The Hoover Dam, Poverty Flats, and contemplating my worth as a human

October 18-19, 2016
Moapa Valley, Nevada

After tearing ourselves away from our very comfortable little home in Pahrump, NV, we headed for a 1-night boondocking location called Poverty Flats, right outside the Valley of Fire State Park.  This mid-way point between Pahrump, NV and Kanab, UT afforded us several opportunities – a route that allowed for a stop at the Hoover Dam, our first chance to camp somewhere for absolutely $0, and some killer views of desert skies.

I caught our reflection as we were driving across the top of the dam. Go, Stumbo, go!
Our free BLM campground in Nevada called Poverty Flats

We took the chance to sit under the stars to read more C.S. Lewis.  The moon which had been so huge and bright just a few evenings prior hadn’t risen, so we sat underneath a million billion gazillion stars and listened to Brad’s impersonations of Eustace Scrub, Jill Pole, and Puddleglum, his pages illuminated by the small red light on his headlamp.  After a couple of chapters, he was able to steel himself against the pleading for “just a few more pages!”, closed the book, and we realized that the sky to the southeast was starting to glow.  We let the girls’ bedtime slip further into the past and stayed in our chairs and waited and watched as the entire sky brightened.  And then we sat and watched the most dramatic, beautiful, moon rise I’ve ever seen.  This was maybe the first time the girls had ever watched a moon rise, and definteily the first time I had ever watched one this dramatically – from total darkness to squinting night-brightness.  The moon wasn’t quite as big as the large harvest super moon a few nights before – but it was still impressive & beautiful.  The girls were giddy when they finally did hop into bed that they could continue to watch it cross the sky out of their windows.  Of course, as with so many of the things we’ve experienced on this trip already, the pictures do no justice.  But at least they help to remind us of the memories of that night.  Coral suggested that this experience be added to our family travel notebook of lists, under the heading “Most Memorable Moments”. The rest of us agreed that it was an appropriate addition.

it was so giant in real life!

The next day, after some school work and a morning run through the Valley of Fire (for the one of us who runs), we continued our trek into Utah.  But first we went from Nevada to Arizona, into Utah, then back to Arizona and then back into Utah.  It was a rather confusing day both for the backseat maps and the clock.  Driving through Utah is so amazing, and this was a part of Utah that I had not yet seen.  All of the rocks and dirt turn to a bright red that is breathtaking.  It’s hard to believe your eyes.  We stopped for a short hike at a little picnic area next to some particularly interesting and bright red rock formations. (This one is actually in Nevada on the way to Utah.)

We saw an elephant in this one.
Don’t want to miss an opportunity to take pictures of ants!
rock wave
exploring the caves in the rocks
just the girls
little explorer
just giant red pieces of earth, sticking up out of other earth
giant turtle!
red rocks
more rocks
we saw SO many faces in this one!

So we’ve passed the 2 month mark now, and I continue to wrestle with who I am without all of my Wenatchee commitments that kept me so busy and distracted and feeling important.  And I continue to try to work out specifically what lessons I learned or what skills I acquired in the last decade that I can translate into my new roles and into my life moving forward.  I’m confronted by how much my identity was tied to my work and my influence.  I do not regret the choice to walk away from all of it for a time – on the contrary, that was part of the point of all of this – to work out what things about my life that I loved really mattered to me, which ones were worth continuing, which parts of me need to be better…but I do miss it all on many days!  I miss the busyness that made me feel important, which I think is a big part of our culture.  I miss the attention I got for being a leader within my spheres of influence. Brene Brown is helping me work through some of it; but my family is doing the heavy lifting.  It’s scary for me to not know what is next…after this trip.  I know that’s silly, it’s minimum 10 months away – don’t worry, my husband has already told me.  He’s right in his assessment though…I’m just looking for something to worry about.  Every time I hear a mention of “a millennial with a bachelor’s degree that can’t even get a job at a grocery store” I wonder if something like that will play out in my life.  When I see things moving forward in Wenatchee I feel joy and pride for my people & community, but also the dark parts of me feel jealous that things will continue to happen without me.  Where do I fit into all of this and will I be able to fit back in somewhere again and how? So my daily discipline right now is not to let fear or uncertainty about the future rob each day on this journey of its joy.  And I continue to let the parts of my brain that tell me that I’m big & important and the parts that tell me I’m small & insignificant duel it out.  Whichever one is winning each day is evident in my self-talk, my emotions, and the way I treat the people around me.  I think this is a really good and important exercise for me, and I want to take my time in building back my confidence, which continues to be a challenge for me in the day to day activities that make me feel ineffective.  I don’t mean to whine or complain – I’m just trying to share the slow, daily climb that I’m making toward figuring out who I am and what I’m about.  I want to know who I am when my self is built on my understanding of who I was created to be, how I fit into this world, how I can help, what my strengths and weaknesses are…not who I am based on what I can accomplish when I’m overcommitted and stretched to the limit in each arena of my life, constantly bumping up against the ceiling of my busyness threshold.  This exercise is a luxury, and I’m thankful for this opportunity to go through it.  I think that I will be better for it after it’s all said and done, and hopefully it will have a positive influence on all the people that I am around too.   I know that a lot of people have to go through some trauma or major life event to be forced into this kind of self-reflection.  And I want to make sure that I continue to keep gratitude at the front of my mind that I was able to choose this grand adventure to see new places and faces, to contemplate the last decade and dream about the next one while I watch moonrises over the desert, and to enjoy the luxury of self-reflection while sitting on the rims of canyons and sides of streams.   To think about what our creator might be like, since God is Love, God is Not Love, God is MORE than Love. Right, @BradFitzgerald?

“Girls!  Please stop yelling; people are trying to enjoy nature!!”  (there’s a lot of that too…)



2 Comment

  1. Kelli says: Reply

    I’m getting caught up on blog reading right now. This post really spoke to me, Sarah! I think for me parenthood and the choice Russ and I made forme to be a homemaker during these years have and continue to stir up the feelings and questions you describe. It’s a thin line between talking about grappling with negative emotions/thoughts and whining. I think you’re on the right side though. Hope to chat with you in person (in Springfield?) during your midwestern stint!

    1. sarah says: Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Kelli! I had some serious vulnerability hangover after writing this one, so I’m really glad to hear that you related to it so much. Eager to catch up in real life soon!

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