The smoke in Rapid City has only gotten worse each day. Yesterday, it was downright horrible. The air was thick and everything was hazy. You couldn’t even see the horizon. The air quality index hit 178, which crosses the threshold from unhealthy for sensitive individuals to unhealthy for everyone.
Not only was it burning my throat, it was affecting my whole body. My pain levels were rising, the little strength I had turned to weakness, and my brain was just as foggy as the sky. Not to mention, I was anxious and almost depressed. Brett was stressed and angry. It was 95 degrees out and we were both sweaty and miserable. Ramona couldn’t stop panting.
We decided to go to Blaze Pizza in the afternoon so we could be indoors while we tried to figure out a game plan. After I shed a few tears, we both admitted what we already knew in our hearts. We needed to leave again. This level of smoke was just too much for all of us! I was especially concerned about Ramona. She’s such a small dog and she couldn’t escape into the indoors like we could.
So, Brett told the employees at the restaurant what was going on and they said it was fine for me to sit in the building while he went back to the ranch to pack up. It was a bit ironic to realize that in this case, I actually felt better indoors than I did outdoors.
Brett got back a little over an hour later and we set out to escape the smoke. First we thought we’d try southern Wyoming but it became clear that the smoke was about to overtake that area as well. So we decided to try Nebraska. The smoke map was showing that a lot of Nebraska was still clear. So we headed towards Sidney.
It was a very unpleasant drive! The smoke was palpable. Then we got pulled over for going over 70 miles per hour in a 65 miles per hour zone! Thankfully, we didn’t get a ticket.
Several hours into Nebraska it became clear that the smoke was following us into the state. We weren’t going to get out of it by continuing to drive south! We thought about continuing onto Colorado but we were exhausted! When we finally reached Sidney we decided to look for a hotel. Maybe we could get out of the smoke that way? I hadn’t slept indoors since February but my reactivity has come down a lot since then. It seemed like a long shot but worth a try.
First we stopped at a Hampton Inn only to find that they didn’t allow pets. So, I pulled up a list of dog friendly hotels and saw that the hotel right next to the Hampton Inn was one of them. Brett went by himself to check it out for me. He emerged with the news that it wasn’t going to work. The building didn’t seem very good and it was over 20 years old. The good news was, they told him about a Comfort Inn & Suites that allowed pets and was less than a year old. That sounded really promising! I could hardly contain my excitement!
We got to the hotel at around 11:00pm and Brett got a room for us. Then he came out to get me and Ramona. I stepped into the hallway eagerly but not without a little nervousness. Everything felt fine. Phew!
When Brett opened the door to our room, I squealed with delight! There was a small arm chair in the corner! I hadn’t seen an arm chair or couch in nearly 6 months! I had almost forgotten such cushiony marvels existed! I ran over and sat down with a satisfying sigh. It was glorious! I can hardly describe the simple yet overwhelming joy I felt!
The hot shower I enjoyed a few minutes later was just as glorious. I couldn’t stop oohing and ahh-ing! To think this was all commonplace just six months ago. Now it is a marvelous luxury. Warm water that pours out from the ceiling at a moments notice! And keeps washing over me for as long as I wish! At the perfect pressure and temperature! Wow! I couldn’t stop smiling and squealing at the wonder of it.
It’s sobering to think that for most of my life, I was completely oblivious to the pleasures of soft couches and warm showers. It makes me wonder how many daily pleasures I am blind to still. What joys do I experience every day that would feel like miracles if I was experiencing them for the first time? How do I reconnect with that awe and wonder? I don’t know the answers but I have a feeling that asking the question is the first step. 🙂
By the way, Brett and I made a beautiful PDF of my favorite resources for suffering souls. I created the content and he made it look fancy with his superduper graphic design skills. It’s available for free to my email subscribers. Click here to sign up and receive 5 Resources for the Suffering Soul.