The last few weekends have looked like this:
J. got back from Spain on Saturday, jet-lagged. We spent Sunday shopping the sale at re!, buying very important things like a sleeping bag (me) and a cargo box for roof of a car (him). Rain came down in sheets, so we took refuge in a Thai restaurant, where we sat in a booth made out of a tuktuk and found out that J.'s final softball game was canceled. We ordered more Thai iced tea to wait out the storm.
I took Friday off so that we could head off to the desert. We spent Friday morning packing J.'s Subi with way too much camping gear (a canopy is really vital, obviously) and about two weeks worth of food and water and a dog. For a weekend. I miiiiiiiight not have conveyed quite how far away the desert is, because when we got to Sunny Ski Town, J. thought we were almost there. We were, in fact, almost halfway there.
We ate West African peanut soup and chilaquiles outside in the sunshine in Sunny Ski Town with the (borrowed) dog constantly begging next to us.
By the time we got to the desert, it was dark, and the camp was not in the same place it had been last year. We ended up driving through the fog over the flat, cracked dirt. It was eery not being able to see very far in front of us. With the fog, we could have been in a forest, even though there was nothing to run into for miles.
The camp was full of lights and music. People played music at all hours - one night there was a stage set up in the middle of the desert - and lounged in open sided tents during the day. "This is the Pleasure Pavilion," a woman I know from hiking said as we walked by one afternoon, from pillows in a screen tent. There was a geodesic dome with hammocks strung from the frame.
J. and I mostly went for hikes and explored, though. We drove south to another mountain range one day, and across the desert to the bluff the next day. J. took the Subaru up past 100 mph on the open desert, and then he took his hands off the wheel. There was nothing to make the car deviate from its course.
The dog turned out, at age 10, to have a bit of a mind of her own. When she got tired, she just plopped down and laid there. That was fine on the first hike, where we mostly followed a little stream. She could go frolic in the water until she had her energy back. One time she laid down and sat, panting, looking at us, while a lizard snuck up and jumped on her back. We laughed at how she turned her head and scared it off, but didn't startle enough to jump up. As soon as she looked away, the lizard came back and jumped on her back again. This time she grudgingly got up. The lizard scampered off for good.
There was no water on our walk the second day, back between the bluffs out of the desert, and so when she refused to move we just turned around and started back. We saw a snake that startled us, but it didn't have a rattle, so we weren't too worried. (It was probably a Pacific gopher snake.)
The drive back to Gone West was just as long, except interrupted by lunch at a Lebanese place in Sunny Ski Town.
J. was in San Diego for work, so I drove his car out over the mountains after work to the cabin of one of my climbing friends. A bunch of them were gathered there. I made guacamole and we all laid out our climbing gear in the living room, asking people's opinions.
"Do I need a puffy?" S. asked.
"I don't think so," I said. "It's going to be almost 100 degrees this weekend, and even if it is 40 degrees on the mountain, I was okay in the desert with only a fleece and this other light jacket."
After dark, I drove out to the nearest airport to pick J. up. He had changed his flight to join us for the climb, so that we didn't have to drive three hours from Gone West in the dark.
The next morning, we all packed our packs and met our climb leader at the trailhead. We hiked through a large burn, our leader telling us stories about the time he got caught in that fire and had to hike out the other side, without a trail. We hiked through snow, until we were right at the bottom of the glacier, and there we made camp.
Around 3:50 am, 30 minutes into trudging up the snow, the only thing I wanted was to turn around and go back to my warm sleeping bag. The only thing in the world.
But then the sun came up, over the east ridge of the mountain to the north, and the world was all aglow, and my muscles loosened up, and then it was just one step and another, all the way up the snow to the top of the mountain.
J. and some friends ran a half marathon up on the mountain. There were ten adults and one 2 year old in two condos. (Our condo got the two year old.)
The morning of the race, J. and R. went off with one of the other runners in her car. I followed an hour or so later, driving mostly blindly since I didn't have network on my phone. It was like the old days: I had to watch for the sign.
Driving semi-aimlessly, I finally found a spot where the runners were passing. I didn't know how many had passed, so I watched for a while and then worried that I might have missed J. Also I had parked J.'s car in a place with many signs demanding that one pay for the park entry and put the proof of payment in the car window, and I had not, mostly because I had no cash.
I should have waited, though, because I beat the fastest runners to the finish line, and it was confusing who had run the marathon and who the half, and it took almost an hour before J. and one of the other runners made it to the finish line.
Fortunately, there was a hot tub and ridiculous amounts of nachos and some crazy 80s kids game that involved fitting shapes into the correct spot while a timer ticked, and if you didn't get them all in time to stop it, the whole thing got upset.
J. went to Spain, so I had a weekend to rest and do nothing.
Of course I volunteered to spend Saturday assisting with the summer climbing class. Which meant getting up at 4:35 am.
I have no explanation for myself.
I didn't do much climbing, but the wind picked up and the guy in charge of the chimney decided to shut it down, so I climbed last, with my pack. There's a little lip at the top that I struggled to get over last time even without a pack and without the wind. I might have panicked a little. The poor guy had to pull hard on the rope to keep it without any slack, and even then I panicked about falling.
I didn't fall (not that I would have gone anywhere if I did).