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Friday, July 15, 2011

Chapter One: A Camping Trip - With A Buddy!

It was the perfect time for a camping trip. 
I'd been depressed for the entire month of June. Just "giving it time" didn't seem to be helping things. Each morning I'd wake up, contemplate the inevitable expanse of day in front of me, and just cry and cry. So I talked to both sets of doctors about it, and to no big surprise of mine, they recommended anti-depressants. What the hell? I figured. After the depo-provera shot, the Prednisone spikes and, oh yeah, the chemotherapy, I figured one more pharmaceutical would just be another ripple in the pond. If it made me feel better, I'd keep on taking it. By time Scott rolled into town, I had tried and rejected Prozac. (I thought it was amusing though, that after all that aforementioned medicine, the only thing to give me the runs would be freakin' Prozac.) I hadn't started the Paxil by that point, which I am now taking and appears to be doing more good than harm. Still, as soon as our trip began, the little storm cloud that had been following me around magically vanished. We had a spectacular time. 

Scott Morris arrived at Fresno Yosemite Air Terminal (airport code: FAT) on the evening of Thursday, June 23. Our downstairs neighbor from our old apartment on Prospect St. in Northampton, Scott is a beloved friend who came to camp with us before traveling up the coast—on a 24-hour train ride, at that—to visit his parents in Seattle. 
The Super Trooper
We cruised up to Huntington Lake the next day in my favorite '90s vehicle, the Trooper. And by cruised, I mean chugged up the side of the mountain at a snail's pace—around 35 miles per hour. The car just would not go any faster. If we were in a cartoon, that poor old Troop would have eventually slowed to a stop on the side of the slope and flipped over backwards from sheer loss of momentum.
Both having grown up on the east coast, Annie and Scott were both suitably impressed by the landscape of the Central Sierra Nevada Mountains that was passing by out the Trooper's giant windows.
"I feel like we could be in Africa," Scott said early on in the drive, as we passed through dry, grass-covered foothills dotted with sprawling oaks. How crazy! I thought. To me, it's just home. To them, the Savannah.

"K-Bow" and "MacMo" on log over river at campsite

 Our campsite was The Bomb, to put it simply. That we'd landed it at all appeared to be a move of Divine Intervention. The campground itself had been closed for the winter until that very day, snow having still been heavy on the ground until that last week of June. (See photo at left). Also, as we learned when we arrived to find an unfamiliar name stapled to the post at site 18, someone else had reserved the spot weeks ago but had cancelled at the last minute. 
Basically, every single campsite in California had already been spoken for that weekend—I know because I googled most of them—but this one had somehow become Ours. 
Fo Stage and No Stage with morning coffee. Yes, coffee.

The best feature by far was the giant river of snowmelt coursing along the far side of the campsite. Mid-afternoons, when the beach down at the lake became too crowded, we'd retreat back up to the campsite and relax by the river instead. 
Late afternoons were a good time to sit by the river too. Annie and I both aren't drinking these days, and Scott had declared himself in need of a few days off from drinking himself. That in itself is no big deal, but there was still definitely a moment the first day where we all met eyes around the picnic table and said to ourselves, this is the time we   would  ordinarily all start drinking. I mean really, who goes camping without any alcohol?                                                                           
Bridge over stream, at Huntington Lake
No six-pack of beer, no bottle of wine, no little flask of whiskey, no nothing? We do, that's who. And as that awkward, what-do-we-do-if-we're-not-drinking moment lingered, Annie suggested we each go pick a spot for the river and have a quiet moment to ourselves. A meditative moment, if we so desired. Of course, it was a lovely exercise that proved that mind-body stimulation is also capable through other means. Nature is a pretty cool thing to experience, after all. 

On beach, with backpack chairs
Did I mention it was Annie's First Camping Trip? Lucky for me it went so well! She was basically charmed by every aspect of camping. 
Staring into the blazing campfire long into the night, the sheer luminosity of the mountain stars, brewing coffee in a camp stove in the morning and finding a patch of sun to drink it in, the way all food tastes better when it's eaten off one's lap with a Swiss Army Knife—she was down with it all. 
Another thing I think she experienced for the first time, or maybe at a new level, is the restorative power of nature. That energetic charge you get, being surrounded by woods or mountains or desert or sea, that feels like being plugged in and powered up by the Universe. It feels vital to me, with the cancer and all, to connect with this energy as frequently as possible. It does wonders for the spirit and, I'm sure, the body. I'm tremendously grateful this particular camping trip turned out to be the just the beginning.

As for MacMorris—as I like to call him—we bid him a fatigued but fulfilled farewell at the Amtrak Station in Hanford that Sunday afternoon. We had slept under the stars, shared a tent, snacked on the beach, shared our dreams around the campfire and drove around the lake with the windows down blaring Mexican Radio. It was the Ultimate Trip.  Living the dream, as we like to say. And we made each other laugh the entire time. 
We miss you, MacMorris! Come back and camp with us again.

1 comment:

  1. An inspiration as always, ladies. Sending love your way. XOXOX