The Trek to Oyster Doom

“There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness; that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.” -Theodore Roosevelt

**********

A friend of mine, let’s call her “Dawn”, often spoke of the wonders of a certain hike.  Dawn and I even had plans to travel the route with a group of our coworkers.  But as these things often go, plans fell apart.  A year or two passed without me ever seeing this mysterious Oyster Dome.  All I knew of this mysterious land was that Dawn and several other friends spoke of the plentiful joys that this scenic escape had to offer.

Now, given those accolades and emotional urgings to explore said land, what could I do?  Early this week I finally made the trip out to Oyster Dome.  However, after my adventure I have found a more appropriate name.  I choose to call that most “exciting” of places, Oyster Doom.

The warning signs were plentiful; I just chose to ignore them.  Caution flag number one was the drive there.  I tend to be a little frightened by detours.  I am sure that the folks who place those imposing and unyielding orange signs know what they are doing.  However I like my roads to run in a straight line.  Therefore, I had some trepidation about driving down a stretch of freeway where there existed an infamous gap in the road.  Oy.  I have issues driving where chunks of the road is missing.  Sure, it worked for Speed, but I was alone.  Sandra Bullock was not behind the driver’s wheel encouraging and coaxing me on to victory.  (A point which I happen to think is a cruel injustice.)

Oops.  But it's getting better?

Oops. But it’s getting better?

To be fair, the detour was just fine.  Personally I think a few more signs would have been helpful.  But when in doubt, follow the semi-trucks; works every time.  Thanks to those multi-wheeled behemoths, I was able to get back on the highway with no problems and two exits later I was cruising down a quiet little paved road looking for a place for the trailhead.

The guide book claimed that there would be parking along the side of the road.  The book and I disagree on the term “parking”.  When I think of parking, I like to have bold white lines spray painted on the ground.  Ideally, there are concrete blocks on the ground or some sort of barrier to ensure that one’s car doesn’t go out of bounds.

The “parking” here was a strip of gravel.  On the edge of a cliff.  With a speed limit of 55.  I’m sorry, what?  In every story I’ve ever heard of a car parking along the side of a lonely road, it tends to end up with some guy carrying an axe and chasing them into the uninhabited woods.  (Showing their courteous side, the planners of the park even gave the crazed woodsman a way to hide the evidence; simply shove the innocent hiker’s car off the road.  No railings to get in the way, just a nice steep drop and tall trees to cover it up for ya.)

You're a lumberjack?  Okay, but explain the mask...

You’re a lumberjack? Okay, but explain the mask…

Now, folks that know me will attest that I am a might stubborn.  I had already driven out to the park.  It was broad daylight.  And I had managed to find the tiny little path of dirt that was to be the start of my expedition.  I figured I’d roll the dice and take my chances.  That was when I came upon the next sign of impending danger, which was an actual sign.

The short version:  "Dangerously dangerous danger!"

The short version:
“Dangerously dangerous danger!”

After reading the entire notice I realized that I had no intention of hiking along the closed route.  Why would I add wet rocks, another cliff, and the threat of angering thousands of bats to the already treacherous day?  Still, the words, “close this area” effectively concerned me.

Having considered and dismissed all warnings, I hit the trail.  It hit back, hard.  I am a tall fellow, but those hills are not for the faint of heart.  Or knees.  Or ankles.  Or lumbar.  Uphill the path led and uphill I went.  As I crested the first ascent, I was greeted by another mighty mound of dirt.  Things tend to happen in threes and so another hill presented itself.  Of course, the more the merrier, right?  Bring another order of steep earth to table one!  Apparently Oyster Dome is one big block party and the hills are only too happy to RSVP.

To the park’s credit, there were plenty of trails.  At least, I think they were trails.  The first few miles were dotted with white splotches on trees.  I can only assume that those white blobs were meant to identify the route as correct and safe.  Of course, those markers were utilized when there was a massive hill or glacier rock on one side, and a steep cliff on the other.  It was much like walking down the grocery aisle and having a staff person ask that you refrain from taking your squeaky-wheeled shopping cart and leaping and bounding over the high shelves.  Further into the woods; when

For all I know, it was just bird poop.

For all I know, it was just bird poop.

the trails started to get confusing?  That’s when the white splotches conveniently disappeared.  (I maintain that the mystery guy from the horror movie is to blame, but I haven’t yet figured out how.)

With or without markers, the routes appeared regardless of my desire for them to c ease.  There was the aforementioned closed trail that didn’t need the professionally-made signs to ward me off.  I think there was a glacial view trail, but the word “glacier” invokes two mental thoughts to me; slippery and sharp.  Needless to say, I declined the invitation.  And then there were the little paths that sure looked like trails.  A patch of dirt here, a wide expanse of forest there; my fear of getting lost only increased the higher up I journeyed.  I prefer not to take the Lord’s name in vain, so I did my best not to mutter, “Dear God I’m going to die”, “Dear God this is terrifying”, and “What in God’s name were these people thinking?”  However, I assure you that statements very similar in tone to curses ran around in my head as I looked at each intersection with concern.

In the end, I did the only logical thing I could think of.  I followed the slugs.  Come on, what animal looks like it prefers the safest path possible?  Slugs, that’s what.  A cougar, a bear; even snakes would have been wildlife that might have sent me packing.  But I am a Washingtonian.  Slugs are our friends.  If a path of dirt is deemed a suitable strolling area by a slug, then I am going to follow along.  Scoff if you must, but much of the success I had in getting up to that summit was from a slug pointing the way with its antennae and sage wisdom.  (And yes, a trail of slimy goo.)

At the end, I would say that I would make this trek again.  It really is not all that far from where I live and now that I know that the terrain’s grade is equivalent to trying to climb out of a well, I am prepared for the climb.  I have an idea of which trails will not lead me to my demise.

Also, I firmly believe that the view is worth it.  Or rather, I choose to believe that what should be the view is majestic.  I could not say myself.  When I got up to the top; when I finally broke free of the tree line?  I was met by a 180-degree view of clouds.  Add in a smattering of trees, some clouds, and then really smother that sucker with another layer of clouds; that is the sort of “picturesque” moment I experienced.

Obligatory scenic photo from early in the hike.  If somebody lugged a bench up that trail, you -must- take a photo there.

Obligatory scenic photo from early in the hike. If somebody lugged a bench up that trail, you -must- take a photo there.

I shall try again.  I was almost attacked by a non-existent axe-murderer, my knees are still sore, and I have never been so afraid of being lost in the woods as I was that day.  The moral in all this is that hiking buddies are highly underrated.  Take someone with you to take in all that nature has to offer; even if it kills you.  Because of Dawn’s recommendation, I have just the person in mind.  What better way to thank her than by taking her along?  No good deed goes unpunished, y’know.

Intermission- There’s More to Come. Honest.

Howdy.

I’m not dead.  I swear.  Most of my three month absence can be blamed on Christmas gifts.  I decided to make ’em this year.   Oy.

The first gift took a month.  The next gift took two months.  I forgot how completely time-consuming cross-stitching can be.  I didn’t have time to read any books, let alone write.  But at least I’m now an expert at threading needles.  Please tell me that counts for something.

The other excuse I have is this: 

 

I want to write stories this good.  I want to convey the shadows and the texture and the little details like thumping your head against the window frame of your office wall when things go awry. 

I’ve been thinking.  And pondering.  (You have oodles of time to think about stories when you’re putting camel-shaded threads around the coral ones.)

More to come, I swear.  My fingers haven’t fallen off, my desire for stories is still there, and my keyboard is calling out to me. 

Be patient, they’re coming!  (I’m looking at you, S1ngal.)

And if nothing else, you get to watch the best animated short I’ve ever seen for free.  Everybody wins!  Happy weekend.

The Woman in Red

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Woman in Red

(A certain blogger inspired this post, and she knows who she is.  And how she inspired it.)  😉

…how else can an intoxicated drop-dead-lady-in-red gorgeous girl survive being single?” –s1ngal

Chaz called himself a man about town.  If there was a new restaurant to visit, Chaz had been there.  Chaz somehow managed to adopt the newest hairstyle and the fanciest shoes before they appeared in the stores.  The man outclassed fashion week and had a history of being the go-to source for trends.  All at once he was the Alpha Consumer, Mr. Joe Cool, and a walking style magazine.  Put simply, Chaz had seen it all.

The metrosexual’s innate ability to out-do the fashion gurus had started in college and had served him well into his mid-twenties.  Chaz had no way of knowing that tonight would be the night that would finally catch him off guard.

Well-dressed in a slick blue shirt, black pants, matching belt and watch, and shoes with a fine polish to them; Chaz entered into The Bar.  (Any bar that needed a creative name simply wasn’t hip.  If one was going to a drinking establishment, there was no place quite as swanky in town as The Bar.)  He walked with a stride that was confident and familiar.  He nodded to the patrons and a waved to the wait staff.  This was Chaz’s scene.  He had a long history in this locale.  He exchanged handshakes and ticket swaps with the men, and phone numbers and pick-up lines with the ladies.  Chaz was in his element.  He was in control.  Mr. Smooth was ready for anything.

Then he saw her.

From across the room, the woman in red was clearly attractive.  A brunette of her caliber would have stood out in any room, certainly with the gown that she was wearing.   And it was quite the red dress.  There was no need for sleeves when the attention lavished upon her was guaranteed to keep her warm.  The dress wasn’t so much skintight as it was strategically cut.  All of her curves and charms seemed to be perfectly highlighted.  Chaz was not a shy man.  He made his way through the crowd to find out her name.

Natalie smiled wickedly and ran her fingers along Chaz’s chest.  Betty made a point of nudging her hips into Chaz’s as she walked by with a tray full of drinks.  Brad and Tad slapped their pal on the back and cheered out his name.  Normally, Chaz would have stayed and welcomed the heaps of adoration that his clan lavished upon him; especially where Natalie was concerned.  Still, Chaz didn’t know this woman in red.  He couldn’t stand feeling out of the loop.  If there was this crowd of five guys gathered around her, she must have that special quality to her.  Chaz was determined to find out what he wasn’t privy to.

If it were any other man, a set of five glaring faces would have met him as he approached.  However, Chaz had that gift about him.  He wasn’t cruel.  He was charming and everybody liked him.  Guys wanted to watch football at his parties and women found him intriguing and handsome.  When Chaz walked up to this unknown woman in red, the other five backed off out of respect.  They had a notion of how the conversation would go.

“Hey there”, Chaz began.

“Hello”, the woman replied.

“I don’t mean to bother you, but I just couldn’t help it.”

“Oh?  And why is that”, the woman asked.

“I have this trait.  It’s a shame really.  I see an attractive gal and I just can’t let her walk away until she knows how amazing I think she is.”

“How long does that usually take?”  The woman raised an eyebrow of curiosity as she played with the two olives in her drink.

“With you; I think we’d be here a while.”

“That seems like such a pity for you”, the woman replied.  “I mean, you’re clearly popular.  All your friends look pretty eager to hang out with you.”

Pic from Blogspot. (One of the few PG red dress pics out there.)

“Maybe, but they can wait.”  Chaz normally meant that as a line, but the closer he got to this woman, the truer it became.   There was an undefinable quality to her.  Sure, she was gorgeous.  But at the same time, there was an air about her that he couldn’t put his finger on.  He tried to recognize a unique perfume or a look that completely captivated him, but that wasn’t it.

“I’d really just like to talk to you tonight”, Chaz admitted.

“A classy fellow like you could at least offer a gal another drink.”

“Would you like a beer?”

The woman in red grinned.  “Actually, I’m drinking martinis tonight.”

Chaz looked at the olives in her glass once more and shook his head.  “Of course you are.  I don’t know why I jumped to the beer conclusion.”

“I think I might be able to venture a guess”, the woman teased.

“Oh, could you?”

“Perhaps”, she said as she ordered herself another beverage.

Sensing their sensei’s need for space, the crowd around the two started to disperse.  There was no planning to it.  Somehow they all shared the knowledge that Chaz need a little extra space to operate this evening.  The closer wasn’t quite on his game.

His words were failing him, so Chaz went the action route.  Without fully knowing why, he reached up to her long wavy hair and ran his fingers through the colored strands.  He had never seen hair quite like hers before.  It was clearly brown, but there was something extra in it.  The hair was obviously recently conditioned, but another color seemed to be hiding beneath. It was soft, but in an ethereal way.

“I’m Chaz.  I have to ask, what is your name?”

“Molly”, she replied with a smug grin.

“Molly, what is it about you”, Chaz inquired.  “Why can’t I tear myself away from you?”

“I think there are many positive points to me.  I’m not easily scared, I swim like you wouldn’t believe, and I can do the crossword puzzle without any help.  Up to Thursday that is; a girl has her limits.”

“Oh, I think you’re the whole package”, Chaz agreed.  “But there’s something else, isn’t there?”

“I’ll tell you, but you’ll have to come in closer.”

“How close”, he prompted.

“Pretty close”, Molly replied as they leaned in.  Their faces were only an inch or two apart.  Molly ran her fingers along his pants leg as she stared him confidently in the eye.  “Do you want to know my secret?”

“Of course”, Chaz admitted.

“Earlier tonight, I showered in beer.”

For once in his life, Chaz had no clever response.  He didn’t know if the woman was joking or not.  Clearly she was confident.  She definitely exuded an approachable sexiness.  But was she crazy?

Molly laughed.  “It’s true.  I’ve been told that beer makes an excellent conditioner and a few gal pals told me it would lighten my hair.  I figured I would try it out.  It turns out the after-scent is like nothing else I’ve come across.”

Chaz felt a grin coming.  He felt like a fool, but he rather enjoyed it for once.  “You’re telling me, that all of these folks can’t do without you because you washed your hair in beer?”

“Well, it was the highest quality beer that money can buy, I assure you”, she assured him.

“Naturally”, Chaz laughed.

“So are you going to kiss me or what?”

“Huh?”  It was clear now.  This woman was operating on a whole other level.  Chaz didn’t know what act she would follow up with.

“Look, Chaz.  There’s more to me than just hair.  If you can’t keep up, I’m going to have to ask you to move along.  I’ve got boys to tease and dancing to do.  If you can’t match me stride for stride while sitting, how are you ever going to get me sweating on the dance floor?”

The man who had formerly been the coolest, most in-control person in the bar sat there dumbfounded.  Perhaps the beer scent had numbed his response time.  Maybe Molly was just too much woman for him.  Whatever the case may have been, Molly gave up.

“I’ll see you around, Charles.  Look me up when you’re ready for a challenge.”

With that, Molly got up, kissed Chaz on the cheek, and strode out onto the dance floor.  Chaz watched her move and laugh.  He didn’t know woman like her existed in the world.  Good golly, Miss Molly”, Chaz thought as he recalled the song lyric.

Chaz knew there was only one way to describe the woman in red with the beer-scented hair.  Molly was, perhaps more than any other female before her, absolutely intoxicating.

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