Saturday, January 21, 2006

Adventures of a middle aged housewife

A few years ago I used to range out a lot further on my own. Looking back, (particularly after the story I'm about to relate) I can see that I was a murder statistic waiting to happen; at least somethings' dinner. But at the time I was still in a recovery mode (clinical depression; they finally got the medication right and it was like the lights came on again all over the world, as the song says) and I guess I was sort of going through a postponed idiot teenagerhood where you take stupid risks because it never occurrs to you that you'll die. See, I always thought I was going to die back in those days. Then I stopped thinking that in my thirties and so what do I do? Damn near drive my car off the side of a mountain.
Nobody ever knew where I was. It never occurred to me to tell anyone. I'd just load the idiot dogs up in the car and pick a direction. My husband still looks at me in surprise when I tell him about some place I went hiking or just visited for the day.
This one day I decided to take a trip up past Nooksack Falls. The falls themselves are just beautiful, and theres a nice park there for camping and hiking, but theres a road that goes over a bridge and up into the wilderness from that point. It's closed most of the year because of snow. Only for a few weeks can you take a car up it, and this was one of the weeks, so I went. The car I was driving was peculiarly suited for this kind of trek; a front wheel drive Toyota Corolla. A bitty tin box on wheels; yet I regularly went places in it that 4wheelers couldn't go because it was so light and had better traction.
Which made me cocky.
So I drove back, back, back into the hills, through clearcuts, over giant heaps of elk crap, past bobcats and bicyclists and deer and huge boulders bigger than a house....just merrily driving along. Stopping now and then to hike a bit, or take a splash in the creek, let the dogs play, pick some berries, having a good old time.
Went past the furthest point I'd ever been; just kept on going, checked the gas gauge, fine....went uphill, fine.....
waaaaaaaaaaaaay uphill, fine....
I finally noticed that for some time the landscape had begun to resemble a severely trimmed Japanese garden. Utterly beautiful....moss with tall threads of orange around artfully gnarled evergreens, wierd trippy rocks, that kind of thing. I rounded one corner and had to stop my car. It was too beautiful. There was a distant white mountain framed by the center of the valley I was in, capped by a huge sheet of white, a glacier cloud, that slowly lifted and fell in the wind over the peak like the worlds hugest sheet billowing. I have never seen anything like it.
All around me is this amazing biome, picked out in perfect diamond detail. There are eagles flying beneath me down in the valley thermals. The hillside next to me was full of little whistlepigs, and they were all whistlepigging around in complete indifference to me, making the dogs nuts...
Finally I get in the car and start the drive back down.
All it took was one glance away from the road and I drove my car off the side.
I hit the brakes and kept going for a few inches, then the undercarriage met some rocks and stopped.
My car had two wheels off the side of the mountain. The passenger side of the car was hanging off in space.
Now I sat there for what felt like a good twenty minutes trying to get my shit together. I wasn't panicked; you couldn't really say I was afraid either; I was just thinking at 100 mph.
Finally I very carefully got out, climbed down the hillside under my car, and built a ramp back up to the road surface with rocks. It's probably still there. I had all the time in the world and I sure in the fuck was not going anywhere. Then I jacked the front wheel up and put some extra traction rocks under it, same to the back wheel, got in, and drove away.
It only occurred to me several months later that nobody would have ever found me if something had happened. I had filed a movie of the terrain in my brain someplace I couldn't get to right away. Then all at once, several months later it all played back, and I just sat there and shook.
I was up in the alpine regions of some unnamed foothill of the Cascades. My car would have rolled down and fallen into some huge crevice in the rock field and never been seen again. The END. Two well-fed black dogs would have been found back at the bridge and been adopted by someone nice on vacation and that would have been it.
But it didn't happen, and here I sit sucking down a Miller, so thats 'ku.


  1. Oh my God... I live in New Zealand. What would you do here? Try and replicate the Hobbit's trip across Mordor. Joke. I'm sure you would prefer the Elf the Man and the Dwarf. And by saying that I give you a good idea of how sad I am. Oh dear.

    Rock on funky Granma.

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