The end of March brought a farewell party courtesy of the staff and friends of Palo Duro Canyon. The park rangers and volunteers always went the distance to include me as part of their team and honored me with an expression of their gratitude. Their hearts are as big and wide open as the canyon that we all love.
I was leaving my home of two months. Not a long time in the normal world, in a normal job. But here it felt like a lifetime. I had mixed feeling: the elation of moving on and the sweet sadness of leaving another home. Few places have stirred my soul as much as Palo Duro.
While living there, I met my very first longhorns, Biscuits and Gravy who live at the top of the canyon; on loan from the state herd of Texas longhorns. I also saw my first bobcat and aoudad in the park.
I witnessed the sudden rise of the Red River swollen from heavy rains pouring over its banks onto the canyon road; was pelted by hail and snow storms and blown around by fierce prairie winds that I thought would never stop.
I was gifted with sunset and moonrise that artists only dream about. And, sometimes driving into the canyon, the sight of it was so beautiful it hurt my eyes and yet I couldn’t turn away or close them to the wonder before me.
Memories come in waves of sound: the call of the flicker as he flitted from cottonwood to mesquite to hackberry trees at Hackberry Campground, the turkey tribe led by lady turkey, Gladys, calling daily at my door, the sweet birdsong of meadowlarks and mountain bluebirds, the call of coyote and owl on the night’s gentle breeze as I drifted to sleep.
Remembrances bring smiles: the kindness of strangers who first greeted me in the canyon and became friends minutes later, campers who made me become more learned about the canyon with their questions and my further endeavors to steep myself in the canyon’s rich history.
I am not wealthy or even well off, money-wise. I still take on workamper jobs to help make my way in the world and continue my travels. But as often as I can, I give back to Mother Earth; paying it forward by volunteering in wild places. I always come away from the experience feeling rich beyond worldly wealth and fulfilled beyond my wildest dreams.
My little tin can home on wheels makes it all possible; that, and the driving spirit within that heeds the mysterious call of adventure. It pulls me into unknown places, whirls me around; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts.
(aka Tin Can Traveler)