Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No Moving Truck - No Internet - No Good

Quick Update: My Stuff, all my worldly possessions, are not going to arrive until next week. The lies that the moving company rep told me would fill a book. Bottom line, we can't hook up the internet & tv until my stuff comes (duh, my router is on the truck) and so we are camping out in our new place.

it IS a lovely new place, but I really miss chairs.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Get back to where you once belonged...

Yesterday, after ten hours in 100 degree heat, the moving truck was finally packed, and on its way. I chose to hire movers this time. My parents’ house and its location are particularly challenging, and I knew I was willing to pay more to have someone else humping the boxes and (incredibly heavy) furniture down the stairs and around the corners, as well as lug the stuff into my new place once it arrives. Last time, I had more help, although then I had two Labradors and a baby to worry about.
Because of where the house is situated, a big truck can’t make it up the street, and so it requires a “shuttle” of getting a smaller truck and then shifting everything on to the big truck at another location. Last time, also in July, my dad and I did this with two hired teenage boys my mother knew, and it took days and ended up in some property damage. It was cheaper than this time, but I knew my dad wasn’t up to it, and I didn’t want to put myself through that again. And since it took those big guys ten hours (and I was watching – they busted their asses) I feel like the extra expense was well worth it.
So, this time, I packed it all myself, and then let the two impressively strong and very nice men sweat their asses off carting it all over Auburn. I was very happy to say goodbye to the storage unit. I hope to never have a storage unit again. It killed me to pay to keep my boxes in a bigger box. In comparing the total cubic feet of all of my stuff to last time, it came out the same, so I didn’t accumulate more stuff – which is good.
My daughter and I have been living in an upper bedroom wing of my parents’ unusual house for exactly four years. Yesterday I vacuumed and dusted the empty space we were so smooshed into and then set up the air bed we’ll be sleeping on for a while. We slept in this morning and then I got a load of laundry started. All I have to do today is pack my vehicle for the drive out to Colorado. Between the beach vacation and the camping trip, not to mention the grinding commute I’d been doing, I feel like I’ve already done so much driving and I’m not really looking forward to more. But, I have done this route countless times before, so I don’t anticipate any surprises.
We are going to leave Auburn tomorrow morning and stay in a hotel in Utah overnight. Then we should arrive in Colorado Saturday afternoon. I can’t wait to see my townhouse! I was able to lease the one I wanted, and it should be very nice. It has a garage, a pantry, a separate laundry room, walk in closets, and a fireplace. And 1036 square feet just for my daughter and me! WooooHoooo!!!
I am so thrilled to be leaving. I arrived here four years ago unhappy and determined to accomplish some very tough goals. I was going to pay off my debts, finish my degree, take care of my daughter in the best way possible, and save up some money. I wanted to gain back more control of my life and get back on track.
I accomplished everything I set out to do. I am very satisfied with what I have been able to complete. While we were here, both of my beautiful dogs got cancer and died, and that is a loss that I feel deeply. But my daughter is healthy, happy, energetic and full of imagination and curiosity, ready to begin kindergarten this fall. I have a paid off four wheel drive vehicle in good shape, a clean financial sheet and a good resume, some money in the bank, and a brand-spanking new B.A.!
While here, I developed some new skills, polished some others, made a lot of good friends, and by sheer force of will, managed NOT to smother with a pillow either of my parents!
But I will not miss this place. While I wait for the dryer to finish, I think about how I haven’t really had the space or time to process a lot of things. I have clenched my teeth and held my tongue far more than is healthy. I haven’t had a safe or pleasant place to walk, time to spend listening to friends, or any real privacy at all.
I look forward to this next phase as an opportunity to stretch, to explore, to play, and to get to know the more interesting and nicer parts of myself that have been kind of packed away for too long.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Yosemite – Part 2

I have an ancient memory of following my father along a narrow track in a field, keeping up (which was not easy), and it being hot, although the trail was sometimes marshy. When I began hiking the Illilouette hikes with my father, I remember being a little disoriented. That’s because the memory is of Tuolumne. And Illilouette is nothing like Tuolumne. We did Tuolumne when I was a teeny bit; about 5, like the picture.

On Thursday, we went for a walk through Tuolumne Meadow, which is one of the most beautiful places on this earth, in my opinion. Legend has it that Tuolumne was what inspired John Muir to work to make Yosemite a National Park. John Muir, a fellow Scot, is a family folk hero. He also founded the Sierra Club, which I’ve belonged to for decades. I am in awe of people like him who are so effective in their passionate belief in something and actually get things done. Especially, when it took so much time and dedication.

I don’t like to get too caught up in taking pictures, because I want to enjoy the moment, but when I saw M following behind my dad exactly like I had done (although I hope she was having a better time), I took this picture.

We stopped along the Tuolumne River, and I took off my shoes and cooled my feet in the icy water. This delicious clear water, essentially snow melt, is what I learned to swim in. As years passed, I would swim in the Pacific, much to the consternation of friends. Cold water seems natural to me. A trip to the Sacramento Delta one time was a surreal experience; the water was both silty and warm, and it wasn’t hard to believe that the Creature of the Deep Lagoon lived in its depths as my older brother told me. (I was totally freaked out that I couldn’t see my hand in the water)

As much as I refrain from trying to make M take on my own traits, I admit that when she – on her own – does something that I would do I am charmed beyond words. She took off her shoes and stuck her feet in the water, too, and was soon making up an elaborate imaginary play by the river bank. We stayed there, soaking up the sunshine and the beauty, until my parents wanted to go.

When I am in Yosemite, I am free, I am happy, and I am content in a way that is hard to describe. It is why, despite having to travel long distances sometimes, and at great (for me at the time) expense, I have never let more than five years go by between visits. This decade, I’ve been three times, twice with M.

Colorado is beautiful, and it is the closest thing I could come up with in making myself a mountain home. I feel best living at altitude, and where I will be living (NEXT WEEK, YAY!) is at 5450 feet. I know many places in the Rocky Mountains that make my heart sing, and there are many left that I have yet to explore. But I will return to Yosemite again and again. It is that much part of me.

I’m not going back with my parents, however.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Yosemite - Part 1

I reserved a campsite in Tuolumne in February. Each time I’ve gone with my father to Yosemite in the past several years, I’ve wondered if it would be the last time. This time, I’m pretty sure it is the last time, until it is time to sprinkle his ashes there. I think it has been over 40 years since we stayed in a campsite, though.

My mother rarely went to Yosemite. She always had an excuse not to go, but the truth is, she isn’t the outdoor type. She gardens, but that’s the extent of it. I can count on one hand the times I can remember her being there, aside from when we lived there as Ranger’s Family. Even then, we had beds, a wood burning stove, refrigeration, and laundry facilities. She had a reason to go this time.

Out of the thick miasma of my childhood, Yosemite was the magical place that provided a safe haven, an escape, a positive experience. The smell of the place touches the innermost part of my soul. It is there that I formed my deep abiding love of tall trees, altitude, soaring granite peaks, and crystal clear ice cold water. Everything else is judged in comparison to the impressions that Yosemite made in my brain. It is there that I learned my outdoor skills, which are substantial, and my ability to enjoy myself even while dirty, cold, smelly, and without gadgets or toys or material distractions to entertain me. It has served me well.

I want my daughter to know the places that I love, and this was her second trip to Yosemite, although she doesn’t remember the first one. She has heard the lore of camping, and more than anything, she wanted to roast marshmallows over an open fire and make S’mores. (You can’t come from generations of Girl Scouts and not want S’mores. I’m pretty sure it’s a rule.)

We lucked out and had a beautiful spot. It was far from the road and other campers, yet not so far from the bathrooms that my mother was worried. It got cold at night (about 30 degrees) and the firewood that my dad brought was pretty “wet”; it didn’t burn well. I have good gear and just replaced my tent, got a new sleeping bag for M and brought a great inflatable mattress to sleep on, so we were comfortable, although M was surprised by the cold.
My dad is very bad at what my daughter calls “co-opertating” and I have to constantly choose whether to try to argue with him about something or just resign myself to coping with whatever problem comes up because of his obstinate stubbornness. The wood was one of those things. He insists on doing things his way, and will fight you if you try to interject your own opinion or method. Since I knew my and my daughter’s survival was not at stake, I left the wood to him, though I had my doubts, and in the same way, let my mother bring countless things she didn’t need and she had to fuss over.

The one thing I insisted on having my way about was the food. I have found ways to have great food on very rugged backpacking trips and since we were in a campsite, I wasn’t going to skimp, since weight wasn’t an issue. If I let my parents have their way with the camp food it would have been a disaster, so I persuaded my mother to let me choose the meals, and I argued with my father about how to cook them. It is crazy how much trouble I have to go through to make myself heard. But when it came to the food, I was willing to battle.

So, on the first night we had Rocky Mountain Salmon, corn on the cob, and field greens salad, which they declared fabulous (it was) once it was finally on their plates. The next night we had marinated Tri-tip and grill cooked potatoes and onions, with the rest of the salad. The beef took forever because my father insisted on using this rinky-dink self-contained grill thing that my mother had bought, that although it lighted and burned impressively, never got hot enough. By the time they relented and let me put in over the fire, it must have been an hour, and then it took another 45 minutes or so to cook. Still, it tasted good. The last night, reason prevailed and we went to the Tuolumne Lodge dining room. I loved it and it would have been a lot of fun had I been there with other company. The food is really good and the atmosphere is a perfect blend of funky and fancy. The people at the other tables were interesting and diverse. (By the way, the Lodge is one of the places you can get a shower, should you want one)

I’ll post more as soon as I can. I'm packing for my move, but I'm sure I'll need breaks.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Going Camping!

Yosemite is one of my all-time favorite places. When I was little, my dad was a Ranger and we lived in the Park in the summers. I backpacked as soon as I could walk, pretty much. I didn't even sleep in a tent until I was in my late teens; my dad was a minimalist and liked to sleep under the stars, so that is what we did.

M has been to Yosemite before, but she doesn't remember it. Tomorrow - EARLY - we are going camping for several days. We're going to be up in Tuolumne. We are going to be camping in a campground (gasp!) but it should still be fun.

The picture is of me when I was five. That is a fishing creel slung around my shoulders. I was "required" to learn how to flyfish, because my father did, and his father did, and ... my dad knew how to take anything and make it into work. He's fun like that.

M and I are just going to walk around and look at all the pretty things. Bootcamp can wait until she's older, as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sand and Surf

By Wednesday, M was feeling good enough to venture down to the beach (!), but it was overcast and windy. We went to Zelda's for lunch, because I was determined to fit in my Bloodies by the Bay, but it would have been nicer had it not been so chilly. Still, she colored and I listened to the ocean, and it was pretty good. We'd left behind such hot, baking, awful weather that I didn't want the weather gods to think I wasn't grateful to be at the beach.

They must have looked down on my poor little sick kid and felt sorry for her, because not long after we went down onto the sand and set up the beach umbrella, the clouds parted and the sun came out. This doesn't always happen; I used to spend lots of time at the beach when I lived in the Santa Clara Valley, and it could have easily been cold and grey all week. Happily, it was not.

We were able to make a smallish sand castle and decorate it with the flags that M made. She is so fair that I have to be careful about how much sun exposure she gets, regardless of how much sunblock she wears. Wednesday, she was too tired to do more than putter in the sand, but she was happy doing it. Yay!

Thursday, we had a nice day on the beach again, and had the most delicious chi-chi chicken quesadillas at the Paradise Beach Grille (with an 'e'). They were made with sauted red bell peppers, grated carrot, carmelized onion, fresh avocado, and sour cream, and were well worth the Touristy Inflated Prices that everything costs. Plus, they were only a little scandalized by my bringing my daughter in to their "posh" restaurant. I always feel a little smug when I get those looks. Yeah, I worked in the business, too, and I know that children are usually nightmares. I also know that they take a look at a kid and a single woman and think they won't get a decent tip. We are just embassadors of the Unexpected! My daughter is quiet and well behaved in restaurants and I generally tip 20%.

Anyway, on Friday, our last day down at the beach, we checked out of the hotel and headed down to Monterey for the Aquarium. M loves the Aquarium, and was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it was the Friday before a big holiday and everyone else had the same idea. I knew I was fucked as soon as we got close to the Aquarium and I saw the parking situation. I hate crowds. It was too crazy busy, and I'd have loved to have not been there. M was cranky and not her usual self, and I was not thrilled about the amount of people. Still, the Aquarium is an awesome place and we enjoyed looking at all the fishies. The jellyfish exhibit is captivating. I didn't take too many pictures, though, because of the crush of people.

At 3, we headed back to hell - I mean Auburn - and were home by 6:30. (The stretch of freeway that runs through Fairfield is enough to make you want to commit suicide by car, but we finally got through it.) Considering that my daughter was feeling so crummy for most of the trip, we had a good time. A change of scenery, cooler weather, and no need to watch the clock are always worth a little inconvenience.

Next week: Yosemite!