There’s nothing quite as lovely as having tea brought to you in bed. Its such a loving thing to do, bringing someone tea in bed.
So much happened this week: more talks, more questions, more friends, more hikes, and more magnificent scenery. I’d never been to Yosemite. There are only two National Parks I hadn’t been to and Yosemite was one of them. George wanted to share it with me and planned a few days of hiking amid the hectic schedule here. Another loving thing to do. We arrived and got on a hiking trail as soon as we could, my mouth gaping open the whole time. It was sunny and warm and the views massive. Breathtaking. Heaven. California’s recent rain made the waterfalls spectacular. We were told that six months ago almost nothing was coming over, but now the falls are gargantuan. Hiking by them the “mist” was more like heavy rain.
We were camping in a tent with a platform and bed, so not really roughing it, but still a tent. No heat. Short walk to bathrooms, long walk to showers.
At the end of our first day and eleven miles of hiking, we sat with a beer relishing the setting and how compatible we are. How much we both love enjoying nature, using our legs, and appreciating the magnitude of effort that goes in to making this accessible for all to enjoy. In the year of the centennial of the National Park Service, it’s nice to reflect on the thought and planning that goes in to making this the resource it is. It’s sweet to have someone to share it with.
I appreciate those summers when my father drove us across country to explore the National Parks. Those trips were hard and we story-tell for hours about near death experiences, but there was a seed planted––a wonder, that makes me want to be inside the landscape, part of it, and I’ll never stop being grateful for that.
We talked about our childhood adventures as we relished the hard-earned beer. George asked where my father got the incentive to take us on those trips, and I didn’t know; he’d never told us. I recalled evenings reading National Geographic and wanting to go everyplace in there. When I was nine, I was reading about Yellowstone National Park, with beautiful photos of geysers and hot springs. I pointed to a picture and said, “I’m going there.” Not that I had a plan, I just made the statement as if the trip were already set in my future and I was the only one privy to it. A few months later, after supper, my father took out a AAA triptik and laid it on the kitchen table next to his evening coffee. It traced our route from Massachusetts across the country to Wyoming and back. I don’t recall there being an explanation. I just recall my father in a good mood, pointing to the destination on this long narrow notebook of a map: Yellowstone National Park.
In our neighborhood (and town, for that matter) kids ran out doors and yelled to their friends to come out and play. That’s how we contacted each other. We stood in the street and yelled. It was late spring and the evening was filled with lingering daylight. I took one look at the triptik and ran out the door, down the driveway yelling, “Beth! Beth! We’re going to Yellowstone National Park!” I remember my father saying, “Hey, hey, hey!” as I was running out, but I didn’t stop. This news couldn’t wait! Beth knew I wanted to go there! We’d sit and dream together for hours about our futures. We read Little House on the Prairie together! Sitting on blankets we’d spread on the ground. We’d lie next to each other under trees and read! This news couldn’t wait! I was going west! I didn’t know if anyone else in our little town had such adventure! This was headline news!
These vivid memories include the scolding I got for running out the door and bragging, because, “Do you know that many other kids will never get to do this? What if I have to cancel the trip? Huh? Did you ever think of that? Don’t you ever run out that door bragging again.” That was the usual cold water dumped on my enthusiasm. But hey! She got the piano I never got. She was pretty excited about that and I was happy for her. This was how we rolled! Dumb Dad. At nine I couldn’t quite articulate these thoughts and didn’t even try. I just felt shitty and went to bed. The usual. But we were going to Yellowstone! I think I told everyone I knew at school the next day.
So where did he get his inspiration to take us exploring? I wonder. He sternly asked me a week after the map incident, “Do you know when I decided to take this trip? Do you?” I shook my head no, thinking I might be in trouble again. One never quite knew with him. “A year ago! I decided a year ago! So you could have knocked me over with a feather when you said you wanted to go there!” Oh, phew. I was not in trouble. But still not sure if it was a trick. Maybe one of the kids at school had told their parents that I told them we were going and I’d been ratted out. Still best to be silent and wait to see where this was heading. The trip might be canceled. Turns out, he was just pointing out that he and I were on the same page. Excellent. I was dismissed as he turned to his evening paper with a satisfied smile. I was content. I felt like I’d done something good, though, not sure what it was.
And here I was, fifty years later, sipping a beer with the man I love, in the shadow of Half-Dome, grateful for everything that led us there. It’s been a year since we met and it feels like we’ve had a thousand adventures already. We added another to the list a day later climbing to the top of Yosemite Falls when terrific storm came in and we were unprepared. I thought the rainy season was over here, but apparently not. Thunder and lightening and heavy rain came down as we tried to find shelter about a hundred yards from the top. Getting more and more soaked and seeing that this was not a passing shower, we headed down. The trail was then a waterfall itself and it was slippery and dangerous. We were carefully making our way down and came around a bend where it felt like a firehose hit us. Strong wind, driving rain, and the spray from the falls pounded us and I had to cling to a rock to keep from being blown down the trail. (Those signs aren’t kidding when they say the weather can change unexpectedly. Holy shit.) We made it down and had a long walk back to camp and were so drenched and cold that we could barely get our wet stuff off. The plan was to stand in a hot shower to warm up, but the thought of going back out in the tempest was not appealing (or probably even physically possible). We dried off with the towels there, put on dry clothes, regretted not reserving a heated tent, and wrapped in blankets until the shivering stopped.
Ah, nothing like a good story in the repertoire. Told while sipping tea in bed, surrounded by redwoods, friendship, and love. Life is good.