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Traveling, living, loving, exploring and trying to make some semblance of sense out of this crazy world.  

 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thirty Days On the Road

Bear with me, I'm writing this from a tempemental laptop in an uncomfortable crouch on a wooden chair with a sore old ass and a huge grin on my face.

We've been at it for thirty days now, from the time we locked the apartment door until now; living out of a small truck and a big tent full of backpacks and climbing gear and smelly clothes and assorted gadgets, in a series of National Forest and private campsites, backroad pullouts and friend's houses.

Spent the weekend hiking around some favorite old spots in Germany Valley, pruning back half-forgotten trails, shoring up steps and cleaning up old lines. Getting back in touch with the local store keepers and landowners to confirm access and ownership. Downloaded a vast store of beta on West Virginia countryside marryin's and buryin's, reunions and feuds, slow business, high prices, flash floods, pillbillies, mean young men and fast young women. Sat in camp in the slow-falling shadows of evening watching my wife-to-be organize and artisan and wander peacefully through her own space, the purple air filled with the scent of honeysuckle and green grass and sage and birdsong.

We now have a topper for the S10 affectionately known as Icy Blue, acquired from a kindly, chatty little fellow on the outskirts of the town of Stuart's Draft, Virginia, on Saturday morning of the holiday weekend. The money was a traveling gift from my parents following two days of work in their hundred-foot oak trees. Cindy and I rose early, skipped coffee and crossed the various mountains and rivers and state lines to reach Stuart's Draft, near Waynesboro, where we checked out the goods, paid the man, mounted the new unit and finished a 200 mile round-trip loop, including visits to Doc Goodwack and a few other friends, in time for late lunch back in camp at The Bluffs. Happy hour was declared early in celebration of our new acquisition.

We crashed early and were deep into REM sleep when a familiar voice called out "Hello?" a light shone into the tent and someone asked "Are you guys naked in there?" I confirmed the truth and we were granted a few moments of abuse-filled dimness in which to remedy the situation. We emerged into welcoming arms and there were soon open beers and seats found for everyone.

Plans and introductions were made, amid jokes and smokes and laughter, and an hour or so later the raiders wandered back out into the night. Miss Cindy and I crashed smiling and rose early, determined to beat the heat, spending the day in the river with friends, toproping and doing a bit of rappeling on the private cliffs close to camp. There were big plans elesewhere, but the weather and the humidity seemed determined to thwart first ascent ambitions, with a heat advisory for West Virginia and humidity hovering around 80 or 90 per cent. If nothing else, I knew that Cindy's MS would NOT react to conditions like that in a favorable way. Having dealt with her seizures from heat and dehydration before, I was determined to take it easy and err on the side of caution. Besides, after three seasons of riding herd over the small riot of Eagle Rock Campground on this first major outdoor holiday of the year, it felt nice to have no obligations, no one else's messes to clean up. There were opportunities enough to climb in the future. For now, it was time for the Power Couple.

We're settling into this lifestyle of simplicity, something natural to the heart of what we both really ARE, deep down; gypsies, wanderers, travelers. With the topper to keep our gear dry, safe,and out of the sun, we're thinking of taking a week or two to help out in Joplin, before heading on out to Colorado to see if my friend DeChristo (Tom Reid) is as ornery and ugly as ever, if the cliffs are as fine and tall, the air as sweet and clear. From there, who knows? But make no mistake, we ARE getting married and California IS on the schedule... the schedule is just very, very liquid, right now. If we have promised or threatened to visit, please bear with us. We both lived on other peops schedules for years and we're being a bit irresponsible right now. The vacation will turn into tour soon, I promise.

We have challenges ahead, some known, many not. I am still trying to find work and still finding very little. People who are building are not hiring, and if so they aren't hiring carpenters closing in on 50- those guys know too much about the building code and labor laws. They ask too many questions and bend too few rules and have opinions that are not all about the bottom line. As in the rest of my life, my inability to stay silent regarding stupidity, waste, responsibility and safety costs me a great deal in the search for gainful employment, as well.

Cindy is still fighting the battle with MS, and some days ae better than others. We are living this life a day or a week at a time, accepting what is, trying to change what we can, trying to save our energies for the adventures ahead rather than worrying about the things we have no control over in the puppet theater most folks call day-to-day life.

We lazed in the river until mid afternoon, when I climbed the hill to retrieve Cindy's fishing gear and met our late-night party rolling down the hill to the Hole. Coco the chocolate Lab was in the lead by several hundred feet, tail wagging her whole body, deflated football clenched in her teeth. The others came wandering down the hill, gawking at the soaring, private cliffline over the road and asking me questions about access and privacy and climbing.

We swam and fished and watched eagles soar over the Gorge, waved to the landowners wading downriver from us, tossed sticks and blls and otherwise tried to coax Coco into the water. As shadows fell over the river, we retreated to hang gear from the Sandbagger's Buttress and enjoy some shady rock climbing; Jaynie shooting up the cliff liike a natural and Mike showing the same kind of determination he had on his initial outing the week before, Cindy cranking the thinner line to the left with determination after being spit off the week before.

Evening faded into cold Stella Artois and laughing conversations as we sorted and swapped gear by the cars, bidding them goodnight as we headed for camp and a late dinner. Stars gleamed from the skies overhead as a whipporwill launched into his endless refrain. Honeysuckle blew on the breeze as Cindy turned to me and smiled, her forest eyes dancing, and for just a little while, all was right with the world.

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