The One with Black Rock Desert

Friday, May 29, 2009

From about 1993-1996 I was afraid of wind. As embarrassing as that is to admit, it was a true and honest fear.

I was terrified. Petrified. Paralyzed.

Even a leaf barely moving in the wind was enough to send me into fits. If wind speeds were over 20mph and I would run straight down into the tiny basement under the house where there are no windows and no sounds. I spent many a night sleeping in that hole.

It all started at Black Rock Desert in Nevada. It's a bunch of nothingness. We went to see a rocket show while my mom stayed at home and tended to our newborn baby sister. Everything was going great, I even had a new toy to play with. At one point I convinced my brother to ride our bikes out to the mountains. They looked really close, maybe a 10 minute ride. Appearances are deceiving though, especially in the open desert, because they were probably 15 miles or so away. But I'm not a good judge of distance. Anyways my dad must have known we wouldn't get very far because he let us go without hesitation. Those two black dots in the middle of the photo below are me and Eric riding out to the mountain. I remember we found bright orange flags that were all sticky with bugs stuck on them. Probably some environmental study. I tried to peel them off and save them, but no such luck. I felt bad for the dead and dying bugs. What a sad way to go.
Seeing rockets blast off was nothing new, but it was still fun to see and hear. My dad used to take us to various parks on Saturdays to launch his rockets. It was a great past time. This man's rocket didn't fare too well upon landing...
I don't know what was so exciting that made Eric jump, but here he is, captured forever in mid-air. He so started the jumping trend 15 years ago.
This picture was taken just minutes before my life turned upside down. Those ominous clouds in the background are my arch nemesis. With our campsite set up and hours of rocket launching behind us, we settled down to eat some spaghetti. One minute everything was fine and dandy. The next, everything was blowing everywhere and I couldn't see two feet in front of me because all the sand flying around. I started panicking and screaming, thinking I was going to be picked up and blown away. We climbed into the Trooper which I remember was rocking back and forth in the wind. My dad was scrambling around, packing everything up in a hurry because clearly we could not stay the night. I would have died in fear.

We finally got out of the desert and looked for the nearest hotel. It was really late. My dad made us kids go in with him in hopes that even though the sign said "no vacancy" they would give us a room. No such luck. We kept driving and found somewhere else to stay the night.

For the next three years, I was traumatized. I slept with the radio on right by my ear so I couldn't hear anything at night. I forced myself not to look out windows and see leaves rustling in the wind. I made my dad take out the center piece of the wind chimes so they didn't make any noise indicating it was windy. It was a horrible way to live, in fear, that I would get blown away.

Eventually, after we moved to Washington where there were trees galore, my mom had me meet with a grade school counselor. She said the best way to get over my fear was to submit myself to it. I remember the very afternoon I overcame my fear. It was a pretty blustery day. As scared as I was, I forced myself to go outside and surround myself with the wind. I realized then that nothing was going to happen to me. I was fine. Wind couldn't hurt me. I never slept in the shack again.

Every now and then, when the wind really picks up, I get a brief fluttering of the reminiscent fear in my stomach, but as quickly as it comes it disappears.

I was scarred for life, but now I'm over it and at least I'm alive to tell the tale.

(Random side note - that car in the last picture is still up and running. It's the Pooper Trooper. My sister who just got her license on Wednesday now drives it to school. I swear this car has 9 lives. Just when you think it's about to go to the dump, my dad gives it some TLC and pulls a Lazarus on it.)


  1. The mighty ducks t-shirt is awesome. Glad to hear you overcame your fear.

  2. The Black Rock Desert is actually drywall mud, not sand. You didn't seem affected at the time by the wind at all. Eric was the one who freaked out. He came out unscathed. I guess you came out scathed. I remember when you conquered your fears and we worried about you at 6th grade camp when there was a big wind storm

  3. What a crazy story! I hate the wind too, but was never afraid of it. Stupid weather.

  4. Hahah i just read this. It made me laugh so hard! So dramatic!


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