June 6, 2004

Strange Meadow Lark

Today, it was a good day. I spent the majority of Friday and Saturday sleeping (as I had been keeping strange whopper-jawed schedules all week that had me at work until 2:30 in the morning and still showing up at 8:30 next… er… that morning), so today I felt refreshed and reckless. In channeling these key human traits I grabbed my bike and headed up to Meadow Camp to do a bit of mountain biking. I didn’t want to bite off too much, considering I had just regnarled my leg what, two weeks ago, but I needed to get out and do something because I felt myself getting terribly sulky again.

Here’s a thing about Danes, and by Danes I mean people who are Danish, as well as people who are Danes. We always need to be occupied with something, and by ‘occupied’ I mean completely engrossed by it. If there’s anything in the world worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Now, if a Dane is idle too long he (or she) will inevitably begin to busy him (or her) self with senseless hand-wringing. They worry about themselves, they worry about others, they worry about the state of the world, and they even fuss and fit over the typical epistemological and metaphysical quandries that haunt all of mankind. These are necessary thoughts for people to entertain, but most are decently able to keep them confined to a few minutes a day. Like sit-ups, pining away on these subjects will worry a person thin.

Unfortunately for Danes, we toss ourselves completely in the way of whatever cometh, and if we’re not busying our hands with something (whether it be work or hobby) we will inevitably take up hand-wringing full-time until something interrupts us, or we are able to interrupt ourselves. More and more I’ve been working on interrupting myself when these troublesome thoughts plague my head, and the best way to clean house has typically been through intellectual, creative or physical exertion. I get just about all the intellect I need from work, and stomping around in the outdoors always feeds all three. Being all gnarled up has really put a damper on my ability to run around outside, so it’s quite refreshing to finally get out and play again.

I started at Meadow Camp and followed the trail up the Deschutes River, and after five minutes I realized how out of shape I really have become. My last big outdoor shindig was when I traveled to the Coast, where my lungs were spoiled with sea level oxygen. In Bend I’m living at 3,600 feet, and if I’m playing anywhere up in the Deschutes Wilderness I’m probably at 4,000 feet or more, and since I’ve barely done anything more physically demanding than frisbee in the last three months, the terrain and hills really got to me. I stuck with the riding, though, and supplemented it with frequent snoozes in the sunshine, laying in the grass by the Deschutes or sitting on top of rocky cliffs in a burned-out forest. All in all I put in over three hours of biking/snoozing, which is a successful Sunday by any measure. I also took lots of photographs that really suck because my camera is a hunk of junk.

What’s more, I discovered that the Cascade Lakes Highway is finally open this season. The road has been snowed in ever since I moved to Bend, so for me the entire area was a blank space on the map shouded in mystery. Jumping at an opportunity to discover some uncharted territory in my back yard (literally, half an hour from Lava House), I hopped in the Subaru and gunned it up into the mountains. And let me tell ya, it is so beautiful up there my lower jaw is totally scraped up from dragging on the ground the entire drive. Around every twist in the road was a new discovery, from alpine meadows and swamps to lakes of turquoise and emerald, that completely blew up my preconceived notions of the size of my playground. It was like I had spent all my time perfecting my technique on the monkey bars and twisty slide, only to discover a tire swing, zip-line and giant plastic dragon just around the corner.

Wow. The rain was falling something fierce for the entire drive, and it was actually snowing up by Sparks Lake and Mount Bachelor, so I never got to get out and play… but it’s probably just as well. I really should pace myself as I’m healing up from the Great Regnarling, and I should be thankful that my morning bike ride went without incident. Well, no incidents beyond the fact that I couldn’t breathe ninety percent of the time, but even with that, there’s a bit of sadistic delight that comes with self-inflicted suffocation caused by physical exertion.