Memorial Day 2017

Journal Notes, outdoors

Journal Notes – This text appears as written, with light editing for spelling and grammar.


It’s Monday evening and the sun has set. The golden yellow light that’s warmed my skin all weekend is gone; it’s gold changed to pink and purple. The rainbow of sunset has ended and I’m left with vaguely blue-gray clouds in the distance until today’s light fades forever.

It seems to me sightly narcissistic to be writing away about my own experience and privilege of a long weekend spend sun-soaked, friended, and intoxicated, both of beer and good times. While that experience is, at best, privileged, it is one I worked for, chose, and protect. Being able to stay one day longer in Oregon’s high desert is indeed a privilege.

We’re parked comfortably in a state park. Ellie has made her presence known to all who dare walk by our campsite. I’ve always known her to be a remarkable companion. Not much of a complainer, and always up for a car ride as long as there’s ample room to make a nest just out of sunshine’s reach. Now, she’s curled in her camp chair with her blanket and snoozing away, lifting her head only when the scuff of sandals crosses near our drive.

I have no deep thoughts tonight. It seems silly to recount all the lovely things that happened this weekend. Separated from the people and the place, the stories would fall shallow of their true depth of affectation. All of that to say, it’s been a memorable weekend, even if it was filled completely with Type 1 fun.

The truth is, any recounting of specifics would belie a year’s worth of relationships, dozens of adventures together, and adventures yet to come that would add depth and context to the relation of any one story.

A tale is not singular unto itself, for it is wrapped and tangled with stories enough for books.


The time turns to 9 p.m. and I remember that it’s the time I was hoping to stay awake for. I rarely make it past sunset, but the typing, and dare I say blue light of my computer screen, has jogged my brain and I’m a flurry with thoughts and memories and threads of stories. I’m sure that a few paragraphs while snug in my backseat-bed would put me right to sleep. The sound of water, the Deschutes River sings in my ears. The river is a mere 30 yards from my perch, obscured by low lying wetland shrubs and willows. But no matter, with sound is music enough to my ears.

It’s hard to translate what being outdoors means to my soul. Even the outdoors of a state park, where other people are merely across the street, less than 50 yards away. And that far only because the sites on either side of me are left unoccupied at this hour. There are no hollering children, and there is no music coming from a site or two away. This would be the joy of camping on Monday night. Especially on the Monday of a long weekend, when others have rushed home on their feelings of guilt and pleasure, wishing they could indulge in another day away but never fully indulging  of their agency to do so.

There’s no fire tonight, even though the fire pit is taunting me and begging for the warmth. I have no way to start a fire. A bundle of wood was only $5, and I deeply considered buying from the warm and friendly camp host. But then I remembered my lack of fire starting equipment. There’s not even a lighter to be had. If I were brave, I would have borrowed a flame from a neighbor, but we know I’m not that person.

Instead, I’ll go to bed here shortly. I’ll turn on my twinkle lights, roll up my car windows in defense of the bugs, and read for a few minutes until my eyes no longer stay open on their own. Ellie and I will snuggle in, and we’ll sleep until the sun rises and tomorrow’s light begins.

I am the Sasquatch

hiking, I went outside

I had a little mini breakdown at the trailhead this weekend. I’m not proud of it. It wasn’t a great moment. But it happened, so I’m owning it.

This is what happened: I forgot my socks. The socks I had so painstakingly packed to ensure my feet wouldn’t get new blisters. The wool socks and thin liner socks that would help keep my feet dry and hotspot-free. They were not where I had put them. And therefore, they were not in the car but in my overnight bag at The Boy’s house.

The thing is, the mountains are where I’m competent. I transition quickly. I know the trail. I know my limits and I push myself beyond them. I am on time. I am prepared.

But not this week.

Chuckawalla Wall

I went outside, Utah

img_5353My freshman year of college at Dixie State College, now Dixie State University, a couple boys dragged me and my roommates to Chuckawalla Wall for the first time. It was my first experience with rock climbing. As I strapped on borrowed shoes, while wearing a borrowed harness, I remember spying the bolts at the top and considering the feat I was about to undertake. So when you say, “kiss the bolts,” what does that mean, exactly? I saw the white chalk marks left by previous climbers, marking the handholds that would allow me to scale the wall. I gave it a shot.

I don’t remember if I reached the top on the first try. I probably didn’t, but I do remember successfully completing the climb a number of times, feeling progressively stronger and confident in my ability to scale the wall. Once the girls and I got the hang of climbing the red Navajo sandstone, we couldn’t get enough, even with borrowed shoes, harnesses, and belay devices, and we begged to be taken out to the wall any chance we could get.

After I moved to Sacramento, the accoutrements were purchased; harness, rope, shoes, belay devices, and off I went to the granite slabs of the Sierras with a new climbing partner. It was hard and frustrating, and we quickly gave up. Storing my shoes and harness felt like giving up a dream. Or coming to terms with something that I wanted, but wasn’t meant to be. Even though I was only 19 years old, I mourned my youth, spontaneity, and sense of adventure. I was married and it was time to turn away from childish things.