September 2nd – New Friends

     Have you ever tried being friends with a stone? How about a shelf made of rock? Maybe a fallen tree branch?

     Well today, I did all three. I intended to spend the day in perfect happiness like I spent yesterday. But today I planned to read more and move less. That proved to be more difficult than I expected.

      After another slow morning, I set about the task of enjoying my reading time. It worked well for an hour before I got tired of the flies constantly landing on me. So I spent the day moving from place to place in the vain hope that I could find one location where the flies might not bother me. Around 11 A.M. the sun added itself into the equation. It wasn’t a hot day, probably only 80 degrees or so, but it was warm enough to be uncomfortable if you happened to be sitting under the sun trying to read.

     So I fidgeted around, then decided to go for a drive. I ended up at a cafe that sits just inside the park border. It’s called the Hard Rain Cafe. As much as possible, I am trying to keep food costs down by buying groceries and making my own food and I’ve been doing pretty well. So at the cafe, I intended to continue being good; to just get a cup of refreshing Huckleberry iced tea. That worked until the tea was all gone. At that point, I broke down and ordered a ham and cheese sandwich with onion rings. Real, warm food! After I enjoyed my splurge, I drove back to my campsite – where I promptly resumed my circuit of the available seats, trying to escape the flies, hide from the sun, and avoid having rocks poke through my back. I cycled through several chairs in my quest.

     First, there was my tent. That worked for awhile, but the sun eventually ducked below the trees and spoiled my private party. Then there was my balloon chair, but that would only work on the sand, and the sand was mostly in the sun too. On my first day here (Thursday), I made friends with the fallen tree branch that sat invitingly by the firepit. Today I visited him again – but no, he was having a meeting with the sun and the flies. They invited me to join, but I walked off in search of less bothersome company. Eventually, I saw a hospitable looking stone. I asked politely if I could use it as a temporary seat. It did not reply, nor did it protest as I sat on it. With people, silence does not always mean consent, but with inanimate objects, sometimes that just has to be enough. He After sitting on him awhile, I moved to a shelf of rocks by the water. This was a perfect spot for me to sit and dip my feet in the cool river. So I did. And I found that I could also lean back and recline. The rocks did poke me a little, but after the shelf got to know me a little better, I think it tried to be more gentle with me.

     That was the extent of my excitement for the day. Oh, except for one more thing! While moving around my campsite, the most terrifying insect I have ever seen landed right next to me. I am not usually scared of bugs, but this one had me running. I grabbed my camera (since it was on my way away from the insect). If anyone knows what exactly this creature is, I would love to find out. I’m guessing it’s some kind of a beetle, but I don’t know which type.

     Now, as I go to sleep, I will hope to avoid nightmares of large insects with menacing antennae crawling across my tent and finding their way inside. Ugh!


September 1st – R&R

     The sun woke me up for a minute as it rose over the trees on the far bank of the river around 8 A.M., but I happily ignored it and went back to sleep until 9 A.M. Then I decided it was time to bless the world with my unkempt hair and grumpy morning personality.

     Breakfast today came in the form of a tuna bagelwich – a meal I invented at lunch yesterday. I bought six cheese-jalapeno bagels to pair with the canned tuna that my mom kindly sent with me when I left. It is my new favorite meal!

     Next, I looked for a book to read. I brought three boxes of them with me, so it took a few minutes for me to decide. I settled upon a novel by Andrew Klavan, titled True Crime.a I spent the next three hours entranced. The story is a detective thriller, but the excitement didn’t come from the crime or the trial, as it usually does. The subject of the book is a man on Death Row who has one day left to live. A journalist is assigned to interview him; to learn what goes through the mind of a man who is about to die. But as soon as the journalist is given the assignment, he smells something fishy about the case. The details of the crime don’t connect for him and he is left with the horrible thought that this man might have been convicted falsely. This is where the story takes place. It follows the journalist as he tries to figure out what doesn’t make sense, then rushes around attempting to find solid evidence that will support his intuition so that he can stop the execution in time.

     So I spent the morning reading. But after several hours of sitting, my legs started complaining. They used the oldest trick in the book – emotional manipulation. “If you really like us, you’ll use us to go take a walk.”. I gave in and told them I’d drive to the Hoh River Visitor’s Center so that we could go hiking. That made them happy. However, when I arrived at the Visitor’s Center, I had to disappoint them. I went inside to get a map of the area but encountered other people on the way. Other people! I simply couldn’t be asked to socialize today. I was having too much fun being alone and reading.

     I apologized to my legs for the false promise I had given them and drove back toward my campsite. On my way back, I decided to check in with my family. I suppose that some people are okay to talk with and be around. In the depths of the forest, I had no cell phone reception so I drove north until I regained a signal. When the beep of incoming emails sounded, I knew I had made it. I found a shady spot to pull off the road and called home. After talking, I noticed that the place I had pulled off really was nicely shaded. I decided to stick around for awhile. First I made myself another tuna bagel-wich, then I called James – the friend I stayed with in San Luis Obispo. Finally, I returned to my book.

     With seventy pages left to go, I took a break to reassure my legs that they were still greatly appreciated. When I finished walking, I figured it would be good to go back to camp and finish my book there.

     So I did. It was a great story and had a great ending. I won’t spoil it!

     Filled with the excitement of finishing a good book, I started the one responsibility I had set for myself today – 200 pushups. Twenty-three minutes later, I was done. Now I’m three for three! California, Oregon, and Washington are all done. Next up is Idaho.

     And that’s all for today! The river is murmuring quietly beside me – I think it’s telling me to get some sleep. I’m going to stop writing and listen to it.