Saturday, December 5, 2015

Thanksgiving in the Woods

This Thanksgiving, we venture into the woods of Yosemite and found snow and tall tree friends and clear skies, and we meandered around the park with no real plan. There's much else to say, but I will steal some words from a poem:

Have you gazed on naked grandeur where there's nothing else to gaze on,
Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,
Big mountains heaved to heaven, which the binding sunsets blazon,
Black Canyons where the rapids rip and roar?
Have you swept the visioned valley with the green stream streaking through it,
Search the Vastness for a something you have lost?
Have you strung your soul to silence? Then for God's sake go and do it;
Hear the Challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost.

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Have you wandered in the wilderness, the sage-brush desolation,
The bunch-grass levels where the cattle graze?
Have you whistled bits of rag-time at the end of creation,
And learned to know the desert's little ways?
Have you camped upon the foothills, have you galloped o'er the ranges,
Have you roamed the arid sun-lands through an through?
Have you chummed up with the messa? Do you know its moods and changes?
Then listen to the Wild - it's calling you.

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Have you known the Great White Silence, not a snow-gemmed twig aquiver?
(Eternal truths that shame our soothing lies.)
Have you broken trail on snowshoes? mushed your huskies up the river,
Dared the unknown, led the way, and clutched the prize?
Have you marked the map's void spaces, mingled with the mongrel races,
Felt the savage strength of brute in every thew?
And though grim as hell the worst is, can you round it off with curses?
Then hearken to the Wild - it's wanting you.

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Have you suffered, starved and triumphed, groveled down, yet grasped at glory,
Grown bigger in the bigness of the whole?
"Done things" just for the doing, letting babblers tell the story,
Seeing through the nice veneer the naked soul?
Have you seen God in His splendors, heard the text that nature renders?
(You'll never hear it in the family pew.)
The simple things, the true things, the silent men who do things -
Then listen to the Wild - it's calling you.

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They have cradled you in custom, they have primed you with their preaching,
They have soaked you in convention through and through;
They have put you in a showcase; you're a credit to their teaching -
But can't you hear the Wild? - it's calling you.
Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us;
Let us journey to a lonely land I know.
There's a whisper on the night-wind, there's a star agleam to guide us,
And the Wild is calling, calling . . . Let us go.

The Call of the Wild by Robert Service

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Parents Weekend

Much delayed. My parents FINALLY visited me and the city at the end of October. Finally, finally, see where I live! Where I eat, where I sleep and where I play. This is the path I take to work and the road that I drive all first time guests, along the ocean and with this song. Here, you must try this toast. It's four dollars, yes... but it's quintessentially San Francisco.

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We went to Muir Woods, to Napa, to Stinson, to Ocean Beach and the Cliff House. We went to Land's End and Sutro Baths, and we ate good, great, fantastic food. Sherry + Larry finally got a peek into my SF life and I think they understand why I might be here a little bit longer.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Lighthouse

Do they have lighthouses in Texas? Possibly, along the Gulf Coast. But with the fog, the geography of the coast and the history of shipwreck, lighthouses seem to have greater responsibility here in Northern California. A few weekends ago, we ventured out to the Point Bonita Lighthouse. Truly, the waves along this point were something mighty. And the lighthouse was pretty neat.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Let's Go Camping!

I'm tempted to write this whole post in ALL CAPS because of the excitement associated with these people, this very important purchase, this adventure, the promise of more of this. Ferg + Maclean finally made it out to San Francisco (YAY) and we all went camping. Rewind: KK and I saw Of Monsters and Men on Friday, and prior to the concert, I bought a tent from REI. Yes. Yes. Yes. Fast forward: After some morning breakfast sandos and last minute packing, we went C-A-M-P-I-N-G. The crew met up at In-N-Out Burger (#classic) and then two packed cars drove out to Point Reyes for wilderness time.

We hauled in tents, sleeping bags, firewood and Oreos. We created the ultimate beach bonfire. We got kicked out of our pirated campsite by a French couple. We spoke of the aliens at Mount Shasta and we all tried to convince the Texans to move to SF (please?). All in all, it was a rich weekend of community, conversation and coastal views.

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Yosemite in Fall

I didn't think that anything could beat my first trip to Yosemite back in April when it happened to be snowing and the park was covered in white. But now... I don't know. I think fall is overlooked as a season for all that it offers. The park was red and green and yellow and orange. The temperature encouraged us to take the roof off of the Jeep. The light breaking through the trees beckoned us off the trail and into the deep of the woods. Maybe there really is no bad time in Yosemite. (Except summer... I don't think I like heat anymore.)

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We left the city around 4:30am, pushing our departure up an hour earlier compared to the previous trip. This is the most still time. People were ambling home from the bars while we were ambling toward adventures. Funny how neither party was really fully awake. We're all just treading through this still time.

Determined to make it to Yosemite by sunrise, we did just that and I remember very little of our early morning conversation, or the music we listened to, or what silly things we said to keep one another awake. I just remember beginning to give each of my eyes ten seconds of rest... first the left eye and then the right eye before I asked Deb to take over. Oh yes, of course I went to Yosemite with Deb.

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We stopped at many of the same spot and overlooks and vista points from our prior trip because wow, these places were vastly different. The whole color scheme had flipped from cool blues and grays to warm yellows and streams of sunlight. We also found ourselves ahead of the packs of tourists who were somewhere nestled in tents, or back behind at the park gate, or maybe far ahead on a hike before us.

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We did some of the tourist spots, but one of the highlights of the day was leaving the path and wandering through some woods. Simple enough, but we felt like Hansel and Gretel leaving a field to enter the dark forest. We eventually exited out into a clearing with a pond, a lake? Deb told me she only wished for wildlife, deer specifically, in that moment and then it happened. They were there, as were we, and we just all said hello.

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We concluded the day with lunch at Glacier Point, except we gave up a mile or so before we reached our destination, and decided to park alongside a Jeep twin, and claim our own peak for picnic. The view was probably better anyways. The souvenir pinecone definitely was. Okay, back to Yosemite soon. Yosemite in winter? Yes.