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.
Well! Big news.
1) I’m in escrow
2) I’m in escrow with that guy I hike with
3) I have a ring on my finger
4) I’m having a nervous breakdown
And I swear to God, if one more person tells me ‘worrying won’t fix anything’ I’m going to end up in the news. Yes, yes I AM aware that worrying will not help anything. I however, AM a worrier. Kinda had to be raising a son completely, physically and financially alone. I’m also that person who you share a sad story with and I’ll cry FOR you. An empath through and through – so, imagine being alone in my own head unattended!
I am stressing the hell out. And I would be lying if I said that there is a small part of me hoping the house does not appraise. Horrible, I know. But, I’m nothing but honest.
This is a HUGE commitment!
It all began because my guy and I have some distance between us. This month will be a year since we met – we needed to find a solution to our 45 minute drive. That solution was apparently moving somewhere where I’ll have a twice daily 35 minute drive.
“I don’t mind.” Said cheerful, dreamy, smitten me. “I’ll commute as long as we’re together.” (Insert fingers down throat and go ahead and gag now.)
Now, I’ll have to hop in here and interrupt myself by pointing out that in fact, the ONLY thing I’m certain of right now is my unwavering love for this man. No, not the guy in the pic above, my guy. So yeah, I am willing to have a tedious commute in trade for sharing a home with my future husband. (Gulp. Hold on. Dizzy.)
“Tell us Amanda! How did you get engaged?!”
We went looking at a house that actually happened to have EVERYTHING we both wrote on our ‘wish list’. Acreage, HUGE ‘hangar’ ‘shed’ whatever. Completely fenced. In the area my honey is in love with. (Me, not so much. I could leave the desert tomorrow and be just fine.) AND, an actual house with a wood burning stove and in need of LOTS of projects and fixing up.
We checked it out – stopped at a local place for a beer and a chat deciding whether we make an offer or not.
We both knew we loved it. We both knew what our answer would be – but I had knots in my stomach. Share a mortgage with someone and then what? Can’t just walk away if you have an argument from a 30 year loan.
Well, not without serious repercussions.
So I asked the most important question:
“Most importantly, are you sure you want to do this with me?”
Him: “Yes, I’m never going to meet anyone like you. Maybe we need to go to Vegas.”
We went to my place and his response kept ringing in my ear. He’d dropped other hints. Like, when he bought into a claim put me down as ‘spouse’ and told me that. No guy who doesn’t want to put any thoughts in his girlfriends head would say that. Nor would they mention marriage at ALL or discuss anything close to the topic. LOL!
So after the Vegas comment – I just straight up said, “Look, you keep mentioning things, and I’ll tell you right now, I’m not doing Vegas. IF that’s what you meant.”
(I hurt my parents once before by eloping – so that wasn’t going to be an option.)
I then approached him, got down on one knee and I popped the question.
Romantic as hell huh?
So that was out of the way.
We’ll most likely do it at a courthouse. No guests, (except my parents). Just quick nuptials and onto life. We’ve both HAD the fancy, flouncy, over the top weddings. We don’t need all that again.
So here we are.
Then on Mother’s Day, I learned that my parents are moving. Leaving the area totally. And, doing it very soon. I NEED my ‘mummy’. Truly. There is just SO much going on and the last thing I thought could add itself to that pile would be the departure of my rock. My number one fan. We’ve never lived far from one another. This was a huge blow for me.
I’ve downed an entire box of M & M’s today – yes, a box. I’ve been spontaneously weeping. I haven’t packed a f$%#ing thing (our close of escrow is the 25th).
My stress level is at an eleven.
Am I going to be that girl at the altar, or more fittingly, the signing table that blurts out, “I’m sorry – I just can’t do this!” and runs dramatically out of the building? Probably not. I’ve got this ‘love’ thing going on with the other party.
But I needed everyone to know that it is TERRIFYING!!! And this is with a guy I love more than any other guy! This is with the person I WANT to spend the rest of my life with. It’s not all smiles, handshakes and keys being handed to you ya know! It’s “Oh shit, this is big.” It’s “What if my car breaks down now I have this insane uphill desert commute?” It’s “What if we move in together and hate it?” It’s “Does he truly love me?” It’s insecurities and fear and taking a leap when you’re sure there’s nothing to break your fall.
And being willing to regardless, because life has handed you something amazing.
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
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Let me know what you want to see more of!
Started the day out with pancakes at ‘our’ restaurant. It’s riddled with black and white photos of Laurel and Hardy, Shirley Temple, old movie sets and Charlie Chaplin. Plus, evidently, very large cups of orange juice. I didn’t hear my guy’s drink order, but when a ginormous odd-looking cup arrived at our table I asked what it was. Turns out it was O.J. Remember ordering orange juice and it came in a thimble? That justifies my confusion and I immediately coveted it. I know, I know, ‘Thou shall not covet …” But, I think that only applied to a neighbor’s wife? Maybe not, but I coveted all over his drink and into a straw and away from my iced tea.
We are so lucky to have SO many locations at our disposal. Almost makes up for those 120 degree summers.
I’ll just start sharing photos and mumble on about them eh?
First pic – (and I took my ‘good camera’ which, while quality was better, I couldn’t really see what I was capturing due to sun on my preview) We had a storm ahead (and a part of me hoped it arrived, although, I don’t think my backpack is water proof and I had my phone in my pocket tracking the hike).
Me trying to be ‘artsy’ even with a good camera, nothing compares to the actual view.
I was truly hoping for ‘wildlife’. And to be honest, if I heard a rattle, I’d be grabbing my camera versus carefully avoiding the source of the serpent sound. Also waiting the moment I turn over a beautiful rock, and find a scorpion under it that will stay still for a National Geographic worthy pic! I mean c’mon! I’ve had them in my home a dozen times, WHEN am I going to see one in the wild?
Pi or Stonehenge? You decide. But, as you’ll see in the next pic, was located right next to a mining excavation.
We didn’t go in this one. My guy had already explored it on another hike and there wasn’t much to be seen.
Now comes my favorite part! Went down into a river bed that is obviously a water source for desert animal dwellers. Plenty of scat and prints to prove that. Yes, it did dawn on me that we were literally delicious things walking through an area that many predators visit for protein. But, the naturally washed rocks and amazing terrain trumped those thoughts.
This rock reminded me of a fish. A fish that evidently has a stick up its nostril. LOL!
Snake stick, attacking a rock. We did have to jump down into some brush from quite a height and MY rock was checking all brush for snakes. I had snake guards on (he didn’t this time) so I so unselfishly said, “Just go!” I know. I’m a giver.
A storm was threatening the entire time – but, did not come to fruition.
A vein! With vugs.
“Life, uh, finds a way” Said in my best Jeff Goldblum voice.
Okay, he stops for rocks, I stop for close up shots of flora and fauna.
The colors in this rock was unreal! Again, better in person.
Where we came from to flat land.
A wall that once contained something to do with mining.
This guy continued to watch us for what seemed like forever, protecting his family. Bless his Burro heart. x
The family. When I took this photo, I only saw the darker burros. Was happy to discover the other two after downloading.
A thick stringer!
Almost back to the car.
The local gold mine. It’s for sale for $2,500,000. We were going to offer 2. lol.
We did not disturb.
Pay dirt! Sitting RIGHT THERE! We still did not disturb. Although, during the hike, one side of my jacket may or may not have been hanging VERY low due to there certainly NOT being any rocks in my pocket. 😉
We ended the day with a stop at a pub after burning over 1,300 calories on the hike!
AND! That ended in a Snakebite. The only kind you want!
HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY ALL MY ‘SOUPER’S’
Was discussing something I’d misplaced with my boyfriend and suggested it might still be in his car the other night. He replied with one of the funniest sentences of the weekend. “Yeah, well, you did jump up and run into the house.”
Blatant lie. I turned to him with a very straight face as I pointed out to him, (like a seasoned defense attorney having trapped the witness with solid evidence), #1, I do NOT jump. And #2, I do not ‘run’. Pfffft. I rest my case your honor.
But, I DO hike.
It’s become a ‘thing’. A thing I never used to do yet, after Christmas revealed, a thing I’m evidently going to be doing a lot more of. Hiking boots, backpack, headlamp etc. came in cheery holiday packages. Ho! Ho! Ho! Mer-ry Walkin’!
Have to say though, that I truly do enjoy being out there. Especially like it because it pleases my guy to no end. I love seeing him smile. Treasure watching him find a vein or possible ore on the ground and love it when he excitedly shows it to me or teaches me some geological ‘thing’.
And we ‘meander’. It’s not like we’re marching at some wild pace. We take in the surroundings and sometimes I’ll pass him up and vice-versa. We do stay out for hours though, so a lot of ground gets covered.
Our latest hike started out like that:
Then … took a turn. Or, rather, an INCLINE.
Him: “I really want to check out that rock – I see it from the road and pretty sure something is up there.”
Me: “I don’t think I can climb that …”
Him: “There’s a fence, see?”
Me: (Hallucinating a fence for the hell of it and putting my complete trust in him that it exists) “O.K.”
He’s navigating this mountain like a champ. Me? I’m praying each rock I grab is in fact anchored in some fashion and I’m repeating a mantra in my head that went a little something like this: “Please don’t let me fall off of this mountain.”
Got to that point where I was half way up and screwed. Because as much trouble as I was having going UP, I knew down would be worse. My guy had assured me there was a way to cut around once we’d reached the top and circle back around to the car. Much like that fence fable, I believed him. There was no fence. The fence that had been my deciding factor in even attempting to scale this beast, because once reached, I was going to cling to it as I went higher.
Might be a good time to mention I’m afraid of heights, so, there’s that.
A couple of times he turned around to lend a hand. A couple of times he turned around to see me in the oh so flattering position of crawling on my hands and knees with brow knotted in fear.
Not entirely sure how, because there were a few times I was literally frozen in fear and couldn’t move without his encouragement, BUT, we made it. (“We” made it, like there were any doubt he was going to.)
This was the view – and I ASSURE you, the pictures do not do the height or the fear justice. It’s like trying to take a photo of a full moon on a phone.
Well, you be the judge. This is the view from the top.
Oh, see that board? That’s a ‘don’t step over me’ board. Note next pic.
Right after this happened, I heard, “I KNEW it!”
He had found the mine he suspected was up there.
I found the nerve (after an extended visit with the sturdiest rock I could find) to get up and peek at what he spied. Um, to the left of him in that picture, guess what’s there? Go ahead. Guess.
NOTHING!!! A sheer freaking drop.
This was the mine entrance … (would have been a better picture, only, I didn’t want to die).
I sat back down while he collected soil samples and picked at various rocks. While I sat I wondered a) How we were going to get down because that sheer drop sure as hell wasn’t an option. b) how much a helivac might cost and would I have to be injured or would they just collect me? c) If I prayed really hard, would my friend put in a good word for me in case there IS an afterlife.
I eventually was able to stand and don my backpack again. And, wouldn’t you know it? There was a way to descend in a criss-crossy manner down the same flipping mountain that was 75 times less scary than the ascension. Where was this route going up? Seriously?? Cheese and Rice!
I did feel very happy once we were on semi-flat earth again. Had that adrenaline rush of accomplishment and near-death.
Back to non-life threatening hiking.
We made it to the car and decided to check out an area further down that had mines to explore.
Now, THESE I am not afraid of. I get to wear my head lamp and barbed wire be damned, plunge into the unknown. Only thing that’s a little disconcerting is the fact that there’s usually bedding for a 4 legged variety resident. We’ve yet to meet up with any occupants though.
The best part (other than being outside with nature and my guy) is the delicious exhaustion once back in civilization.
I always feel like I could keep going forever once I’m out there, but we were both nodding off on the couch once home. Time well spent.
And – AND! I didn’t fall off of a mountain. Halle-flipping-lujah!