Firelight on upturned faces as we watch the stars begin to fall.
Firelight on upturned faces as we watch the stars begin to fall.

Last week I mentioned that I was going on retreat.  I went.  It was wonderful.  The church choir members and I and my husband congregated up in Big Bear.  We brought the dog and our tent.  We had a lot of fun together laughing and eating and exploring and eating and resting and well eating.  Several members mentioned that we were probably most successful at the last 3 letters in retreat.  I suggested that we used all the letters, just in a slightly unconventional way.  We did eat.  And then we did re-eat.  And we capped it off with some tea.  So we covered all the bases.  We came back down the mountain on Saturday sun-kissed, happy and tired.

But I’m writing today to tell you about what happened on Sunday.  After church, my husband and I were enjoying some lunch and talking about what we would do that day.  He mentioned that the Perseid Meteor showers were scheduled to be at their peak that night.  We said what a shame it was that we wouldn’t be able to see them very well in LA.  I quickly pulled out my phone and googled “best places in So Cal to see Perseids”.  #1 on the list was Joshua Tree National Park.  At this point it was nearly 1:00 PM.  But my husband and I looked at each other and both got a devious and adventurous look on our faces.  “Let’s go,” said my hubby.  “Woo Hoo!  It’s an adventure!” I said.

Neither of us had ever been to Joshua Tree.  I quickly found out that it was over 2.5 hours drive and the visitor’s center closed at 5.  There was no ability to make a reservation at a campground at that point.  Luckily we hadn’t really unpacked from Big Bear yet.  We frantically threw things into bags, loaded up the cooler and some warm clothes and the dog and hopped in the car.

This is not typical for us.  Usually I have maps printed and our site reservations confirmed all before we even think about leaving the house.  I have an excel spreadsheet for all our camping gear for God’s sake.  But this time we just went for it.  And it was magical.

My husband and I are both complete space geeks.  Always have been.  We had decided to sleep in the car.  The Element has seats that all fold together to make a bed.  But the meteor shower was SO much more spectacular than I imagined it to be.  The viewing conditions at the park were perfect!  We ended up sleeping on top of a picnic table, bundled under a pile of blankets, holding hands and watching the stars fall from the sky.

It was nearly 3 AM and the park was so quiet.  “There’s one!” He whispered.  “Oooo that’s a good one!” I would reply.  For a while we tried to keep count as to who had seen more.  But as the morning wore on, there were 2 or 3 or even more meteors per minute.  We simply lost count.

Geek love is a little different than what you see in the movies, kids.

You know, there are so many moments that we work so hard to put together.  We scrimp and save and plan.  But this impromptu little trip will probably live on as one of my very favorite memories.  We didn’t have a fancy meal.  A fast food nosh on the way and s’mores around the fire.  But just being together and breathing together, and experiencing wonder together, was so very peaceful and joyful and exciting all at the same time.

Tired, rumpled and happy after staying up all night watching meteors.
Tired, rumpled and happy after staying up all night watching meteors.

What I’m trying to say here is that sometimes you just gotta throw caution to the wind (at least a little bit), throw some stuff in a bag, hop in the car and go.  You never know what you’ll get.  On the down side, stuff will be sort of a disaster, and you’ve got a funny story to tell  your friends when you get home.  On the up side, stuff is perfect, and you’ve got a beautiful story to tell yourself all the rest of your life.

Here’s hoping you find your magic getaway moment.  Whether it’s trying a new restaurant or moving to another country, I hope your story is wonderful.  And I can’t wait to hear it!

Love (and good night!) from:

The Fat Chick


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