Saturday, September 24, 2011

Into the Wild

It’s not like I want to commit suicide or anything.  When you open a conversation with that line, you have to give your friend props for not flinching.  Which is what Richmond did last Monday-Tuesday-whatever day we last went for pizza.  I further explained that I just wanted to “go off the grid.”  Get away.  Find the woods and sit for a while.  That made her flinch.  I’m not the woodsy kinda girl.
Let’s back up.  Since it always makes my mom nervous when I write about work – she’s afraid that I’ll get fired and won’t be able to take her on any more trips – I want to clarify some things at the outset:
1.       I like my job.  I’m honored to play a part in my agency’s mission.  I have mad respect for my colleagues.
2.      I’m not afraid of hard work.
3.      Emergencies cause me to freak out but pressure doesn’t.  I actually thrive under pressure.  Well, I might freak out a little bit but it’s just how I focus.
4.      It was a really good week for my hair.  That has nothing to do with anything but I wanted you to know. 
That brings us to my desire to go sit in the woods.  Over the last week or so, I’ve gotten super busy at work.  I’m reviewing hundreds of descriptions for our online catalog.  I’m reading all day long and while it’s interesting, it’s not exactly Danielle Steele.  In a single day, I can read about records relating to subjects that range from Jimmy Carter to off-reservation Indian boarding schools to bitumuous coal to foreign assistance to Vietnam.  Oh, how I love the Vietnam records.
It’s like my brain is on information over-load.  When I come home at night, I veg on my couch and don’t even turn on the TV for an hour because the external stimuli makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a one linear feet ruler.  You think that’s a mistake don’t you?  It’s not.  Welcome to my world.
I needed some quiet time where my brain could shut off and recharge.  That’s why I wanted to go sit in the woods.  Because there’s nothing quieter than the wilderness, right?
A few more things you should know about me:
1.      Unless I’m in the Pacific Northwest, I’m not particularly fond of nature.
2.      I dropped out of Girl Scouts the week before the big camping trip because I didn’t want to go camping in the wilderness.  I also didn’t like selling the cookies.
3.      I don’t like wilderness food like granola bars or s’mores.  Actually, I think s’mores ruins the integrity of a perfectly good Hershey bar. 
4.      Humidity does crazy things to my hair.  Again.  Not related to anything.
So, I needed to find some wilderness close to my house.  I had to be home by sundown – I’m not one of those crazy nature freaks who likes to spend the night in the woods.  Lucky for me, I live an hour away from the state with the motto “Wild and Wonderful.”  Clearly, there was wilderness there, right?  Unless “Wild and Wonderful” refers to the casinos.  Could go either way, I guess.
This morning noon, I made like a 70 year old slot machine addict pioneer and headed west.
An hour later, I pulled up to the guard-house of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park where the National Park Service ranger (true fact, the National Park Service is the only other federal agency I would consider working for.  As long as I got to wear the uniform – with hat – to work.  Even if I worked in a cubicle.)  Anyway, the ranger was beating off a stink bug.  I could feel the call of the wild right then and there.  When she got done defending herself from the stink bug, I told her that I wanted to walk around in the wilderness.  She told me to park on the right and catch the shuttle bus by the visitor’s center.  A shuttle bus to the wilderness?  Sweet. 
I missed the first bus so I struck off on my own on a marked path through the woods.  Huffing and puffing and cursing the fact that I wore my fashion sneaks, I was relieved to find a bench right in the middle of the wilderness.  I sat there for a while and thought - this is nice.  And then I started worrying about ticks.  I’m deathly afraid of ticks.  Well, really the Lyme disease that you can get from ticks.  So, I snapped a picture and walked back to the shuttle bus stop where I caught the next bus to “Lower Town.”    

The view from my bench in the wilderness
I followed the rest of the tourists wilderness seekers through the town and walked along the river.  Which I really would’ve enjoyed more if it weren’t so hot.  Gosh, when you’re out in nature, the sun really beats down on you.  Next time, I decide to go into the wilderness, please remind me to take my sun-hat.  I sat on a rock for a few minutes before I went back to the town to forage for food.  Having left my granola and s’mores at home and all. 

A river runs through it
I spent 5 bucks for a dish of wilderness ice cream.  It’s basically exactly like regular ice cream except you’re eating it on the edge of the wilderness.  It was nearing 3 PM sundown and I really didn’t want to get lost in the wilderness overnight so I decided to call it a day.  I hiked over to the bus stop and caught the bus back to the parking lot.  That was a harrowing experience!  There were no seats left and I had to stand the whole way.  What kind of wilderness bus service is that?
The 23 minutes that I spent in the wilderness did me a world of good.  When you’re focused on surviving the elements, you don’t really think about anything else.  Except getting back to the suburbs alive.  And wondering about proper wilderness footwear.    
Today, I went into the wilderness and came out recharged and refreshed.  I am a wilderness survivor. 
But next weekend, I think I’ll just stick to drinking margaritas on my deck.     


  1. I love the "wilderness icecream"!

    BTW, I'm feeling the same way at work too....don't worry, after next week we'll be back to normal.

  2. I'm glad your excursion was sufficiently wild and wonderful! :)

  3. He, he, work's gonna be wild and wonderful over the next week. Wow, that West Virginia sure knew what it was doing when it came up with its slogan!