Monday, January 23, 2006

Who Needs Resolutions?

Well, I suppose that I should have made a New Year's resolution to keep up on my blog, but I didn't make ANY resolutions this year.

After my major surgery in May of '05, I already knew that I would have to take better care of myself, including eating better foods, taking a regular regimen of vitamins and supplements and of course, exercising.

Now, you notice that I didn't say exercising MORE. Up to January of last year, the only exercise I got was shopping at wale-Mart and it would almost kill me. I mean, KILL ME. I would start out okay, but Eric would have to drop me off in front of the door, and then he and the kids would park the car and they wouldn't have to walk far to find me. Assuming I made it past the hostess with the shopping carts (which I had to have so I'd have something to support me), then I couldn't be any further than past the check stands and panting in the cereal/magazine aisle. The rest of the shopping trip meant me, making frequent stops to mop the sweat from my face using the front of my size t-shirt. Yeah, big and sweaty. Just the kind of impression every fat woman wants to make, and what society seems to expect from us. Go figure.

Well, that's not me anymore. Uh, nope. Yesterday my two boys, Eric and myself decided that the clear blue sky meant that we'd get more than fifteen minutes reprieve from the rain, so we went Geocaching. Now, if you know about Geocaching, you know that they are rated on a one-to-five scale for terrain and difficulty, five being the most difficult. A 5 on terrain means that you most likely need sophisticated gear or a specialized vehicle (high-clearance 4x4 or a boat) to reach the cache. We picked three caches up in and around Brookings, Oregon, which is around 30 miles north of our house.

The first cache was at Harris Beach, and it was just above the high-water mark. Unfortunately, Eric decided I couldn't make it across the driftwood logs at the top of the stream. Granted, my balance isn't so good when I've been taking heavy doses of Sudafed, but he could have at least let me try. Instead, Sean, our 8-year old and I went and played in the tide pools surrounding the huge seastacks on the beach. Okay, Sean played. I BASKED. Yes, it is what lizards, cats and other lazy animals with low metabolisms do, and I was wearing black jeans and a black hooded sweatshirt and it felt wonderful. Eric and our oldest son, Matt, found and logged the cache.

Then, we headed up along the Chetco River to hunt for the Loeb Loop cache. This cache is rated a 2.5 on terrain, and I've done other caches over the past year that were rated similarly, but they were all long hikes on relatively level terrain. This cache led us to the Redwood Trail east of Loeb Park. The loop is supposed to be a mile long, and the cache description states that there are just enough elevation changes to "make you puff a bit". Well, the folks who placed it (Seahorse, Frogfish and Becky) have a gift for understatement, in my opinion. But it didn't stop me from going. And UP we went. The trail was a series of switchbacks, and there was at least an inch of leaves, debris and duff on the trail, mixed with the last 30 days of incessant rain, to make the going slick, squishy and, well, WET. Parts of the trail are narrow, and at one point there are steps cut into rock and the passage was too close to the edge of the cliff for my taste. Can you say "pucker factor"? Luckily, I took along my trusty walking stick. It's like having an extra leg, or the occasional extra hand to balance with.

About halfway up, I started to "puff", a bit. Being on the downhill side of pneumonia has its drawbacks, and one of them is the inability to completely fill one's lungs with that life-giving oxygen/nitrogen mixture known commonly as "air". But the words of a physician from many years ago kept coming back to me: "You need to get that nasty crud out of your lungs, so fill them with air and there won't be room for the crud." The stops I needed weren't long ones... a minute at most, but I instructed the guys to go on ahead. I think I made a total of 3 stops, and I still beat them to the cache. But only because Eric wasn't looking at the GPS and overshot the cache.

All in all, the hike was fun, beautiful and I really felt better when we were done. I'm not sure, but I believe the elevation change, however gradual, was over 500 feet and possibly 1,000. I can check the GPS to find out for sure. And the walk back to the car was almost all downhill (which lends its own set of problems in wet terrain). Eric actually felt worse than I did when we were done. Walking downhill is hard on his knees, and he's ten years younger me!

Can you guess what we did after this hike? Why, we went shopping at Wal-Mart, of course!


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