humor, Just For Fun, Kvetching

Take A Hike

Go Jules Go Take a Hike Title Graphic_29AUG2019

“Oh nooooo,” I moaned, slapping a hand to my forehead.

“What?” my sister, Lori, asked, her knuckles bone white against the steering wheel.

“I left my phone on top of the car!”

“Stop it,” she said as we rounded another butt-clenching hairpin turn.

I would have driven but my vision was, ah, obstructed.

At the last scenic overlook, I had been so distracted by taking pictures and picking up Uncle Jesse’s poop that I’d forgotten to take my phone off the roof, where I’d placed it as I’d loaded the dog back in the car.

Lori pulled over at the next viewpoint, and by the grace of Chipmunk Gods, my rubber phone case had had enough grip that my phone had stayed in place instead of flying into the Crater Lake National Park wilderness.

Mom. I’ve said it before. Get your s*&@ together.

“Should we check out the lodge?” Lori asked.

I nodded, my heart still racing. She and my niece were visiting me in central Oregon for the week, and we had decided to spend a day and night exploring the iconic landmark.

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Oh, you wanted to see more of the lake? Sorry. There was this chipmunk.

While they went to the bathroom near the gift shop, I inspected the Crater Lake Park brochure. The next day, I was planning to hike with Uncle Jesse while they went on a non-dog-friendly boat tour.

These trails are gonna be so great, Uncle Jesse!

I was excited to possibly tackle Union Peak, the park’s toughest hike, or at least scale Mount Scott, a 4.4-mile trek with a respectable elevation gain.

I simply cannot wait, Mom!

I flipped to the brochure’s hiking section and my stomach dropped. Of the 16 listed trails, only three were dog-friendly. Around parking lots. Less than a mile long.

Um…

“Looks like I’ll be going to Plan B,” I said to Lori when she got back to the car.

AND I can’t get high?

With an afternoon waterfall hike now out of the question, we decided to continue driving the heart attack-inducing, 33-mile Crater Lake Rim Drive before checking into our motel, 18 miles away.

The view from our motel.

Whispering Pines Motel was the sort of place where Betsy at the front desk scolds you for even suggesting she send an “e-lectronic mail” confirmation. Betsy handed us our key, attached to a giant log…

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and…

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…we were very, very glad we had packed extra wine.

Since it was nearing 5 o’clock, we decided to tackle dinner plans.

“Betsy said there’s a place with great pizza at Diamond Lake and we can sit outside with the dog,” Lori said. “She also told us we could come and pick out some movies on VHS. You really need to go look inside the main office, Jul.”

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One of the items for purchase in the main office.

When we got to the pizza place, Uncle Jesse and I manned the lone picnic table in the yard while Lori went inside to order. She soon returned looking triumphant.

“Well, their pizza sauce has meat – which is so weird,” she took a breath and shot me the we’re-from-New-Jersey-and-know-our-pizza look, “but they said they could do refried beans [for you] as the sauce instead.”

“Awesome, thanks,” I replied, my vegan-beggars-can’t-be-choosers hat firmly in place.

Ten minutes later, a large man bounded down the hill holding a giant red can.

“I don’t know what the hell they’re talking about in there!” he grumbled, beginning to read the ingredients on the can. We quickly realized he was the chef. “They’re trying to give you refried beans with lard instead of this tomato sauce. Last I checked vegans don’t eat lard.”

“Wow, good looking out!” I grinned.

I assured him that he was indeed correct and deserved to win whatever episode of Vegan Kitchen Wars I had inadvertently triggered. Forty-five minutes after my sister and niece had finished their meals, my food arrived.

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It was totally decent until the gnats arrived.

We spent the following hour surgically removing picnic table splinters from our hands…

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…and arrived back at the motel in time to enjoy some company right outside our door…

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…a refreshing shower…

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…and some of that new-fangled telly-vision.

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Ah, well. At least Uncle Jesse wasn’t holding a grudge.

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Not pictured: My giant bed. With me in it. And no doodle.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Have any fun, roadside motel stories?

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Dating, PSAs

I’ve Hit the Shallow End

DISCLAIMER: Names have been changed because this is a very, very small town.

Go Jules Go title graphic_Ive hit the shallow end_21AUG2019

What’s that? How’s my dating life going, you ask?

Well, after the guy who yelled at me and the guy who scarred my friend for life, things started looking up. A few days ago, I attended a community event and an attractive man looked very familiar. Had he been there last month? Was he someone I might have briefly met through an acquaintance?

“Hey Carrie,” I whispered to my friend. “Who is that guy? I swear I know him. Oh my god, wait, I think he just ‘liked’ me last week on my dating app!”

What were the chances? Maybe this small town thing could work for me after all! The fact that we were at the same event meant we already had a few key things in common. Score!

Carrie, in typical Carrie fashion, smiled demurely and said between her teeth, “I’ll tell you about him later.” Her eyes widened by a fraction of an inch and I nodded conspiratorially.

I kept my distance and Carrie texted me after the night ended, including a link to a social media frenzy.

Turns out my latest prospect was suspected of first degree murder.

Go Jules Go Title Graphic Dodged a Bullet Possibly Literally_31JUL2019
Oregon is a lot bigger than New Jersey, from where I just moved. The dating options, however, ah, well, may not reflect this.

“Make sure you text all of your friends before you go on any dates!” Carrie reminded me warmly.

Thankfully, I’ve been too tied up with visiting friends and family to fraternize with Oregon’s Most Wanted.

I thought back to the prior week, when I’d invited another dating app fellow, Adam, to join me for happy hour with a few friends. He had been visiting to see if he’d like to move here, and we had all regaled him with our own Relocating Success Stories. Adam had been smart, laughed at my jokes, had had an adorable rescue dog, and looked like Darren Criss.

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For those of you who are new here, I’ve been blogging about my Darren Criss obsession infatuation totally healthy crush since 2011.

Adam had texted a few times afterwards, but I’d suspected wasn’t going to move here. Would I ever meet someone swoon-worthy who actually lived in my town? Or did I just keep upping my sidewalk chalk game with the neighbors?

This picture really doesn’t do us justice.

Then there was the Australian gentleman who bought my groceries for me this weekend when my debit card acted up. Yes, that’s a thing that happens here, because I live in Shangri-La. Unfortunately, he was my father’s age.

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And I’ve had enough therapy for one lifetime.

So what’s my next move? Well, considering I signed a year lease, it won’t involve another physical move.

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And seriously. Who the f&@* would ever leave this place?

You know what? I think I’m just gonna hold out until Darren Criss gets a divorce.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Has your dating life ever been so rife with the criminal element? That, much like, “Are you, grooming facility, accepting new dog clients?” is a question I never thought I’d ask until I moved to central Oregon.

~*~*~*~*~*~

humor

The Piercing Truth

Go Jules Go Title Graphic The Piercing Truth_14AUG2019

I stood in the mirror, turning my head to the right just slightly.

The side of my nose bore a small mark where a metal stud had just been. During a particularly enthusiastic nose blowing session, it had fallen loose. I’d gotten the new facial bedazzlement (…what? It’s a word) just five months earlier.

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At which point I DEFINITELY didn’t proceed to take 10,000 selfies.

After quitting 12+ years of corporate America, about to hit the open road, I had steeled my nerves and done yet another thing I’d always been too scared to do.

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See? Just a selfie or two (thousand).

Now, happily settled in Oregon, 3,000 miles from my New Jersey hometown, I reconsidered my reflection. As tiny as it was, the nose stud had been a booming echo of my inner state. It had symbolized the version of myself I’d tried so hard to hide – or at the very least, keep subdued. The independent thinking, rebellious, stubborn adventurer.

Go Jules Go drinks river water in Utah
Oh, a little muddy creek water on the side of a mountain in Utah? Don’t mind if I do.

When I had first gotten the piercing and had looked in the mirror, I had nearly cried.

Finally.

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Now all I need is pink hair. Oh! Got that, too!

Five months later, I turned my head back and forth once more, staring at my bare nose, remembering the panic I’d felt in April, while roadtripping in Canada.

“I took my nose ring out to clean it and I can’t get it back in!” I had frantically texted to my friend, Sandy.

“I hate to break it to you, Jules,” she had immediately replied. “But you’re just going to have to shove it in.”

After a tearful 30 minutes in the bathroom, I’d finally gotten the nose ring back in place. I’d taken a few deep breaths, attached to this ‘other’ thing that I had been sure was a critical part of The Real Me.

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“Just shove it in and leave me alone. Uncle Jesse and I are having a moment.” –Sandy

I stared at my naked face, hit by the exact same thought as when I’d first gotten the piercing.

Finally.

I didn’t need it anymore, I suddenly realized. I didn’t need an outward symbol to acknowledge my newfound badassery. I was an independent thinking, rebellious, stubborn adventurer. No piece of jewelry could outshine my current lifestyle. My day to day choices, at long last, represented the authentic me.

…Or maybe I’m just really fickle.

Go Jules Go Mt Bachelor June 2019
Day to day choice I will not make again: Riding a ski lift over jagged lava rocks to get this view.

~*~*~*~*~

How do you (or have you) express(ed) the ‘real’ you?

~*~*~*~*~

Dating

I Dodged a Bullet. Possibly Literally.

DISCLAIMER: Names and identifying features have been altered or hidden to protect… ME. TO PROTECT *ME*! ME, okay?!

Go Jules Go Title Graphic Dodged a Bullet Possibly Literally_31JUL2019

“It was the best first date I’ve ever been on. …Not that that’s saying much,” I shouted in my friend’s ear.

Sara turned away from the stage and grinned at me.

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I swear. There’s live music EVERY. NIGHT. in this town.

“Let me see his picture!”

I hesitated. “They don’t really do him justice… He’s REALLY cute. And tall! And has great teeth.”

I thought back to the previous evening. I had walked into a popular restaurant, the usual butterflies-or-is-that-just-dread filling my stomach, and a handsome guy had grinned at me expectantly.

Nope. Wrong color hair. Not him. …Shoot.

Further down, I had spotted a familiar face.

“Jules, hi!” the man had greeted.

I had been pleasantly surprised by his, well, everything.

“So you just moved here?” he had begun, and the conversation had flowed from there.

I had been in shock. A tall, attractive man, in his 30s like me, financially and hygienically sound, AND he had known how to ask questions? Well, I’ll be. A normal first date!

I had had to shake off the memory of my only other first date in my new hometown. Maybe the Oregon dating pool really would put New Jersey’s to shame! Please don’t do anything weird, please don’t do anything weird

The date had lasted a record-breaking four hours, and ended on the promising note of future hang-outs.

“But my gut is still saying no,” I had texted to a few friends. “It was like hugging my brother goodbye.”

I had wanted to slap myself. What was wrong with me? Over the next 24 hours, I wrestled with whether or not to text him. He had left the ball in my court, and the decision to reach out felt like trying to decide between Oreos or Nutter Butters.

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Don’t make me choose my own Fate! DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE MY OWN FATE!

“Come on, show me his picture!” Sara insisted.

I reluctantly pulled out my phone and found his online dating profile, holding it out to her.

“JULES. OH MY GOD. NO. NO!” she shouted, staring at me with wide eyes.

“What. What?!” I replied, my heart stopping.

“THIS IS THE GUY I TOLD YOU ABOUT,” she said. “HE’S. CRAZY.”

Sara started recounting details – details fresh in my mind because she had indeed told me the tale several weeks earlier when we’d first met and exchanged dating war stories.

Yup. She too had been out with my tall, handsome, “normal” guy.

“He’s the rage-a-holic who told me to buy Magnum condoms and badmouthed his ex the ENTIRE TIME! MY WORSE DATE EVER! ”

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I found this while walking home from another local concert. Apparently I’m not going to need it.

I scooped my jaw off the floor. “Oh my god! I’m showing you every photo from now on! Jesus. This IS a small town.”

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“What? Are you kidding? HE HAS GUNS. You saved me!”

Her face crumpled a little more.

“I’m so sorry that was your best first date!”

I burst out laughing. “I told you it wasn’t saying much.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

What do you think? Should I give him another shot (pun, um, actually NOT intended, but now that it’s out there…)?

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Blogging, humor

The Dreaded Friend Zone

“Follow through.”

Chelsea, my friend and better half of the duo behind Traipsing About, was explaining the key to forming and sustaining friendship.

“You and Dakota are the ultimate Friend Makers,” I gushed, thinking about their impressive social circle. Somehow they managed to make everyone feel included and important. Their seemingly natural ability to link people together based on common interests was truly a thing of beauty.

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Did someone say “thing of beauty”? (I told Dakota I knew I was risking our friendship by using this photo, but doesn’t it make you want to check out his blog?)

“If you meet someone for the first time and want to build a friendship, you have to take the initiative and reach out,” Chelsea went on.

“That makes total sense,” I nodded. “I’m still afraid to send people Facebook friend requests for fear of rejection, and I feel the same way about being the first one to reach out. I wonder if that’s what holds other people back, too…”

I thought about my move to central Oregon (from New Jersey) a little over a month ago. I landed here with a few built-in buddies, including Chelsea and Dakota, which gave me a definite advantage in the Friend Game, but how was I going to reach that deep, comfortable, Real Deal Friend Zone with people I had yet to meet? It seemed almost impossible.

“Follow through is the number one thing people miss,” Chelsea’s words echoed in my ears even weeks later. “And why everyone thinks it’s so hard to make new friends as an adult. That’s really all it takes.”

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Being a baller plant-based chef like Chelsea helps, too.

I realized earlier this week that I’d been hiking every day and it had never occurred to me to invite other people. “No one cares about doing this,” I told myself.

In fairness, some of this royally sucked.

Really, though, I was just scared. Childhood bullying and a few failed friendships haunted me. The same tape I replayed in my mind when it came to dating wound ’round and ’round.

It’s SO hard to click with someone… Even if things go well this first time, what happens next? …If I look or act a certain way, they won’t like me… No one wants to spend that much time with me… And my #1 go to: S/He has so many other people who are cooler to hang out with…

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Hang on. Who’s cooler than this?!

No matter how many positive experiences I rack up, the old insecurities rear their ugly heads with a flaming vengeance. In fact, it’s fair to say that recently spending three days off-grid with a group of (then) strangers was even scarier than moving 3,000 miles from the only place I’d ever called home.

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See? Terrifying.

Every fear of failure and rejection I’ve ever had has danced through my mind during these last few weeks of whirlwind change. The fact that I feel happier and more alive, too, has me wondering if the two just naturally go hand in hand.

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Tim Urban (my bloggy hero) might depict it something like this.

After all, if you keep doing things that scare you, you eventually start upping the ante. So the fear never really goes away.

Hey, I wonder if anyone is actually reading this… They probably have cooler things to do.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Have you found it difficult to make new friends as an adult? (Have you tried offering them homemade potato salad?)

I’m just saying it can’t hurt. (Photos from VegNet Bend‘s monthly vegan potluck.)

~*~*~*~*~*~

P.S. – Speaking of friendship… special shout out to the woman who makes my world go ’round. Jenn turns (cough) 29 today!!

~*~*~*~*~*~

Dating, humor, PSAs

I Swore I Wouldn’t Do This.

Go Jules Go I Swore I Wouldn't Do This title graphic 17JUL2019

“I love you!”

My heart skipped a beat. It was another perfect, sunny summer day in Bend, Oregon. Around every corner of my new Pacific Northwest home, I seemed to find magic.

Instant friendships…

…Google Pixel 3 camera porn…

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Gourmet vegan food

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And now this? The L bomb? The only thing missing in my life?

When I arrived in Oregon four weeks ago, I was still on the fence about dating. And not just because I publicly denounced it earlier this year.

More because of this memory. And this one. And this one. And this one. And this one…okay I’ll stop now.

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Aw, but we were having so much fun!

Nevertheless, after 2+ years on the No Dating bandwagon, the temptation to peek at what was out there, 3,000 miles from the men with whom I’d repeatedly failed (please refer to links 1 to 1,373 listed above), proved too much to resist.

“All riiiiiight,” I groaned on the phone to my friend, Shawna. “I’ll try Bumble. AGAIN.”

And thus, with a trembling index finger, I downloaded a dreaded dating app on my hitherto untainted phone.

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Did I mention I love this phone? (It took this photo of Mt. Bachelor from the now-nearby Green Lakes trail.)

This time, though, I decided I’d cut right to the chase. “If you want to meet for coffee or beer sometime, let me know!” my initial messages read. (In the Bumble world, the women always make the first move.)

If the Bend, Oregon Bumble selection were an ocean filled with fish… No. I can’t even finish that metaphor. Because we are not talking “ocean.” We are talking lake. No. Still not right. Pond. Teeny, tiny pond.

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What I’m trying to say is…there weren’t a lot of fish. Hmm. Maybe I should try Plenty of Fish.

I didn’t have a lot of time to dive in because almost as soon as I got to Oregon, I was off to Boot Camp. I returned to a message from “Dave” that made me laugh. (And if there’s one thing I promised myself, were I to ever dip a toe in the treacherous dating waters again, it was: He gots to bring it with the ha-ha’s.)

I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I scrolled through his photos again. F my life. I read his message again. I laughed again. OKAY FINE.

Two days later, I pulled into a brewery parking lot right on time and saw a guy leaning on the fence. That might be him

I sent a text, “Just got here!”

The guy in question looked down at his phone, so I hopped out of my car and walked over with a wide smile and outstretched hand. Something immediately felt off, but I followed him inside.

“I’m excited to try this place!” I offered.

“Yeah yeah yeah, they have some good stuff! I always get the Sweet Ass.”

I snorted, spotting a sign that read, “Sweet As! Pacific Ale.”

He talked quickly and didn’t make eye contact, but offered to buy my beer. We were well within the happy hour timeframe, so I thanked him and we took our selections outside, where there was an impressively grassy outdoor area and live music revving up.

“Yeah so you just moved here, huh? Yeah?” he said as we sat down.

I eyed him closely. Coke. It’s gotta be coke. Or is he just that nervous?! The next two hours were filled with frenetic conversation, me asking question after question. He talked about his Aunt. A lot. And a former tenant of his garage apartment.

“Wow, so the guy just left after that?!” I asked.

“Let me finish the story!” he said in a tone so scathing I put a hand to my heart.

“I’m so sorry!” I gasped, completely thrown.

“No worries,” he gulped his beer and carried on.

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Annnnd more good hair: WASTED.

When the two hour Suffer Fest was over, I pulled into my driveway, debating whether or not I should try to still salvage the night. Just then, someone came running up from the house next door, bouncing around the side of my car until she could give me a hug.

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I love you, too, Audrey.

I decided to stay right where I was.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Any advice, or can I finally marry my dog?

~*~*~*~*~*~

Blonde Moments, humor, Kvetching, PSAs

The Mountains are Calling and I Must…NO.

Go Jules Go Title Graphic The Mountains Are Calling and I Must NO_10JUL2019

I glanced at the clock. 1:15pm PST.

No matter! I’ve still got eight hours of daylight left here in beautiful central Oregon!

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It’s 10:00pm in Oregon. Do you know where your local hard cider is?

I checked Google maps and my guidebook. Gack. Seven miles too far. I turned the car around.

When I eventually pulled into my target destination, the Green Lakes trailhead parking lot off of the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, I inspected the tags hanging from other cars’ rearview mirrors.

That kid at R.E.I. better have sold me the right one.

America the Beautiful Park Pass
Don’t be fooled. Apparently there are 47 different kinds of national/state/city park tags you’ll need to purchase if you want to (spoiler alert) suffer wildly.

On top of the colorful car tags, I also spotted a lot of these:

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The trailhead parking lot was nearly full, but I found an empty spot – thanks to someone who probably started their day before noon unlike some jobless hobos. I filled out a “day use voucher” (a.k.a. Evidence I Was Here Should Things Go Horribly, Horribly Awry), stuck one half in the slot beneath the signage and the other half in my backpack.

Since quitting my corporate job in March, I’d been hiking constantly. In New Jersey. Now, three weeks into my new Oregon life, I was seriously upping the ante.

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That’s how we do(odle).

The first five miles to Green Lakes, though mostly uphill, were breathtakingly scenic and only slightly buggy, with a well-marked, moderately trafficked trail.

By the time Uncle Jesse and I hit the lake and stopped to enjoy some peanuts and cherries, we were feeling bold.

“Once you’ve taken in the glory of the area, continue along the shoreline toward the east, where you’ll wrap slightly around the lake before noticing a number of side trails…” my trusty new guidebook read.

That sounds…confusing. I shook off any niggling doubts and headed east. At least, I was pretty sure it was east. Soon I found what was certainly the proper path. I persisted onward, but the lingering snow made it almost impossible to tell if I was still on a trail, let alone the right trail. I wonder what cougar tracks look like…

Every now and then we’d hit an open area and I’d gaze around hopefully. There is seriously no trail. Uncle Jesse and I bushwhacked for another seemingly endless stretch before I finally gave up. That’s it. Broken Top [mountain] is behind me, that means the water is in front of me. We’re going west (f%@&, it’s west, right?) until we hit the damn water.

The next thirty minutes felt like twelve hours, until at long last, I heard the familiar sound of rushing water.

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My Jersey self never fails to think it’s the din of ever-present highway traffic.

I spotted people on a wide, luxurious trail…on the other side of the creek. F%#&. We walked south along the water’s edge, constantly being forced back uphill to more level ground, stomping over fallen trees and coarse, woody debris. In spots where it might have been safe, if highly unpleasant, to cross, the bank on the other side was so steep, we’d never make it up to the trail.

Eventually I succumbed to our less than ideal Fate. Uncle Jesse, always eager to show off, sensed my resignation and bounded towards the water.

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It ain’t no thang!

“WAIT,” I said in my sternest Mom voice. “COME.” The water was rushing with the force of Donald Trump’s combover. Uncle Jesse stopped in his tracks, just inches from the crashing falls, and ran towards me.

I said a prayer and put both feet in. It was deeper than I thought, almost thigh-high. Okay. This is fine. It’s not so bad.

Uncle Jesse followed and immediately got scooped up by the raging current. I grabbed his collar, shocked by the water’s might. This won’t work. With not a second to spare, I gathered him in my arms, above the roaring waves, struggling to keep my balance. I made it nearly to the other side when my shin collided with something hard. A rock? A log? Holy s&#% it’s cold!

Uncle Jesse sprung out of my arms, and after a heart-attack inducing second or two, scrambled onto solid ground and up a steep hill. One more step, two, three… my head spun and my heart pounded. There. I clung to soil and suddenly realized my phone -secured in a race belt (all right, fanny pack) around my waist- had been completely submerged.

I freed it from its pouch as I crawled uphill, utterly amazed by my own stupidity.

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I suspect this will look more impressive over the coming days.

When I made it to the top, finally back on the proper trail, I looked for a place to sit down. I sucked in a few deep breaths, adrenaline coursing through my veins. You’re lucky no one is here to witness your fool self.

I decided to keep walking, glancing down at the rushing rapids. If I hadn’t caught Uncle Jesse… I tried not to think about what might have happened; the next half mile was even more treacherous than where we’d crossed.

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Quick question. Why are you so dumb, Mom?

We trudged the final, endless mile back to the car, swatting away hundreds of blood thirsty mosquitos, the pain in my left leg growing.

107…108…I did not know it was possible to sustain this many mosquito bites
and live to tell about it.

When we reached the parking lot, I peeled off my soaked, mud-covered socks and collapsed in the driver’s seat. Thirty minutes later, a dripping wet, bug-bitten, bleeding blonde could be seen purchasing several bottles of wine from the local Fred Meyer.

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And this souvenir was spotted in my trusty guidebook. (Vegan disclaimer: Many, many bugs were harmed in the making of this post, but not on purpose.)

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Had any fun run-ins with Mother Nature lately??

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