The Young Adventurer

From the beginning I have been an adventurer. I believe my parents even went hiking while Mom was pregnant with me. I’m sure my dad is proud of his accomplishment of hiking while pregnant!

As promised early on, I will sporadically spin yarns of past adventures, and you can’t accuse me of lying either – it will either be that’s how I remember it and you weren’t there, or poetic licence. That’s a thing, right?

Anyway, I think my first hiking trip was November 1987. I say November, because it seems like that’s when we always went camping. It was always freezing, and I would have to crawl into my Dad’s sleeping bag with him in the middle of the night because (as you may have known) a scrawny child can’t produce as much body heat as an adult. I don’t think the folks figured that one out. I was always cold!

See, Mom’s in a t-shirt, I’m in a sweatshirt. Always cold!
I’m not sure where this was taken, but I’m sure since I was a toddler, we didn’t go too far from home. Based on the rocks I’m guessing the Edwards Plateau area of Texas.
Our favorite place to go as a family was always Big Bend National Park. I never would have guessed that I would continue to go there as an adult, and even do my thesis research there.
At Balanced Rock
To be honest, I don’t really remember these first trips very well, as you can imagine. I do remember though, one year in the early 1990s when we went to the Davis Mountains in November. See? It got down to 14 degrees one night. As previously referenced, I was forced to crawl into the sleeping bag with Dad because I couldn’t stop shivering. I’m sure he slept fine after that, right? Having a kid sticking their knees in your back is so much fun in a king-sized bed, I’m sure it was just as enjoyable on the ground. With rocks. And did I mention it was a bit chilly?
For years we would never want to go camping over Thanksgiving again.
We would say, “We survived being outside in 14 degree weather! We don’t need to do that again!”
And Dad would say, “We survived being outside in 14 degree weather! We can do anything!”
I’m sure about that time is when we switched our vacations to summer, but I can’t swear to it.  I’m sure we out-voted Dad. That tends to happen when you are outnumbered *smirk* My parents, for some reason, had never taken us camping in the east. Every year we went further and further west, instead. You know what happens the further west you go? It turns into a desert. And deserts are hot in the summer. Again, not sure if the folks figured that out.
You can tell we are dying of heat stroke and Dad doesn't care. See? Abuse!
One year, I think we were in Utah or New Mexico, and it was unbelievably hot. Somehow Mom and Dad thought we were being weenies, and they managed to keep hiking. I have no idea how they did it. We had those cheap hiking fanny packs that hold 2 water bottles, and I remember pulling my water bottle out of the fanny pack and taking a drink – the water was so hot I couldn’t drink it. Not saying it burned my mouth, I’m saying it was disgusting! Luckily, Big Sister and I found some shade and told Mom and Dad to go off without us. And they did. I don’t even know what was so special about that trail – all I remember is laying on the cool shaded sandstone was the best feeling in the world.
I guess, based on these stories, you might wonder why I ever went outside again. But I was always trying to learn. I would pull leaves off shrubs and study them. I would see a bug and try to remember exactly what it looked like so I could look it up later. I looked for fossils in the rocks as we went down the trail. I was a born naturalist.  I even remember seeing my first rattlesnake. I think it was on that same sweltering hot trip, and it was on the side of the trail. I wanted to watch it all day – I never had that fear that most children have of snakes. Or any animals for that matter…
When my parents thought we were old enough, they gave us pocket knives. Big Sis probably was, but I probably was not. As a child, I had to use my knife every waking moment. I was whittling. I was digging. I was cutting leaves off of plants. And I remember, VIVIDLY, attempting to cut a leaf off of a shrub and slicing my thumb open. There was a flap. Seriously. I grabbed my thumb and held it tight, and DID NOT tell my parents. Why? They had just given me a talk about how I was such a big girl, and they could trust me with this knife. I guess they didn’t realize how sharp it was! To this day, I have never been able to get a knife-tip that sharp in my life. I don’t know what they were thinking.
The good thing was, we were on our way back to the car. And on top of that, a tissue had fallen out of the car, so I reached down to pick it up and stop the bleeding. Mom’s response was to thank me for picking up litter. *tisk tisk tisk* if only she knew…As soon as we got back in the car, I was thinking about telling my parents, when Dad gave us another pep-talk. I think the conversation went a bit like this:
“You girls are the best thing in the world…*tear*…I can’t believe how blessed we are…*tear*…to think, we have 2 beautiful, smart, amazing girls…*tear*…to have the confidence to know that I never have to worry about my daughters, now or in the future….you make a father proud (breaks into inaudible sobbing and hugs Mom for giving him the two most important things in his life.)
Well – Not tellin’ em now!!!
(It took me about 5 years to work up the courage to tell Dad. And Mom might have read about this for the first time just now.  No lie).
But I guess it turned out for the best – I can easily be self-sufficient in the wild and learned at an early age not to panic. Ahh, the young adventurer.
Life is Good

6 thoughts on “The Young Adventurer”

  1. OMG, you’re so stinking cute in all these pictures!!! And I remember you being in Girl Scouts with all our other friends in elementary (& possibly some or most of middle school?) and I was SO JEALOUS! I so desperately wanted to experience the joys and adventures of Girl Scouts, but my mother wouldn’t allow it, claiming she was in it when she was younger & how much she hated it. Because that’s a valid reason to deny your kid such a possibility, right?…the whole, “I hated it, so surely you’ll hate it too! See I’m sparing you?”

    I also distinctly remember your project or possibly Science Fair project where you dissected Owl feces to see what they had been consuming, it was the most awesome project idea I had ever heard of!!! I knew then that you were a genius!…actually probably long before that, but it definitely confirmed it!

    1. haha! Thanks, Valerie. Girl Scouts wasn’t great, but I always hate when parents talk their kids out of doing stuff that will make them be active and experience life! That science project was awesome! I can’t believe you remember that! LOL I think my mom helped me come up with that project, but all I remember is being really excited to get to do that! I almost got a chance to do it again in Grad School, but then came up with my bear behavior idea instead.

  2. For the record, we were camping on the banks of the Rio Grande, not up in the Davis Mountains, when it went down to 14 degrees. Who would expect it to EVER get that cold down there?!!!

    And yes, this is the first time I knew about your cut. Good thing you waited this long to tell me.

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