Last Wednesday my dear friend Jamie and I were contemplating something to do for the weekend. When she suggested camping in the mountains nearby, I immediately said “YES!” Most of my overnight excursions are spent in a hotel room with access to all the conveniences a Diva such as me desires. I haven’t camped in well over a decade and the forest was calling, complete with the ideal of roughing it for one night (meaning leaving the hairspray at home). So when the government supposedly reopened on Thursday, she made the reservation, paid for it, and we were set.
We packed our drums and sacred tapestries which we planned on stringing between trees flanked with our regalia shawls that we acquired in a private Native American naming ceremony we were invited to over ten years ago. We hadn’t brought them out since and felt it would be good to display them as a prayer to the Goddess. Of course I also packed as many comforts as I could, perhaps to many, for I had no idea that I would have to actually carry it all into camp.
When we arrived at the campground, we were stunned to see the camp kiosk cloaked in plastic with a sign that said “CLOSED due to government shutdown” complete with a locked gate preventing anyone from driving in. What? But we have a paid reservation! We decided to drive into the nearby town and make some phone calls. Then I suggested we continue with our original plan and just hike our stuff in. We could have this whole little space of forest all to ourselves. Fortunately, Jamie is as much of a rebel as I am and decided this was a good plan indeed.
Being the 40-something, wine-loving, nature worshipers we are we poured ourselves a little liquid courage into coffee mugs in case we met upon anyone who might attempt to thwart our plans. We dubbed the liquid courage “purple coffee” and cackled at our cleverness. We unpacked the car and began lugging our things along the half mile hike into the space we decided was most magical. We encountered a few town locals taking advantage of the abandoned camp site out walking their dogs. Jamie was a bit nervous about the locals seeing us clearly preparing to camp in a closed campground. I on the other hand was indignant, and felt we had every right to be there. So I strategically adored and caressed each dog that came my way and cheerfully conversed with their guardians. This approach worked brilliantly and they all were strongly behind our decision and provided tips to help us carry it all out successfully.
By the time we completed the three trips it took to get all our things into the site we had chosen, dusk was upon us and we had to move fast to get our tapestries strung and the tents in place. We were giddy with our divinely guided opportunity to be completely alone in this forested paradise. Well, I suppose the purple coffee aided in the joviality, but we were utterly stoked at our amazing secret discovery none-the-less.
Not wanting to attract bears or other potentially dangerous wildlife, we left any food in the car. We were getting hungry and decided to drive into town and find a local spot for dinner. We found just the place. We entered and plopped ourselves down at the bar where we were immediately greeted by the owner who spied the fact that we were not from around here. Really? I wonder what gave it away <wink>.
Jamie and I were having an outlandishly joyful experience at this little bistro. The menu consisted of seasonal delights which we indulged in with complete abandon to any dietary concerns. The owner poured us some libations, and to our astonishment, just kept pouring us small samples of various wines that would accompany our meal, which we did not request, nor turn down. Then to our surprise a different delightful desert was placed in front of each of us, which we did not order. “Wow” we thought, “they are really taking care of us.” Then we got the bill. What the heck!? How on earth did it get so high? We ordered one meal and one drink each…they put the rest in front of us. The bill was not itemized, and we were to weary from the day’s activities to protest. We chalked it all up to a good time and made our 5 minute drive back to camp.
Once again, we walked the uphill, half mile journey into our personal pine grove as we chatted and enjoyed the brightness of the full moon to light our way. No flashlights needed. Once we arrived at our tents, we were ready for sleep, so into our separate abodes we went. We intentionally placed them several yards away so we could have some solitary time. Unfortunately, in the quiet of the forest, those yards were not enough to soften the sound of my dear friend’s snoring. But that did not prevent me from completely enjoying the canopy of trees above me and the serenade of the owls and coyotes in the distance.
We awoke at dawn and took another jaunt down to the car to grab some caffeinated drinks we had secured along with some snacks for breakfast. The moon was still high in the sky as the sun peered through the trees. It was absolutely stunning amongst the golden hue of the autumn dogwoods. Once back at our little private nook in this grand forest, we talked about love, work and spiritual growth. We enjoyed the candid, raw expression that two dear friends do, and deeply basked in the moment.
After taking down the tents and getting our site organized, we took a long walk through the forest. We conversed even deeper about love, work and spiritual growth as we sauntered along. Brilliant epiphanies oozed from every corner and we found ourselves uplifted and inspired in ways that only solitary time amongst the trees can create. We laughed as loud as we wanted and cried a little at times as well, feeling safe and protected by the spirit of the forest.
The time had come to prepare our journey back home and make the multiple trips back and forth to the car. We stalled all the way as neither of us wanted to leave. We extended our time a little and decided to have a small cup of purple coffee amongst the pines and the quiet before we left. Hey, it was after noon and we couldn’t possibly drive with an open container…right?
On the ride home we came up with some inspired ideas for retreats and workshops to share with women based on our own personal life journeys and the congruent inner work we had accomplished and synthesized throughout our mountain journey. Personal growth and spiritual deepening was the purpose of this escape, and we certainly accomplished that mission. Being the teachers that we both are, we are naturally drawn to use our life’s upheavals and ultimate triumphs to help other women who are no doubt facing their own challenges. No one is in this alone. We all have our baggage and garbage that is begging to be unpacked and recycled. Community led by courageous, confident women is an ideal cauldron for healing and transformation.
Once home, the magic of the woods were still etched deep within my soul. As I lay in bed that evening, although my bed felt good, I couldn’t help but think that my sleeping bag would feel better back in the womb of the forest. And so I imagined that as I drifted off to sleep.
I look forward to my return.