It's probably silly to think about what would've happened if we'd driven to the Pacific Northwest in March like we planned to - how it could have played out to break down in Oregon or British Columbia, or if we would have broken down at all. Maybe the heat had something to do with it. Maybe the desert cast a spell on us.
Those last few days before the breakdown were some of our weirdest and some our best. We accepted that the car we bought was gonna die. We stopped worrying about every little noise under the hood — in hindsight that was probably our downfall, but it also felt good to just let go. We didn’t worry about showering, we just doused our greasy hair in dry shampoo. We were vagabonds again, sleeping under skies with more stars than empty space. We knew that we had ten days to get to Denver, but we didn’t really have plans beyond that.
We slept at some hot springs at the very edge of California, part of an over-flooded river. A man appeared from the woods, literally out of nowhere, pretending to look for his car keys. He climbed into the springs with us naked and tried to rub gravel on our feet. "The other girls like it," he said, "all over their bodies." We leapt out of there pretty quick and back to our car, still wet and smelling like sulphur. I can't remember his name now, but he told us he had a Youtube channel where he puts rabbits on people's heads and records them. We stayed in Mojave for the night and then high-tailed it to Arizona.
We hadn't planned to go to Sedona (we wanted to stay as far South and warm as possible), but we saw that it was sort of on our way and plus we'd heard good things. We pulled into the town just as it was shutting down, down from Flagstaff on a steep winding road lined with piles of snow. We thought we'd fucked up. But Sedona was just lower enough in elevation that it was warm enough to sleep. We slept on the side of the road with a sign in our windshield feigning car troubles (part of me still wonders if the breakdown was some kind of karmic retribution).
I spent the morning reading obsessively about energy vortexes -- these points of extreme magnetism in the Earth that supposedly give off powerful energy. There’s 4 in Sedona. We chose Boynton Canyon, which is known to balance your feminine / masculine sides. I’m the first to believe a government conspiracy theory, but never one to doubt some hippie jargon. They claim that only certain people can feel the energy, those that are open to it. We knew had to try to feel it for ourselves.
The vortex sits halfway up the hiking trail, a tall pillar in the middle of a jungle gym of red rock and cacti. The trail is lined with twisted Juniper trees. We got there and sat by it, our backs against the cold rock, for at least an hour. A soft breeze was blowing. The weather was temperate. I don't know how much our brains played tricks on us, or if it was just the weed kicking in, but we felt something. I can't describe the feeling beyond that I felt calm, not anxious, connected.
During that week we were eating a lot of beans and grains. We traded our fridge in for a Yeti cooler and it was so much easier to keep fresh food and leftovers. We kept a lot of grains around -- cooked wheat berries, quinoa, overnight oats. Here's a recipe for quinoa breakfast porridge, which we've been eating a lot of. It's hearty and earthy and only a little sweet. It's super variable and easy to make in a van. You can use any nut milk (or regular milk) and top it with whatever you want. We're obsessed with golden berries right now (dried gooseberries; they that have that same bubblegum-y tart and tropical flavor like you're eating all the Starburst flavors at once).
Quinoa Breakfast Porridge with Coconut Milk
Yield: 2 servings
1 cup black or red quinoa
1/4 cup almond milk
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
pinch of salt
1/4 cup dried goldenberries
1/4 cup dried apricots
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup toasted coconut
1/4 cup unsalted pistachios, shelled
1 - 2 tbl maple syrup
Rinse the quinoa until the water runs clear.
Combine the quinoa, almond milk, one cup of the coconut milk and a pinch of salt in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the quinoa is tender. Stir occasionally and add more liquid (water or almond milk) if it evaporates.
Serve in two bowls and top with nuts, seeds, and maple syrup to taste.