I spent a long time staring at the water. Monogram Lake was a hard-earned reward after a 4,000-foot elevation gain in five long miles. Mom and I trudged through dense forest for hours, finally breaking into an alpine meadow where we were greeted by a panoramic North Cascades National Park welcome of glittering glaciers and toothy ridge lines.
Our lake glittered like a sequined Brazilian samba dress and we plunged into it naked as the buck that surprised us at dusk. Blueberry, the black bear named after his pursuit when we first encountered him, was nowhere to be seen. We passed freeze-dried rice and chicken back and forth from a rocky vantage and watched the fading sun paint the glaciers pink, then blue, then invisible, like a slow motion etch-a-sketch. After the second shooting star we retreated to the tent.
It was the next morning that struck me so poetically. Staring at that inviting water and wondering if I should doff the long underwear and jump in again. It felt so warm when I knelt down on a granite boulder and cupped it to my face. I stood with my feet squishing into the wet powder. Oh – the water was certainly colder a foot below the surface. The wind started, as it always does when you’re hesitating naked in icy water, kicking up goose bumps all over my body.
And that was the moment. The metaphor I had been looking for when people ask me why we came home early from New Zealand. Or when I try to explain to myself why the trip wasn’t as great as I expected or hoped it would be. Part of what makes a moment beautiful is its temporal nature. It’s the exultant whoop of frigid adrenaline coursing through your skin that, to quote Whitman, “sings the body electric.”
If I stayed in the lake for too long I wouldn’t be baptized, I’d be hypothermic. Too much of a good thing can lose its sweetness, and 16 months on the road certainly tests one’s endurance. Tyler and I are grateful to have been able to learn that lesson and absolutely do not regret biking from the Canadian border to LA, living in Beluga while exploring Canadian and US National Parks, and especially enjoying New Zealand’s famed landscapes and quirky loveliness.
Next time, though, it will be a shorter trip with longer stays in each place. I still love traveling and outdoor adventures, and no amount of soggy camping or home sickness will ever quench that feeling. On the other hand, I cannot wait to find a great job, share potlucks with friends, and have a place to dry out gear.
I’m back in the good ol’ U.S. of A visiting my Mom and Ken on Whidbey Island, Washington. It’s beautiful and smells like sun-kissed blackberries so I’m literally and figuratively walking on sunshine. It’s a great buffer from that stressful heart of job application darkness that many of us know so well. Tyler is soaking up family time in the Bay Area and Sacramento. What’s next? Where will we call home? TBD, my friends. If you hear of any great communication/public relations (me) or full stack web developer (Tyler) job opportunities, please send them my way!
Until then, keep following our blog, www.earthtickle.com, and join us on a trip! Like wild blueberries added to instant oatmeal, adventures are sweeter with friends.
(Apologies if you already got most of this in my semi-regular email updates)