One month of desert life

I arrived in Texas on October 13th coming from spending most of my time in an apartment in Portland, Maine

So as you can imagine this is all a huge change for me. I spent my days mostly hiding in a little apartment that I shared with my partners of 6 years and our golden retriever Flynn. They both work full time and I was unemployed so many days I would spend the majority of my time with our dog. Thats all no way to live. Evan and Laura had been inviting me to travel with them to wherever they went to next, it started with murmurs of Puerto Rico, a more concrete voice saying Georgia. Then after they moved down to South Carolina they were like “West Texas Desert!!”. I was taken aback for a second but knew that the life I had been living for the past year or however long was destroying me so I agreed. I lived with this deep excitement knowing that I was in desperate need of change but that was matched for this deep existential fear that I annoyingly listen to a lot of the time telling me that change is not worth it. I struggled with that and delayed my departure once. After hearing how the temperature is out here in the summer I have little regret about that.

October came and I realized I had barely done anything to prepare for this change, other than buying 3 pairs of pants. So I frantically started packing, buying luggage and saying goodbye to the people I loved. I had mixed success on all of that but regardless on October 13th my partners dropped me off at the security gate at the airport and I sat and waited to depart. Of course for my first solo journey by air I had a delay, which caused me to spend a surreal and lonely night in the Dallas airport. I finally made it to Odessa and saw how flat the ground can be and how large the sky can be. After being dumbstruck by that idea I became aware of my surroundings and declared Midland/Odessa a sad town. This is when the largest amount of doubt I had encountered in my life hit me. Is this a flat sad state? Did i try to become less flat and sad by moving to one of the flattest and saddest places I’ve encountered? I kept all this to myself and trusted Evan and Laura that were they lived was not like that. And after an agonizing 30 hours or so in that town we left and headed south. I started to feel better as the sights got less airport-y and more uh Western-y(?). And after a while Evan announced we were about to break the shell. It certainly seemed like it. The flatness to the north was suddenly rocky mountains tearing into the sky. As we drove through them I started feeling better. And as we made it deeper into this part of the state my doubt was soothed.

I am featured very tiny on the hilltop

From one of the first hikes i did when I got out here!

From a recent hike in Alpine

For the first many days, and even now! I was in awe of the environment. Everything so dry, everything so sharp. No tall pine trees shading me, just the harsh uv rays tanning my pastey north eastern skin. Time has been flying since I’ve gotten here, even when I am bored I feel like the seconds are going a little faster. In just one month I started horseback riding lessons, saw fossils, hiked on various types of landscapes, built a yurt, and met a ton of new people. I’ve been somewhere between completely overwhelmed and doing ok out here. It’s been nice to be able to be outside and paint a lot of the days, and I am slowly transitioning into a horse girl. One of the first couple weeks here I got accepted to be a guest artist at a local gallery so I have been busy making enough pieces for that so I can feel good about myself. My days have had a nice mix of work in the sun, walks around the desert, and a lot of card games.

Nugget and me, the horse I’ve been learning on

Fun in the sun!

Nugget and me making the same face


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Laura Shaw

Owner of Terlingua Oasis Project

Former Bartender, Baker, Forager, Trail Guide, Cowboy, and Horse Trainer(which I’ve returned to part time).  I decided to lay down roots in the desert and help enact ecological and social change in the area by starting the Terlingua Oasis Project.

-Laura Shaw

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