Friday, August 12, 2016

Nature...and whatnot...

Yesterday the male 3/4 of Team WestEnders vamoosed for the other Carolina, to visit with Husband's parents before the Summer of 2016 becomes a distant memory. They'd been delayed, of course, by Riley's injury--after all, there's no point in traveling that close to the coast, without being able to, you know, actually do crazy...beachy stroll on the sand...or splash in the waves. So I waved them on their way, then settled in to enjoy my longed-for, precious, few-and-far-between PQW (Peaceful, Quiet Weekend).

Yeeaahh...about that...the first things I did when I had the house to myself were...straighten up (translation: "put everything--neatly and precisely--exactly where I wanted it, for once")....and clean (knowing that no one would be messing it up again for days--DAYS, I tell ya! I was positively giddy at the thought of it...I may need an intervention...). Then I put my feet up, turned on some trashy TV, and...ate bon bons. (Confession: I'm not even totally sure what those are, or why they're appealing. Is it like little balls of chocolate? If so, I should get me some of those...) Right--no, I didn't...I ran the dishwasher and a load of laundry.

CLEARLY, I needed to work on my Relaxation Game--and also, I get bored ridiculously easily--so I determined that the best thing to do would be to take a Solo Friday Field Trip...and stay the heck away from the old homestead for a night. (Because--you'll be happy to hear--I'm not so far gone that I feel compelled to tidy or scrub hotel rooms...thank goodness!) I identified a state park about an hour and a half to the southeast, where I could do some hiking; it also happened to be in the vicinity of a couple of historic towns that I could explore the next day before heading back. Done!

Therefore, this morning I packed up my provisions and set off after breakfast. Now, I've been on Interstate 40 many times in the last 2 years, and am quite familiar with the hustle-bustle and crowdedness of it...right up until Raleigh. (Okay, okay...that's only "30 miles or so"...) Once you get past the capital and off the highway, though, things clear out in a big old hurry--and suddenly you feel like you're in the Middle. Of. Nowhere. It's all wilderness on either side of the road, and farmland, and scattered houses (some adorable and well-kept, others...not so much...)

It was all says with a slight shudder. In fact, I even had to do a very unnatural and somewhat scary thing: that's right, I'm talking about "consulting a map". No, not Google Maps, because believe me, I was deep in No Bars Territory, folks. I mean the folded, paper, "spread out and squint at it to read the teensy printed names of the landmarks" kind. It could have been worse--not only did I quickly pinpoint where I was, my next turn was coming up soon, and I hadn't missed it, as I'd feared.

So I continued to drive, seemingly further into the impression which turned out to be deceptive, as a helpful directional sign I passed stated that I was only 28 miles outside of Raleigh. It felt as though I'd journeyed more like 400; it's sometimes still unfathomable to me that vast open spaces and acres of lush greenery exist in North Carolina, just beyond the borders of the cities. Anyway, I eventually reached Medoc Mountain, and prepared myself to storm the peak! least traverse the Summit Trail.

But I quickly discovered that I'd been misled--you see, it's not a "mountain" at all...but rather a "granite bluff" that, due to its hardness and durability, remained in place while the surrounding rock and soil eroded away...leaving it to stand as...the tallest formation in the area. Harrumph! That's a bit...underwhelming, wouldn't you agree? The brochure does (somewhat sheepishly) tout it as the "highest point from here to...the Atlantic Ocean". Bwah hah hah! Nice try, Medoc, I scoff at your paltry elevation! But...I AM I might as well take a nice walk in the woods, yeah?

Well, then...often, the forest is one of my best friends. And's out to get me. (What did I ever do to it? Beats me...who knows what that thinking?) Shortly after traipsing blithely onto the path, I ran face first into the unmistakable stringiness of a spiderweb that must have been built across the width of the trail. Leaping into the air, shrieking, and thrashing my arms about my head in a VERY non-Indiana...Jane...manner, I annihilated that arachnid's abode in short order.

(Memo to creepy crawler: Sorry...NOT SORRY! I know, I know, you're only trying to catch your food, and this is your turf, not mine, blah blah blah...but seriously, must you set your little booby traps where unsuspecting, innocent humans can waltz right into them? For crying out loud, we're just trying to enjoy the Great take it somewhere else, ya 8-legged menace! And yes, I did have this entire conversation in my head while attempting to wipe all remnants of the web off of my person. At least I didn't actually talk to the creature....right?

Next, 2 things happened pretty immediately. 1.) That damn No Doubt song popped into my head and Would. Not. Leave. for the remainder of my afternoon constitutional (C'mon, you know the one I'm talking about: "Sorry I'm not home right now, I'm walking into spiderwebs"...Curse you, Gwen Stefani!) And 2.) I began searching for what we call a "spider whacking stick" in my family, which comes in handy in trying times such as these. I located a suitable branch and, satisfied with my ability to clear the area in front of me from that point forward, continued on my trek.

So picture this: there I was...slowly and warily creeping through the trees...while keeping up a continuous slashing and twirling motion with my makeshift weapon. I swear, I must have looked like some kind of...demented fencer...dueling with an invisible (but very dangerous, believe me!) opponent. And for all my exhausting efforts, I still ended up somehow missing spots, and wearing the stupid strands more frequently than I would have liked (which would be, oh, approximately NEVER). Needless to say, it was NOT among the most restful....or pleasant...excursions I've ever taken.

But, all's well that ends well...and in this case, the fact that it concluded--without a spider bite--might have been my favorite part. Now I get to move on to my very own hotel room, where I'll recuperate-- mentally, emotionally, and physically. (Hey, BIT...Bug Induced Terror...takes a lot out of a person, y'all!) Tomorrow, hopefully my urban rambling will be MUCH less taxing...not to mention "fraught with insects". Fingers crossed!

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