# Sunlit Carson City

Saturday afternoon the Girl and I hiked up Dead Truck Trail (there’s still a few photographs to process from that expedition). At the saddle between the adjacent crests of the range east from Carson City, I stood for a few minutes. The wind gusted, popping my hat and buffeting me about. I’m thankful for the chin strap of my Tilley Hat, that’s for sure.

I couldn’t move for a few minutes, transfixed by the sight of the afternoon sunlight moving across the city. The clouds shifted about, uncomfortable in the higher winds aloft. It was a magical few minutes, shared with the Girl, who continued doing her doggie things, snuffling about looking for critters, checking in with me now and again to make sure it was still OK to range out a bit.

For me, there will always be something about being out. I was away from the buzz of city energy and out in Nature, where my soul recharges. I gain spiritual energy from the expenditure of physical energy to get to these places and the opportunity to take in what God created… what God shows me. I can feel the city energy drain away from me in these moments of cleansing and it’s cathartic.

I stood there, taking in the magnitude of God’s creation in contrast to the city of man’s creation. I’ll take God’s creation anytime.

After a few minutes, I withdrew my iPhone from its carrier and made a few captures. Then I returned to looking for a geocache and hiking my way up to Stegosaurus Ridge (where I found one). The Girl stayed close, although she spotted something to chase while we ascended the ridge. The geocache was found and logged and we began our descent back down to the Silver Saddle Ranch, and then back to the hotel.

I’m grateful for the time outdoors, the health to move about, and the freedom to do so.

# Washoe Valley and Slide Mountain

While standing a couple hundred feet from the gazebo on the hill near Deadman’s Creek, the Girl and I saw this wonderful view of Slide Mountain and Washoe Lake. There is a little water in the lake now. It was just enough to provide some reflection of the mountains and the sky. The beauty of the place astounded me.

It was well worth the hike to get this view. I’m grateful for it.

# Carson River Valley

The Girl and I drove down to Carson City this afternoon to retrieve our mail and pick up an SSD from Best Buy. I’m going to attempt an external drive install of Winder$for my MacBook Pro. If that works, then I will no longer need a Winder$ box and can lighten my load substantially.

After our running, we drove over to the Silver Saddle Ranch. It’s a facility jointly managed by Carson City and Bureau of Land Management. It’s still a working ranch, as far as I know.

What I know for sure is that it’s a favorite place to hike. This time we took the trail up Dead Truck Canyon (more on that in another post with another image, I think) all the way up to the crest. I hunted for one geocache (a 4.5 star) but no joy. However, the second surrendered itself readily and I logged a find for the day.

The Girl hunted, but not too far away. On the way in I saw a posting that coyote activity was observed and it was recommended to keep pets on leash. The Girl is always on a virtual leash, but I noticed that she stayed fairly close the entire hike. She doesn’t read, but I think she caught the message anyway. I carried a sidearm just in case.

On the way back, the sun gave us a treat. The overlook of the Carson River Valley east from Carson City was absolutely stunning. I made several captures on the way down and thought I should share.

# Rock Pile

Last Sunday the Girl and I needed an outing. So, we simply climbed into the 4Runner and headed out. I thought about Washoe Lake State Park and we drove down old U.S. 395, electing to leave the superslab. When we turned south onto East Lake Road, I remembered Deadman’s Creek and the trail there.

That would do! So we parked the rig, readied ourselves, and started off.

The trail was in pretty good shape on the south facing portions. There was some mud, but not a lot. Plus, it was still cold enough in the shade that the surface was frozen. The hike up the canyon was not bad. The sun was nice and warm. There were a few other hikers, but not many. There was sign of wild horses, but no animals.

As we rounded the upper end of the trail, I noticed a rock pile. Someone spent some effort collecting and stacking the stones. It was worth a capture, just for the texture if nothing more.

The north facing part of the trail was something of a mess. There was a combination of snow, ice, and mud. Still, we traversed the slope without falling (the Girl rarely falls). We even managed to find a couple of geocaches along the way, which added to the fun.

At the top of the hill, near the new gazebo, we paused for a few minutes to enjoy the sun, visit with a few other hikers, and make a capture. Well, I made the capture while the Girl looked for lizards. It’s too early for lizards, but that doesn’t stop her from looking!

# On to Reno

After spending a few weeks in Mount Vernon, Washington, I could delay no longer and left for Nevada. I arrived a few days ago and began working on those tasks that absolutely must be done. I have a bit of breathing space now, so I can start on the other things I want to do and have time to play a little.

I left Mount Vernon on St. Valentine’s Day, after helping my friend get through some tasks that had been waiting for her attention. One of the things I’m good at is looking through things in storage, sorting quickly, and then organizing those things that need someone else’s attention/review and discarding the remainder. So, this is what I did that morning.

I handed off those things that needed her attention, then carried bins to her storage area for her. We shared a bite of lunch and watched a little television (Walking Dead Marathon) as I realized it was time for me to go. So I said a very difficult “Good Bye” to her, her dogs, and Mount Vernon and drove into town to refuel and head out.

Sunday afternoon is a good time to drive through the Seattle suburbs. There was traffic, but nothing like what I experienced on my way north. It did not take long to be on the long upgrade to Snoqualmie Pass. Rain fell on us off and on, but no snow.

Soon, we crested the pass and descended onto the east slope of the Cascade Mountains. The farther east we drove, the less rain and clouds we experienced. After a bit, I checked my road atlas and decided to stop in Yakima for the night. I had food with me, so the Girl and I went for a walk, then settled in for the night. We both enjoyed our bite of supper while I checked the television for the next day’s weather.

We drove US 97 south to Bend, Oregon and then on to La Pima, where we took SH 31 southeast, finally connect with US 395. As I drove into Lakeview, Oregon, I recalled the last time I passed through this interesting small town in southern Oregon. I stopped there last June on my first trip to Mount Vernon to get a bite to eat and find a few geocaches. It was a beautiful June day last year, just a hint of the oncoming afternoon heat in the morning air.

This time through I stopped for the night. Alturas, California was a little beyond my reach. There’s a wonderful little hotel in Alturas where I’d stay anytime. But I didn’t have any miles left in me, I wanted out of the car for awhile, and the Girl needed a walk. So, Lakeview it was.

Given there were only about 250 miles to go, I wasn’t motivated to make a really early start. We didn’t languish too long in Lakeview, but didn’t rush out the door either. The route through northern California is quite beautiful and we stopped along the way a few times to enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise, find a geocache, be alive.

Yes, there is now an element of just being alive. Somewhere along all the miles over the last three-quarters of a year, I found something that was lost. There were a few glimpses in the years since 2005, when I left my clinical depression behind. I shared many of those moments with Wife before her decline. As I recover from Wife’s death, I find myself in moments of simple joy; simple happiness. I am able to spread my arms wide, look into God’s sky, and be thankful to simply be alive.

There are entire days that come and go and I feel gratitude. I am grateful for many things — all the years I shared with Wife, even those difficult times that measure character. I’m grateful for my family (and hers). I’m grateful for my children and grandchildren. I’m grateful for old friends. I’m grateful for new friends. I’m grateful for my dog training friend and her dogs. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to get to places where I can see people who are important to me, whom I love.

I feel happiness again. I’m able to feel light, to run with the dogs, to look at the mountains, the sky, my dog, and feel the lift the comes from joy. I’m able to thank God for his grace and mercy.

Happiness is not a constant state. Without periods of non-happiness, the value of the gift is lost. So, I don’t feel happy all the time (I’m not sure that is even possible). But, I have big chunks of time now when I feel good. It has been a very long time.

I have some additional thoughts on this. Maybe I can pull them together for another essay. We’ll see.

In particular, there is a small rest stop along US 395 in the California mountains north from Susanville. I can’t remember the name, but that’s not important. The Girl and I got out of the car, I made a sandwich, snagged a few carrots from the Yeti, and put an apple in my pocket. We bypassed the fence and walked out onto the very rocky ground. She sniffed about, doing her doggie thing, beggin for a bite of my sandwich, and running from me when I chased her.

I smiled at her, at the sky, and marveled at the rough terrain. I used my phone to determine there was a geocache only a few hundred feet from my location. We hunted it down. I listened to the passing traffic, busy folk on their busy ways. I listened to vehicles stop at the rest stop for breaks. I gave the Girl the last bite of my sandwich, laughing at her as she ever-so-gingerly took it from my fingers, knowing that if she gets snappy I’ll palm the morsel. I enjoyed my apple, it’s sweet-tart crunchiness a nice ending to a cold meal taken outdoors with gratitude and joy.

We ran back to the 4Runner, laughing, and knowing that it was time to drive out the last of the journey. We drove on, she snoozing in the seat next to me, me with music playing just enjoying the road.

We drove through Reno and on to Carson City so I could retrieve a few things from my storage unit and see Younger Son. We spent a couple of hours with him, catching up on the news, enjoying some food, relaxing. The Girl and I returned to Reno to meet a friend for coffee at a favorite place, Java Jungle. Then the Girl and I found a hotel where we can stay a few nights.

Tired and happy, she waited on her little bed in the hotel room while I schlepped necessaries from the 4Runner before calling it a night. I knew I’d be busy the following day and would need a few days to regroup.

It will take me a couple more days to regroup. It’s good to be in western Nevada once again. A part of me would love to stay here. It’s familiar, it’s beautiful, it’s not too cold, there is sunshine many days. But, my sense is that my time as a resident of this place is ended. My intuition tells me that I’ll move on to another place, or to other places. Maybe it’s time to be simply a nomad, having no home other than what I carry with me. I just sense that this is no longer my home.

That thought would be material for yet another random rumination (YARR).

# It’s What I Do…

While visiting my friend here in Washington, we talk quite a lot. She has a fine mind and a very high emotional quotient, at least in my opinion. During one of our conversations, she challenged me when I was talking about how I offer emotional support and encouragement. “You say that with such pride and arrogance, ‘It’s what I do.’”.

This caused me to pause and reflect for a few moments. Then I revisited the comment early this morning.

As I examine myself in this regard, I don’t have a sense of arrogance about the statement “It’s what I do.” It’s more an observation, similar to any statement of fact. I might as well say “I am a man,” or “I am human.”

It isn’t about pride at all, but she was right when she said “You do that to make yourself feel better.” That poked a bit.

I wondered why I bristled at the statement. Perhaps it is not OK for me to offer support if the motive is selfish — I do it to make myself feel better.

Furthermore, I wonder if it is arrogant for me to interfere with another’s suffering. Is that state something they need for their personal growth? I’m reminded of an aphorism I read about suffering well, in recognition that we all suffer and that suffering is a primary path for growth. If, in offering support and encouragement, I interfere with another’s suffering am I short-circuiting their path to growth and stymying God’s will for them?

That would not be what I want at all. If “It’s what I do” is interfering with the other person’s growth and I am doing it for the selfish reason of feeling better about myself, then that can’t be good at all.

Therefore, I think I need to reflect on this idea a bit more. It’s OK, I think, to be sensitive to other’s suffering, to be kind and gentle in one’s dealings with others. But to interfere, well, that might not be a good thing. Perhaps it’s better to keep to myself, to offer prayers (without even saying so), to mind my own business and take care of my own affairs.

Sometimes I think I talk too much and say too little. That is another rumination, though, and one I think I’ll save for later. This bit is enough for today.

# Running with the Pack

The last week or so I have had the opportunity to meet with the Girl’s trainer and her dogs for a noon walk. There’s a trail near here where we can get a short walk during the time she has available. So, we do.

Once on the trail, the dogs can run a bit off-lead. Of course, the Girl has her e-collar on, but that’s more for insurance than anything else. Sometimes the three dogs, Ki, Bella, and Shepherd, pack up and start running together. In my joy, I get in the middle of them and we run together, down the path, laughing and playing.

I love to catch the Girl when she’s sniffy and grab-ass. She always ducks her butt and runs off. Bella chuffs at me and we laugh and run. Shepherd is still learning how to be with his humans. He’ll get there under the able skills of the trainer.

This trainer is the best I’ve seen. She understands dog body language (and probably human too) better than any I’ve seen. She’s on it if she sees a problem developing. I’ve watched her demonstrate to handlers just what the dogs are saying. It can be hilarious to watch her get into someone’s personal space to demonstrate her point. That makes me laugh, in part because I’ve experienced it and it’s a powerful demonstration.

The time is coming when I have to leave here and head for Carson City. It’s time to go take care of some business there and see folks I need to see. I’m really going to miss this place and the people I’ve met here. I’m really going to miss running with the pack.

# Mount Vernon, Washington

I arrived in Mount Vernon, Washington two weeks ago. It’s difficult to accept it has been that long. It was last June that I last visited here, partly to see this part of the country and partly to visit my dog-trainer friend. This time I really wanted to see my friend and experience the northwest during winter. But my friend was the real key to this trip.

For the first few days I stayed out at her place. What a wonderful house where she rooms. It’s a design I might have created, an open floorplan with post and beam construction, mostly hidden. The subdivision is a bit remote and very quiet. There’s a really nice path to hike up to the top of one of the local hills. The overlook is of Big Lake, which is beautiful from the summit. The hike up and back is really great and one I loved.

But, there was no Internet connection and no mobile telephone service (just out of range). So, after a few days, it had to drive into town to get coffee and Internet service. Most of that time was spent dealing with necessary tasks, especially catching up on email. So, I decided to move to town, get a hotel room, and get some work done.

The day before my arrival was the third anniversary of Wife’s death. That weighed on me a bit, but not as much as in previous years and not in the same way. I still miss Wife. I expect I always will. She was a significant part of my life and had much to do with my development as a person and as a man. Her impact on my life and those lives she touched will always be there and always be remembered. That her touch is gone is sad, especially for those of us so close to her.

But it is what it is. She’s gone now. I don’t like it much, but then nobody asked me. Not only was it impossible to keep her, but had I been offered the chance to keep her but without her being healed, I would have declined. It would not have been fair to her to require her to continue suffering the way she did at the end.

Enough of all that! I miss Wife. That’s all there is to it. But I have no choice but to live and move forward as that is the only way I know to honor her life, her living of it, and she’d kick my ass if I stayed static.

Here I am in Mount Vernon, Washington. I’m getting to know this place and I like it. I like that it is not so cold as it was in Texas or Carson City. Yes, it’s plenty wet, but not the heavy rainfalls that I’m accustomed to when it rains in other places. It can rain like that here, but it doesn’t most of the time.

Maybe I’ll go back and backfill some days with images made. If I don’t, I’ll never catch up. I have so many new images since my travels began.

Maybe I’ll elect to stay in Mount Vernon for a while. I like it here. I like the mountains to the east. I like the ocean to the west. There is much history here as well. It could be fun to stay and explore. I might even find some work.