It didn’t occur to me until pretty late in the week that normal people take Labor Day off, even go somewhere. So I decided to see if I could work a schedule out to head up to my parents’ – and now boyfriend’s- town for the weekend. It involved one overnight 10-hour train ride, but I got there care of a pickup from Z. The train ride wasn’t so bad – there was even a span of 2+ hours I could use both seats and sleep rather absurdly curled up. But let’s face it, I was a bit of a zombie during the first day. I got home and pretty quickly a tailor arrived to figure out and then take my bridesmaid dress for hemming. It was a convoluted process but he was great, and then asked when I was leaving the area. When I told him a day and a half later, his eyes lit up: he took it as a personal challenge. My parents and I then raced off to the Farmer’s Market, which was beautiful as always. I’m almost never home when it’s still going, so it was neat to see everything. I even found a cute new skirt!

Later I went to Z’s to catch up on some episodes of Orange is the New Black, which we started together so must finish together. I think we only have a few left now! I also fell fast asleep and he let me nap until about dinnertime. I was still a zombie, possibly worse after the nap. But it did feel great. I rushed to shower off the overnight-train-it’s-been-too-long-since-the-last-clean and then the four of us went out for dinner at a place I love and requested. That was delicious as expected, and we followed it up with gelato – mm-mm!

The next day we woke up and went up to my parents’ for Belgian waffles and watermelon before heading out to browse through EMS. I picked up some small details for my hike, and then we went mini-golfing. I really wished I’d found my shorts at home before then – hot and humid! But still a fun time, with random holes (Funspot is always tops) and sometimes pretty things:

Before heading home, we stopped off at a grocery store that’s going out of business (actually, as of this writing, I think it’s gone). It was very strange to see it so empty.

Nothing! And they’d consolidated the few remaining items to the center of the store, resulting in this:

And this:

Strange but fun outing. When I got home, I found my shorts and helped my mom make yummy chocolate chip cookies for the BBQ/get-together with Z’s family. We fed a few to some thru-hikers who stopped by, and I tried to gather more information from them. Both were glad I was going to try it, saying it was an incredible experience. One, Rabbit, cautioned me to take 8-mile days for the first week rather than trying to power ahead (thus injuring myself). Your joints need time to adjust to the intensive walking.

The BBQ wound up being a celebration party and involved many more people than we’d thought! Thankfully we weren’t the only ones assigned to dessert, and there is always plenty of food there. We are lucky. We all oohed and ahhed over Z’s photos of my brother’s wedding, for the thousandth time. They are great. After, we headed up to my house for one last night of VT sleep. One more Orange is the New Black, and sleep. The morning, as usual with me, was a runaround of pack-shower-pack-organize-pack-ahhhhh-breakfast-pack-gogogo. Brunch down at Z’s was great and they packed me lunch and snacks because they are the greatest (both families). And: the tailor finished my dress, so it’s sitting in my suitcase with me now. Wow.

It was nice being home.

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All kinds of things are coming together these days. I’m starting to feel more settled, somehow. Maybe from moving, maybe from other things.

The major coming together of the month was my brother’s wedding! I realized I never wrote about that. Everything about it was beautiful and perfect. I’ve never seen two people so much in love. Maybe I’ve just never been in a wedding, so didn’t get to see everything up front, but wow. These two. Add to that a beach in Hawaii, and you’re golden. It was stunning.

The first day became a beach day, which was lovely. Spread out, chill out, read, nap, check out the water and fish. And with nearly all my favorite people. My other brother and his family (super cool sister-in-law, two precious nieces), parents, boyfriend and his family, my new sister-in-law, aunt, cousin…

There were chill days, adventure days around the island, rehearsals and dinners, volcanoes, the wedding itself. Getting ready. I’m so excited to see pictures! There were some precious moments: getting “Bridesmaid” shirts from the bride, figuring out hair and makeup, my dad coming in and out – I think the photographer got one of both him and the bride fixing hair in the mirror -, the first look at her in her dress, helping her get her train into the pickup truck she drove to the wedding (oh man. Amazing). Watching her watch my brother, my brother sitting faced away from her at the front. Distracting her when she kept saying, “I look at [him] and I’m gonna start crying.” For goodness, sake, I almost started crying then! Walking in with my other brother, the ring they both bought me for my 18th on my hand. Listening to them say their vows, watching them just be so, so in love. The delicious food, the hilarity of the dancing.

Pololū Valley

lava

lava

So that trip was amazing. In every way. Took a day to run around practically the whole island, then slowed down to one of the most delicious meals out I’ve ever had, with this guy who continues to make me happy.

Things are coming together.

Today, for example. I was finally able to go to a yoga class this evening, for the first time since realizing there were classes my company would pay for through a gym membership. I’ve been wanting to go for a month or more. Tonight managed to open up enough that I went. I’m pretty intimidated by gyms, so it was nice to go in, be pointed in the right direction, and join others who were learning – getting direction for a workout. That’s the other thing about yoga. It’s hard, but it doesn’t quite feel like working out. And it’s a nice balance of workout and meditation for me, my own getaway from the madness. It was a pretty small class tonight, and for the most part I didn’t feel judged. Though there was that time I was stretching the opposite side as everyone else…

Then there is the continuous, seemingly-in-vain attempt at getting into a morning routine that I like. Ideally, it includes meditation, eating breakfast, writing my novel, showering, and making some try to look nice rather than running out the door. ONE of those things might start to happen, which might spur on the others. Baby steps. There is a local writing group, and some members also either write early or would like to. So it’s looking like some of us are going to create a kind of phone/e-mail tree to wake the others up when they want. If we all want to get up around 6am, then one has to and then calls the others. Maybe they call three times every five minutes and then stop. Or something. But that could be really awesome.

I also recently discovered and then tried out a super fast breakfast-making operation. You can bake eggs into hard-boiled-ness. Requires a muffin tin and eggs. Sunday night I bake-boiled a dozen eggs at once, leaving me an easy breakfast of 2 eggs each morning. If you keep the shells on, they’ll last about a week. Take them off, and it’s 2 days. Ready? Pre-heat oven to 325F (350 if your oven runs a touch cool), put one egg per muffin space (this prevents them from moving around too much), and then bake for 25-30 minutes. So far, I’ve found the yokes tend towards one side when you’re done, and there are some pinprick brown dots when you peel them. Neither is reason for concern. Between that and the occasional Instant Breakfast (provided I both have milk and it’s not gone bad), I might start eating breakfasts. The bagel place by work will still tempt me on occasion, I’m sure, but I’m trying to get away from the intake of carbs in the morning. The Internet* says it’s not good for your day energy. So there. So…there…toasted bagel with cream cheese. :-/

* Side note, my morning goals have been set for a long time before I saw an article like that. I already know TM, or transcendental meditation and love it. Etc. Carry on.

Writing, breakfast, meditation is sure to follow. As long as I don’t go back to sleep. I’ve gotta finish this novel before I leave for my hike, and time is decreasing rather more rapidly than I’d prefer!  That, and maybe weekly yoga, and then maybe weekly writing group (evening). Ohmygosh. Keep breathing. But that would be really great. This could be really great.

Seneca Rocks, WV. The most incredible weekend I can even remember.

July 27

We got down with enough time to get the tent up before the light left us, though it was close. At 9 we went to the restaurant in town – Front Porch Restaurant. We grabbed pizza and brought wine to share. Delicious. There was a clear Bachelor Party behind us – pizza, beer, stories of the groom-to-be. We offered them the rest of our pizza and got to talking. They invited us out on a night hike with them.

“I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to ruin the Bachelor Party. I am decidedly female.”

We joked about us being the girls they’d hired for it in good fun and they were still open in their invite.

Mom and Faith wound up going back to the campsite and I went with the guys I’d met 20 minutes ago. Lucky for me I’d brought my headlamp to dinner. Steep hike! But fun. Good guys. We talked and discovered many os us actually live and work very close to each other – some even work across from my building!

We hiked up to the overlook summit. Pretty! We then went further – to the real summit. Careful footing, past the sign that said “STOP! It’s not worth the risk!”

We lived.

There wasn’t as much vertigo at the top as I thought there would be. It was dark – nothing to see down! We took some pictures and they will send me some. They asked me to be in one, and then I took one of the whole party.

Pretty steep climb, overall. Cool night. One of them dropped me off at the campsite when we got down.

July 28

The climbing! We got up and put our stuff together for the day. Lunch: pine nut hummus and brie cheese in a tortilla wrap, a boiled egg. They had a light breakfast at the Gendarme – bagel, yummy crumb cake. There were peaches and apples, too.

We split into groups based on interest for the day and skill level. I went with one of the Gendarme guides and three other women, and we hiked up the same trail I’d done the night before. Tough. But we made it, and then spent a lot of the morning going over top rope setups, setting up 2 top ropes and reviewing it all again. Quick lunch and we were finally up the wall.

We were at the North Summit, East side. First climb was a 5.4, Isadora’s Run. It was a good warmup – I had to get over my fear of falling and get used to being outside again. It’s funny, we spend all this time making sure the anchors are secure and redundant, and on the wall I spend so much energy just trying not to use it! Anyway I finally just let go and someone had me. I didn’t fall. When I finally got to the top, suddenly, I said, “I seem to be here,” which amused the crew some. So I got my climbing legs back, mostly, and we moved to the second climb.

A 5.9, Streptococcus. Hah! A 5.9. The highest I’ve climbed is a 5.8, once, years ago, in a gym. Totally different. Note: climbs are rated 5.1 – 5.15 or so throughout the Americas.

“You’re all nuts,” I thought.

But I tried it.

I was tempted to give in but the other women pushed me. Yes, you can do it! It was incredibly warm and supportive – something a bit new to me. I think I like this climbing with women thing.

Shaky legs. Exhausted arms. Pinched fingers (some serious crack climbing).

The hardest climb I’ve ever done.

TODAY! TODAY, at one of the rocks people say is always rated tougher: I did it! A 5.9! IT felt awesome. Really really great.

We packed up when everyone was through, trying or retrying. One woman scrambled up it not once, but twice. Pretty awesome. A slow walk back down, some water, hummus, cheese, wine. We drove back to the campsite and I made pasta with a cheese sauce mix I like to make, all on the camp stove, and the three of us ran to the shower.

We brought the pasta to a big, delicious potluck. So much yummy food after a great day of climbing. We wandered, chatted. I ran into some of the guys from the Bachelor Party checking out equipment for sale in the Gendarme.

But really, this climbing with just women today was awesome. The kind of support, the kick-butt attitude, something about it. Really cool.

Okay. Great day. One more!

Tent time. 🙂

July 29

Went up with Mom, M, and Y (two girls I climbed with yesterday) and learned more top rope. It was a bit of an adventure – tie in, anchor, go around. Even the approach to the slabs had some missed turns – oops.

Getting to the anchor location had a narrow ledge I was NOT happy with. I got over it, and we began the setup. Geez. We tried over and over. To no avail.

Then we had to come to someone’s rescue. Another woman called out for us to throw her a rope. She was leading and didn’t trust her next move or her equipment to keep her from a 10-15 foot fall. We ran over and hurriedly flaked out my rope, anchored it, set up a belay, anchored my mom, and then me as an assist belay. My mom belayed her down. Whew. All good. Some excitement.

We finally gave up on the top rope setup but learned a lot. We broke for lunch. I freaked again at the ledge but did not fall.

We then split – Y and Mom learned/taught gear placement, respectively (though originally we were going to do another mini top rope). The other group of women up there wonderfully let us have their rope to use while they set up another, so I belayed M up Scuttle (5.7, apparently), which she rocked, and then they traded out their gear for ours as the anchor but left us their rope to climb on. M then belayed me – a tough 5.7 but I did it! More serious crack climbing, with a tree growing right in the middle of it.

Mom and I headed back to break down camp, and M and Y continued, then brought our remaining gear back the the Gendarme.

What a weekend!!!