Sunday, October 22, 2006

How To Visit An Alien Planet Without Leaving Earth

We didn't leave the house until almost 10pm on Friday night. I collected my things in less than a minute. Basically just my sleeping bad, headlamp, and the clothes I was wearing. Paul started to drive up the canyon. We passed through Yale and the police cruiser parked by the stop lights. We passed through the first tunnel. We drove on into the night. Joleen mentioned that she was feeling queasy. She said this wasn't on account of his driving. We drove on into the darkness.

We veered off of the road and turned left onto a little pull out. Paul wondered aloud if his car would be safe there. He asked for his club. I found it at my feet, slyly peeking out from beneath the front seat. Why does the tall, large guy sit in the back? I'm a gentleman. Or want to appear one. Or something to that effect, or in between, or both, and more. We got out of the car as semi trucks roared by a few feet from us; separated only by a narrow concrete barrier. We unloaded the trunk of the car. 4 people and less the 4 people's gear. Plus firewood. The walk took over 7 minutes and would be down a slightly sketchy hill. So we only wanted to make one trip. Another semi went roaring past. They drive exceedingly fast down the canyon. And we were to shortly scurry across the asphalt, hurdle the concrete buttress and walk a short distance along the train tracks before turning into the forest. All of this with only headlamps for light. A small pool of visual information amidst a dark surrounding pierced by the light and noise of passing traffic and trains.

We stumbled into the twilight as branches attempted to unload us of our burdens and roots tried to snare our feet. Up ahead Paul warned us of broken glass and to use care. A structure lurched out of the darkness, surprising us all. Paul said it must be new. He'd never seen it before. The trail transitioned from into the forest to heading down a rocky path loosely scattered with leaves. Clunky and slippery rocks. I walked in the back, the rearguard, Paul in the front, the scout, and in between Joleen and Gillian, the pack horses. (heh) I was wary of the slippery slope I was descending. A sharp pain pierced inside my right knee cap. It left as I lifted my foot. It only happened a couple times. It's happened before. The road was left up and behind, a recent memory, nothing more. The vast blank darkness was now around.. surrounding.. enclosing.. enveloping. Our lights were not bright enough to shine against anything except the ground. The only other light came from the outline of the stars seen up high above the mountains height. In the light cast by the lamps I couldn't distinguish much detail or difference in the grade or height of the sand. I walked a sandy darkened desert.

Turning my head to the right I was shocked as a large rock emerged alone, then merged back into the landscape existent now only in my mind. We climbed the sandy slope and picked a location to lay out the tarp. That done, the girls declared they would start the fire while we had the opportunity to go find wood. So Paul and I left into the darkness and I stumbled around my alien world of sand dunes, random rocks, and the night. The river roared, trapped between the two walls of the canyon, and despite our search we couldn't find much wood along the shore. We took what we had to the outpost atop the sandy hill, now a circle in the murk of the surrounding night. Paul and I then ventured uphill, higher uphill. We stumbled over rocky outcroppings sporting damp moss and slippery footholds. We discovered the occasional piece of wood that had become lodged in the rocky gaps much like a piece of meat caught in one's teeth. Like that little piece right down near the gum line. We wiggled and wiled the pieces of wood out, threw them into the darkness in what we hoped was a sandy spot we would be able to rediscover, and continued our groping for wood in the night. We encountered some skeletal remains. We attacked them with a ferocity. Breaking pieces off we brought them back to the fire. The cold night would be held at bay for a time longer.

We sat down. I squatted by the fire. Time passed. More time passed. Joleen asked why I wouldn't come join them. Paul came and sat on fire wood nearer the fire with me. We said that guys sit on one side and girls on the other. Obviously our camp was besieged and amidst the tensions minds were beginning to fray. Paranoia was setting in. Whenever Paul and I would reemerge from the night Joleen would question us as to what we were talking about. Most persistently too. We said we were talking about "Guy Stuff". This is allowed because they kept telling us to go away so they could talk about "Girl Stuff". Really we say "Guy Stuff" because girls don't believe when guys say "nothing". At least if we say "Guy Stuff" then it's like the girls stop asking questions and are satisfied knowing they were right all along and we were talking about things of importance, like them. In reality we weren't talking about anything in particular.. which in effect becomes "nothing". Now you know. Mostly we were listening to the wind and watching shooting stars. That sounds pretty artsy fartsy... so we also.. uh... thought of manly things too. Paul farted. A couple times..... *ahem* *cough cough* I've never seen the sky so bright. I've never seen shooting stars leaves trails so bright across the sky. It's been awhile since I've seen Orion. We reacquainted ourselves. Occasionally trains would come tooting their way down and up the canyon, and light would briefly be glimpsed in a strip along the mountain side. The others soon all curled up and allowed slumber to overtake them. I went and sought out more wood. A few times. Each time I'd leave further and further from the camp site atop the sandy encampment. I ventured again and again into the alienscape of vast dark sandyness and occasional rock outcropping. One time I felt in the dark a large shape waiting me. I went towards it and came upon a hill-like outcropping. A rusty iron cable looped in and around the rocks near my feet lead off into the sky. I scurried around it but finding no wood I departed to return in the morning.

When I awoke I looked out upon a different land than the one I'd gone to sleep with. The comfortable familiarity of the night was gone. The wind had changed direction and now came up the canyon. A little tumbleweed tumbled on by. No more isolated rocks or sand as far as the mind can imagine. No, now the alien world was full of mountain faces, a large river, clouds, trees, birds, and train tracks. I nurtured the fire back to life. The only remnant of the night past. An hour and a bit later Paul woke up. The girls rolled closer to each other for warmth and we went off to explore the morning. Looking down river I saw a trail of footprints one of us had left the night before. A leaf had fallen from a tree and landed right in the footprint of one shoe. The yellow green shone out amongst the grey damp sand.

The river is really low now. There hasn't be much rain for quite a long time. The retreating water line had left behind amazing formations that have been carved and scoured over a really really long time. Large potholes, little tunnels, chutes and ledges. The sunlight brought another very alien looking landscape to our eyes. Something not often seen yet amazingly beautiful and wonderful.

Some people are very very gifted with words. Other's string them together to the best of their ability. I wish I had a bit more of the former to spice up my latter so that I could bring some of that beauty and wonder to you all. Pictures wouldn't bring it justice but it would help a bit. I still don't have a camera. It's on the list. ;) So basically go out and explore and live. Maybe go to a new place in the dark with just a headlamp (and some other people who've been there before wouldn't hurt) (unless they deceive you to their amusement) and walk around. See life in a new way by looking at the little things. Go for a hike in the fog or climb a mountain in a cloud. Your attention will be drawn to the foreground where there is a wealth of things to see and be amazed with. Heck, go look really really close at a tree in the woods. You'll most likely see all kinds of things growing on it.

Ok.. i've gone on enough.
May you have a wonderful week. If anyone wants to hang out contact me. I'll be in Hope for a little more, past this next weekend, then I'll be heading to Abby for a night. I may stay longer if people want to do something. Then up to Sechelt for a day or two. Then over to Victoria for a little while. Then up to Quadra Island. And I'm not sure after that.. open to options. But it's looking like, at this time, I'll be starting a program in Victoria in January. So then I'll actually be in one place for a decent chunk of time. Maybe a little over 2 years....

Ciao for now my wonderful friends and family, and family's friends, and goodbye to complete strangers who've checked this out for whatever reason as well.

ps a quote from my high school year book.. I put this in the part where the grad's do their write-up. Xor Dyffad. It's some 1997 code for y'all. It's really simple. It's not actually code. But it is something.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Nicely put Jordo. I sums up the event very nicely, give me some time to post mine. It will get up there.