The Walking Dead


Camp Brown – Anza Borrego


Driving back to civilization after spending five days in the desert with friends and family I feel out of place as I walk into Starbucks. Riley and Maggie order a drink, Jaron and I head straight to the bathrooms. Dirt under our fingernails, hair that has not been washed for days, sun burnt skin, chapped lips and clothes covered in campfire ash and desert grit, we look like the Walking Dead. But the thing is, we are not dead. In fact, we feel more alive than ever. It is the rest of the patrons that look dead to us.

I always find it difficult to return to civilization after our annual camping trip to Anza Borrego. Thirty five of us make this yearly springtime trip to the desert together. All of us, once homeschoolers, and like extended family, spend our days hiking to the oasis, devouring delicious pot-lucks, singing, sharing stories around the campfire and sleeping under the stars. It has become almost ceremonial. Although, this year it was more like sleeping in our cars due to the cold and crazy 55 mph gusts of wind we endured. The kids braved it out, however, and stuffed themselves into one tent (once it was found after blowing away) to keep warm.


From left top to right bottom: Benny, Chloe, Rachel, Maggie, Lexi, Lauren, Thor, Hailey, Casey Indigo, Brenna, Nick, Riley, Ray, Jaron, Reed, Madeline, Trevor, Zach and Max


But even in the midst of a wind advisory and sun burnt skin I want to go back. I like living off the grid; phones off, disconnected from Facebook and the problems of the world. I like getting dirty, communing with nature and others. I like living simply and modestly, sharing meals, ideas and dreams. I like belonging to something bigger than myself. It makes me feel small. In a good way.


The Moms and The Serpent: Stephanie, Diana, Carolyn, Amy, Debi, Angela and me



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Riley and Jaron saving Maggie from the claws of Ricardo Breceda’s Scorpion


Back in Santa Ana, confined by drywall and schedules, where feeling small no longer feels good, I find it way too easy to slip back into myself, losing touch with nature, others and the divine. Getting too comfortable at home is not always a good thing for me. I find it to be the perfect breeding ground for an egocentric way of life, more self-centered and even self-obsessive at times, where I tend to live more from my own perspective instead of others in an attempt to feel big. It’s like living from the inside out and I don’t really care for it. Camping in the desert surrounded by friends, open sky, purple mountains, sunsets and sunrises, however, makes it much easier to get out of my own head, connect with others, nature and a power higher than myself. It keeps the focus off of me and on the simple joys in life. It is living from the outside in and it is my preference.

But since I can’t live in a commune in the dessert right now, I am going to keep some of that dirt I gathered under my nails and take it with me to the grocery store today. And, when I am cooking tonight, I will make sure to taste the desert grit in my mouth and smell the campfire in my hair. And when I sit down to write my psychology paper, I will look at my sun and wind burnt hands with high regard and smile. I will smile the same way I smile at the barista with my chapped lips next time I order a drink at Starbucks reminding me of how small I really am. In a good way.


Font’s Point Maggie, Trevor, Rachel, Thor, Jaron, Lexi, Brenna, Chloe and Benny



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