Hiking vs. Time Travel

Unemployment has taken an interesting turn-now that I have so much downtime, I’ve dusted off my dormant inner nerd and hugged her much tighter than anticipated.  Lately, I’ve been devouring episodes of ‘Doctor Who’, its spinoff ‘Torchwood’, imagined a fantasy wedding to Abed from the show ‘Community’ (this should be really shocking to some [like Aaron] and not so shocking to others [like TJ].  I figure I can drop names and make personal connections inside these parentheses, because really only, like, 5 people ever read this…) and dusted off books that I’d purchased long ago but tossed into a pile and never looked at again.  I’ve traded exploring the real world for exploring imaginary worlds.  It’s not the healthiest of substitutions, most would argue, but it’s proving much easier to disappear into than I had expected.  Which is probably why the critics/mental health professionals would call it ‘unhealthy’ (But they clearly haven’t formed an attachment to David Tennant, so I’m going to take their criticisms with a grain of salt…).  So in an act of mental health awareness, I took a 3-day break from technology and the computer screen which grants me unlimited access to Sci-Fi and stepped out into the fresh, mountainside air for a much-needed Memorial Day Weekend camping extravaganza.

Over the years, I’ve slowly developed a strange mix of characteristics: these days I refuse to leave the house without a large palate of makeup on my face and product in my hair, but one of my favorite things in the world is to run off into the mountains where cellphone service and showers don’t exist, and smelling like campfire is a requirement.  So that’s exactly how I spent last weekend: completely cut off from civilization, with a giant grin plastered on my face and dirt underneath my fingernails (Maybe that’s my mountain-version of makeup?  Nah, that’s probably the 5 layers of sunscreen plastered on my freckled face, which still really didn’t protect my fluorescent white skin from getting sunburned…).  It had been almost two whole years since I had been camping in the Wyoming wilderness, and it was such a pleasant surprise to see green grass stretched across rolling hills and mountains that were plagued for so long by drought.  It was such a beautiful weekend that I actually got to use Bertha the Massive Camera (I didn’t even her on the prior 5,000 mile stretch, so it was good to get back in the photography swing).  My favorite photos from this weekend were actually taken in the last hour of the trip; on the way back off the mountain, the Indian Paintbrush (Wyoming’s state flower) were scattered in larger groups than I’ve ever seen, offering brilliant red patches intermingled in between the sagebrush that I’m incredibly allergic to and wildflowers whose names elude me.  But while this colorful palate was a beautiful surprise, I also got a reminder that Mother Nature also possesses an unbending and sometimes callous side.  The wild horses run untamed and free here, and my favorite has long been a grey stallion that is so beautiful that he is, to me, the definition of magnificent.  The last time I saw him was three years ago, and he was limping quite a bit as he led his heard across a meadow.  We became reacquainted Monday, and at first I was so delighted to see that he was still around.  But once I took a closer look at this magnificent animal, I noticed that he was no longer surrounded by other horses, that his limp was so extreme he could barely walk, and that his coloring was still brilliant but lack of food had made his ribcage painfully visible.  For some reason the Lion King’s ‘Circle of Life’ started playing in my head, and it struck me that though the ‘real world’ hustle and bustle can be harsh, nothing is as brutal as living in the natural elements, with nothing to protect or shelter you from the harsh realities.  This is really what I’ve been doing by submerging myself in alternate universes while waiting to hear back from the latest rounds of job applications; in my head, if I’m soaring around in the TARDIS the possibilities are endless, no matter what my inbox tells me.  This beautiful animal doesn’t have this luxury-once you’re hurt, you’re hurt, and you can’t hit the ‘Next Episode’ button until you feel better.  And that really struck a chord within me for some reason.

One of my favorite quotes comes from a delightful novel (Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore), “Your life must be an open city, with all sorts of ways to wander in.”  These past few weeks have been a great source for allowing the more neglected parts of myself to ‘wander in’, so I’m turning into a much nerdier, outdoorsy person?  I don’t know, I suppose I’ll figure it out next week when I turn the big 2-7.  Right?  That’s what happens when you hit your late 20’s-you get all the answers to the universe?  That’s what I thought…

Below are the 15-out-of-200 photos that I actually liked from this weekend.  The grey stallion is included, and you can really see his injured left leg in the colored photo.


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