I pushed the car door opened and stepped into the soupy stinky abyss. I don’t remember it ever being this bad. Am I just crotchety in my old age of 30 or is something just not right anymore with our climate? I prefer to think the latter. I tend to agree with all the “maniacs” that think “the fall” is coming (and I don’t mean autumn). The humidity was so thick you could chew it. I crawled toward my apartment door like a snail dragging my bag, knuckles, and testicles across the pavement.
Lo and behold I reached the front door to find out that it was even worse upstairs in the apartment than it was outside, if that was even possible. Of course my honey and I ripped the AC out of the window a few days ago, it being mid September and all; we thought that only cool crisp weather awaited us now. BULL SHIT!!! Dante’s Inferno was more like it.
There was only one thing left to do; run. If I was going to die of heat exhaustion, then so be it. Better than dying while staring at an excel spreadsheet. I started off with a peculiar trot; head way out in front, arms dangling, legs kicking way out back. I looked like a puppet if it were being handled by a sloth.
After I got done with bobbing around and got into a decent rhythm I glanced up at the sky and I knew this was going to be EPIC! Ominous dark purple-gray-blue stuff slowly gathered and gathered and gathered until a yellow-pink-neon line danced down into a far off hill and some trees. Then, another one and another one and then nothing, but darkness approaching. The heat and humidity was so intense at this point it was literally filling up my throat. I was beginning to think that nothing was to become of these dark clouds when finally it happened; sweet release.
At first, the droplets came in increments as if they were teasing me. A few minutes later I heard a hissing behind me and it made me run faster. I started grinning like an idiot as the rain came over me like a shower with really good pressure that you’d only find at expensive hotels. The wind bent the trees in any direction it pleased and acorns landed forcefully across the land and a few bounced off my head. A red fox jumped out of the woods and onto the road. It took off straight ahead way faster than I could hope to keep up with it. The run was over and the rain had stopped. I was drenched, tired, and very happy. It was time to stick that damn AC back into the window and live another day.
The two week immersion into the Pasayten Wilderness in Washington State did nothing to curb my appetite for exploration and adventure. The trip only made matters worse, leaving me hungry for more portions of delicious wilderness. I learned a lot on that NOLS (national outdoor leadership school) backpacking course and I was eager to put newly acquired skills to use. And off I went, but as much as I enjoy the company of my own thoughts I felt lonely at times. So, I dragged a few friends along for a couple of short backpacking trips. Later, it occurred to me that lugging a heavy pack for days, smelling like ass, and eating dehydrated peppers wasn’t everyone’s idea of a grand old time.
Looks like I wasn’t going to have my wilderness cake and eat it too. There was only one way to play the hand I was dealt and combine the company of my bros with being outdoors. I would have to embrace a particular kind of camping…..car camping. Oh yes, everyone loves car camping. Fans include bikers, hippies, birders, and beauty pageant winners. No heavy lifting, no need to emulate the diet of a goat, and best of all; no need to dig a hole after a sip of coffee. The bathroom is close and the car is even closer. So close, I often walk right smack into the car, usually after my 3rd specialty beer. It would be quite a challenge to backpack with a six pack of Boulder Beer’s “Hazed and Infused”.
After a strong night of partying in the woods, it was time to pass out on king-size air mattresses waiting inside tents that Andre The Giant must have loaned out. But, I still had the stars, the fresh mountain air, the eerie sounds of owls growing louder and nearer, and best of all; the company of my bros. My cynicism for car camping was replaced with a feeling of content, as I reflected on a terrific night of classic shenanigans. Same old jokes, same old impressions and comedy skits, for well over a decade now. There are trips where nights like this make the trip and trips where it’s all about summiting that peak, but I wouldn’t trade one for the other.
For some insane reason I decided to remotely log in to work to catch up on emails. ON A SATURDAY! So I definitely deserved what was about to happen next. I sat out on the balcony with my lap top, copy pasting stuff from one excel spreadsheet to another well into the 9 o’clock hour. I finally realized that darkness had surrounded me so I decided to head inside. I stumbled into the dark apartment, flicked on the kitchen light, and continued to copy paste things in corporate-zombie-like fashion.
Suddenly, a quick shadow darted across the kitchen. I popped my head up to investigate. My initial thought was that some poor bird flew into the apartment. Then, it dive-bombed at me. The biggest, blackest, furriest bat I’ve ever seen. A self proclaimed nature lover, I jumped out of my seat, setting a new world record for how fast someone could possibly jump out of their seat. I grabbed the nearest object that was within reach and hurled it at the bat.
That object was a box of multi-grain Cheerios. I threw it with such force that it was now raining Cheerios in the kitchen. I raced around ducking and dodging the belligerent bat, crunching the cereal beneath my feet. The thing finally swooped into the room nearest to the balcony and I politely locked the door behind it. I looked around at all the flattened Cheerios on the floor, pondering my next move. Five minutes later I am adorned with a snowboarding jacket, goggles, and gloves, holding a frying pan. I was ready for action!
I flung open the door and charged into the room with the bat, unleashing my best warrior cry. Tripping over various objects, I reached the balcony door and kicked it open. The bat sensed freedom and seized the opportunity. It was free and I gladly returned the frying pan to its usual location. My theory is that the bat originally followed me into the apartment because it was drawn to the bright glare of the computer screen as I brought it inside. Lesson learned so thank you giant-creepy-furry-bat for reminding me to never log in to work on a Saturday again.
Different Bat from Different Encounter
hang on little ice patch...
I joined this club and arranged to have a group hike, but we didn’t get there in time. It snowed in the Mountains of upstate New York, but it snowed in Central Jersey too. Continental breakfast at the motel was three rice crispy bars and Folgers coffee. It was colder than I expected. Shivering we layered up and threw our packs in the back of the jeep.
It was only a few hundred yards to the trailhead if you didn’t mind trespassing and hopping fences. We took the main road and further down the road it was closed off. My hunnie used her back-road navigation-phone-gadget-tech-devices to land us at the trailhead. The others had already gone up the mountain and now it was our turn to walk into the gray and white cold.
The snowshoes felt very odd. I quickly replaced them with micro-spikes and so did my hunnie. It was damn cold, but my body started to feel comfortable two miles up the trail and the golden eagle we just saw raised our spirits. I turned around to look back at the mountains. The silence was unsettling. My ears were ringing. I wonder if I could get used to the quiet if I stayed out here for a few days.
A while later we were down from the mountain it was time for beer. At the bar, everyone was wearing a hat. Even the large and in-charge lady bar tender was sporting a chauffeur hat. Was this a theme or were they trying to cover up bald spots? Doesn’t matter, beer was good and that made me happy. A pit-bull pup ran through the bar pouncing on empty peanut shells and I sat back and reveled in the memories the day had brought.
Lately, I’ve been doing a few solo-hikes. Not my favorite but, desperate times call for desperate measures. The leaves are gone and it’s cold as a witch’s teat (whatever that means). So it’s hard to get ordinary people to join me on a hike this time of year.