On my first full day home for the holidays, I got in five miles on the East Boulder Trail. I was able to run to the turn-around point, but had to walk back as I’ve gained the Covid-twenty since March. I was only home for a stealthy few days, all of them full, relaxing, restorative.
My family gathered at Brit and Eric’s new home in Edgewater for Thanksgiving. It’s near Sloans Lake for running and they have good neighbors. Eric has mastered replacing the doorbell and is preparing for larger DIY jobs.
Eric brought me into the kitchen to carve. Otherwise, he cooked it all; the stuffing was his family recipe; he baked Brussel sprouts with something else good; mashed potatoes with a gravy that was the talk of the table; he warmed up the green bean casserole; plus he baked two pies. Did I mention the turkey?
If I told you whom I had this conversation with, I’d have to kill you. But this was in fact my conversation tonight. Let me know if you’ve had similar conversations.
This person suspects Trump is faking his corona virus infection. And this person is deadly serious. In earlier conversations, I thought she was mostly joking. And I thought it was funny. I laughed so much harder tonight knowing this person was serious. And this person has evolved beyond suspicion to confidence in her theory.
I laughed so hard on the phone with this person. With everything going on, from the world’s problems to my own dire straights, it felt good to laugh like I did. Seemingly daft conjecture became deeply inane and devolved into plausible supposition on par with a debate on the reality of professional wrestling. By the end of our call, I was left wondering if it was me who was daft.
Tell me what you think. Trump is at a military hospital where he controls the staff as commander-in-chief. The show of white coats on CNN today, failing miserably at transparency, could not have been manufactured back at the White House. Where, I might add, Melania is ducking out of the show. Trump knows he is hopelessly behind in the polls, and can’t possibly dodge that fact he’s responsible for the untimely deaths of nearly a quarter million Americans. What else to do other than become part of the problem he can’t solve by becoming infected himself?
It’s brilliant, except for one small detail, and my brother pointed this out to me when brought into the fray. His administration is too inept to pull off such a clever plan. That is indeed a good point.
And I myself? I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, and this is no different. I do love the fanciful possibilities. If Lance Armstrong was an American tragedy, Trump is an American soap opera. His one true success may have been in reality TV, but the ebb and flow he injects into the news cycle reminds me more of a TV drama.
I don’t know. Professional wrestling is fake. Trump is fake. What are the odds his illness is fake? After I ended the conversation and hung up the phone, I wasn’t exactly sure what I believed, or why I was laughing.
Not really. 112° was the heat index. It was only 103°. That was yesterday. And my run today was only 97°, although it’s 100° now. I would tell you the weather is fine in Texas, as long as you don’t go outside. No wonder I’m so compelled to drink cold beer in this town.
Karen will join me next week, when the temps will start off in the 100s and cool off to the 90s by the end of the week. She grew up in Austin, but has lived much longer in Colorado and likes the change of seasons. Karen is going to melt.
We’ll be staying in South Austin at her cousin’s second home, so we plan to walk each evening on Town Lake which will be close by. I recently visited her to celebrate our 33rd by hiking in Ouray. The occassion for this visit is her birthday. This year has been like having a long distance romance.
I still recall a friend in Mexico telling me decades ago that amor de lejos, amor de pendejos. That phrase has many meanings but essentially, long distance love sux. Hey there, Delilah. But it also feels like we’ve been dating more than married, which is sort of fun. We used to go to the movies together and now we watch NetFlix remotely while texting each other as the show progresses. Love in the time of Covid.
A Go Bag is an emergency-preparedness bag that you pack in advance, but hope you never need. That description, definition, is plagiarized directly from wikihow.com, where you can learn how to make your own go-bag. Their advice on what food to pack is ridiculous. I’ve done enough backpacking to know. You don’t buy a can of tuna. You buy these Bumble Bee tuna lunch packs. Depending on your vices, Starbucks Via Instant Coffee is also brilliant.
I watched Sean Penn advise America on TV the other day that we should all have a go-bag ready as part of our pandemic preparedness. He said smart Californians already know this, for when the big-one hits. With all the backpacking, hiking the 500-mile Colorado Trail with A Lo Hawk, aka La Plata, the international travel as an IT hit man, and the Covid-regulated, guest-living I’ve been doing this year, with all that, it’s fair to say I invented living out of a go-bag.
I could tell you how much experience I’ve gained over the years, but honestly, I think most of my efficiency gains are the result of improved tech. I recall the strap to my computer bag breaking as I climbed the stairs to the second deck of a ferry, crossing Sydney Harbour to Manly Beach. It was a quality bag, but no match for the stresses of my network cables and scores of 3.5 inch floppy disks needed for emergency reinstalls of the prevalent operating systems of the day. It’s crushing weight nearly broke my foot. I now carry a billion times more data, at a fraction of the weight, in the form factor of a USB drive.
Nowadays, I carry two MacBook Airs, one work, one personal, an iPad, some adapters and USB drives, and a copy of my latest novel to gift to whomever I chat up on the flight. My current laptop bag has survived under this improved load the last fifteen years. My back is doing better as well.
I’ve been shuffling back and forth between Colorado and Texas all year and virtually living out of a go-bag. While I’ve expanded my real estate on the remote end of that passage, stocking clothes and toiletries, I can sometimes travel with just the laptop bag. I can leave behind most tangible materials, even most of my data is in the cloud, but I find that I still need to carry compute resources – the requisites to stay connected.
But I must say, I feel stealthy when I travel. I have a bit of an imagination and sometimes pretend I’m a spy as I travel through airports. I fancied myself Harrison Ford in Blade Runner during this recent jaunt through ATX. Maybe that makes me weird, but what goes through your head when you travel? Got a go-bag ready for when you have to self-isolate?
After my Keurig run, Karen told me to enjoy the Keurig one more time, then pack up. The Covid’s comin’. Gear up to hit the trail. We got as far as Estes Park where we thought we could get some grub. We were greeted with signs like this, reminding us of just the other week when it was that way at home too. We were happy with the takeout from Bird & Jim. And they had a better sign.
The girls took our flight in stride. One more road trip for old times, I heard one of them say. Ellie Rose will go off to the Colorado School of Mines this fall, leaving Karen and me to discover our new normal as empty nesters. Ellie Rose should be safe in the mines.
Estes Park did have good food, but we found ourselves surrounded by the Colorado Mountain elk herd that’s been ranging these slopes for eons, or at least since 1913 when the then extinct herd was reintroduced from Wyoming.
We waited for the elk to fall asleep and made our escape under the cover of darkness. With the next morning’s sunlight, we found ourselves on the Lily Mountain Trail.
Karen told us this trail would lead to a new world. A place free from the horrors of 2020. She told us we would be happy in this new place.
When we got there, we saw this. We knew this hike was the right choice for the Memorial Day weekend. Karen was right.
New generations will blaze new trails up here in Karen’s woods. Summer is coming, calling all of us outdoors, hopefully not like sirens to the rocks. Wear a buff on the trail.
The uber that picked me up was like out of some Ridley Scott movie. In the age of Covid, a transparent plastic curtain held up by gray duct tape was all that separated me from the driver. Viral transmission was too viable for my comfort level, so I squeezed the metal strip on my mask tighter over my nose.
There were less drivers on I-35 than on Mars. Still, traffic slowed down through downtown where the highway splits into the lower and upper ramps. It always does.
The line at security was empty, but I stood behind two guys in TSA-Pre, because I was TSA-Pre. There was no line at the airport lounge, but unless you were a well-connected woman, you had to order your cerveza take-away.
I’m on a coffee run for Karen. She has this thing for Taste of San Antonio. You can’t buy it where I’m from. I’ll be back for more soon.