Day 14 & Thriving - Week 2


When we arrived to San Antonio, we were met with 8 smiles and hugs from the Glenn family: Michael, Kate, Ryan, Luke, Shea, their parents, and their sweet grandma. Our time in San Antonio was special for me as I have been very close with this family since I was 15. I remember driving over to the Glenn’s home when just Shea’s grandma was there to watch So You Think You Can Dance with her. I’ve spent Christmas breaks and Mother’s Day with the Glenn family, along with countless extended stays during my time in Lansing after my freshman year of college. Needless to say, my love for them goes deep.

During our first night there, we joined the family meal time, which includes the Glenn family prayer where they chant, “Yay God! Boo the devil. Thank you Jesus!” As I joined in on the chant, it felt like I was a high school kid all over again.

The next morning, Ryan and I went for a run through the dense fog and mist. Though we only went for a mile and a half, by the time we arrived home, we were drenched as if we had run 10 miles in 80 degree weather. After cleaning up, Luke and I headed to Austin for the afternoon to see Hallie, another very close friend for over a decade now. We dined at Bufalina, a Neapolitan style pizza restaurant, updated each other about our lives, and reminisced on the memories we made when we both lived in Lansing 5 years back.

Throughout the remainder of our time in San Antonio, Shea brought us to Local Coffee, Hotel Emma, the Alamo, and the River Walk. Luke and I meandered around downtown and spent our time at San Antonio’s art museum, which featured Egyptian, Chinese, Spanish, and Islander art as well as some beautiful modern art selections.

With a nine hour drive ahead of us to New Mexico, we woke up at 5 am (which is an incredible feat for me). Thankfully, we made great time and arrived at White Sands National Monument just before 4 pm. Due to the government shut down, the national park was closed, but as we had seen others do, we jumped the fence and headed into the park to run around the sands. With much coaxing from Luke, I finally okayed his request to let Beacon off the leash, and I’m so thankful I did. The pup sprinted from dune to dune, while carrying a 4 foot stick in his mouth the entire time. We chased him around, and ran until we all were exhausted. The entire experience felt like a dream. I tried my best to capture the experience in my mind: the expansive dunes, the desert bushes, the mountains surrounding us, and the sun rays sneaking through the clouds.

As rain clouds set in, we jumped back in our car and headed to a KOA to camp for the evening. We were greeted by the owner and given treats for Beacon as well as a map which detailed the small campsite. During our dinnertime, Luke grilled a plate of veggies that he piled high on a plate and placed on the dash of our car. As Luke and I were chatting away, I saw a shadow moving toward the front of the car, and immediately knew Beacon was scrambling to eat the veggies before we noticed. To our dismay, half were eaten, including a large serving of onions, which are toxic for dogs. We frantically researched what we should do, and of course, came upon horror stories of what may happen to Beacon. Moments later, Beacon, now asleep, jolted three times. His body jumped like a defibrillator was being used on him. Within the hour, he appeared to be back to normal, and we tentatively went to bed hoping we’d have a happy puppy to wake to. Thankfully, we did.

That morning, I purchased some prickly pear jam from one of the KOA employees. She shared with me where she’s from, the places she’s lived, and stories of what led her to move across the country. Soon after, I found Luke in the laundry room talking with an elderly man about his stance on marijuana. Finding the conversation interesting, I jumped right in and continued speaking with him for another 20 minutes. After another refill of the camp coffee, we hit the road to return to White Sands.

This time around, we were much more confident as we jumped the fence. With no phones or camera, we ventured in further, letting Beacon off leash much more quickly. At one point, we were about 500 feet from the border patrol station. Moments later, Luke noticed a white border patrol truck climb a dune nearby. We quickly grabbed Beacon, and used the crevices in the dunes to get back to where our vehicle was located. Thankfully, nothing actually happened, but seeing the truck put enough fear in us to scoot out to Saguaro National Park.


As we made the 5 hour trek to Saguaro, Luke and I became infatuated with the mountains, open plains, cacti, and the stunning sunset. Distracted by the beauty around us (I was chasing a sunset to get the best photo), we drove 30 miles past our destination. We were instructed by Dana, The Desert Sanctuary’s owner, to honk at the inner gate when we arrive. While winding down a dirt road in the pitch black, we were greeted by a friendly dog named Toots. This was one of the seven dogs that Dana rescued. Though I couldn’t recall all of their names, I do remember Dana introducing us to Toots, Charlotte, Bert, and Dyla. Dana proudly gave us a tour of his resort, explaining that it was once a yoga commune, and he has since revamped it to offer cabins and camping sites.

The next morning, Luke and I woke up at 630 am to ensure that we could make it to the hot tub for sunrise. As we entered the pool area, we were greeted by a slew of 6 barking dogs. Hearing the noise, Dana came out of his home to quiet them down and offered us coffee, which we gladly accepted. After the sun had finished rising, we headed to the outdoor showers, quickly changed our clothes (it was only 40 degrees out), and made breakfast (no onion mishaps this time around). The dogs swarmed around our car as we headed to the exit. Dana opened the gate for us to leave, shook our hands, and told us to come visit again.

30 minutes later, we arrived at Saguaro National Park. To our delight, Saguaro’s park gate was open and we were able to drive the 8 mile loop around the park, stopping to enjoy a variety of trails and overlooks.

And here we are: Day 14 and thriving! This coming week we will be in Phoenix, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Lake Powell, and Zion National Park. Here we go!

Melody van der Veen