Zen On Dirt

Reintegration after a month back

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The full moon came and went a few nights ago. We watched it from our Scamp site near Picket Post Mountain just east of Superior on the Arizona Trail. I’m not particularly good at knowing the date, or often what day it actually is, so I measure the passage of time by the size of the moon in the sky. And the passage of the full moon means we’ve been back from New Zealand for just about a month.



I’ve always struggled with reintegration after a big trip or big event. The whole ‘the higher you fly, the farther you fall’ idea. And trust me, I was flying high throughout most of New Zealand. I freakin’ loved New Zealand. I loved our trip. I loved the food. I loved the people we met.

But as it turns out, I’m polyamorous.  I really love the desert and Tucson too. And the food here – how I missed bottomless diner coffee and tortillas made with lard.

And after a full month here, and most people in this Great US of A would agree, a trying month on many levels, I haven’t fallen. I’ve spent some time thinking about why this is because I’d like to integrate these lessons into my life as I move forward on this path of being human.

I, historically, am prone to depression in the winter months when I have no big plans on the horizon and have just come back from something big, exhausting, and semi-epic. Scott and I actually made a half-assed bet, sometime riding through NZ, that when we returned home, I’d struggle.

But it hasn’t happened.

So here are some of my theories on my newfound enjoyment of days when traditionally I’ve wanted to crawl into a hole and disappear.

1)We live in a Scamp and have minimal stuff.

After 28 hours of travel, Lee picked us up at the Tucson airport and brought us back to the Scamp that he’d brought back from its storage spot in Tubac. Everything was exactly where we’d left it (not that we could remember where everything was, but we found stuff eventually), and we hooked it up to the van and towed it out to Gilbert Ray campground, one of our favorite spots.


The past several years, when we’ve come back from summer adventures, we’ve moved into a house and had to deal with a shed full of stuff that somehow we believed we needed. There was the unpacking, the dusting off of crap, the wondering of why we needed so much stuff if we’d just spent the summer not missing any of it.

Stuff is stupid. Stuff weighs me down. I love our 360 cubic feet of Scamp and every useful item in it.

We spent almost a week at Gilbert Ray, charging our dead battery and playing on the nearby trails.


2)The weather went to shit, which was really funny.

Every time it was cold in NZ, which was often, we joked about changing our tickets to go back to Tucson. So the joke really was on us when after three days of good weather, it started to rain.


The crummy weather, to me, was actually funny. And it made me feel like I wasn’t really missing out of much while we recovered from travel and a big final two weeks in NZ. One of the big triggers of my sadness is if I don’t feel like I’m making the most of the days and opportunities I’ve been given.

When the weather is shit and work is plentiful, I can putter along quite happily making money and not going out to do big things. I knew I needed to recover, the weather facilitated the process.

3) I have awesome friends in Tucson, and there was all sorts of stuff going on all of the time.


Wendi had a birthday, so we celebrated with whiskey and bikes. Starr Pass is chock full of new trails, and they got rid of the three horrid dips that I dreaded having to ride every time I went out there.


Heather and Jeff from Fairbanks came down for their week in the desert. Alexis was in town for 9+ days. We all went on a massive group ride that actually kept moving fairly well for being nine people strong.


Tuesday night girls’ rides were resurrected. Though they seem to have devolved into ‘Let’s ride bikes for a little bit, go get burritos, and then soak in the hot tub for longer that we rode bikes for.’ And I’m totally stoked on the new development.

4) We’ve stayed on the move without really leaving Tucson.

I’m not good at being in one spot. But I also know that I need time during the year to recenter and recharge. We’ve developed a routine of spending a week camped on the outskirts of Tucson in our various favorite spots, and then returning to our in-town campsite (which comes fully equipped with four dogs and a new kitty to love on) in order to run town errands, eat Seis burritos, and hang out with friends. After a few nights in town, we’re ready to head out to someplace new.


We headed out to Willow Springs for some cold weather camping (the Scamp was 32 degrees one morning, it took 15 minutes of heater time to get it up to 50) and for me to race the Oracle Rumble 50k. I’d signed up for the running race a week prior because it was on one of my favorite sections of the Arizona Trail from the Freeman water cache to Oracle State Park. And really, I could totes pull a 50k out of my ass after nearly three months of minimal running.

And I did. The first 20 miles were great. The last 12…well, let’s just say there was some struggling and bargains of ‘If you run to the next course marker, then you can walk until the following one.’ Still, I finished in six hours and change and was pretty happy with the effort.


There was an Antelope Peak make-up ride the next day, so a bunch of PHX folks came down to say Hi. Shannon and Sam also came up and conned me into riding a lap of the 24-Hour course. Good idea? Probably not, but it was nice to get out and spin the legs after my night of moaning and groaning from soreness.


Kurt came up for a couple of nights of camping, and we got in a final ride with Alexis before she had to point back north to snowy Utah. This ride hurt. That 50k apparently caused some damage to the energy levels. Totes worth it.

We headed back to Tucson for our weekly recharge.

5) I’m learning to appreciate each situation for what it is.

I’m no scholar of enlightenment or the search for happiness, but I’m a firm believer in working really hard to appreciate the good in each situation. Sure, Tucson is a big city by my standards, the traffic can be trying when attempting to get anywhere, and the Ghetto Bird police helicopter seems to fly every night, but the people are fantastic, it’s amazingly diverse, and there’s no shortage of good food to taste.

And 10 minutes of human-powered effort from the Genser Trailhead puts you deep into Tucson Mountain Park and you can forget there’s a big city just over the horizon.


No place is ideal. The Scamp has let me embrace the fact that I don’t have to call any one place home, I can appreciate each place for what it has and forgive it for what it doesn’t.


Tucson has Cat Mountain, a beautifully rubbly scramble that lets you survey everything that is around.


It also has Agua Caliente Hill, which provides as good of a kick in the ass as any big mountain in Colorado. Think you’re fit? Think again.


And then there’s that whole sunset thing…New Zealand didn’t have sunsets like these.

I can’t say that it’s been all rainbows and unicorns since we’ve been back. I’ve had my fits of grumpies, but all in all, the days are getting longer, the temperatures are getting warmer, and things are looking up.

And while a part of me is surprised at this smooth reintegration, there’s a part of me that isn’t. #Scamplife has allowed me to exist in a manner that feeds my soul, keeps me engaged, and surrounds me with beauty. The temporary nature of our time in Tucson makes me appreciate it for all of it’s amazingness and put a high priority on spending time with the people who are important to me.

Some combination of all that, makes me happy. I love the desert. (And I love New Zealand, too.)




One thought on “Reintegration after a month back

  1. Pingback: Screw Serious | Zen On Dirt

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