I had a big emotional letdown yesterday, and I couldn’t get any work done after about 11 am. I get a little hypomanic when I go on adventures, and the depth of the depression is correlated to the anticipation of the adventure. I was feeling depressed and tired and especially worthless yesterday; I’m slightly better this morning, so we’ll see how the day goes.
I feel guilty anytime I do something for myself, because either I don’t deserve it, or I’m not doing something for someone else, or I’m abandoning my family. To be honest, I didn’t think about anyone but myself almost the entire time I was gone; not in a selfish way, just that I was wrapped up in my activities.
Mindfulness, I hear someone thinking. Yes, I was being mindful much of the time, living in the moment in the place I was. But when I come back from the mindfulness trip, I feel like I should have been doing or thinking something else other than living just for me.
There’s a whole bunch of things wrapped up here: self-esteem, anxiety, worry, feeling undeserving, and a lack of self care.
I’m in the middle of Pennsylvania, where there are more Sheetz than McDonalds. If you don’t have a Sheetz (or Wawa) near you, you’re missing out. Actually, I discovered an anti-Sheetz here called Snappy’s, which is very similar to Sheetz except the prices are more reasonable and the fresh-made sandwiches taste better.
I explored for two days in and near Black Moshannon State Park on foot and by car. Lots of neat landscapes, plant life, streams, and peat bogs are found here. The only disappointment is that the trees have not fully leafed out yet and many plants are not blooming yet at the higher elevations here due to the colder air and the slow start to spring.
Something I realize is that I’m old and fat and out of shape, and my sure-footedness and sense of balance is not what it used to be. I couldn’t do all the trails I wanted to, because some of them are simply too dangerous for me. Dirty Harry once said “A man’s got to know his limitations,” and I remembered that yesterday as I was climbing up a steep, rock-strewn path. Going up was difficult; going back down would have been very hazardous to my health. There are no warning signs in the forest, so you need to be smart. Rather than attempt climbing back down through the ankle-breakers, I pulled out the compass and topo map and decided to bushwhack through the forest. After a half-hour I found another trail which led me to a road which circled back to my car. I lost a little blood due to brush scratching my legs, but I think that was the best decision of the day. The second-best decision of the day was calling ahead to a pizza place for a stromboli to take back to the hotel.
Cold, rainy, slushy days remind me of my days in Oregon and Washington studying wetlands for delineations and permits. Developers always wanted their wetland study done in the late fall to winter so they could get their plans drawn for work in summer. Unfortunately this meant that I was trying to identify plants with no flowers or leaves, sometimes missing important species, or in the case of grasses trying to find stems that still had seeds. Of course it was usually raining, or even turning to snow, and I would end up getting sick from being wet and cold for hours.
There was one interesting location near Mount Hood about an hour from Portland. It was a tangled mosaic of wet and dry areas, with fens, meadows, and riparian wetlands interspersed with upland forest. It was a peaceful place, cool in summer under the shade of the tall hemlocks and Douglas firs, and it was botanically fascinating. On one wet slope I painfully discovered Devil’s Club, a nasty wetland shrub with thorns on the trunk, the leaf stems, and even on the leaves. Digging in the fens, I found identifiable plant material possibly hundreds of years old, preserved in the muck due to the cold groundwater and lack of oxygen. I hoped this place would never get developed, and 25 years later it is still intact.
There had been some logging prior to my visiting the site, and several trees were still lying on the ground. I was working with a student intern who was identifying plants for me. We were hiking through the woods when we heard a chain saw. We looked through the trees and saw a guy who was probably stealing firewood from the property. As we got closer, we realized he was naked except for a work boots and a cowboy hat. We looked at each other in disbelief, and hid in the bushes wondering what we should do. We must have moved the brush a little, because he suddenly looked in our general direction, put down the saw, and quickly moved behind his pickup to put clothes on. Tiffany and I decided to just go the other way and let him enjoy his lumberjack fantasy.
One miserable November day at this site, after being out in the bone-chilling drizzle for hours, my boss took me to eat at a nearby cafe he knew about from a previous visit. They had huge bowls of chili and bread, and a big fireplace to warm up by. It was the best chili ever.
Once upon a time I went on real hikes. I hiked up a goddamn volcano, and I have the picture to prove it.
Lassen National Park is at the southern extent of the Cascades Range in California. There are fragile wetlands, desolate lava flow areas, hot springs and mud pots, and the trail to the top of Mt. Lassen, which last erupted in 1917.
I scanned a few pictures from the day I drove through the park. I only had time to hike to the top and continue on my way, but there was some nice scenery along the park roads.
Proof, bitches. Mount Shasta is in the far distance.
I don’t have anything of substance to say, so I’ll post a few pictures. In 1997, while working in Vancouver, I was sent to a 3-day workshop in Seattle that began on a Monday morning. Of course I didn’t go directly there. I spent the weekend looking at stuff on the Olympic Peninsula: rainforest, moss, elk, wetlands, beaches, Indian museums, forts, bridges, and ferries. It was a great weekend … until Sunday night, when I didn’t feel very well. I went to the Kingdome to watch a baseball game, and I became violently ill with some kind of intestinal distress. Ew, enough said. I was sick for the next three days, but I still attended the workshop for my boss. That is dedication.
Anyway, here are a few poor quality pictures from the peninsula.
Crescent Lake at dusk. This photo was taken with a cheap plastic 35mm camera, then the paper photo was recently scanned. No color fixing. Despite the poor quality, one of my favorite photos ever.
Now for some photos, this time on the way home from Las Vegas to Hippietown through Yosemite National Park. I have had the thrill of flying over the park a couple of times, and it is just as amazing from the air as it is on the ground. I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted exploring Yosemite, but there are still great memories from the small area I did visit. I probably will never make it there again, but who knows?