Intense Signage

My adventure had only barely begun.

After a couple days of reset, I left for southeastern New Mexico to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

My first night camping on my own landed me on a perfect lake with white pelicans and nighthawks – two bird species I’ve longed to see.

I did no research on Carlsbad Caverns aside from knowing it was a national park, and I’m genuinely so glad I didn’t because the surprise factor added an immense amount to the experience.

A cavern that descends over a mile into the Earth, has miles worth of trails within, and 300+ foot ceilings, with giant – I mean GIANT – stalagmites and stalactites?

Wow, I was in complete awe and shock the entire time – it blew the Grand Canyon out of the water for me. My favorite national park by FAR!

I was expecting a couple natural cave systems that you could wonder in and out of that had some neat rock formations. Imagine my surprise to entire a gigantic cavern and take a couple mile hike underground through the Earth…

one of the most impression/crazy things to me was to think of explorers coming here in the early 1900s, without electricity or substantial equipment. I mean, these people were on a different level to come down this insane underground system with just torches. another amazing thing about the caverns is that some of it is still unexplored because it’s literally inaccessible. some hardcore cavers have used helium ballons to hook their ropes up to cave entrances in the ceiling, nearly 300 feet above. people amaze me.

From Carlsbad, I began my steady pace out further west and found myself exploring the great sand dunes of White Sands National Park.

The biggest eyebrow-raiser about White Sands N.P. is that it’s located right next to (like shares a border on all sides) the White Sands Missile Range.

I left White Sands N.P. to find a camp site and had the fun experience of finding this location on – one of the more exciting camping locations that *trust me* I left immediately.

It’s 100% worth a read.

This funny location led me to a beautiful campsite nestled in the foothills of the Organ Mountains.

these mountains were fantastically beautiful. i reconnected to pieces of myself here and finally saw my first jack rabbit!

After a slight detour biking on the Continental Divide Trail and taking a whole day to bask in the New Mexico wilderness, I found myself in Patagonia, Arizona!

As a refresher, Patagonia, AZ is where I had planned to go work on a farm before I ended up at Camphill in PA instead.

It took me an entire year to get here and it felt really good to complete this goal!

As hard as I actively try to not set expectations (AKA preconceived judgements that lead mostly to disappointment), I had set quite a few for Patagonia and in this case, Patagonia far exceeded them all!

a quaint, quiet, lovely southwestern town nessled between the patagonia and santa rita mountain ranges, complete with border patrol checkpoints and tumbleweeds literally blowing across the road.
It was a celebration to make it to Patagonia ❤

I soon met up with C, the lovely owner of Grasshopper/Rainbow Hills (the farm I was to work on a year earlier before they canceled my stay from fear of covid). We quickly became friends and I found myself brushing their horses out with her daughter P when C came out and invited me to stay and WWOOF for them.

When I initially reached out to C to let her know I was in town, I told her I was just passing through and didn’t expect to WWOOF or anything, but would simply love to see the farm. And then I ended up doing just the opposite and staying.

My 2nd night in Patagonia I attended my first ever drum circle! It was hosted by a funky, hilarious group of older ladies that I instantaneously adored & admired. They were trained in West African drum, which was very fitting to me having come from Senegal, West Africa a year earlier.

>>> peep Henry – this was where I camped whilst helping out on the farm!

The next day, I attended a stringed instrument music circle and by the weekend was invited to multiple musical gatherings ❤

i fell inlove with everything about patagonia – no doubt i’ll find my way back one day.
Patagonia is just absolutely lovely.

Over this time, I had been on a mission to find a rooftop box for Henry. I learned that rooftop boxes (and outdoor equipment at large) were one of the things covid impacted – everyone wanted to be outside and explore when the pandemic hit, therefore, a rooftop box shortage happened! The only rooftop boxes you could find in stores were gigantic ones – not what I was looking for or needed (wouldn’t fit Henry anyways…).

So, after a lot of searching around, a trip to REI in Tuscon (where I bought and returned a gigantic rooftop box that ended up not being compatible with Henry), a random stop at a person’s house selling a rooftop box on Craigslist (not compatible either), I found someone else on Craigslist selling a rooftop box that was *maybe* compatible, and also the size I wanted.

The catch? They were located in Phoenix, Arizona, ~3 hours away from Patagonia!

I explained to the guy my situation, and he did everything he could to measure the box dimensions from afar and see if it would work with Henry’s bars – we decided it might. So, I took the risk and drove ~3 hours to Phoenix to meet him, with my Mom’s precautions about meeting random internet strangers echoing in my brain.

I believe what you exude into the Universe will be exuded back to you. If you put out trust, love, and light, you will equally receive that. If you put out fear and skepticism, you often will bring that into your life.

so on the way there, i decided to completely surrender and trust what the universe had in store for me. after all, if you’re meant to encounter a hard situation, it doesn’t matter what you do or where you go to avoid it, it will be brought to you.
Lovely campsite in the national forest in Patagonia!

I arrived in an upper-class neighborhood, knocked on the door, and was greeted by a sweet husband (E) and wife (M) duo. E went to fetch the keys to get the rooftop box and M expressed to me that she knew how far I had just drove and understood it could be scary to meet a stranger online. She wanted nothing more than for me to feel safe and comfortable! It was very sweet.

Within 3 minutes, she asked me something that prompted me to tell her I had been in Peace Corps when covid hit and was evacuated back stateside. She nearly jumped up and down with excitement, telling me her daughter was in Peace Corps and was likewise evacuated because of covid! I told her I was in Senegal, West Africa – her excitement sky-rocketed as she nearly screamed that her daughter had been in Senegal too!

Okay, let’s talk statistics for a moment… there’s 142 countries that have Peace Corps programs, and at the time of the pandemic, ~7,000 volunteers in service. Senegal had ~300 volunteers in country when the evacuation occurred. What were the chances I knew her daughter at all?

M excitedly shouted her daughter’s name, asking if I knew her. I couldn’t believe it… I was in the region of Sedhiou, and was the closest Sedhiou volunteer to the region of Kolda, and guess who the closest volunteer to me in Kolda was? Her daughter.

Her daughter had been my PSN (peer support network – the person who I could reach out to for basically free therapy haha) and we had spent time together in Kolda mem (the city) on several occasions! What are the odds of this?

M and I were nearly in tears, thinking about the chances of this meeting, with E standing to the side smiling and shaking his head. It was incredible. Funny enough, the rooftop box wasn’t compatible with Henry’s bars, but E had an extra set of bars that he installed with the rooftop box free of charge, and cut me a significant deal overall on the price.

The Universe ASTOUNDS me. I am so grateful.

And that’s the beautiful story of how Henry got an attic and I gained parents in Phoenix, AZ, as M&E repeatedly told me I was always welcome and could stay with them anytime at all – telling me they were officially my Arizona parents ❤

I went back to Patagonia and only ended up staying just over a day. The pull to travel was stronger than the pull to stay!

and just like that, i was off again.

With Light and Love,


As always, thank you for reading along with me and taking interest in my life! If it feels good in your heart to help me continue volunteering and traveling, here’s the way you can do so:

  • Paypal:
  • Cashapp: $elizabethbuttram
  • Venmo: @elizabeth-buttram-1

Published by roaminglizard

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