This morning, 7/26/2020, I woke earlier than I had expected. My room was dark and cool. I did the casual morning check-in with my body and mind – you know…the one where you slowly scan your body to feel any soreness or any sickness or any mental blockers. This morning, I felt like a new person. “I am off on my adventure. I am really doing it and the only way to move is forward” I told myself.
Satisfied with my morning pep-talk, I started moving. My plan for today was vague – go to Palo Duro Canyon State Park then drive to Alamosa, Colorado where I would be spending the next two nights. I packed quietly, not wanting to wake up the hosts at my AirBnb (great hosts), ate a protein bar, and hit the road at around 7:45am. I drove south of Amarillo for ~30 minutes until I got to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. As I drove, the landscape was pretty flat and I was minorly skeptical that a huge canyon would just appear out of nowhere in the middle of this scenery.
Fortunately, I had planned just the slightest bit ahead and, on Friday, had gotten my permit to enter Palo Duro Canyon for Sunday. The permit cost me $8 and I was able to obtain it online! Note: If you are interested in getting out in nature during these crazy times, be sure to plan ahead and look at any park restrictions that are being enforced due to COVID….Ok back to the story. There was a short line of cars waiting to get into the park but there were signs saying that only people with permits would be admitted. Phew. Thank you planner Dayna for being just enough ahead of the curve to enable my adventure!
After waiting a short while, I was in the park, driving down the main road. Sure enough – BAM – massive canyon. I metaphorically ate my words doubting that such a cool feature could be placed in the middle of the seemingly flat eternity that is west Texas.
I stopped at the first lot which happened to be the visitor center. You remember Planner Dayna that I mentioned above? Well she isn’t that much of a planner. She got me into the park, now it was up to Spontaneous Dayna to make an adventure. Spontaneous Dayna, eager to get moving, almost hopped on the first trail she saw. Fortunately, a trail map situated at the trail head made me think twice. I decided to do some research to find the best trail that could be done in a reasonable amount of time. After all, I had a 6-ish hour drive still in front of me. After some light reading, I decided on the Lighthouse Trail.
I made my way to the trailhead and, in what was becoming “true me” fashion, I was JAMMING/Dancing down the trail. The trail was relatively flat and it was getting hotter by the minute, so I raced quickly down the trail. My legs felt fresh and I was loving every second of this adventure. The Lighthouse Trail is a 6-mile total – out and back trail. After about 2.5 miles, I didn’t see any trail signs and felt an inkling of worry.
Lucky for me, the lighthouse was aptly named. Standing tall amongst its surroundings, I easily spotted the large rock formation. I continued on my path up towards the lighthouse and came across the first of several awesome canyon overlooks. When I made it to the Lighthouse, I noticed that there was still a small trail to go further up to the top of a plateau. I made it to the first stop and saw that to get on top of the formation, it required a bit of a jump over a steep drop. I am adventurous but I had no death wish today! I stayed put on the second highest plateau and I had the whole top to myself. I took some pictures, took some video, and soaked in the view.
As I climbed down from the plateau and walked close to the lighthouse, my mind was reeling. I felt so proud of myself for where I was and the fact that I was there alone. BUT something was missing. I fumbled around in my brain until I could put words to the emotion I was feeling. And then it clicked. I thought back to a book I had read (and loved) and pinpointed the quote to express the sentiment that was plaguing my mind. The book? Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. For those who don’t know, the book is based on a true story of Christopher McCandless. A free spirit who pursued a life of adventure and simplicity. The quote?
“Happiness is only real when shared.”
And so, as I stood there, in this beautiful place, at the start of my incredible adventure, I thought to myself, how can I share this? How can I connect with people? How can I “make” happiness?
Enter – dance numbers. Dance numbers? Yes. Dance numbers. I decided that through all my journeys forever more, I will dance and share it with the world. My goal – make at least one person smile every single day for the rest of my life. Why will my dancing make people smile you ask? Well…for starters I am not very good at it, so that is funny in and of itself!
Joking aside though – I believe that dancing in crazy places is justtt ridiculous enough to make people smile. It is goofy, it is vulnerable, it is authentic, and ultimately, it is my way of reaching out my hand and asking you to share this happiness with me.
It is published in words now for the world to see – so you can hold me to it. Be on the lookout. One day you may just see this crazy girl dancing through life.