May 15, 2013

Lunch in Lee Vining

It's been nearly two months since I started physical therapy. Progress has been, well, slow.

I'm getting stir crazy.  I started looking out our windows. Mount Wilson is visible through a gap in the neighbor's trees.

About a month ago, I went fishing around for some old maps I had of the Sierra. I spread them out on the kitchen table for study. There were gaps. I drove to the local REI and picked up copies of Harrison's John Muir Trail--Map Pack and Wenk's book, John Muir Trail: The essential guide to hiking America’s most famous trail. I read Wenk until I couldn't bear to hear of another 'ascend up a sandy saddle to open views of a colorful meadow.'

I am driving my wife crazy. I was pacing around the house with a trekking pole. She thinks I've been damaging the hardwood floor. A week or so ago she told me, "go take a trip. Leave me alone."

I've been on the road a week now. I've seen old friends in Aptos, Noe Valley, San Anselmo and Carson City. At each stop there's a wonderful dinner, a late night of conversation and an armful of books that I must read. The conversations drifts towards the deep, hopeless topics that consumed most of my time at school. I suppose that's because retirement, like university, is a new beginning; the last one. The books are mostly mysteries, memoirs, and popular histories—not my usual fare, but I'm retired and want to take in what I can.

Call of the Sierras
A view of Carson Pass from just south of Carson City
On the route from San Anselmo to Carson City, I decide to take the Lincoln Highway. While I was having lunch in Placerville a front moved in from the Pacific. The air grew chilly. It started to rain. As I ascended to higher elevations, it started to snow. I pulled over at twin bridges. There was snow on the peaks. And the air, the mountain air. I reached Carson City in the sort of enchanted state I feel after seeing a deeply moving film.

That was 3 days ago. This morning, I'm driving down 395, and I can't take my eyes off the peaks out the right window. Is this leg ever going to get better?