I didn’t expect much, but what I got was a lot.
The valley floor is vast. Blanched holly bushes, their leaves soft to the touch, cling to its stingy, dirt-and-gravel lining.
Hills and mountains form the valley’s sides. One giant pile of shiny black volcanic rock jams up against a mound of red-hued stone that flows into a series of treeless, golden hills, textured like brain wrinkles. Greens, pinks and creams dot the palette, too.
I took a picture of a bug in the sand dunes, the only animal we saw besides a few random crows, a tiny lizard and a skulking coyote. I took a picture, too, of the solitary road that disappears into the horizon.
I marveled at what it feels like to visit land that gets to be just land, and I basked in the absolute silence.
It was in the silence that I slipped into the metaphorical.
I deemed the sparse valley floor to be a person’s life waiting to be charted.
The road I saw as society’s definition of the straight and narrow way to traverse life, there to reset your compass, if you need or want it to.
The hills and mountains became family and friends—the snow-capped elders standing tall in the distance—watchful, protective, steadfast.
Instead of feeling insignificant and alone in the middle of 3.5 million uninhabited acres, I felt like an adventurer whose home base is rock solid.
It’s amazing what a change of scenery can do for the spirit.