Monday, October 22, 2012

Nothing the See Here...Move Along {via the Past}...

Out in the middle of nowhere {okay, it was Coulterville, California~population 201} somewhere during the first few weeks of our grand RV escape, longing for a TV to watch Giants Baseball or even a little NFL, desperate for free wi-fi {who am I kidding, we would have PAID for it} we headed to the nearest town and parked next to this truck.

There were names of soldiers, some POW but mostly KIA, covering nearly every inch of this truck. Very somber to say the least. However, what I saw, right outside of our Jeep's passenger window, where I sat when we pulled next to this truck, literally took my breath away.
PFC. Rachel Bosveld was my sister-in-law (my sister is married to her brother) and I was shocked to not only find her name on this truck, thousands of miles from her home state of Wisconsin, but that her name was one of the first I saw. Tears instantly filled my eyes. Rachel was killed during a mortar attack on the Abu Ghraib Police Station in Iraq. She was just 19 years old. She and I did the music for our siblings' wedding in Alaska just 2 years earlier.

It was such a surreal moment, seeing her name on that truck, one that still twists my gut and dampens my eyes. It makes me wonder what it's all about...this life. Sometimes we think we have so much time that we put things off or take them for granted...always promising (if even just to ourselves) that we will get around to doing {fill in the blank} another day. But we are not promised another day.

Emerald Pool above Vernal Falls rests on a solid sheet of polished granite.
Hiking through Yosemite this past week, feeling overwhelmed by the smallness of our existence while walking across a gigantic slab of granite polished by a glacier some 100 million years ago, I had moments of clarity...that in the grand scheme of things probably 90% of what occupies my mind {worry, fear, longing, blame, past hurts, resentment, regrets, etc.) add no benefit to my life. Not only that, but these thoughts are robbing me of my present life.

I lost count of the number of stairs we climbed up to the top of the falls...but they almost broke us, however our spirit (and ego) pushed us forward.
Our second day in Yosemite, Clark and I climbed to the top of Vernal Falls via the Mist Trail. It's about 1.5 miles one way but has a 1000 foot gain as well. I had misread the guide and was under the impression this was marked an "easy" hike. It was far from easy and at one point we contemplated quitting and turning back. However, once we completed the climb and the equally, if not more, gruelling decent the pain and suffering seemed to evaporate as we celebrated our accomplishment.

A little toast to surviving the hike at Camp Curry.
But that's the key, in a release the pain so we can relish in our ability at having overcome the obstacle. Whether that pain is from something our parents did (or didn't do), something hurtful some guy said to us years ago, some misunderstanding we had with a friend or co-worker that got so blown out of proportion that our Ego won't 'let' us forgive or forget, a test we failed (or class for that matter), a relationship that didn't work (perhaps from our own indiscretions)...whatever the obstacle or challenge that we have had to deal with and lived through demands our celebration.
At some point, after the pity party (which is hopefully short lived) and mourning, we need to let go so we can continue to live in the moment. The past has nothing to offer except the lessons we've already learned...and we need to rehash those about as much as we need to keep tracing our letters in cursive and practising our multiplication tables over and over {ahem, in other words it's time to move on}.

Rachel was 19 when she died thousands of miles from home...almost 9 years ago to the day. As I sit here at my comfortable desk, sipping a lovely Petite Syrah, watching the San Francisco Giant clench their spot in the World Series I wonder what her life was like, and what would/could have been. I wonder if she had the chance to love someone with all of her heart, if she stopped and enjoyed the warmth of the sun on her face or laughed when she got caught in a sudden downpour. I hope so...I hope she enjoyed every moment she was given, even the hard ones...and I hope you do too.

Living Off the Grid...

We left our "home" 18 days ago but it seems like so much more time has passed. Perhaps it's been from the lack of cell and Internet access for most of these days. Our first stop was Bodega Bay, which was beautiful since the weather gods graced us with sunshine and very little fog. I was also fortunate to have a full day to myself since the hubby went golfing with a friend at the little 9-hole golf course he partially owns.

At Jenner, writting in my journal.
We eventually made our way to first visit to America's FIRST National Park, but hopefully not my last. As soon as we made the turn into Yosemite Valley I was overwhelmed. I admit, my first thought was that it all seemed so fake. I had not idea that everything was so big and that all of the recognizible features appeared so close together. I mean, you can see El Capitan and Half Dome at the same time!

From Glacier Point Road, the classic "tunnel view" of Yosemite Valley.
We spent Monday through Saturday in the park, dry-camping in Upper Pines (literally, since we failed to fill up our fresh water tank when we first arrived). The beauty of staying in the valley is the fact that one can easily bicycle around the entire loop without even breaking a sweat (well, at least in October when the weather is mild). We biked every single day...yes, even Clark~the anti-exerciser.

Our bikes in the valley's meadow.
Clark with Half Dome hovering over his head.
A friendly raven hanging out on Clark's bike (hoping we drop a cracker).
The other beautiful thing about Yosemite was that we were completely off-the-grid as far as cell and Internet. There was a moment of panic to be sure...but that soon passed and I turned to my journal to write my thoughts and "ah-ha" moments. I also had downloaded several books onto my Kindle prior to losing our Wi-fi (just in case) and ended up reading a few books between biking, hiking and acting like a tourist.

We felt it necessary to enjoy a cocktail at the matter the $25 price tag (for one drink a piece!).
It turns out I didn't miss the Internet as much as I had first thought. I'm sure my Klout score has dropped and I haven't been on Twitter in a month but I'm not all that concerned any more. A few friends found it hard to have me out of the loop...but maybe sometimes it's good to not have that go-to person to vent to in the heat of the moment. Sometimes it's best to let things sink in, learn to deal with the angst that comes on so suddenly due to short fuses or minor irritations so that eventually {maybe} we can stop and realize that these things are often really insignificant in the long run.

The leaves changing colors in Yosemite Valley.
Yes, there was plenty of time to be contemplative and the enormity of the cliffs lent to the realization that not every little thing that happens to us is worth hours of anxiety and a rehashing of wrong doings. That energy can be better spent on other things...reflection, reading, writing, sleeping, smiling, walking or simply looking at the magnificence of this life we've been given.

A rainbow at Vernal Falls.

Climbers on El Capitan...watching them reminded me of the smallness of my own obstacles.

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