restless

Being restless is a life-long condition for me. My adoptive mom was a school bus driver, so there was a lot of motion when I was a kid. The daily route to school was the same, but there was always something new I never noticed before. Sometimes she would get to drive a class field trip on Saturdays, so of course I went along just to see something new.

Maybe when your home is a place of stress and abuse, you want to be anywhere but at home. I lived literally next door to national forest land, and I explored there as much as I possibly could. I knew all the dirt roads and made my own trails, whether on foot or bicycle. My innate sense of navigation meant I was never lost, even when I wandered further than a youngster should. When it was time to come home, my mom would signal me with a boater’s air horn. I never wanted to hear that sound, but by then I was hungry, so I would make my way back to the house.

When I was younger, I didn’t fit in very well at school, and I was frequently melancholy or sad. I can clearly remember sitting in my 3rd grade class one day, not listening to the teacher, looking outside at the blue sky and the clouds, and wishing I was alone in my forest instead of being trapped in a social world I wasn’t part of. Sometimes I would fake a headache or stomach ache just to get out of school. I didn’t really want to be at the bus garage with A-mom, but at least I could be away from the other kids. Sometimes I would sleep or read in her bus by myself, but sometimes she would take me to lunch and I felt miraculously better.

When I was older I was allowed to take the car by myself, and suddenly I could explore anywhere I wanted (within the limits of my gas money). I never took the same road home from work, going out of my way to see something new. But I lived in a small town, and I ran out of new roads too quickly.

When I became an adult I had more freedom, so sometimes I would drive miles and miles late into the night. One time I had a tough day at work, and I could see thunderstorms building over the Sierra Nevada, so on a whim I decided to drive to the mountains after work until I found the rain. Another time I drove through the farms in the valley in the middle of the summer night, windows down, smelling the soil and the crops and the water. Sometimes I would take a drive to Sacramento or San Francisco and explore; anything to get away from the place I was in.

Even now, I have an understanding with my wife that I can go on a drive when I need to clear my mind or when I just become too restless. She has been pretty understanding about it, even when I spend the night. As long as I come home, she is okay with it most of the time. I don’t like taking the time for myself, but I need to do it sometimes. When I’ve been out long enough, I get to come back home to a familiar place where I am loved. That’s a pretty good deal.

a mini-vacation

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.

A few photos (click for larger size) :

Climbing the steep rocky trail
No way can I climb down this
A slightly better alternative: going off-trail through former logging spoils
A rewarding view

More pictures later.

olympic peninsula

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.

lake_crescent
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.

ahlstrom_prairie
Dead Elk, Ahlstrom Prairie

ozette_trail
Boardwalk trail on the way to the beach.

whidbey
Whidbey Island Bridge (I know, too much dust!)