The spirit's "uptick" is in play—counting down the days now till Goldie's RV rubber hits the road. On the brink of Autumn my mental and emotional footing finds solid ground. The most tedious chores of summer are in the rearview mirror, and my Polo work-shirt is laundered, pressed and hanging in the closet awaiting a well tanned, rested, and wandered thin Gallery Boy's triumphant return from saguaro strewn deserts come spring. I take immense pleasure in performing the few remaining RV tasks—little toy projects compared those "life and death" maters from long ago treadmills...the one's where back seat driver bosses from hell scrutinize every move, or lack there of, and second guess. Indeed, by comparison, RV problems are water off this ugly duck's back.
I'll likely deny it next May, whining as I trudge off to my seasonal day-job, but right now—having just been laid off and staring down the barrel at six, count em, six months of wandering the desert in flip flops and shorts—I'm wondering if the part-time RV/part-time work scenario isn't responsible for refreshing my screen of excitement and "can't wait for tomorrow" attitude" that seemed to go AWOL during our Full-Time outing. Now the feeling is more like those days when school was about to let out for summer. Remember the anticipation while turning in books, the impending freedom of no more homework or tests, and a whole lazy summer to make mischief with friends?
Of course, everyone is different (thank God); some will argue that the full-time life is perfect, or that it's time for me to grow up. But after a year or so, we found the full-time experience grinding down to routine and began to feel "disconnected." Just like love, passion, chocolate, losing five pounds, and everything else that's to good to be true, it really hard to sustain (sigh).
Rightly so, you say. The flash/boom of initial fireworks isn't meant to be sustained; the full-time lifestyle is just that, a roller coaster with ups and downs like any love affair. Once newbie elation over getting out of jail tapers off, excitement tends to mature into a regular and routine life.
But what explains the relatively short lifespan of full-timing? How many people do you know that are still going strong after 5 years on the road? 10 years? Is Full-timing a misnomer, a temporary fling before we settle back in a little cottage near the grandkids?
Well, the statistics seem to suggest yes. That full timers drop out like flies after a few years...after such huge investments in rigs is a little surprising to me. Most return to a sticks and bricks someplace purdy and put in a garden. Oh, they keep the RV for a while, just in case, but usually end up selling it for a lot less than they'd like. The few that can afford it buy a second home someplace warm in the winter...Florida or Arid Zona, and pack the megaphone and pom poms in a closet. Channel surfing 400 satellite dish stations replaces the windshield. To be fair, age and illness and spousal deaths force some of these changes on people who would otherwise keep going. Au contraire, say it isn't so.
So it occurred to me while interrogating my deep inner self (oxymoron, I know) that it just might be the thing I hate the most that will keep us on the road every winter...till they pry the Driver's License from my cold dead hand. Working! Dear God.
The more I thought about it the more convinced I became, that coming home to a job every summer might be what's keeps my love affair for The Road hot...not taking even one minute of it for granted. You want to really really appreciate something? Try going without it for six months...or, better yet, make it finite, like Life. Yes, we are all going to die, some sooner than later. I suggest cramming for the finale like it was a final exam, do those things that brings happiness and try to appreciate the many blessings of health while they last. If it takes a job and coming home off the road to keep me interested in Life...wide-eyed and bushy tailed for the next outing of the day, a hike, a bike ride, a walk—whether someplace new or old favorite—then so be it. Change must be good for me. Those good old travel endorphins are building again as I prepare Goldie for departure and lay plans in "sand." I can't wait for the change, shift, diversion or whatever you want to call it. I like feeling anticipation; I like planning and changing plans; I like the idea of getting out of town and hanging up the work apron.
For me, that is the "glass half full" part that comes from not eating "ice cream" every day...having a job to come off the road to, a commitment to follow through on. Nothing like a little "finite" to make me appreciate the now. Admittedly, coming home to a place like Lovely Ouray makes it sort of a "win-win." And the paychecks are nice, as well as necessary, to fund the next round of RV adventures. I think volunteering on a seasonal basis and staying put in one's RV could have a similar effect at building anticipation for change (I'm thinking of Jim and Gayle and Debbie's stay in south Texas). It's good to look forward to a new beginning be it commitment or freedom. They counterbalance each other like Yin and Yang. The greater the commitment, the greater the anticipation...that the end is near. There is a feeling of accomplishment or "giving back," as we move on with fresh eyes and renewed spirits.
Just random thoughts from an asymmetrical misfit...an oval peg trying to squeeze into a rectangular hole. Now for a novel hike!
It's cool that we can still discover new trails to ascend around Lovely Ouray. I don't know why we haven't hiked this particular Hayden Mountain Trail, it's not like we didn't know it was there as it's only a few miles up The Million Dollar Highway. The trailhead is on the Ouray side of Red Mountain Pass just before Ironton.
We parked at the Crystal Lake dam. A gentle breeze toyed with Red Mountain's reflection...a watercolor waiting to be painted. Cotton-ball clouds were already building, threatening to fulfill a doom and gloom forecast issued by cyber geeks at NOAA.
Ala Paul Simon, there must be fifty ways to climb Hayden Mountain. We have accomplished most of them over the years, all steep leg burners. One hundred yards beyond the dam our trail turned into a demon...a relentless, dispiriting ladder. Zig after zag after zig it stair stepped us breathless, pushing quads, hamstrings, and buttocks to the edge of fire. The last few years my legs don't seem to recover between back to back hikes. What's that all about?
I hoped for some autumnal color distractions to take my mind off the effort, but the first hard frost has yet to arrive and loosen summer's green grip on aspens.
Unseasonal rain, humidity, and warmth spills over into September this year. Not halfway our tee shirts were soaked and left us mopping brows with shirt tails and sleeves. "My Birthright for a Breeze, dear Lord."
At timberline we paused to check on the deteriorating weather situation, and decided against trying for Hayden's summit(3.5 miles), especially at such a slow uphill pace. Being a goal-oriented type, I thought it would be nice to at least make the saddle and have a look at His Majesty Hayden from a new vantage point. Hearing no rumbles of thunder we continued the ascent, up, up, up into the vast, unprotected openness of alpine tundra, falling away into the green abyss of late summer at some forty five degrees.
Exhausted, dehydrated and cranky, I resorted to Gatorade and MoJo Bars for a pick-me-up. But it was one false summit after another, always something in the way of Hayden. That our trail began to peter out was understandable. Most flatland day hikers would have bailed by now...especially with storms brewing on the horizon. I knew we had to be getting close to the saddle, though, and set my jaw. Bobbie was "game," as usual.
Finally, I spied a few volcanic Hoo Doos, poking crumbly heads above the tundra. The incline slacked off to a chorus of cheers from tired legs. The topography abruptly change into a surreal Martian-like landscape, devoid of vegetation. We skirted what looked like a long-dead volcano; it had deep fissures and cinders the color of lavender and rust. I tossed my Gatorade bottle and pulled out the trusty Canon...hoping to capture the subtle beauty of earth-tone hues.
Thunderheads continued to build on our backside while we were mesmerized by our volcanic surround of understated, but rich colors.
A bare limb—carried, no doubt, from woods a thousand feet below—marked the saddle. North through the gap skies hung clear and blue over the Uncompahgre Valley...Grand Mesa's flattop plane visible 100 miles in the distance.
I spied the familiar ridge route to Hayden's summit (the green ridge in the right hand upper corner of the above photo). But Hayden itself remained hidden behind the spent volcano. Geeze Louise, must I climb this cone of cinders and rubble to connect the last dot? Thunder rumbled it's distant drum.
Stay tuned for the rest of the photos and a flash flood bullet narrowly dodged...