Thursday, September 1, 2011

Observations from my time away

It's good to take a hiking trip when you're in the middle of revising a manuscript about hiking.

For 7 days, I did not watch TV or listen to a radio. For 10 days, I did not touch a computer. I turned on my phone once a day to check messages, then turned it right off again. I didn't always have phone reception.
It was lovely.

The way I found out about the earthquake was through a headline in a day-old San Francisco Chronicle. And may I say, I certainly never expected that by traveling from Pennsylvania to California I would avoid an earthquake.

The way I found out about the hurricane was on a big-screen TV in a cafe where we were having lunch, on our way back to the city from which we were supposed to fly home. We did not actually make it home for another three days. Ultimately, I flew standby on one plane, my husband flew standby on another, and our luggage came home on a third plane.

The cat is now curled up with my suitcase, which is on the living-room floor. I think he believes he can keep me from leaving again, should I be so inconsiderate as to attempt it.

Having a dental crown pop off in the unlit washroom of a High Sierra camp is not the highlight of one's vacation.

Number of people who worried aloud about bears when they heard I was going to Yosemite: about a dozen. Number of bears I saw in Yosemite: zero.
Number of bears I saw in Sequoia National Park: 1. Number of bears that bothered me or gave any evidence they even knew I existed: zero.

Sitting barefoot next to the waterfall at Glen Aulin High Sierra camp, reading a book, I realized it was the first time in ages that I had spent an afternoon doing nothing much. And it was certainly the perfect setting in which to do nothing much. I repeated the sit-by-the-water-and-read experience at May Lake (blue-green water at the base of a mountain, fringed by wildflowers), with the same satisfaction.

Mosquitoes do not learn anything from watching their brethren get smushed: they will still land on your arm.

I love lupines almost as much as Dennis Moore does. (To the youngsters out there, I feel compelled to point out that this is a joke about Monty Python. But I really do love lupines.)

A hot shower is one of the delights of civilization.

It's nice not to have to put on sunscreen every morning.

The National Parks shuttle systems are awesome.

There are still plenty of stars in the sky, as we can see when we don't drown them out with light.

My notebook accidentally spent a night outside at May Lake. Even though it rained a bit, the book has a plastic cover and suffered no lasting damage.

Of course I carried a notebook (a paper one). It contains story notes that are probably illegible to anyone but me.

On our first full day of vacation, before we had our hiking legs under us, my husband and I climbed from Yosemite Valley up to Yosemite Point. We are insane. But in a good way.

It's been one of my lifelong dreams to see the most massive trees in the world, the giant sequoias. It turned out to be one of those dreams that lives up to expectations.


  1. Welcome back. This post is beautiful, Jenn.

    I spent a lovely 24 hours camping in the North Cascades this past weekend and it reminded me how much I love the woods. No bears for us. I'm also working on an "in the woods" story and made sure my sensory perception was tuned to "high".