If you are a person with anxiety and fear everything, what do you do to better your life? You step out of your comfort zone and ignore the anxiety and fear. At least that was what I did on August 24, 2014, and I have found my life changed for the better.
The Tulsa Zoo at Mohawk Park had a small amusement park nearby in the early 70’s. It was there I remember my first experience with fear and, to this day, it brings the butterflies in my belly and makes my hands sweat. There was a small roller coaster that had children laughing and enjoying the thrill of the ups and downs. I begged my parents to let me ride so Daddy climbed in with me saying it was going to be fun. As the ride began it was slow and enjoyable, but quickly it escalated, and I was crying out for it to stop. I recall the uncomfortable sinking feeling as the car raced up and down along the track. I screamed for the ride to stop so I could get off the ride, but it felt the controller was intentionally going faster, and my father just laughed at me as I cried and felt myself urinate in fear.
I realize now that the ride was not increasing just to increase the uncomfortableness I was experiencing. Nor was my father laughing at my fear, but he was just enjoying the ride and having fun. Unfortunately, because of my misconceptions as a child of four or five, I allowed that moment in time to rule my emotions. This would cause me many, many years of anxiety and hold me hostage not allowing me to find the joys of experiencing new things.
Because of this fear, events that happened throughout my childhood would do nothing more than validate the emotions I had about the sinking feelings, causing frustration for me and the people who were part of my life. Unfortunately, my father seemed to be most affected by this situation. He would often become angry and argue with me telling me I was never going to succeed at anything if I were too afraid. This would further my anxiety causing me to become even more self-conscience of my failure and I would retreat further into anxiety. I am not blaming my father for any of this; I have, over the past few years, come to understand what the catalyst was for the overactive anxiety and fear giving me the ability to start overcoming the issue. Often when we come to understand the why of a situation, we can overcome and move forward.
With all of this in mind, I am hoping you can see I was a ball of stress and worry. Yes, I was, and still am, an extrovert who loves to spend time with people and enjoys being out and about. However, fear caused me to worry so extremely that I was not able to enjoy the things of travel that most people are thrilled to experience. I would dread the road trips to my grandparents because of the mountainous, curvy roads my parents drove; traveling in an airplane due to the takeoff, turbulence, and landings; visiting amusement parks and experiencing the vast amounts of gravity-defying rides; and so many other issues. This state of irrational fear grew into a fear of the unknown and caused my “what if’s” to derail plans and visions of what tomorrow would bring. Because of this, I missed out on many opportunities for fun, friendship, and success.
Since my life had become a string of fear induced failures, I had a very low self-esteem. Because of this low self-esteem, I made poor choices and was unable to accomplish anything. Between failed marriages, poor parenting choices, and a lack of commitment I was failing in most things I tried. Fortunately, my husband Scott saw something in me and he gave me the opportunity to become the person I am today. This, however, was a very rough road and his patience and encouragement are greatly appreciated.
Atychiphobia is when the fear of failure stops someone from doing things that can help one achieve his or her goals. Everyone experiences a fear of failure, but when it interferes with a person’s ability to succeed, it becomes a problem. This type of action can cause a person to never accomplish anything; that anything can be as simple as walking out the door to meet people to something as major as taking the steps needed to improve one’s career. The fear is real and if a person does not work to break the cycle, it can ruin their life. However, if a person is willing to fight self-doubt, self-hatred, and self-sabotage, they will be able to eventually succeed.
For me, my weapon to battle this issue is my husband Scott. Through his persistence, patience, and encouragement, I can now see myself as someone other than a failure. Because I can see myself as someone who can accomplish things, I am able to step out and face many of my fears. This didn’t happen overnight; we were married in 2004 and it took him speaking positively constantly and encouraging me to try to overcome my fears. I honestly had not realized this was what was happening, but over the past couple of years, I have found myself pushing myself when I start to be afraid.
One of the issues Scott dealt with concerning me was the not wanting to go out into the wilderness. I would say, “I don’t like camping in a tent, on the ground.” “There is nothing for me out of doors, just bugs and getting sweaty.” “I just don’t like to do that.” When, in reality, I was afraid; afraid of everything. I feared we would get lost if we hiked in the woods, die because of a crazed ax murderer, or, worst of all, come across a snake.
When Scott and I first met, we were in a medieval recreation organization name the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA for short). In this organization, we would camp in tents, but it was more like clamping with fluffy beds, pretty medieval clothing, and parties. The camping Scott wanted to do afterward was the tent, sleeping bag, and out in the middle of the woods. It terrified me. He was wanting to be out in the wild with no people, no electricity, and snakes. All I ever said was no. I would always come up with an excuse, but finally, I couldn’t give him a good excuse. So on August 24, 2014, we visited our very first Texas State Park. Fort Richardson State Historic Site & Park in Jacksboro, Texas.
Walking into the main office, we introduced ourselves, found out the interesting places to visit, and paid our fee. We then drove to the first area on the map, the hospital and grounds, and explored it all. Then we drove throughout the whole location and found there to be electricity, water, and civilized bathroom facilities. The trails were clearly marked and everyone was very excited to see us. That was the beginning for my real fight against my fear. It was time to force myself to not give in to fear any longer.
I found getting outside helped me battle the anxiety and depression along with sunshine. There was just something about walking under the canopy of trees that seemed to not just lift my spirits, but helped to ease the depression that occurred. Often we would walk the trails in the state parks enabling us to see the beauty we missed in town. Not only spending time in the outdoors has helped, but the driving to get to the new locations and state parks has helped to ease the anxiety. As we drive, I am able to focus on the journey.
Needless to say, this is an ongoing issue, but isn’t that what life is all about? I find that taking a few moments to enjoy the outdoors and challenging myself helps to take my mind off the scary things that try to take away my peace.
Scott and I were able to go on a four-day road trip to see the total eclipse recently. We traveled into Kansas and found it to be more than fields of corn. I had no clue there were so many rolling hills and beautiful places here; we have been to the Witchita area and found it to be prairies and F-L-A-T. However, as we drove up I-69, this was not the Kansas we experienced before.
While we drove our way up to the Kansas City, Kansas, area to visit our friend Amy and view the eclipse, Scott and I visited two new Kansas State Parks, Elk City State Park and Eisenhower State Park. These would be the first two parks for this state for us and we were not disappointed at all.
Elk City State Park was beautiful. As we drove through the park we found amazing oak and hickory trees surrounding the campsites with full hook-ups. I could actually see the Beast parked in the spots and us hiking along the many trails and enjoying the lake.
If you drive out of the park, you will find a road that will take you to an overlook of the lake. It goes up, up, up to a stone building and a fantastic view.
The plaque on the building says, “This overlook and its vistas of America are dedicated to the memory of Tulsa District employees and those citizens who have made significant contributions to the mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Those who are honored, while from many walks of life, were united in their dedication to help build a stronger and better nation. Today their efforts live on in the memories of their families and co-workers who look to their examples as guideposts for the future.”
I just fell in love with the view and the fact that it had a connection with Tulsa, a place that has deep roots in our lives. It has made this place special for us and I look forward to spending more time. It always amazes me how we seem to find some type of connection with the parks we visit. Here it was an outlook.
Yes, you see that right, we went to Kansas and visited Eisenhower State Park. But wait, didn’t we just leave Eisenhower State Park where I park hosted? Yes, but that was in Texas on Lake Texoma. These two parks are totally different, but both are fantastic to visit. We were able to stop and chat with some of this park’s Park Hosts and they had some very funny stories, like most hosts do. In my experience at the Texas Eisenhower, we would have many calls for the Kansas park; turns out they had many calls for the Texas park too. The host we spoke with at the Park Store said she had a man come in for his reservation, but there was nothing there for him because he had made it for the Texas park. I know it has happened at the park in Texas because I came across it happening. It can be frustrating, but it has taught me to be a bit more careful when making our reservations.
Photo from Eisenhower State Park website.
The Kansas’ Eisenhower is a good example of the rolling plains you will find in the state. There are not as many trees as Elk City State Park, where we visited earlier that morning, but you will find plenty of trees within each of the campsites and the normal full hook-ups. Both of us liked the feel of the park and how they provided plenty of opportunities for shade and beating the summer heat. The shade covers were unique and fun. We eventually drove the full park and found ourselves ready to head towards Kansas City to spend time with our friend Amy.
Sunday morning the three of us were up and ready to hit a Missouri State Park named Weston Bend State Park just across the Missouri River from Leavenworth, Kansas. It was our first park in the state of Missouri and it was perfect. The park system, as you can see from the above photo, is celebrating their 100 year anniversary, which thrills us because we get to celebrate along with them. The day was perfect for this visit and we were able to take a nice hike along one of the more difficult trails Scott and I have taken.
We took a mixture of the Harpst, Northridge, and Paved Bike Trails. I found myself wondering if we were crazy to take this mixture, but I really had an amazing time. Our friend Amy is an avid hiker and is in excellent shape so knowing that I was able to keep up with her on her slower pace made me feel as if I was a bit accomplished. I have not been able to do much hiking since we moved back up to Tulsa from Eisenhower (the Texas one) so I was needing to grab my outdoorphines.
One of the things Scott and I are trying to do is get out of the house and do new things. Doing this we have found ourselves meeting new, interesting people; tasting unique, cultural foods; and visiting fun, out-of-our-way places. We have, in this process, discovered so many things about ourselves as individuals and a couple. Myself, I never thought I would be doing the things we do because I was never one to enjoy the outdoors, but I am riding a bike, hiking trails, and going to new places. The one thing I have learned from all this is that we can’t lock ourselves away and expect experiences to come to us, we have to step out of our comfort zone and just try.
On Monday we were on a mission, we had a full eclipse to observe. In order to see the full eclipse though w had to find the right place. Scott and Amy had decided to look at White Cloud, Kansas, for the viewing. To get there we opted to take the Glacial Hills Scenic Drive and it did not disappoint.
It was almost surreal to think about the glacier that traveled across these hills leaving the large stone deposits to create the rolling hills we drove past filled with green fields of corn and soybeans. As we came closer and closer to our destination, you could see people lining up along edges of fields preparing for the eclipse. This was a once in a lifetime chance and it seemed as if everyone was showing up to experience it.
An hour and a half after leaving Amy’s house, we arrived in White Cloud and the end (or beginning) of the Glacier Hills Scenic Drive. Here we found a marker for the for the Lewis & Clark Trail and information about the drive. Unfortunetly, the sky was overcast and Scott and Amy decided to go further north into Nebraska.
We still had time to get ourselves up to our eclipse viewing destination Indian Cave State Park, we just had to get moving because the bridge to take us directly there was being worked on and we had to take a detour.
Within forty-five minutes we arrived at Indian Cave State Park in the pouring rain. It was raining so hard we were not able to stop for an entry photo. It was not looking good for the eclipse, but we were at our first Nebraska State Park and it was beautiful even in the rain. Fortunately for us, the rain stopped within the first twenty minutes of our arrival. Driving through the park to visit the cave where you could view prehistoric Native American petroglyphs. It was a little difficult to view them because of the many decades of people scratching their names in the same rocks, but you can find the petroglyphs if you look. It caused us to question what the tribe’s elders thought of the petroglyphs and how much trouble the “artists” got in to from their graffiti.
Finishing our viewing of the cave, we looked for a good spot to view the full eclipse. The sky was overcast and it was too late for us to find another location to do the viewing, so we were now committed to this location. From the shore of the Missouri River, Scott and I set ourselves ready for the on-coming eclipse with our special NASA approved glasses while our friend Amy decided to climb the trail at Trailhead 11 and enjoy a run during the eclipse.
As the moon began it’s path across the sun, Scott took photos and I pouted because the viewing was awful. We were able to see the beginning stages on the sun, but because of the overcast sky we were not able to view the full eclipse. However, we did experience the darkness and the 360 degree twilight. I actually saw some fireflies in the middle of the day and that was pretty cool. There will be another total eclipse traveling across the United States in 2024 and that gives us another opportunity.
Just as suddenly as the excitement began, people started packing up and leaving. Having been lucky enough to not come across lots of traffic while we were enroute, we were going to pay our dues on the way out. What should have been a twenty-minute drive took us an hour and a half!
Even though we were not able to view the eclipse, we were able to come closer to our State Park Goal by four new State Parks, visit a new state, and, most importantly, spent some amazing time with our good friend Amy. It was such a fantastic trip and I can’t wait to go back to the Kansas City area and see what else we can find.
As you now know, Scott and I are living in Oklahoma. He was able to transfer with his job so he lost no vacation or sick time and his pay stayed pretty much the same even though he received a small bit of a pay raise (Texas doesn’t have income tax where Oklahoma does – blah). I am not taking on a park hosting position for a while so we can focus on getting situated and working on the RV. One thing for sure, the website and videos will be reworked and rethought. We are finding our way around to what we want more for us and you all.
One of the things we are trying to think about is how we want the website to help us achieve our goals of helping benefit you while still telling about our adventures. This means we have to figure out how we are benefiting you as a viewer, guest, friend. Needless to say, we are at a bit of a crossroads. We aren’t sure what we are doing is providing anything for you except keeping everyone updated. It has taken us a while to admit this, but there it is.
This is an ugly realization for us and it was difficult to admit. Who wants to do something that is not useful? That is why we are taking a bit of a break. Our life just exploded over the past month and we came face to face with some major issues: debt, death, disappointment, and so much more. We both decided what we were doing was not working and life felt out of control. This was not a bad thing because we can see the good coming out of it all. That is why we aren’t giving up the website or videos. Just re-evaluating everything to figure out what we want to do and see if we want to pull you all along through the mess.
This next three to six weeks will be the time we make some major decisions. At the moment we are staying with family, not in the Beast because there are no hookups and this is Oklahoma. Oklahoma is pretty unforgiving in August concerning heat and no air conditioning. This, however, is very temporary because the plan is to move out of the Beast completely for about six months while we strip her completely down and fix her up; this is the outside, inside and engine. We will be staying in Scott’s brother’s fifth wheel during that time, but they are in the process of buying a house so it is all in a state of chaos at the moment. But isn’t that the way with chaos, it is temporary.
So, we wait. While we wait, we focus on the things we can work on now. For Scott, it is getting adjusted to the new job while I take the time to work on the website and video channel.
My last post here was in February when we came back from the Enchanted Rock trip. I was a bit shocked at how long it had been because it has been an extremely busy and fast moving month or so. See, we purchased our RV on February 24, 2017, and did a test run at Eisenhower State Park for Spring Break, but never returned to reality! I know, shocking!
We met with a man in Krum, Texas, who had a 1982 El Dorado Firenza for cheap and the bones were good and so was the engine. It was originally from Alaska and the man he purchased it from had done some basic work to it but eventually decided he just didn’t want to continue the work. We looked at it and thought this might be a great opportunity and bought it.
There were so many things we didn’t like about the RV and they were just cosmetic so we decided to do some major changes on the inside. We took out the bathroom for future plans later, the wall between the kitchen cabinet, the kitchen cabinet, the stove area, and the ugly 80’s couch looking thing. We decided it all had to come out to fit what we needed it to be so we took a sledge hammer and began knocking out walls, counters, stoves, and couches. Like I said, good bones, scary interior.
The floorplan was pretty much for a double bed-marine shower set up and we needed a space for two twin beds, kitchen area, and a sitting area. So we decided to take out everything except the closet area and bed space. This left a very big area to do what we wanted. We were actually able to get the two twin beds in and get it somewhat ready for basic living. This doesn’t mean we were able to get cabinets, counter, bathroom, or pantry in yet, but it is a work in progress. At this point in time, we are paying off some bills and getting money situated so we can take a full two weeks to finish the rig, but that is more towards October at this point. We are just living day to day.
During the demolition, we have found some pretty interesting things about this rig. It was paneled with some 1980’s wood looking paneling, the ceiling was covered with wine-colored velour that was tufted with giant velvet buttons, had a rather odd sepia colored wallpaper and orange-red carpet. It definitely brought back the 80’s and caused me to question my thoughts about taking it back to its original interior. The answer would be “no, not a chance.
Because we were set up to spend a one-week spring break tour with Eisenhower State Park in March, we decided to just take the full week to live as we would full time. This was where the “sudden” happened and we found ourselves in a whirlwind of change. I packed everything we thought we would need from food to clothing, seating to entertainment, and It was one big mess, but we were packed and we headed off on, what I thought would be a two-hour drive.
It took me almost five hours to get to Eisenhower State Park from our apartment in Bedford, Texas because the side mirrors were not working. I would get them into place only to have the wind from driving push them back to where all I could see myself. This was not going work for my safety or anyone else’s. I stopped to have Scott help me get the mirrors right and was off again. The driver side mirror acted correctly from that point, but the passenger mirror would not stay in place. This meant I was either having to stop every time it did this, meaning I was stopping every five to ten minutes. I ended up driving in the right lane at 55 mph extremely stressed because I could not see anything but my own reflection in the right side mirror. I know, stupid decision, but the girls and I made it safely to the parking lot of Eisenhower State Park. I stopped, got out, shut the door when the driver’s side mirror crashed to the ground. I was relieved to be there in one piece.
Once I was signed in at the office, I was given my spot and what a beautiful sight it was. I was given a pull through which meant no backing in with the two useless mirrors.
This was the second weekend in March and spring break was in full gear, come to find out it was the first of three weeks called Spring Break and I was only supposed to do one week. I contacted the Park Host Coordinator, Kate, and she was shocked to find I was scheduled for the full month of March! Wait, we weren’t supposed to be full time Park Hosts until June 1! Something was not right. Scott and I discussed what we were going to do and we decided we would give a 60-day notice to our apartment and move out. Obviously, the park needed us and we thought we were ready for the move.
We took the last week in March and packed up the apartment. Fortunately, I was able to go through all of my personal stuff over the previous six months and was down to what was going into the RV and two totes which sent into storage. Scott had been busy working and was not as fortunate so most of his things went into storage along with the items we both were not ready to let go of. It had been a rough time, but we were done and out of the apartment. We had lived in a 2,000 square foot house, moved to a 547 square foot apartment, then lived in only the 14′ x 12′ bedroom plus the bathroom and kitchen, now we though we were ready to move into a 25 foot RV. Our world was not only going to change, but it was going to change in a way we were not really prepared for. They say March comes in like a lion and exits as a lamb, this would not be so for us and we had no clue what was getting ready to happen.
In 2016 Scott and I were just over 20,000 miles in travel miles; this included a trip to San Francisco, Yosemite, and Athens, Georgia. We also visited Oklahoma and the Western edges of Arkansas using up about 9,000 miles for all of that, the left over miles were in Texas. We are actually focused on visiting all 95 of the Texas State Parks and have managed to visit 48 of those before the end of the year. This took us all over the plains areas of the state, the piney woods, and even into the Hill Country just north of the Austin area. Fortunately, we also were able to visit the far southwestern area of the Davis Mountains helping to give us many, many miles of travel in Texas.
Over the first three weeks of January 2017, we have worked hard at not traveling outside the Dallas-Fort Worth area; but instead, we are finding things locally to keep us entertained. However, we were not able to tame the travel bug much longer. Since I was having to attend the Texans for State Parks Board Meeting in Austin, Scott and I decided it would be the perfect jumping off point to visit a few new-to-us Texas State Parks west of Austin. He took off Thursday and Friday from work and we were set for a good amount of traveling on a four day weekend.
Thursday morning we left later than we had expected from our friends John and Faye’s, but it was worth spending a few more hours with good friends. They are always generous and happy to play host to us. They sent us on our way and we headed to our first of eight state parks, two of which were the only ones not new for us. We needed to move quickly, but stopped to view a couple of the scenic overlooks on our way towards Inks Lake State Park.
We stayed at Inks Lake State Park for two nights because they had an available cabin. Unfortunately, weekends in Texas there are rarely campsites or cabins available, no matter the time of year. If you are expecting to stay within the Texas State Park system, especially on weekends, you must make reservations as soon as you know when you are planning to visit, even then you are not always able to get a cabin.
We arrived at Inks, obtained our cabin key, and dropped off bedding, clothing and other such things then immediately headed towards Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. The is located just south of Llano off highway 16. Just before reaching the turn off (RM965), we noticed a sign that said, “Closed When Flashing – Enchanted Rock State Natural Area 9 miles.” It was not flashing, but according to Texas Hill Country website, the pack fills up fast on weekends and is closed due to lack of parking space and the insane amount of people. Fortunately, we were there on a Thursday so it was not full, but there were a lot of people.
This location is the site of a huge pink granite rock that stands 1825 feet high and is one of only two such sites like this in the United States; the other location is Stone Mountain located just northeast of Atlanta, Georgia. While the Texas batholith is much smaller than the one in Georgia, it is still impressive. Both of these granite rocks were once magma chambers for what was once volcanos. Over time, the magma became granite and the soil around them was eroded away leaving these beautiful stones.
This giant rock welcomes all who wish to climb its seemingly smooth surface to enjoy a unique landscape called sky islands and vernal pools. Here we found what could be compared to tide pools only with cacti and lizards. These depressions shelter different types of plants and animals that have adapted to this hot/cold, windy, and barren environment. In fact, by studying these depressions, ecologists learn how plants and animals come together and live in this habitat; how they modify their environment and help develop soils where there is no soil; and, how plant and animal communities are created and change over time and situation.
In the stone, as we climbed we saw long lines of crystals which have been created by an intense pressure of earth movement and the heat from having been a magma chamber. Unfortunately, I am not a geologist so I do not know all the right terms and explanations. I do know when the sun hits the granite just right, you can see the crystals within it shine and shimmer reflecting the rays of light.
Scott and I took our time to climb this giant rock, which is an estimated 45-minute climb. Unsurprisingly, it took us over an hour, but we were more concerned with my knee and our safety. Taking it slowly, we took many breaks so we could evaluate my pain level; they were definitely needed breaks for this, resting, and drinking water. Neither of us are use to the hiking, especially such a vertical path; however, we were both determined to reach the top to see the view and to find the survey marker we were positive would be there.
At one point, I almost gave up. I was two-thirds of the way up and I was just exhausted, of course, the knee was telling me off at this point. I told Scott to just continue and I would wait for him. He suggested we sit and drink some water and rest a bit. This was definitely good advice because about fifteen minutes later I was ready to attack the rest of the climb. He reminded me it was okay if I didn’t go, but asked me if I would regret not reaching the top. I would have regretted it very much. This was something I had on my personal “bucket list” and I decided I was just tired and not in much pain. I was wearing my knee brace and using my trekking poles so the knee did not have as much pressure as it would have. It always amazes me how using the correct equipment can make an activity so much more enjoyable.
Upon reaching the final five feet of the climb, the sky island made itself known and I was stunned at the beauty of vernal pools. There were small trees, cacti, pools of creatures and algae, I even found one of in the shape of a lopsided heart containing fern looking plants. I was amazed to see the life growing out of the large, round granite rock. Then I looked up and saw the surrounding landscape. My eyes tried to take it all in at once, only to find I was tearing up. I had made it to the top and was able to see the quick rising hills all around the country side full of cedars, scrub oaks and green winter grasses. Needless to say, I was completely overwhelmed and thrilled at my success.
Suddenly, Scott says, “There has to be a geological survey marker somewhere on this rock!” He quickly walked towards the location he believed to be the highest spot on the rock and there it was; the US Geological Society had placed their mark on the hill to show that it was significant. For hikers today, it is a symbol that they have beaten nature and achieved a great height. For me, it was proof that if I had to stay focused and not give up; I could not have done that without my husband, he encouraged me and reminded me not to give up.
Eventually, we decided it was time to climb down the granite mountain and prepare to take some night sky photos, which was the true reason we had visited this park. The Milky Way was supposed to show itself near the center between the two granite domes and he was determined to get a very nice shot of it. Fortunately for us, I had packed hot chocolate and plenty of warm layers. It was so extremely cold and I hate being cold.
The nine figures at the top of the rock are people.
At one point, while he was taking photos, we heard the worst sound (link goes to TheCrotalusfreak‘s YouTube channel). It sounded like a person in pain screaming in bursts of three. It sent chills up my spine for sure. I am very prone to my imagination running off with me and it had jumped out of my skin and was running around in fear. It didn’t help any that Scott says, “I sure hope that’s not a person hurt or worse.” I then began to think the worst. Come to find out from another couple who were also taking night sky photos, they had seen a bobcat approaching. They shined their flashlights at him and scared him off. I felt relief to know it was nothing more than a cat named Bob.
At one point the cold had convinced Scott it was time to pack up and return to our little cabin at Inks Lake State Park. We had an hours drive late in the evening, but it was sure to be an interesting one. Deer roam all over the area and often there are carcasses near the road showing the dangers for the wildlife among humans. We actually saw about three deer, but, fortunately for them and us, we had no ill-fated meeting.
This deer was hanging around at Inks Lake State Park when first arrived, he was one of at least a dozen we saw that day before the drive in the dark.