Have you ever felt so completely content, so at peace with your surroundings, so happy with your current situation that you want to share it with the world? That’s how I feel this week. Out here in the grasslands of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area I feel that if the world were to end right now, I would be happy knowing that I spent my last few days among this grass, these tress, those mountains in the distance. I know that’s a pretty dramatic statement to make, and it surprises me even as I write it. But it’s the truth.
Sometimes I fear you all must think I am being a tad bit insincere with you. I mean, let’s face it, almost every time we move to a new location I’m gushing about how gorgeous the mountains are, how magical the desert is, how charming the town was. Sometimes I feel like a broken record repeating the same adjectives over and over again. I mean really, how many times can I tell you about the incredible mountains, or the magnificent view before it all starts to sound like one big cliché? Here’s the thing though. It’s ALL true. There really are that many places in the U.S. that can be described as incredible, and magnificent, and gorgeous, and fantastic, and all those other words that I find myself using over and over again. Which is why I am completely content to be right here, right now. Not because this is the absolute best place we’ve ever been, or the best place we’ll ever go, but because I know there are SO MANY wonderful places out there…and we are lucky enough to be discovering them all.
When you travel like we do, always planning the route ahead, the next stop, the next adventure, it can be easy to forget to enjoy where you at that moment. I find myself in a constant state of excitement about where we’re going next. Every time we begin the process of packing up to head onto the next place I get this little thrill inside of me. This tingle that can’t wait to be out on the road again. Which is good, in fact it’s great, because it means that I love our lifestyle. But there’s something to be said about feeling content with where you are right at this moment, rather than always thinking about what comes next.
I don’t know if it’s the fields of swaying grass, the constant soft breeze, or the sheer beauty of this place, but this week I feel like I finally figured it out. I finally figured out what this traveling lifestyle is all about for me.
It’s about being happy with where we are right now.
It’s about the excitement of where we’re going next.
It’s about loving all the wonderful places we’ve already been.
It’s about the thrill of places we have yet to discover.
Which for me all adds to up this remarkable feeling of peace and overwhelming happiness.
A few days ago we visited the Empire Ranch. This historic cattle ranch has been here in the southern Arizona desert for 135 years.
It began in the 1860s as a small homestead with a 160 acres of land and a basic four room adobe house. Over the years the house, the land, and the success of the ranch grew. In the late 1980s after a series of land exchanges, the BLM took over management of the ranch and today leases out a portion of it for continued ranching. The original property, along with the house, (which underwent several major additions over the years) is currently being preserved and restored by volunteers through the Empire Ranch Foundation.
The house is open for self guided tours, and as we walked around the outbuildings and explored the house, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would ever be content to live in a house again. I used to want the stability that a house, a yard, a garden, a big kitchen, and place to entertain provided.
I used to think that’s what life was about. Even when we decided to travel I always thought someday I would want to go back to that. I mean that’s what people do, that’s how people live right? But lately I’m not so sure.
Lately I wonder if I might want to live like this forever. Roaming from place to place, discovering new views, new people, new experiences, new ways to find happiness. I am okay with all this wondering and pondering, because the great thing is that right now I don’t have to decide what I want for the future. Right now all that matters is that I have found a way to be content right here, right now – wherever that may be.
Today is our last day here at Las Cienegas, and it’s raining. It’s been a long time since this area has received any much needed moisture, and for us this is the first time we’ve seen rain since sometime in the beginning of December. The steady rain means no long bike ride or hike today. It’s means we’ll have to forgo any further exploring until the next time we return. That’s okay though, because instead we are inside our cozy home listening to the soft patter of drops on the roof. Reading, writing, cooking, and of course, feeling content.