Caren Ware's Blog

July 11, 2012

LEFT Completely in the DARK

Filed under: A Runner's Story,divorce,fitness,hiking,Marathon Running,trail running — Caren Ware @ 6:27 pm

I hit the tunnel that opens to the expanse of Yosemite in the golden rays of late afternoon.  It was a pretty drive as the strong yellow beams slanted through the trees.  The setting sun cast huge shadows across  Yosemite Valley. I was trying to get to Tuolumne Meadows and over the pass before it got one hundred percent dark.  It seemed like I was the only one on this highway.  Though the campground full signs were posted in the valley, few ventured on these roads at night.  I would end up in Lee Vining, on  Hwy 395, about midnight.  I found a cell pocket and called ahead for a motel room.  The voice on the other end sounded creepy and I got wigged when he asked if I was traveling alone.  I decided to check the town out and its motels in person before making a committed reservation over the phone. Lee Vining ended up being a tiny, picturesquely remote roadside town with a pizza and ribs restaurant and a few motels.  Unfortunately, when I got to Lee Vining, the few motels blinked red “NO VACANCY”s.

It was past midnight.  I had been up for 48 hours.  I was in dire need of a few hours of sleep.  My intent had been to slice across Nevada on roads billed as the loneliest roads in America, about four hundred miles that had only two towns,  USA’s  mini  Australian Outback. It was disappointing to find myself traveling through it at night.  I had envisioned taking in the vast, desolate landscape from the security of my sturdy truck after a restful night and 8 hours sleep. Not to be. The town lights disappear and a few stars popped out. But only a few.  I was impressed with how dark it was.

Strange how a sense of adventure doesn’t feel so adventurous when you can’t see beyond the reaches of your headlights., when nothing known and familiar is out there.  Strange what your imagination conjures up when you can’t see .No, not strange.  Scary.  I was afraid.  I was too tired to drive, but too fearful of being out here in the dark to sleep in my truck.  Every time I pulled over and tried, I just couldn’t be that vulnerable.  I’d start the truck within minutes and drive on. It was too real how truly alone I was.  There was no longer any cell service.  I saw one set of lights that took 30 minutes to finally go by me right when I first left Lee Vining.  That’s how flat and vast this area is. Those two beady eyes were to be the only other vehicle I met on this ‘loneliest road.  Did I sublimely do this to myself? Get myself out here in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night as my ghost of Christmas Present?  Stark.  I was one hundred percent alone.  I was one hundred percent in the dark. A  dark, dark, dark.  And I was one hundred percent overwhelmed by my self- inflicted situation.

I had no choice , but to spar with my fears.  What was I afraid of anyway? Something or somebody lurking out there that could pounce on me? No.  I was afraid of the BIG BAD UNKNOWN. I was afraid of what I couldn’t see. I was going down a road I had never been down before.  I didn’t know what lie ahead. And that was terrifying.  I had no other choice, but to just be brave and rely on the confidence that I could handle the unknown. This was harshly that same rawness I felt forming in my life right now. Buyer beware.  If you think there is greener grass on the other side of a broken marriage you are in for some tough alone times first.  You have to be willing to survive parched desert first.

I was traveling down a road, alone.  I was traveling down a road I had never been on before and I definitely knew not what lie ahead. Again…that theme. You will have to be brave, Caren.  Just gonna have to be brave.

Then the pavement I was on  turned to dirt and bluntly ended.  I was on some sort of salt crusted, dry lake bed.  It was the A.M. hours and I was in the middle of nowhere. And now, once again, I was without GPS service and I was lost.   I had no choice, but to wait till the sun rose. I locked my doors and curled in a ball in the driver’s seat.  There was no other room left in the over packed truck. The handle bars of my bike poked the back of my head.  A picture of my two kids playing in a snow storm as teens stared me right in the eye from the seat belted stack.  I switched off the doom light and black, as black as a cave, engulfed me.  Adventure on.

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