Sunday, September 18, 2011

Johnston Canyon/Inkpots

Any other day this would have been - as advertised - an easy trip.

It should have been easy because the path was paved for 3.4 of the 7.3 total round trip miles of this hike. It should have been easy because the elevation gain was only 705 feet. It should have been easy because we were hiking with little to no gear, just lunch.

The hike is a one-pager in DWYT, page 457.

But I was recovering from a cold, J was recovering from a cold, my husband was recovering from an awful week at work and M was just being 8. And we got a late start and didn't arrive at the trail head until 10 AM.

It was a slog up the hill. There were a lot of people. As should be expected on a paved interpretive trail they were going at all different speeds. I don't mind calmly saying excuse me and passing the kindly older couple. I don't like racing up the hill because a group of three ladies is on some kind of speed trek. Pass me once and keep going ... if you stop and look and pass me and stop and look and pass me and stop and look and pass me I get a little annoyed.

I was grouch and wanted to take the annoying lady's trekking pole and hit her over the head with it. 24 hours later I can still hear her shrill and annoying voice in my head. I wanted to explain to the family with two dogs and an infant that the reason leashes are required is because some people don't like strange dogs getting in their way. I also don't like stepping in dog feces so pack it out!!!

I do have to admit that the canyon was a beauty:

The real treasure of the hike, however, were the inkpots. These are six greenish-blue pools of spring water. The color differes based on the rate the water bubbles into them. So tough to photograph, but so worth it in the end.

Friday, September 16, 2011

By The Numbers

One lost passport.
One plane.
Two kids.
Two dogs.
Four continents.
Four houses bought and sold.
Five maroon pickup trucks.
Twelve addresses.
Twelve moves.
Fourteen countries.

Sixteen years.

Heartache and unspeakable joy.
Friendships for a lifetime.
Countless adventures.

Thank you to my husband for making it all possible.
I love you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rare Occurrence

Has it ever happened to you? Have you ever read a book and been so full of the words and the writing and the story that you were afraid to pick up another book for fear of losing the power of the one you just read? It has not happened to me in a long time. It happened after War and Peace and Blindness, but those are truly exceptional works. It happened after Lolita as well, but that was 20 years ago in college.

So I have to say I am surprised that it happened after My Reading Life by Pat Conroy. Pat Conroy? I'm a huge fan the movie version The Great Santini which is based on his semi-autobiographical novel, but I have never actually read anything he has written. I like books about what inspired other readers and authors, so when I saw this little volume sitting on the library shelf, I picked it up.

And was mesmerized.

It ratified a theory of mine that great writing could sneak up on you, master of a thousand disguises: prodigal kinsmen, messenger boy, class clown, commander of artillery, altar boy, lace maker, exiled king, peacemaker, or moon goddess....From the beginning I've searched out those writers unafraid to stir up emotions, who entrust me with their darkest passions, their most indestructible yearnings, and their most soul-killing doubts. (p. 10)

Great books invited argument and disagreement, but ignorance did not even earn a place at the table when ideas were the subject of dispute....books existed to force people to examine every fact of their lives and beliefs. (p. 53)

I had stumbled into a store that would open up a hundred universities for my inspection. I had dropped out of nowhere and found myself at the gates of my own personal Magdalen College in Oxford. I could punt down the Cam through the hallowed grounds of Cambridge University, take notes on Balzac at the Sorbonne, rush to my morning class on Dante in Bologna or sprint toward an honors class in Harvard Yard. (p. 111)

When Dickey is writing at his best, it is like listening to God singing in cantos and fragments about the hard dreaming required for the creation of the world (personal note: immediately here was brought to mind the glorious story of Aslan singing the world to life). (p. 299)

And there is so much more. I could hardly take it all in.

Because I left mine in Texas in storage, I must immediately by another copy of War and Peace. I must rush and find a copy of Dickey's Poems and a volume of Dylan Thomas. But I can't even begin to read them today. First I have to let the music of Pat Conroy subside in my mind.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Laugh AT Your Kids

Sometimes you just have to laugh at your kids.

Even if the other moms in the room look at you like you are committing some form of mild child abuse. The kids are funny.

And they look funny when they fall on their butts on the ice on their first day of ice skating. They look even funnier covered in ice from falling over and over again. They look silly when they are sprawled out face first (with helmets, thank you very much) in the middle of the rink.

I am not a mean mother. I am actually quite nurturing. But this was hysterical.

And you want to know something? Because I was over there laughing with tears running down my face from the sheer joy of watching my kids fall over and over again ... they were laughing too. They weren't crawling over to the side asking me to quit. They weren't sitting on the ice crying - not from pain - but from frustration. They were laughing at themselves and getting up and trying again.

Ice skating is not something that comes naturally to two boys who grew up in Texas. We don't even have icy streets, much less rinks covered in ice. There are one or two indoor rinks, but we play baseball and football. We just don't ice skate, except on Christmas holidays.

That changed yesterday, J and M did skate. And they did it with conviction. They - quite literally - threw themselves into their lessons. They ended up beaten and bruised. But they were laughing the whole time.

I can't wait until next week.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Abraham Lincoln as quoted by George Bush in NYC

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Not Just Hiking - July/August 2011

I don't just hike and ride my bike. I also love to read and watch good movies. The "Not Just Hiking" posts will give you an idea where my mind is wandering while my body in in the Rocky Mountains.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
My younger brother's recommendation. Great book. Different from what I usually read. Very British.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Book club choice.

Running on Empty by Marshall Ulrich
Just O.K. Would have put it down if I had had anything else to read.
Much, much better was Born to Run which I finished last year.

Unnatural Selection by Mara Hvistendahl
She could have put all this info in a magazine article that would have been just as informative. And a lot shorter.

The Churchills by Mary S. Lovell
A very readable introduction to the famous family. Now I'd like to tackle a political history of Winston Churchill. Any suggestions?

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
May be the best book I have read this year.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
I quite enjoyed Clarissa Dalloway. "What she likes was simple life." It took me too long to get through the book, but I am so glad I did.

Night by Elie Weisel
How did I miss this in High School and College? Powerful.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Probably one of the best books about racism I have read. I was disturbed by the book. I was disturbed because to often I found my self saying, "I just don't understand why they were so upset." I would have been pleased if my grandmother could have had such a huge impact on science and medicine. Exactly, this wouldn't have happened to my grandmother.

Back to the Future
Fun with the boys.

Drive Through History
If only every teacher could make American History this interesting.

The Green Hornet
Not my choice. J's choice.

Homeward Bound
I love movies about dogs. M's choice.

Grizzly Man
On the recommendation of MMV. Not sure how I feel about this one. Timothy Treadwell was unstable and was in a place he didn't belong, but I am sorry because I believe that the bears he loved so much never even noticed he was gone.