Breathing in Beauty

Posted April 2, 2020 – Narrated by Carmen
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We’re in a good place for such a time as this. And, at least for today, Arizona seems willing to put up with us. Out here in the open wilderness, we’re exercising the usual precautions and keeping a low COVID-19 profile.

And, on the rare occasion when we do go to town for provisions, we keep our hands clean, our hearts open and our words kind. It’s so important to be thankful for The Providers right now. They are the heroes. Spread love, not Coronavirus.

We’re in Jim’s boyhood recreational area on the Colorado river where the family set up camp to spend summer days fishing, waterskiing and off-roading together. I’d never seen this spot, so Jim brought me to take a look … and I fell in love.

Plans change

So we set up camp, planning to stay for two weeks before going back to San Diego. But within the week, the government declared a halt to non-essential travel. An hour later my dentist called to cancel my non-emergency appointment. Later, the same day, Jim’s meetings were transferred to an online forum.

Immediately, in compliance with the rules to stop the virus, we stopped traveling. That was over a month ago.

We’re still here and hope to stay until travel advisories are lifted.

Way out here in the desert wilderness, trails remain open, though we’re practicing vigilance and taking responsibility. The sheriff makes daily rounds to insure the state’s protocols are respected, but it’s no real effort to keep a Grand Canyon’s distance from our off-grid neighbors.

We walk everyday, kayak often (because it keeps me from touching my face), hike, ride bikes – and we can access all of those activities on foot from our lakeside encampment without coming into contact with anyone other than a family of wild donkeys that occasionally pass through our site.

Usually thick with snowbirds, the Spring shoulder season – just before the summer heat sets in – is a perfect time to visit. Daytime temps are in the high 80’s, and nightime is often in the low-to-mid 60’s with a fresh cool breeze from the river. Since we arrived there’s been no need to fire up the furnace or the air-conditioner.

This is a no-stress zone.

Ideally, home should be a retreat from life’s harsh moments – and home is of central importance during this world-wide crisis. We are all now together engaged in a strange sabbath where we focus on the small print – the microscopic code that has the power to change the world. Science rules.

It all seems so sudden.

It’s a lot to take in, this baptism in bleach, repetitive washing, distancing, conflicting opinions and ambiguous rules. Should I be masked, gloved, tested?

The Documentary

Breathing is important right now. Being informed is crucial, but awareness of where I am in this journey is even more important. So, I begin each day with a ritual – I remind myself about the documentary.

Throughout large-scale crises, keen observers record everything – and, right now, someone is filing the data. And, one day when all this trouble has passed, someone will recreate the story.

So, I imagine myself, years from now, watching said documentary. As scenes of the myriad disruptions and bizarre once-in-a-lifetime events flow by, I am riveted because so much of this history feels new to me. It’s fresh because I had forgotten so much of the landscape – the hills and valleys of the experience.

Historians know that in the thick of events, it’s nearly impossible for humans to accurately recall the details. So why stress over stuff I’m going to mostly forget about anyway? Why not stay focused on the pleasant and joyful moments – go with the flow and take time to breathe, to feel blessed … blessed in this place, in where I am, safe and satisfied with what I have.

Jim and I don’t get everything right about LIB, but we can see how, for the last four years, we’ve been preparing for this historic moment.

Yes, I realize that I am a tangle of contradictions, but I am the partner who always expects the worse possible thing to happen … and, I’ve nailed it enough times that Jim listens warily, to my predictions. I wish my gift worked on positive outcomes like crop yields and cures for cancer, but it seems permanently calibrated for collapse.

So, Jim – balancing my skepticism of the grid with our budget and his renaissance-man skills – outfitted Beauty and The Beast just in time for the COVID-19 End of Days.

Yep, we’ve kinda been prepping.

LIB has taught us to be frosty – to travel light, with just enough of the right gear to pack up, hitch and move within the hour, to turn our plans on a dime, to be energy efficient, to filter our own water, to conserve, and to dial back our expenses by at least half and still maintain an exciting full-time travel lifestyle.

All this freedom … and here we are powerless to set out on the road and weave our silver mini-mansion through glittering cities, wine country and steamy hot-springs hide-aways.

But our journey is not on hold.

Beauty is taking us places in place.

Like most fortunate people in the world, we are at home being creative and preparing foods in our quarantine kitchen that are new to us because the store was out of our usual groceries.

Our Airstream kitchen is no handicap.

Some of the world’s most memorable dining experiences are served from efficient tiny kitchens aboard trains, yachts, riverboats and private jets. We’ll never forget dining in the captain’s quarters on the USS New Orleans as guests of my cousin, Captain Milton Smith USN. His chef’s kitchen was even smaller than ours. Humans adapt to what they have.

Some of the “new to me” foods I’ve crafted in the last month are vegan bullion, vegan mayonnaise, compound butter, almond butter, trail bites, flatbread and crackers. Okay, the crackers were actually a gluten free flatbread mistake, but still quite delicious. And, thus, our daily dependence on prepared foods is diminishing.

Yes, we are a bit lonely here, but our weBoost cell booster allows FaceTime with family and friends, and Jim is able to attend periodic emergency Zoom sessions with Alliance Healthcare Foundation.

Oh my, it will be some kind of wonderful when we can all get together and entertain again – attend pot lucks and happy hours.

Until then – in celebration of all this free time – (and because Jim bought me a new camera) we’ve made a short video walk-through of Beauty as she is today, right here in our isolation habitat.

Now, it’s usually my way to apologize for this or that when I invite someone new into my home. But I make no apologies today because we are all kind of awkwardly bonded now in COVID-19.

Our virtual door is wide open. Just click on the video below.

Please, won’t you step in to Beauty?


If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.