An Opportunity to Escape

This morning, it suddenly seemed absurd my researching narcissism and obsessing about one extremely unimportant individual in my life, and I had to laugh. Not that narcissism is absurd — the personality disorder has ruined many lives — but I have more important things to obsess about, such as my upcoming trip to visit my sisters. (One sister invited us other two to visit her around Mother’s Day to make chocolate-covered pecan and caramel turtles in honor of our mother.)  Now that is something worth obsessing about!

It’s entirely possible this narcissism thing could be a way of distracting me from the impending visit and the very real problems that could arise. Not that I am expecting problems, as such, but the truth is, my two sisters and I have never been alone together, and I mean never. We’ve all been together with other family members. We’ve each of us been alone with one other sister, but never in memory have just the three of us done anything together, possibly because we are so far apart in age. If I really thought there would be more than a little discomfort I would opt out, but I think, despite us three being almost opposites (visualize a unilateral triangle), we are mature enough — or old enough — to manage a weekend together.

Still, I am driving up to Seattle instead of flying to give me the opportunity to escape if need be. Or perhaps I’m driving because I need an excuse for an adventure, a reason to run away from my problems. Oh, who cares why I am driving. I want to. It’s as simple as that.

I am planning to take a couple of weeks to get there, which will allow me to visit friends along the way, to visit a few national parks and monuments and wilderness areas, and to do some camping and hiking and perhaps see some wildflowers.

Just the thought of being in the open feels like a breath of fresh air on my soul. I hope the reality is the same. (I must admit I have a few reservations about my arm, but one way or another, I manage to do what is necessary, so I’m sure I will be able to continue doing so.)

I’d more or less considered not coming back to the desert at all, just continuing to travel, but since I promised to be back for a dance performance, I’m paying my room rent to give me a place to return to.

I really don’t want to spend another summer in the desert — it’s impossible to do much walking, not even in the early morning, and I would like to continue my backpack practice in preparation for a long hike. On the other hand, I don’t really want to be on the road when other people are out in force, and besides, it’s hot almost everywhere in the summer. Maybe not as hot as here, but still hot.

But that is a decision for another time.

Today the only decision I have to make is what national park land to research, what maps to print out. I wish I could be totally spontaneous, and just go without any sort of plans, but my idea of spontaneity is to drive. And drive. And keep on driving. That kind of driving becomes almost a zen-like experience, because as soon as a thought passes through your mind, you’ve left it behind, but it doesn’t satisfy my need for adventure.

So, I’ll close this post and go open my atlas and see where it will take me.

Wishing us all the best of adventures!

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

 

Faux, Faux Backpacking Trek

It feels like forever since I’ve been on one of my faux backpacking trips, as I’ve been calling my treks in the desert carrying a backpack filled with bottles of water. (Water, because it’s easy to control the weight since each 16.5 oz bottle weighs a pound — or, in honor of my Aussie friend, each 5 litre bottle weighs 500 grams. And water because if the pack becomes too exhausting to carry, I can lighten the load by pouring out the water.)

In reality, I’ve only missed one weekend (last weekend because of my state line adventure) and one day (today because of lunch with friends and a disinclination to spend much time in the bitterly cold winds).

Still, today hasn’t been a total hiking flop, though the trip has been all online — a faux, faux backpacking trek, so to speak. I’ve finally started printing out the maps and information I need for my camping trip in a couple of months, and already, after a single stop on this e-trip, I can see myself driving straight through to Seattle.

For the first day, I’d planned to drive by the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve to see if any poppies were still in bloom, though because of the lack of rain, there won’t be any “still” since the poor things might not bloom at all. In fact, as of right now, only a few plants have sprouted.

Then I planned to head to Carrizo Plain National Monument. I’d hoped, of course, to be able to see some wildflowers, though that wasn’t my real reason for the stop. (My real reason was that I’d never been there and it seemed a viable place to camp on the way to the coastal highway.) Here, too, it seems as if there will be no bloom, though last year the place bloomed with phenomenal colors, so much so that more than a hundred thousand people visited the plain to see the very unplain “super bloom.”

At least I won’t have to worry about crowds when/if I go, though I do wonder about camping. Apparently, there is only a partially paved road in the monument, and that doesn’t go anywhere near the campgrounds. Ten miles or more on dirt roads in my ancient vehicle? Eek. Although much of the working parts of the car are still sort of new, such as the new engine and rebuilt transmission, the weldings are forty-six years old. Remember those early comic books where an old car drove down a horrid road and suddenly, the entire thing fell apart? Not something I would like to test.

Also, during the time I would be there, the self-guided Painted Rocks tour would not be available because of nesting birds, (a reason I can accept) so I’d have to take the three-hour guided tour. I suppose it could be fun, but I’d have to drive to where the tour started, and there are those roads again. (Some of the roads are clay, so if it threatens to rain, you are urged to leave immediately or be stranded since the roads become dangerous when wet. More eek.)

I considered dispersed camping, but there again, I’d have a long drive on iffy roads.

Still, a straight-through trip to Seattle is not an option — I have things to see and people to visit along the way — but I am making a note to myself:  make sure you have a back-up plan, such knowing where to find a motel for the night.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.