Category Archives: Hiking
I’m baaaaack! Why?
“It is the year, 2019” (said in Morgan Freeman voice) and I have my first EVER laptop. No more stressing over my keyboard vs blue tooth connections – no more trying to tap out a post like morse code.
I, am at home and able to type this on an amazing machine.
Oh what a relief. I have so very much missed writing. And talking to you Soupers!
This post contains graphic anxiety so if you have triggers – stop reading. Also, if you have rain, flash floods, commute or coyote phobias – not the one for you.
I’ll begin repeating myself shall I?
I moved to a very rural area and have a long commute now. But, the land, the man and the hiking is worth it. I am very grateful and know how blessed I am.
It’s ours. Okay, it’s the bank’s – but, we’re not renting.
Here’s the deal though. We live on a ‘Turn around don’t drown’ road.
This has mostly not been an issue.
We have monsoon season, which has kindly occurred mostly on weekends in the summer. (Shout out to those storms dodging work days! Whoop!)
But then came ‘the day’.
It was before the day I’m going to talk about.
Our neighbor gave me a map. How very mysterious. But, actually, he was looking out for me. ‘Back Road Map’. When would I use this? When would I need this? I was fine with my route.
Oh lord. The day I first used it I figured all of that out and was so VERY grateful.
I’ll now just leap into what happened the other day shall I?
It was a foggy morn’ … arrived at my turn onto the highway with almost zero visibility.
(This is where I reiterate how this commute on a GOOD day is scary for me. I have literally driven shaking, almost losing my vision, heart pounding, can’t feel my limbs, feeling ‘out of self’.)
I watched for headlights – waited – saw an ‘in’ and pulled out.
AND – some asshat didn’t have their headlights on.
They braked, I almost had a heart attack.
Going forward – heart pounding – and next fear comes true. Coyote crosses road.
I safely navigated it and kept on going.
Long story short, I made it to work, going 45-50 in a 65 zone.
Rained ALL day.
We are … um, the ‘rain catchers’ of the area. The mountains above us drain on down.
So, when my honey told me, rain is stopping, you should be okay, I believed it.
What I didn’t take into consideration was how long it takes for those long showers to make it down.
Here’s video one.
At this point I’m thinking, “Well, I’ve gunned it through heartier. But, after seeing trucks turn around, I’m nope to the nopety nope.”
I first text my boss who asked me to let her know when I got home.
“I’m stuck on my road and shaking.”
I then call my husband.
“OK. I’m coming down.”
“You made a very good decision not crossing that.”
He can’t save me. So, I turn around, ready to do the ‘back roads’ with that map in my 4 wheel drive amazing truck … wait …
Off road car YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not.
Then, this …
Remember, I’ve come this far right? I can go back, do the highway, take those back roads. So, I turn around Aaaaand ….
I am now stuck between two washes.
I just want to go HOME!
I DID gun it through that one. Shamefully I’ll admit, wasn’t the most dangerous decision I have made, but completely stupid.
I got to the highway and THIS highway (as if I haven’t made it clear enough) is so super dangerous.
I need the next left for my ‘map’ directions.
Almost got nailed doing that.
Next part, I’ll be the first to admit was fun, if danger was not a factor.
I slid, I slid and slid and … learned to get out of past tracks.
My poor car lol! It’s not built for that.
Good thing it is a shift – and I could downshift.
And, that last track home made me smile. (Only, I wish it happened in a jeep lol.)
I made it.
Now, here’s some pics of what the rain does to our land.
Yeah, roses are pretty watered.
The morning ‘weather is going to suck’ fog.
There used to be mountains?
Our parking area today. (Yes, I’m lucky.) But, you can see the wetness, I share this post knowing my husband will be in Chicago soon and I can’t even imagine being there during adverse conditions! Me: Boo! Look what the rain did!
Him: (I’m making this up) I can’t feel my fucking face here.
So! There you go. Stay warm. Stay dry. Stay a Souper!
Well, it’s been a week since I’ve moved into my new home!
Yes, I had that exhale moment.
Still have a lot to do – but for all intents and purposes, we’re moved!!!
I’ve been adjusting to the longer commute, that just happens to be on a road they literally test vehicles on. No kidding – Ford brings their trucks covered in sensors and hauling tons of weight and drive up and down the grade. (Here’s an old article about this HERE.)
On the side of the road there are jugs of water that good Samaritans have left for struggling vehicles of the non-test type.
Regular commuters know that the air conditioning needs to be off for the majority of the trip, which, in triple digits can be quite taxing. And when I say taxing, I mean, sheets of sweat, wet undergarments and complete loss of electrolytes.
Once that hill has been taken though, it’s worth the while.
Let’s get onto introducing you to one of my neighbors.
I say neighbor, but, it’s more like … um … a land mate? Pet?
I’ll begin with our introduction.
I was sitting on the porch, enjoying a light breeze in the early evening. Rose bushes were rustling, pine trees pining. I had a hose running to water the length of the thirsty trees and looked over to check on the progress.
To my surprise, atop the picnic table was – well … take a look yourself.
I slowly got up and put my dog inside the house. I then calmly stated, “Um, honey? There’s a snake on the table.”
Now, I have been aware in my 15 years in the desert that the territory comes with desert creatures. I’ve had my run ins with an assortment of them. But, not a snake.
I’m actually quite fond of them. Had wanted one years ago.
But, considering our location, not all snakes want to be your friend.
My honey came out and we watched from a distance to make sure there was no rattle. Then, got a little closer to assess the head shape.
He went in as my fascination grew.
Snake (I’ve since named Yogi – because, c’mon, pic-i-nic table!) came closer. I grew braver.
And, closer still, into the rose bushes.
I followed Yogi around for a while, until it moved off into another lot.
I reached out and posted photos to a snake site. I was informed it is a non-venomous gopher snake, good to have around! I was also taught that if I needed it to scoot, I could spray it lightly with a hose.
I fretted a little about it interacting with my pup. I certainly don’t want to have my time outside or hers dictated by our new friend. Still haven’t quite worked that out yet. (Any advice is welcome!)
Following night, we were outside when my guy announced, “Your friend is back.” Sure enough.
This is such a low-key snake. I mean, you can literally walk next to it.
But, the issue of the dog. So, with Butters inside, I decided to try the spritz method. It worked. Yogi went back under the fence and curled up and cut its eyes at me. Had a look of complete inconvenience and indignation. To add insult to moisture, two sparrows alighted upon the fence and looked down upon Yogi. I entrusted them to keep watch.
SO! What to do, what to do?! I’m an animal lover so definitely harming one is out. Relocating it would be useless as it’s bound to be replaced by another – I mean, we have nothing but desert next to us and own 2.15 acres of it ourselves.
Must find a way to cohabitate.
I guess I’ll have plenty of time to consider just how to do that during my commute.
Oh. My. God.
Well Soupers, I can officially share with you that I am a home owner! With my partner of course.
It happened on May 25th. Close of escrow.
Our one year anniversary came on the 28th, one day before my birthday. Which, was almost eclipsed by our new official situation, but, not entirely.
Yeah, yeah, I see the dust too, I live on a dirt road, I can’t wash my car without coming home and being completely undone in that arena.
So hush. LOL.
I didn’t pack a thing. Not a thing. Because, I didn’t want to ‘jinx’ anything. (I lived to regret that.)
We’ve done runs up and down, and, let me share now that it will be a 40 minute commute to work each way – but, well worth it!
I didn’t completely understand the gravity of this situation until … today.
My honey is out-of-town to be with his kidlets, (who arrive on this month for 3 weeks! 🙂 ) and I went up today to water the trees and set up a shower curtain and take up my kitchen island. Ah. How relaxing. And, it was! While I was there.
Past week was spent juggling work, initializing utilities, cancelling current ones in the future …
Here’s us, the ‘public view’ of this experience.
(Obviously taken before he left town)
Aaaand, here’s me now.
I have learned that … A) I am getting what I deserve after dropping so many things on my parents after I moved!
This is my son’s room …
We have what is called a Quonset hut which is HUGE! And almost all of the shelving is currently occupied by ‘Nic Barn’.
I’m sorry mom.
B) I kept too much stuff!
I am the Queen of nostalgia. Every card, every note, every memorabilia of an event I participated in! Because why? Is any one going to care after I pass? Is it the Holy Grail? NO! My sentimental things are bordering on MENTAL!
I had a hard time throwing these out! These are old food containers people! But, because my son wrote such sweet things on them, I kept them! I took a photo, because I’m still not over such things, then tossed. (With a little whimper.) You can understand what I’m up against.
C) This shit. And, I swear I said out loud to my DOG, “Where the fuck did I put the tape????” at least 20 times today.
I haven’t even started on my bedroom, which, of course, contains my ‘most special things’ AKA: pouring over stuff for too long and reminiscing and not getting anything done!
There needs to be a service. Someone who will literally just sit there and crack a whip when you’re getting tired, or taking too many breaks.
D) I will be SO happy when this is over and I get to read THIS and laugh. I so hope for that moment, while my back is killing me and my space is a disaster.
There WILL be a time, in the future when I’m reading this and will tell myself, “You did it!”
To say our hike Saturday had its ups and downs would be a pretty fair assessment of the adventure.
I was excited about where we were going for a few reasons, one of them being it was the place I saw my first tarantulas over 15 years ago. (Still very hard to believe this fair English native, then Central Coast California transplant has been in the desert that long!)
And if I’m being truly honest, I’ve only just started to appreciate it since I’ve begun hiking.
We’ll touch back on that in a while.
Anyway, I’ve been chomping at the bit to capture wildlife on my camera. So far, lizards, butterflies, burros, cattle and long-horned sheep – but my secret deep down wish was to snap a close up of a scorpion or an arachnid and yes, even a snake. Oh, trust me, the zoom lens would be the key there! I’m wishful but would also not like to trust my snake guards that we wear to such an extent.
We arrived at Grapevine Canyon and my first mistake? I wore a cotton t-shirt. (Why oh why do they give those away at 5K events? Cotton is not conducive to a comfy hike or run.) I am usually sporting wicking wear, and I’ll have you know that I’ve successfully completed all previous hikes sans sweat. So, that either means that I didn’t push myself hard enough or … seriously, cotton is not the ideal choice.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’m the Queen of Tangents, you’ll have to bear with me.
I don my pack and my snake guards and … my gift from my guy, trekking poles.
Another tangent. When we return from hiking, he’s sore. He, with the Popeye calves. He who can not only put his hands on the ground in a straight legged position, but also touch his forehead to his legs. I, on the other hand, feel no pain upon return – nor the following day. (Also can’t do any of those things.)
This weekend? It hurt to squat to reach the toilet seat lol! ‘Leg day’ happened.
We started out past the tourists who were there for the petroglyphs and the waterfall.
Surpassed them and began our trek.
Me, clumsy and awkward with my poles. My honey a little frustrated because he’d put so much thought into buying them for me. And, no, it does not escape me that he bought them for me because he wants to spend time with me. It also doesn’t escape me that he bought them because he loves them and wants me to have the same experience. So, I felt like an asshole and here’s why.
The terrain he fell in love with them for was the Pacific Crest Trail, so not only was that ideal for that, but he had MILES to become acquainted until they were like additional limbs. Me? I’m trying to snap pictures, which meant holding them in one hand or putting them down, and it seemed every time I did that, he happened to turn around. I felt awful. A gift not being utilized as intended.
We carried on.
Now might be a great time to mention that my guy also has experience rock climbing. Serious rock climbing. And, after the birth of my son I was suddenly scared of heights. And we were high.
I say this because he was like a freaking mountain goat and I kept being told, “Stay perpendicular!” This, after a particular steep rock with nothing to cling to. Thing is about such a rock, once you’re half way up, you’re kinda screwed.
It’s either, A) Have faith in the experts and just keep scaling without looking down and pray you don’t fall to your death or B) Get chastised for wanted to be on all fours. OR C) F#@* this, I know my limits and THIS isn’t happening today.
Well, it happened.
I am not going to lie (again) I was terrified. Literally. What I wanted to do was that dramatic, “Go on without me … save yourself with this hike and I’ll wait.” What I did? I kept going.
And the psychosomatic part of it is that if a hand is held out, you tend to suddenly become invincible without putting too much weight on said hand. It’s just the knowledge that someone has your back and is there to assist that tends to erase a majority of the worry.
Okay, so now I’m up. And ‘height’ phobia cracks in. I swear, I couldn’t even count how many times I heard, “This part is steep, but after this! It evens out.”
I always want to impress my guy, I also always want to live.
We kept going.
And, OH. MY. GAWD.
The day was perfect. The juxtaposition of desert meets … rustling trees … meets water? lol, was awesome!
An egg … I didn’t touch.
Crunching on leaves was bizarre!
Look easier than they were to navigate – but I nailed it. Thought of the Olympics and wanted to do a back flip and land it – then remembered I couldn’t even touch my hands to the floor straight legged lol.
The rustling tree. Was breezy for a bit. (Thank goodness for my pits lol! Remember, cotton … not conducive.)
Just … beauty in everything.
Zoomed in – this was my elephant rock.
This was my heavy-headed person resting their forehead on the peak.
This was freaking AWESOME! The curves get slimmer and slimmer to the point that yes, (OH, Yay!) You have to climb out of it. I think this, and the slides back down due to complete water smoothing (imagine a rock slide!) were my favorite parts.
We ended our hike on a flat rock and chatted.
Here’s where I touch on the beginning.
“And if I’m being truly honest, I’ve only just started to appreciate it since I’ve begun hiking.”
I said to my honey at one point, “You’re really good at a lot of things, but I’m just a beginner.”
And as we sat on that rock, he apologized for any impatience. But, the truth of it was that he was NOT impatient. Or, I didn’t read it that way.
He pushed me for sure – seeing things in me I didn’t. Seeing me capable and cheering me on the whole time. Mostly during our exit when I took a total (on purpose) slide down a steep rock – and it was fun!!!!!
He doesn’t coddle me. But, he does pay attention, even with his back to me. (Dad eyes in the back of his head lol!) And always has just the RIGHT way to encourage me to be a better version of myself.
Extras! Me the next day with my burros! (With the right gear on, but we ended up napping at his home. lol!)
This was Sunday, and we violated a mine – NOT ON PURPOSE!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s for sale! And, um, saw this a little too late.
Lastly, some fun pics.
Wait!! Wouldn’t be complete without those trekking poles. xxxx
Thanks Soupers for continuing to read my journey through life! I love each and every subscriber and reader!
Let me know what you want to see more of!