Monday, January 27, 2014

My Virtual Hike

I should go to bed. It's been busy the last few days and I'm tired. Still, I can't quite seem to get settled. It's always that way on nights when I've been out and come home at bed time.

So, here's the deal. I really don't have anything to tell you today. I don't particularly want to tell you how badly I slept in the twin bed while Nick had his sleep study last night. The room was so hot, I woke up thirsty. I hate sleeping in a room that's too hot. And I worried about Nick sleeping with that pony tail of wires down his back. As I had thought, he didn't sleep at all well. It'll be amazing if they can get decent data on him.

I don't want to tell you about quilt night with my friends. I had a good time at quilt night, but you can imagine without my help what eleven women sound like in a room together. Tonight, we cackled. Some of the jokes were repeats of jokes we'd laughed at before. Some were new. I've been hanging around with my quilt women for almost fifteen years. It's been a good fifteen years.

I don't want to tell you about getting my carpet cleaned today and how I cruised into my driveway after dropping Nick at school just before the carpet guy arrived. I don't want to you to know I could barely keep my eyes open as he worked since he had more work to do than I did.

What I want to tell you is the way my mind is still on the audiobook I listened to on the way to and from quilt night. 'Wild' by Cheryl Strayed. My mind is on the fact that anyone could buy a bunch of stuff from REI and never try it out before planning to spend 100 days on the Pacific Crest Trail. My mind is on the fact that for the first leg of the trip, she didn't have hot food because she used gasoline in her backpacking stove instead of white gas. My mind is on the fact that, though her reference book, the REI staff, and even people she met on the way to the trail told her to lighten her load, she considered four books and an 800 page hardbound journal essential to the trip.

Why does all of this make me angry?

Shit, I walked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back in one day with two cans of Dr. Pepper and two Snickers bars in my pockets. It was sixteen and a half miles, a mile deep, and thankfully, there were water sources along the way. My sneakers left me with tiny black and blues under each toenail, even my pinky toes. It looked as though I'd painted them. I wore a light jacket over a Tshirt and jeans. That was it. I hadn't trained for it. The next day, on the plane ride home, my calves seized and I couldn't put my feet flat on the floor because it flexed the muscles too much. How much brighter was I than she was?

Not much.

In fact, we were about the same age. I was twenty-four and she was twenty-six. I reasoned that I had gone backpacking with my church group, a ten day hike along the Appalachian Trail, so I had experience, right? Sometimes I wonder what happened to that experience when I planned that hike into the Grand Canyon. It was gone, simply vanished. I knew a month in advance that I intended to go, yet ...

I could actually see myself having dared something like this Pacific Crest Trail debacle that Strayed took. I could. I used to read books about hiking the Appalachian Trail from beginning to end. Somehow, I knew I'd never do it. As it was, I've hiked sections in New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. One time, I figured I'd do sections until I'd done a virtual hike from beginning to end. Then we moved to the Pacific Northwest and that dream faded.

Now, I'm on a different track. When I used to walk with our old dog Indiana, we'd go for hours at a time in different parks and on different trails. So, when we brought Teddy home, I had this idea and for the most part, I've stuck with it.

I try to keep track of our mileage together. Teddy and I walk almost every day, a mile here at the dog park, three or four miles there on a trail. I'd like to know, in general, how far this dog will walk and how much exercise I'm getting in the meantime. So far, I've logged 394 miles.

Once in a while, in a lame attempt to get Nick to go with me more often, I start talking about my virtual trip. At this point, I'm just over the western border to Montana. I'm hiking I-90. Isn't that a thrill? I just want to see if I can get all the way to Boston at some point. I know I should pick some scenic trail like the Pacific Crest Trail or at least a scenic byway, but I'm not. I'm on I-90. So sue me.

The cool thing is that I've traveled across that part of the country. I was excited about getting to the Summit at Snoqualmie where I could pretend I could downhill ski. I took in a virtual concert at the Gorge at George. It was Crosby, Stills, and Nash, of course. Or maybe the Grateful Dead. Hey, it's my virtual dream. I even looked at the way eastern Washington looked like a gold and blue Van Gogh in certain light. There was Couer d'Alene. There's a great toy store and a beautiful lake at Couer d'Alene. And now I'm at the western border of Montana. The weather in Montana is crazy. One minute it can be eighty degrees and in a half an hour, it can snow. The green naked hills of Montana can have crazy-looking antelope running across them. Oh, Montana will be fun.

I pedaled my bike down a mountain once in Montana. Mike drove me to the top and I met him at the bottom. I have to say it wasn't nearly as satisfying as I'd expected. Most of the time I felt as though I was going over the handlebars at the angle the road sloped. And the switchbacks made gliding hell, sheer hell. Have you ever seen the outside turns of most roads that switchback down a mountain? Well, I did it, but next time, I'm going to ride my bike from the Summit at Snoqualmie down I-90 and home. Well, maybe I'll make it a virtual tour.

It would be much safer that way. I wonder if Cheryl Strayed has considered taking a virtual hike next time. It might be easier to carry her 800 page hardbound journal that way.

Thank you for listening, jb

No comments:

Post a Comment