Sunday, July 16, 2006

Nature Walk Part II

AJ and I went hiking yet again (last weekend).

This marks the second weekend in a row that involved nature and the outdoors (going to Opera in the Dolores Park or other free summer events doesn't count). I believe this is the second time in the last two years that I have gone hiking.

I am not an outdoor person. Beside that though, I am not a morning person, and hiking often entails waking earlier than necessary on an otherwise blissful morning of unconciousness. I have the opportunity to sleep in two days a week, and I try to exercise that option as much as possible.

I was, however, very excited to wear my hiking boots. I purchased my hiking boots two years ago when AJ and I (along with Rita, Damon, Karen and Ben - the same group of people who I am going on the Midwest Trip with later this month) visited Hawaii, the Big Island of.

AJ and I had brought along appropriate shoes to Hawaii, but through circumstances too boring to talk about even on this blog (and let's face it, I talk about some boring things) we ended up over on the Hilo side of the island ready to go on a hike to see the flowing lava with flip flops on - well AJ only had flip flops - I think I had fashionable but totally tractionless sneakers acquired three season earlier on clearance at Banana Republic (this was when I used to shop at BR).

The park rangers advised against walking on molten earth with footwear manufactured and marketed by Gap Inc. and their subsidiaries. This, of course, included my tractionless uncomfortable (but still kinda cute) BR sneakers, and AJ's Old Navy flip flops. We were screwed.

So we left our friends and drove over to Hilo to see if we could find appropriate footwear. We ended up at WalMart, where lucky us they were having a two-for sale on Hiking Boots. Why any one person would want to buy TWO pairs of hiking boots for themselves if beyond me, but it worked out perfectly for AJ and I. We now had matching hiking boots ($12 each or two for $16) and let me tell you, they were the best $8 I spent in Hawaii.

Our friends ended up meeting up with due to the weather we all bought cheap umbrellas and went over to the Hawaiian Botanical Gardens. We never did get to see the lava flow that trip - as the lava had inconveniently decided to flow to an area of the island that would require a six hour hike over dangerous terrain. But perhaps next time.

Nevertheless, I brought my $8 hiking boots back to San Francisco and held on to them in the hopes that AJ and I would hike again. This was difficult as I am an avowed shoe whore and really don't have room to hold onto shoes that I never use. Nevertheless the hiking boots went into a plastic shoe box bin (courtesy of The Container Store) never to come out. Until last week and this week.

This week's hike was significantly more strenuous than last week's shady walking-down-a-gravel-fire-road hike. In other words, I actually got to utilize said shoes traction.

We hiked in Point Reyes with Peter and Grant. Peter isn't as outdoorsy as Grant, who, being the plant biologist, is inclined to actually enjoy nature in all it's glory. A simple example of Peter's woodsy nature is exemplified by his choice of socks. While AJ, Grant, and I wore white atheletic socks, Peter chose a more dignified pair of argyle socks to wear with his atheletic shoes. This is why I love Peter so much.

The hike out to Point Reyes was beautiful and AJ had brought out his camera. After taking several shots of the coastline (we hiked the Bear Valley trail) he commented that no matter how beautiful the coast is, pretty much every shot that he's ever taken of the coast looks pretty much the same. This is kind of true. Nevertheless we enjoyed ourselves immensely, because photos never do a that sort of scene justice.

The trek out to the ocean was easy breezy (cover girl), relatively shaded, on a pretty nice wide area, next to a cracklin' creek (I love the aliteration that goes with slow moving water - cracklin' creek, stuttering' stream, babblin' brook, etc.). On the way back, we later took off all our clothes and waded around it the creek strutting about as if we were in a Bruce Weber-Abercrombie and Fitch photo shoot - except A&F would never feature two Asian boys and two hairy white boys in their ads. There was an old tire hanging from one of the trees, and so we took turns swing off of it and jumping in the water and generally make fools of ourselves in a very Tom Sawyer sort of way. After awhile the cold water got to us and we lazed about in the sun and shade for the rest of the day, in vaguely homoerotic positions hoping a couple of attractive park rangers would come across us and tell us "I'm sorry, but we don't allow that here. We're going to have to punish y'all...."

No, actually we went down to the creek and dipped our hands in the water to clean them off, but there was no skinny dipping. That only occurs with AJ and Peter get drunk during High Spring Day.

On the trek out to the ocean, Grant decided to point out plants that would make us itch - which was important because apparently the West Coast has different poisonous plants than the midwest/east coast. No Poison Ivy out here in California, but definitely Poison Oak, and Nettles. AJ taught us all a lovely reminder that he learned in camp - (or in cub scouts I can't remember) about poisonous vegetation - "Leaves of Three, Let it Be" as well as showed us some sort of hand thing he was taught (where he put his hands on top of each other, one palm to the back of the other hand) and said that he was also taught in camp/cub scouts if the plant had leaves like his hands configuration that it was also poisonous. Grant seemed amused and said that AJ had just described 95% of outdoor plants, and perhaps it would be better to just avoid anything green. AJ later said that he didn't really learn anything useful in cub scouting... other that marijuana might kill him (you can ask him for that story).

The ocean was beautiful (with huge seagulls that flew over) though the rock at the end of the trail was labelled "Arch Rock". We saw no rock, and though the name to be a definite misnomer. Shame on the park services for misleading us.

We ended up hiking back a different route that was much longer and not in the shade. The trail was in the sun and rather exhausting but relatively enjoyable. It was on this trail that I realized there was one big reason that I really didn't care for the outdoors and nature.

The bugs.

I love hiking, I love vegetation, greenery, the babbling brook and the potential for any sort of Abercrombie and Fitch homoerotic scenario (that really never occurs, but one can always hope). But those damn insects are just plain annoying. I, of course, blame the horses that came through the trail leaving their droppings everywhere, attracting huge horseflies that irritated the hell out of me. Peter took to whipping his shirt around his head during portions of the hike to discourage the flies. I was amused, but considered it myself. Those flies were annoying.

And that's when it all fell apart. Because as much as I was having a great time, those bugs were... well they were bugging me. And I could no longer enjoy the trees or the green grass, or the lovely rocky vista. No all I could do was swat away the flies in the hopes that they wouldn't land on me.

I really hate bugs.

And that is where I realized I can only take the outdoors for so much. I love hiking, and I love going on a day trip, but anything more strenuous and all of sudden all the little things become big things. I need a hot shower and a comfy bed.

AJ and Grant love the outdoors and most everything that comes with it. I am sure that they don't really care for the flies and the bugs, but it's not a big deal for them, that there are bugs - it's just a minor inconvenience. They don't think a second thought about hiking out into the wilderness with backpacks to camp overnight - something that they have talked about doing with our friends Ben and Chris. But our friend Felisa and Karen agree that if they do that, we'll just go for a day hike. And then we'll go back to a lodge where there's climate control air conditioning, running hot water, and where we don't have to dig a hole in the ground to take a dump.

Felisa and Karen call it "Frou Frou Camping" and Peter and I are all for it. I say let them go on their hike in the woods. We'll meet them the next day. Because as much as I'd love to go hiking out in the woods and frolic in the stuttering stream, I'd much rather go hiking in the woods and then shower under rapidly running hot water.


At 10:41 PM, Anonymous Karen said...

I totally understand about the bugs. I went camping with some girlfriends this weekend (car camping, not hiking camping), and at the last minute, I brought along bug repellent even though I haven't used it in more than a year. I was so glad that I brought it, because the mosquitoes at dusk really sucked (literally AND figuratively). I got a single bite on my hand, but my friend Ana got multiple bites all over her body. You totally forget about bugs while living in most of the Bay Area, but once you head out to the woods, WATCH OUT! I will be bringing bug repellent on our Mid-West Tour.

At 6:19 PM, Blogger Rita said...


I, too, will be bringing bug repellant. With DEET, yo. I don't mess around.

Irvin, you are my soul. Mate.

Recently, I reevaluated my lifelong ambition to go on an African Safari. I had always wanted to. It just sounds cool, doesn't it?? Plus, I like taking pictures. People who come back from safaris have the best pictures.

Damon, however, reminded me that
1) I'm not outdoorsy,
2) I hate bugs,
3) I hate bugs,
4) I don't camp, and
5) the only thing that makes me scream louder than bugs is real-life animals.

So really, Damon asked me to ask myself, what part of a safari would I like?


It's not that I wouldn't do an African safari in spite of the above. But, keeping those factors in mind, the safari has now fallen way down the list. Kinda like those movies at the bottom of your Netflix that you know you will never really see.

Near the top, however, is Antarctica to see emperor penguins!! Emperor penguins are not like other animals, yo. They are clean and majestic and stand up and won't attack or slobber on you.

And guess what! Antarctica?


At 12:56 AM, Blogger jackhonky said...

okay. and what is the closest to Antartica without actually being in Antartica? SOUTH AMERICA...specifically ARGENTINA - which actually CLAIMS part of Antartica for themselves as part of their country.

and yes, they have PENGUINS in Argentina too....

so you must come with us in january. because we going down there and we're going south to see the glaciers and icebergs and all that....

and do you really think it is wise to call me your "...soul. Mate." with Damon in the house?

is this like being kindred spirits but different? kite strings but not? kangaroo shoes but completely the opposite? i'm just curious.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Felisa said...

Commenty today! I was stung by stinging nettles whilst in Cambridge. We were punting on the River Cam and doing a little personnel rotation and I stepped out of the boat right into a batch of nettles. Bleh.

At 12:07 PM, Blogger Rita said...

Well, Damon says I can't tell you what name I've given him.

But, perhaps you're right. "Soul. Mate." may not be the right choice for you, either.

You and I are actually Like This!

Loony Tunes. Lemon trees. Lion tamers. Lightning thieves.

Leaning Towers.
Little toes!
Load-bearing trucks!

Which is nothing like kiwi strawberries, Kansas sunflowers, and karaoke standards, hello! One is "kindred spirits," and one is "like this!"

Also: I would like to state (not for the first time!) that Karen and I are BUDDIES!!!!! That's with all caps and exclamation marks, a designation earned so many times, I've lost count.

Bugspray Usage During Dusk Is Essential, Sister!!!!!

Lipton tea,


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