I am sitting at the bottom of a canyon in Texas and it is cold. For the first time, the van really couldn’t keep up with the chill during the night. That was mostly my fault — there are a bunch of heat conservation tips to living in a van that boil down “cover windows” and “block off unused areas.” Basically, the van stays warmer when I curtain off the cab, close the bathroom doors, and put the shades down and the window covers up. Not complicated. I didn’t do it, though, because hello, canyon. Beautiful isolated rocky cliffs, incredible dark starry night, and the only light that which came from all the myriad ridiculous little lights that shine in the van all night long. Well, and off in the distance, lights to the bathroom. 

From the van, I can see one lone tent camper, and I would feel sorry for them, except my friend P goes camping in snow, and at least there’s no snow here. I’m assuming those campers were prepared for the weather. 

Speaking of weather, that’s why I’m in a canyon in Texas. (Did you know there were canyons in Texas? Total surprise to me. Not as implausible as discovering, say, a waterfall in Texas, but surprising nonetheless.) I was headed toward New Mexico and making great time, when I checked in with Kyla, who I’m hoping to visit. She mentioned the dreaded word, “snow.” 

I am not doing snow. When I first moved into Serenity, I thought it might be fun to experience snow again, but it’s not. I don’t like snow. In fact, if you’ve read all my books, you probably know that because I’ve mentioned it more than once. My characters seldom like snow either! So I’m not going to places where the snow is or is likely to be, and for a couple days that included Kyla’s part of New Mexico. I could have gone on to Albuquerque and met up with her there, but it was raining in Albuquerque and I am not in such a hurry that I need to drive in the rain. 

So I took a snow day and paused in Palo Duro Canyon, south of Amarillo, for a couple of nights. (The actual town name is Canyon, Texas, which I like, because it’s so very descriptive. Yep, that’s where we are. In a canyon.) On the first night, I was in the Hackberry Campground. I think the ranger gave me the site because it was reasonably close to the entrance of the park, within very easy walking distance to the bathrooms. Efficient, in other words. And it was certainly nice, with lots of short trees, which in the summer, when its hot, would probably be lovely, and a fun winding path up to the outside theater. 

But on my snow day, I went exploring. I drove miles into the canyon, down to the river (lots of flash flood warning signs at the bridges), and took a look at a the campground at the very end of the road. And then I went all the way back up to the front and asked if I could switch sites. Then I came back to my new site and took a hundred photographs, none of which turned out particularly interesting. I think the light was too bright, actually — everything from the camera looks flat and bland. But here’s the view from the van window, taken with the iPhone. 

And here’s my favorite photo from the last few days, also taken with the iPhone. It was at a rest stop on the highway, headed west. 

Today’s plan: New Mexico.