head came up, she gave a little snort then turned and pranced across the field into the evergreens. Still, I didn’t move. I wanted just to lie there and think about the doe and how she came out of the trees all by herself to lick the frost off of the window of my car. I wanted to savor it, and most of all, appreciate it. Maybe it was a sign. I felt blessed.
Finally I sat up and looked around. It was getting light out, but the sun hadn’t risen yet.
All I had been able to see last night when I pulled in had been revealed in the narrow beams of headlights surrounded by inky darkness. I had turned onto a little side road and followed it until I couldn’t see the lights from cars on the main road anymore and that’s when I stopped.
I was parked at the edge of a clearing half way up Spearfish Canyon in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I had just spent the first of many nights to come, sleeping in my car.
It was completely still and quiet in the soft pre-dawn light and all around me the tall grass was covered with dew. Clear drops that would sparkle and shimmer as soon as the sun cleared the trees, then evaporate away with the warmth of the day. Here in the Black Hills, I was half way between a place I had left so many times before and a place I had run to almost as often.
Born in Golden, Colorado, I had grown up in St. Cloud, Minnesota and I had been back and forth many times since. On this occasion I was once again headed to Boulder to live, work, and play at being a photographer. I wiggled out of my sleeping bag, got dressed and put my “house” in order. Grabbing a Clif bar and my water bottle, I got out of the car, had a good stretch and a long pee, turning some of the clear dew drops into sparkling yellow, Mountain-Dew drops. I leaned against the car and had breakfast as I thought about the future and watched the sun come up. All I was reasonably sure of, was that I would be in Boulder by afternoon, baring any unforeseen weirdness. After that, who knows…
I dug into my backpack for my toothbrush and some paste, had a quick brush, rinse and spit, and was ready to roll. I took a final look around and thought “I’ve never been here before and I’ll probably never be here again.”
See, that’s what I’m talking about. You don’t want to get too hung up on stuff like that, but sometimes you have to stop, just stop, and appreciate where you are, maybe just appreciate the fact that you ARE. I started the car and drove back to the main road, took a left and headed up the canyon towards Wyoming.
I was on an adventure.