Me and Kristin spent most of the day being mad at each other. We ignored opportunities to reconcile until early evening. Rain fell, and then hail. Dirt became mud, and soon Kristin fell too. Dog paws became moccasins of mud, and were wiped on every surface.
I saw a rattlesnake at the same time as Judy Dog, but was too late to keep her from poking it with her nose. In shock, I pulled her back and away, just in time to see that the snake had already had its guts blasted out all over the path before me. Dead snake. That could have gone differently, I thought, as my heart returned to a resting rate.
Van life is perfect according to my Instagram feed. All I see are happy feet photographed out the back of a van with extraordinary scenery in every shot. Malarkey. The other half of the story remains untold. Arguments about cooking or cleaning remain undocumented. Everything isn't always easy. Everything is always, however, better than it was. I feel like moving forward.
Eventually, we agreed to agree. We were in love again, and we were sorry to act like a dick.
Having spent several nights in a parking lot, we decided to mix it up. We checked the FreeCampsites.net app, and located BLM land twenty minutes from town. At the end of a long dirt road, we came to a gate that was slightly wider than the van. The road was no longer maintained, and seemed appropriate for a four wheeler or Jeep. Unwilling to be deterred, I inched our airport-handicap-shuttle-house forward. I steered carefully around craters, and aimed for the obstructions and holes least likely to get us stuck in mud. After half a mile, we arrived at another gate - chained, but not locked. No signs told us not to, so we opened the gate, closed it behind us, and continued. After the roughest section of road yet, we came to a clearing. A small clear creek flowed next to a wide patch of dirt, and I was able to park the van level.
Side doors opened to the creek. Folding chairs were placed beside the soot-covered rocks of a disused fire ring. Judy chased big sticks while I rinsed a few of our muddiest articles in the cold swift water. I climbed a steep hillside to feel the final minutes of sun on my face and skin.
Spaghetti is good. Our marriage is strong. We lifted the curtains and laid down in our home in the woods; ensconced between two steep ridges. To the sound of the creek, we slept.