Well, the snow is starting to melt and the air smells like spring… That’s how Kate’s email began this morning (yesterday afternoon New York time). I was at once overcome with envy and nostalgia for that revivifying time when you feel the change in the air like the scent of hope and you know you’ve made it through the harshest of seasons. Pretty soon the first bulbs will be pushing through the melt-sodden earth. Here in Brisbane the harshest season is Summer, and we’re not through it yet; it seems to have saved its heaviest artillery for one bloody last stand. I don’t know if it’s age, my general malaise, or if all those southern summers I missed while living overseas made me soft, but I’ve really struggled with this latest one. Over in Upstate New York, of course, it’s been, by all accounts, an even harsher Winter than the one I lived through in 2014. That was the most consistently cold I’ve ever been, but it wasn’t just the temperatures, it was the grey, the gloom, the oppressive monotony of the …
Life is funny, eh? I’ve been reviewing and (groan) re-editing some of my photos from my two years in Korea. And inevitably recalling my time there: the odd adventure, spells of solace among flowers and insects or half-starved dogs, but mostly the grinding monotony of much of each workday, the unspeakable (though I do speak about it a lot) horror of the Korean middle-school classroom, the tired-out or just-plain-wrung-dry landscapes, domino rows of identical apartment blocks, the mess and trash and tormented waterways — and my two birthdays there.
A few weeks ago I got up early one morning, turned on my GPS, stuck it in my pocket, and went about my business. When I slumped back indoors sometime after dusk, barely able to stand upright, I had done exactly seven miles of business — all of them in the yard here.
With just under a week remaining in Queensland, I’ve enjoyed every day since “resolving” the passport problem and allowing myself to relax and soak in the sunshine and the very mellow Easter-holiday atmosphere.
I’ve been back in Brisbane a few days: visa stuff. It’s good to be here, and Easter in South-East Queensland brings the best weather all year, but the trip hasn’t been without its traumas, and I don’t just mean the flying part.
Hi, all. I’ve been a bad, bad blogger again, but hopefully I can get back in the groove after perhaps my longest break from posting since embarking on the crazy roller-coaster ride that is walking-blogging. A lot’s been happening, and this isn’t the time or place to fill you in on all of it: I’m tapping this with my laptop perched atop my, er, lap, in the waiting area of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
BUCK MOUNTAIN, MARCH 7, 2014 Buck Mountain lies on the southeast shore of Lake George, and it is a perfect introduction to the Adirondacks. Pick a bright day in May and start your Adirondack hiking with a great climb. ~ Barbara McMartin, 50 Hikes in the Adirondacks The Buck Mountain hike — and chapter — is #1 in McMartin’s guide, one of a growing collection Kate and I have started amassing. It was also, appropriately enough, our first Adirondack hike as a couple (cue the chorus of Awwws), a nice easy out-and-back (as the American idiom has it) hike of almost seven miles in total. We did make it a little tougher by picking an overcast day in early March, but yes: it was still a great climb.
What the hell is my weather app playing at? was my thought as I left home a couple of hours ago for my five-mile walk downtown. “Sunshine and cloud mixed” and 6C or so were to be my rewards for surviving till the first full day of (official) Spring; the reality was swirling snowflakes, a cold breeze and only two fleeting appearances by an ever-submissive sun.
Three and three-quarter miles of walking in glorious sunshine and very mild temps — it’s minus 1C as I write this over the remnants of my bakery lunch — could just about fool a gullible rambler into thinking Winter was over.
So, remember that lake I half-heartedly pretended to road-walk to a couple of times (here and here) — Moreau Lake?
The soundtrack for this stroll — for most of my urban walking of late — was the Beatles’ Revolution Number 9: Number nine…number nine…number nine…number nine…number nine…number nine…number nine… You get the idea. But how about some visuals?
I’d bought us a new washing machine that was getting delivered “between 1:00 and 5:00” — how’s that for an opening hook? — and with my morning free I set out early down Rt 9 to make the most of the Winter sunshine and stow some more road miles under my belt.
Hey, all. Well, as one Pony Express rider remarked to another, it’s been way too long between posts. A lot has happened, and almost nothing at all, but somehow I’ve accumulated enough material over the last few weeks for several posts. It’s just that all the actual living part keeps getting in the way.
G’day, folks, and thanks for all the good wishes I received after my first New York-based post. I’ve been here a little over a week now and am acclimatising in more ways than one — Americans say acclimating: there’s another thing I have to acclimate to — and I haven’t been troubled by cold since that cry for help about frozen fingers in the last post. I’m getting used to the snow…
Somewhere over the mid-Pacific I swapped my camo hunting cap (found dangling on a tree in Pennsylvania while hiking the A.T.) for a beanie, arranged my flimsy, handkerchief-sized blankie and folded myself into an approximation of sleep. I always book a window seat when I can to avoid contact with fellow passengers, and refrain from bathroom trips if possible, a challenge that passes the time while building self-control and Olympic-standard bladder endurance. I managed 12 hours on this trip, I’m proud to say. Just limit your free drinks to a single gin and tonic and try not to look at the ocean.
Time is a jet plane, it moves too fast Oh, but what a shame if all we’ve shared can’t last ~ Bob Dylan, “You’re a Big Girl Now” Time passes slowly up here in the mountains We sit beside bridges and walk beside fountains ~ Bob Dylan, “Time Passes Slowly” Well, which is it, Bob? That first lyric came to me right away as I was starting this; the second followed soon after. There’s a line from Bob for most of the interesting stages, stops and detours on life’s ever-winding highway — more than a few for the inevitable breakdowns and collisions as well.
The headlights swooped into Kate’s front yard and with them the first of many pleasant surprises that day: Dude & Trouble are not famed in hiker circles for their early starts. Kate and I are morning people. I’d never had a girlfriend who could function at 4:30am, and here she was making sandwiches — big sandwiches. Both of us were raring to go; in fact I’d hardly slept with the excitement. Apart from that short-but-spectacular New Year’s hike in the snow on my first visit, the Adirondacks for me were an open book. Now the plan was to meet Pouch & Nemo at the trailhead upstate and plough through my first four chapters in one hit.
Remember that wintry couple of days I stayed at Wing Road Farm, just out of Saratoga Springs, in January?
Tokyo was a trip. I’m still recovering: my calves are sore, I’m rundown and cranky — and waking from a dream adventure to find yours is the only discernible pulse in a classroom full of dead-eyed rag dolls is the cruelest of reality crashes. What I really need, though, is a post-holiday holiday to grab some sleep. I spent one night in a wet sleeping bag on a 1,364m mountaintop harassed by God’s searchlight, a Chuseok full moon (just as I was a year ago on the third-highest peak in Korea). The following night, my last in Tokyo, was likewise far from restful. Bedding down in the bushes in a buzzing megalopolitan park seldom is.
Last weekend, reaching the top of a local hill — the one I nicknamed Dead Man’s Peak — I was startled to discover that some renaming might be in order.