On our third evening at Painted Rocks Petroglyph Site, just after dinner, I saw a flash of light illuminate the window of our back door. A few seconds later, I saw another one, and then another. I put on my shoes and went outside. The sky was clear, but hovering just above the northern horizon, I spotted a large white cloud. The cloud was full of energy and every few seconds, three or four bolts of brilliant white lightening would streak through the space between the cloud and the earth, and shear the night. Remembering that sound moves slower than light and that each second represents a mile, I began counting the seconds after each flash waiting for the rumble of thunder. But no sound ever came. I watched for over an hour while the cloud mysteriously remained anchored to one spot, spitting silent lightening. Just before we went to bed and I took Melo and Pix out to do their stuff, the cloud was still there.
It was mid-afternoon when we arrived at the almost deserted campground in the middle of nowhere. The Mountain View RV Campground was mostly empty and we got a choice spot to hook up our camper. We took the dogs out behind the campground and walked on the dirt road beside the railroad track, taking in the infinite space in all directions. Melo and Pix were too busy exploring the strange new scents to notice the small cottontail scurry into a hole under some thorny bushes. The air was void of all sounds as the late January sun shone upon us, warming our souls. It felt like a good place to spend our first night in Arizona.
I stood on an exposed piece of solid bedrock and tried to calm my frenetic heart. It was night and all around me the moonlit landscape looked like it was tinged with an ethereal frost. I was miles away from the nearest person. If I were to cry out, there would be no one to hear me. Kat, Melo and Pix were far away, snug and secure in our camper and I was out in the middle of a desert in New Mexico. Except for the long shadows of the monolithic rocks before me, I was all alone. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a movement and I held my breath. I knew it would be foolish to run and I was here to confront my fears. So I stood on my small piece of rock and surrendered to the night.
Weekends and holidays are the worst time for us. Not because of nostalgia for times when we enjoyed the breaks from work in the past, but because those are the times when the crowds come out and the best camp spots are taken. Fortunately, the state parks we found in Texas don’t seem to be the destinations of choice for most vacationers. Maybe they prefer the festivities of New Orleans, or the warm tropical-like humidity of Florida and some of the other southern states, but even during the busy Christmas to New Year’s break, we had no trouble finding great camping spots in Texas. With one exception, that is.