Fear is the brain's reminder to pay attention
Waking up in Salt Lake City an hour earlier due to the time change we had driven thru the day before from Pacific Daylight Savings to Mountain time, I made the authoritarian decision to pack up and leave the hotel room I shared with my little Winnie before sunrise, before breakfast and against my plans I'd made last night. Winnie blinked hard when the cold, West Valley City, UT air hit her face as I carried her to the truck and tucked her into her crate. Monday morning commuters hadn't even begun their migration into the heart of the city, I was following my GPS and feeling real good about this last leg of the journey to Granby, CO as we zipped along. My decision to attend Colorado K9 NoseWork Camp came after much consideration, this was a big endeavor with many aspects to take into account. A twelve hundred mile trek across 2 1/2 states (3 1/2 considering we live 20min inland from the left coast) just me and Winnie was not a trip to be taken lightly.
Planning and prep began weeks before, packing as well. I had to decide which of our fleet of vehicles was best suited for this kinda travel, none of them really as we are flat landers with no call for driving in snow/ice and sub zero temps. The wardrobe for such a trip was carefully thought out, too; boots, hats, gloves and Winnie's coats and sweaters, all things we have but rarely use for the mild climate of Sebastopol. I went thru the range of emotions from excitement to fear to nervousness and doubt and could have talked myself out of going but I stayed true and committed as I loaded up the vehicle of choice, our RAM truck. Winnie and I were gonna have an epic adventure doing things I couldn't even dream I would ever do.
But as we left the Salt Lake City area that first morning and began to climb the rocky crags towards Parley's Canyon on I80, like a switch it went from light to dark. I couldn't see but rather felt the formidable Wasatch Mountains looming ahead, their volume pressed on me like a weight. The darkness seemed blacker and the headlights seemed to barely penetrate the space ahead, the road became treacherously twisty. Like the point in the horror movie when the audience screams, I realized I hadn't filled up with fuel before leaving and I knew I hadn't enough to go the distance I had scoped out on the map when I was planning to have a full tank. I also hadn't studied the route for alternate fueling locations.
All the things that go thru the mind; can I, should I find a place to turn around? should I stop on this dark and mostly empty Hwy to check the map? I drove on feeling unable to do anything else. Every scenario I played in my head ended badly, we'd run out of gas at the most remote spot or we'd get lost trying to turn around. We'd be out of cell service and loose all directions when I'd try to reroute us with GPS. On and on went my mind. I was truly scared. This was it, the end, and days from now Winnie's and my picture would be on the news. We were kidnapped or died trying to hike back to civilization. I couldn't see any decision I could make, not one action I could take that would save us.
The universe had a plan, a much better way for us than all the drama my wild imagination had come up with and it started with light. Sunlight, that is. Like the aura that accompanies a heavenly choir of angels, the rising sun revealed there were cities on the other side of those ruthless and unforgiving mountains that had threatened to swallow Winnie and I without a trace. There were little settlements as well as bigger towns and they all had gasoline. We made it to Evanston, WY with 100mi to empty on the dashboard readout. Whew!
For all my fear and anguish, all the negative thoughts, we were never really in danger at all. I had taken myself to the mat for having come on this journey, so certain was I this was the end. I had kicked myself all the way down from Parley's Summit thinking how could I have put Winnie in such danger. Beating myself up over it was just wasting energy. After all, I hadn't carried Winnie onto a space ship for a trip to Mars, Evanston even has a Walmart for crying out loud.
Tho we never really left civilization at all, in my mind the fear made it seem so. Fear came into play again and again as we continued our fantastic voyage, but I was determined not to feel it. Winnie can feel everything I do, it doesn't matter whether or not I show it, no actor on the planet can hide the truth from a dog. Winnie didn't choose to go on this crazy journey, but because she was beside me it was gonna be a great time and not only did I have to think it, I had to feel it. So as we climbed our way up the Colorado landscape, each pass becoming higher until I thought I was going to pass out from the altitude, and thru it all I enjoyed the sights. The beauty, the magnitude, the miles and miles of what some might call nothing but barren scrublands was for me and Winnie full of activity. We were not alone on the State routes as we dropped off I80 thru the expansive Wyoming countryside. There were not many other travelers on State Rt. 130, or Hwy 13 as I followed the GPS in blind faith never thinking we might end up on a tiny, gravel forest road 180miles from nowhere. There were birds and chipmunks, there were cattle and small herds of wild sheep or deer or Elk to distract me. Before I knew it, we were dropping down into Granby, we were as good as there.
The challenges didn't let up, tho once we got to Snow Mountain Ranch, there was still so much to learn at camp. Being a member of the Logistics Team meant I would be working, helping campers, answering questions, etc. and I didn't even know the first thing yet. The learning curve was a steady incline and the most fun I have ever had at learning. Our team was the best, my fellow Logistics teammates were inviting and helpful and so supportive, we were an instantly cohesive group. The campers were patient and friendly and went out of their way to show their appreciation.
Navigating around camp was challenging, too and I'll admit I was scared when I had to drive in the snow, but I overcame that as well. I locked myself out of the hotel room twice the first night, got lost twice the second day, and blew my first assignment by showing up at the wrong location. I never really felt like I was of much use at all but not once did I feel like I didn't belong. It felt so good to be part of the team.
Winnie was such a good companion, waiting patiently when she needed to and bringing her "A" game when it was time to sniff. Winnie snuggled under the covers and kept my feet toasty when the heater in our room wasn't working. We got to do searches and participate in practically every aspect of camp. I can't imagine the experience without Winnie by my side. There is nothing about the entire trip I would want to change.
This trip, this vacation, this adventure of a lifetime was an exercise in coping but I realize that is not a bad thing. In order to really appreciate the good things in life, we have to feel uncomfortable now and then. If I had listened to the negative thoughts, if I had allowed that dialog to prevail, our trip would have been ruined or may have never begun. The thing is, if you don't ever push yourself in spite of fear, you will miss out on doing a lot. Sometimes having the experience of a lifetime means doing it not because you are not afraid, but in spite of it.
This Blog dedicated to my LT mates: Mary, Victoria, Sandy, Terry, Alison, Cindy, Megan, Jo, Will, Mary, Sarah whom I hold all in highest esteem.