Ryan had a four day weekend, and but for teaching all day on Saturday I did too. It was blissful… not the pre-Gibson blissful of leisurely late mornings lounging around and brunching when most other people were starting to think about their dinner plans, but the bliss of time together without the interruption of work and with our cell phones turned off except for the occasional phone camera exception, to just be. We had vague plans to go camping, probably to the Olympic Peninsula, maybe to somewhere that Ryan had been before with his mom and Richard, who is his chosen dad. He wasn’t sure exactly where they’d been, but when we looked at the map, it looked about like the Upper Queets area, so that was where we decided to try first, with a vague idea that the second day we might head out to the ocean.
Sunday was our packing day; it was also my best friend Teresa’s twelve-hour layover in Seattle, with a birthday party for her and many of our friends with May birthdays. After frying tortillas and scrambling about twenty-five eggs for the potluck burrito bar that turned out beautifully, we spent a blissful (I’m not even going to try to come up with another word to avoid redundancy – I’m just going to call it what it was) morning with friends down at Lincoln Park. Then we headed home for the chaos of packing.
We have much still to organize, from an infrastructure standpoint, in this life of ours… I officially moved in last June, and we’re still working on getting the basics under control. Mail. Clothes. Footwear. Paperwork. Handbags. In a 750 square foot house with two teeny closets and no other storage: where the hell are the handbags supposed to go? We’ve got the attic ladder in, so that eventually we’ll be able to store some of our overflow in the attic; and bless the universe we have gear storage in the basement, and at times it’s been well-organized. After our winter ski trip, though, we didn’t really re-organize… and even well-organized it’s just a bunch of bins with sharpie scrawlings on the outside to give some guidance about the bin contents… so our systems do need some work. And despite that, we managed to get packed missing only a few things that we just agreed we’d make the best of without; and headed south and west, to turn north again, to head toward the spot we’d pointed to on the map.
After a long drive and a long bumpy dirt road, we arrived at upper Queets campground and it wasn’t the place Ryan had been to before, but it was gorgeous. A high-running river along a primitive campground, and we were the only ones there. It was also bear territory, with no bear bins, and we’d packed a tent instead of the camper for Gibson’s first tent-camping trip with us. Despite the beauty and remoteness of the place, we headed down toward Kalaloch, knowing that the beaches from Kalaloch south were dog-friendly, and with just enough time to get settled before the sunset.
It was not the wilderness experience of Queets, but it was beautiful. Gibson enjoyed romping on the beach, and I enjoyed being able to relax without worrying as much about predators for our first night in a tent with the pup. After a morning on the beach chasing sand fleas and jumping over logs, we were grateful for the opportunity sans cell phone coverage to pull out the old fashioned atlas and decide where on the map to point to, next. Hoh River Rainforest it was, and we headed north.
The Hoh was breathtakingly beautiful, and thanks to it being a Monday the campground was fairly quiet. We tucked in at a lovely campsite with a short trail to a huge rocky river shore, alongside the Hoh river. And we enjoyed our time there, planned without reading reviews, or calculating travel time, or asking for recommendations of places to stay. We just pointed at a spot on the map and went, and then looked around once we were there to decide where to go next.
And we got home last night and it was strange to tuck Gibson in her crate while we went to dinner… we both got used to having her connected to us by leash or long line at all times. We got used to her looking to us for cues about what she ought to be doing at nearly every moment, and to her figuring out her own drill at times — chasing bugs, or pawing at the rocks to explore what was under them, or flattening her belly out on the warm stretches of sand along the riverside, her tongue hanging out in a happy smile, alternately soaking up the sun and seeking dappled shade to settle in under. She’s come a long way, this little dog… watching her romp around the river side, alerting to the deer walking through the campsite, and watching the tide roll in and out at the ocean … it’s hard to picture her at eight weeks old on a city’s streets with just her littermates. I’m happy to not try too hard, and instead, to enjoy my memory’s pictures of her happy face as she bounded around with one or the other of us at the end of her long line, this weekend.
This morning, my plan was to catch up on a little client work and then do the unpacking and laundry; to clean out the closets and try to both reduce my footprint in our small home and make some room for some fresh things since we’ve decided to point at a new spot on the map when it comes to my work. And that means adapting to a set schedule again, and interviewing dog-walkers for Gibson for some days of the week, and a new urgency to get our home set up the way we want before I go back to a day job, balanced with soaking up every last morning with Gibson on the sofa next to me before I start the commute to a tall office building downtown where I’ll have human co-workers again. And while the company is dog-friendly, the building isn’t, so we’ll see to what degree those rules can be navigated.
I’ll share more details about the new gig next week, but for now I’m happy to be focused on the commitments I’ve made to clients in the meantime, as well as on the other parts of my life that need tending. It would be nice to think that by Monday morning we could have the house tip top organized, the garden beds on their automatic watering systems, Gibson’s day-care arranged, all the boxes on my “at home” to do list checked off, and that I’ll be showered and well-put-together to make a great first impression at the office, but who am I kidding. This is the real world. And the list is a joke; for each item I cross off, two more things get added. It is all a work in progress… a series of index fingers landing on the map, pointing to the next destination to check out, keeping our senses of adventure and our bemused curiosity firmly intact. All the while, looking up and out and in, and looking down at a screen a little less, if possible. Because there’s lots and lots to see, out there, and our next adventure to look forward to.