Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Leave Only Your Footprints

On our third day in Utah, we woke up in some chilly high-altitude morning darkness in Torrey. First Overlook at Dixie The idea had been to get out to the first lookout in Dixie National Forest just after sunrise (because it would be too dark to ride there before sunrise) and then roll on through our day from there. We actually crawled out of our tents just after sunrise, because it was too cold to be out tearing down your nice warm campsite and still define the activity as "vacation". We were slow moving that morning, but it gave the coffee shop across the road (<3 coffee!) time to open up and sell us coffee and that gave the non-coffee drinkers in our party time to visit the local tourism office two doors down. Good Morning With Coffee The local tourism office had some interesting information about our planned route, like the fact that there was a great little slot canyon a short hike off the main road, if you knew where to look. (I'm experimenting with the Google Map link. If you DO NOT see a blue dot in the middle of the map, you can click the "View Larger Map" link to see where that canyon is and what photos other people have posted of it.)

View Larger Map

We did make it out to that overlook, and the view was worth it, no?Burr Trail View Now, some of you know I have a miserable sense of elapsed time. How long does it take to do laundry? About an hour. How long to make macaroni? About an hour. Watch a movie? Write a blog post? Eat supper? Walk the dog? Get through airport security? About an hour. I'm not at all scientific about time. So Chewy and Chelli got as far down the road as they were going and turned around, and they saw me keep on going. I was going to The End Of The Road, you see. And that got me in trouble, because the time that elapsed between passing them as they turned around on the road and seeing them again at The Beginning of The Road was too long. "Too long" is a scientific measure of time describing the time it takes for others to get tired of sitting in the hot sun and move from worry about you to aggravation with you. Irritated as they may have been, they took some awesome photos!

In the "too long" period of time that I left everyone waiting, however, I went clear to The End Of The Road. I saw some amazing scenery and got some of the real solitude that visits to the desert always promise. I could never be that far from civilization as long as I was on a paved road, but I spent "about an hour" not seeing any other vehicles, and the time and space to let my thoughts expand and roam were a treasure to me.

AwesomeOn the way back to The Beginning Of The Road, I decided to stop in at that little slot canyon. I had noticed it on my way out to The End Of The Road, but thought it looked too busy. So I went on by in search of my solitude. I was rewarded, because by the time I'd reached The End Of The Road and come back "about an hour" later, the place was abandoned. I hiked across the creek and up into this quiet little nook between high stone walls. It was cool, shady and just a little bit damp at the very back where the sun can never really reach. I just squatted back there and listened to the wind whistling over the top of the canyon and the rustling of the cottonwood out in the creek bed, hiding the mouth of the canyon from casual passersby. Passersby If it had been a little warmer that morning, if my phone's alarm clock had been a little louder, if we hadn't stopped for coffee, if we hadn't engaged the local guy at the information office... All those things had to happen to give me that quiet, shady moment in the back of the slot canyon. I know I was but one of many visitors that day and many other days. After all, how secluded can a place be if you can find out about it at the tourism office? Still, for that little while, I had the place entirely to myself.

Red Wall I felt a chill coming off the wall, but whether it was from the rock or the wind I didn't know. So I reached out to touch the stone to feel just how cool it was... The canyon floor was deep sand, and the stomping of all the previous visitors had dusted the walls with powder. Where I touched the yellow stone, I left a little damp mark and my hand came away gritty. I tried to wipe it clean against my pants, but couldn't; the grit of riding and hiking was all over my clothes. So I dug a little at the base of the wall where the sand was still wet from carrying the last rain some months before. The permanently shaded little hole filled up with just enough water to rinse my palm clean. I stirred up the sand and made mud, wet my hand, and made a proper handprint on the wall. The mud was a dark red on the yellow-brown wall, the only sort of graffiti I could bring myself to create.

I hiked back to my bike and rode back to my anxious friends. I never took a picture of the handprint because I gave up carrying cameras on these trips after our RoadTrip07 when I realized how much better Rose's photography is than mine. So my handprint evaporated off that wall, I'm sure, well before I tucked into a plate of lunch and pie at the diner at The Beginnng Of The Road. And that's what it's all about, right? Leave nothing behind but your footprints. The only lasting impact any of us can make is in loving the people around us and treating them gently. I'll try to remind my friends of that the next time I keep them waiting "too long".

Monday, October 27, 2008

frustrated at the airport

chicago airport nominally has wi-fi. but it's run by boingo, and so far i have been completely underwhelmed by their service. i beat my head against the wi-fi signal for about half an hour trying to get my dadgum e-mail and as a result, i'm probably not going to get this posted until i get home. unlike the usual head-beating routine, this actually had a positive effect: i managed to read all my e-mail. i didn't get to send many replies and i certainly didn't hazard sending attachments, just quick notes telling people i'd send attachments later.

tomorrow, i have an appointment with my lawyer. nothing to worry about, unless you're my banker. that's because i'm giving my lawyer several thousand dollars to draw up a series of legal papers and contracts that ensure that, as nearly as possible, the state of texas and the institutions within or without will be forced to recognize rose as my partner and my next of kin and my power of attorney (aka: my wife). so, those of you that have the option of domestic partnership or marriage where you live: treasure that and defend it at the polls. texas has not one but TWO state "Defense of Marriage Acts" averring that it will never recognize marriage or any other institution conferring the benefits of marriage on any sort of homosexual partnership. of course, eventually the federal bench will catch on to the fact that preventing legal recognition of gay relationships doesn't prevent people from ENTERING gay relationships. and because the partnerships are formed, they eventually end for whatever reason. if family and probate courts are able to rely on case law and treat those endings exactly like they do the endings of marriages, it'll make everyone's lives a lot easier. and that's the thing that irritates me about opposition to gay marriage: it doesn't hurt anyone for me to be able to go the JP and get married. straight people in their religious or non-religious marriages will still be just as married, just as committed, just as faithful after a gay couple marries as they were (or weren't) before. it doesn't help straight people at all, but it hurts me and it hurts my friends.

my plane is about to board. i'm home sweet home for four days, and then i'm on the road again. i'll probably spend 90% of that time sleeping and trying to desiccate the giant snot-factory that's set up operations in my sinuses. if you have any anti-viral prayers, meditations, or vibes, i could really use them. that, or a year's supply of kleenex with lotion built right in. i'll need that if the vibes don't work out.

far be it from me to mock someone for large hair, because i am an offender whenever the humidity gets high, but wow... there is some Lubbock-style big hair on the lady cleaning up gate B14 at O'Hare Terminal 1. she looks like she probably has a lifetime of interesting stories to tell, but she quite clearly stopped updating her 'do in about 1965. yikes.

Monday, October 13, 2008

O Happy Day!

A couple of months ago, I got married. I've been holding off posting any photos of it because I wanted to get in all the photos from all the guests with photographic talent and because there was a little hitch in getting the pictures from the photographer. I didn't want to bore y'all with wedding pictures every time a new batch came in, so I waited until i could just hit you with one "Best Of" blast and let you get back to your surfing. Of course, as soon as I had all the photos in order, I went on vacation to Utah, and then I started traveling for work (the day after I got home from Utah) and then I went to visit my godsons for a weekend and then I looked at the calendar and I was going on three months late for these photos. So... no more slacking, no more excuses. You, gentle readers, are getting the photo blast.


Through our outstanding wedding planner in Vancouver, Daryl, we found this great little B&B called Quarrystone on Salt Spring Island. We had originally chosen to go to Canada because we wanted to have a ceremony that would have some kind of legal standing. At the time we started planning, the only state that allowed weddings was Massachusetts and they were still refusing to wed out-of-staters. So we got a tip that we ought to look into a place called Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It was a little too remote for a weekend wedding, but the string of islands between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia was a good compromise. The scenery was breathtaking and our B&B was graceful, delightful, and welcoming.

For my side of the family, my parents were there along with one of my sisters and her husband. This is my mom, sissie, and I. Not that you probably needed me to tell you that. I think our faces tell the story plenty well... It looks like I'm a lot taller than they are in this photo, but that's just because I'm wearing sissie's high-heeled shoes. Three of a Kind The story that our faces do not tell is that for the entirety of my life I've been forgetting accessories when I pack to go on trips. I don't know if this is the root of the current anxious pangs I get every time I have to pack for a work trip, but I'm willing to bet it is. I didn't simply forget my earrings, either: I'd forget, say, the pants to the outfit that I was wearing to the event that was the point of the trip. Or I'd forget one shoe from a pair. Or I'd leave my belt on the kitchen table. Or I'd go skiing without any gloves. Or I'd bring the pantyhose and slip, but not the dress. It was never the same thing twice. So my sisters both learned early on to pack double for everything, and that way they could keep me from going naked to the family reunion. My wedding was no exception.

There was a very small crowd, only a dozen including me and Rose, so we had the ceremony informally outdoors and both my parents walked me down the aisle such as it was. We had a little threat of bad weather, but it blew over in the early afternoon and left us with awesome dramatic light and clouds for our backdrop.

The only hitch the rain presented was that when Rose went to stomp on the glass at the end, it wouldn't break! We finally found a rock to put it on and that did the trick. I still haven't found a good explanation for the symbology of that tradition... something about breaking from the past and starting fresh, or having your posterity number as the shards of broken glass, or maybe it just makes a fun sound. In any case--here Rose breaks the glass. I guess this settles it for those of you who insist that one of us "is the guy" in this relationship. Rose is it, because the guy breaks the glass. Or I'm it because I paid our way to Canada. And the mortgage. But she mows the lawn, and she owns the power tools. Oh, forget it. We're both girls, and we take turns taking out the trash.

After the ceremony, we had a moment to toast and celebrate and snack on frou-frou appetizers. My dad offered a beautiful and moving toast that welcomed Rose into the family and expressed his wish that he always be able to provide help and support to us should we ever need it. Rose's sister responded by saying that if Rose was in the family, she was too. And she'd like an allowance. If I ever got an allowance, I don't remember it. That said, I also never lacked for anything I needed and there were always ways for me to earn money if I wanted something. It sounds a lot like real life doesn't it? Guess my parents are smarter than I gave 'em credit for at the time. I hope I do as well with my own kids.


We danced a little for the photographers, but then it was very soon time for the real wedding fun: the eating! The dining room was just almost bursting to hold us all, but it was beautifully appointed and dinner was amazing.

Usual Suspects

Beautifully presented, perfectly cooked, harmoniously spiced food scarcely had time to get cold on our plates. In fact, I'm assuming that the food flew off our plates so fast that it simply defied photography. Laughter Looking through the collected snaps, all I have pictures of are laughing faces and plates that look as though they were well-nigh licked clean. We were definitely having fun. And that was a little bit of a relief. Weddings always present that rare opportunity for every distinct circle of your life to suddenly intersect like the playing pieces in a midway ring-toss game. Sometimes they all stack up nicely, and you win a big prize off the top shelf! Sometimes they bounce off each other and maybe go flying off at odd angles. This was one of those winning intersections of mine & hers, friends & family.

DuckyThe cake topper was, as they say, non-traditional. Not as non-traditional as a gay Catholic/Jewish wedding, maybe, but non-traditional nonetheless. We giggled our way through cutting the cake, feeding each other, and sharing with our guests. The time flew by and soon we had emptied every dish, drunk every drop, laughed every laugh and told every wild tale there was. It was time to call it a night. The moon came up and peeped through the clouds, and the blue and silver light bouncing between the Strait of Georgia below and the last quarter moon above caressed us all off to sleep.