Really chilly air.
Like, freeze your boogers kind of cold that normally happens outside in the middle of January.
Braving frostbite, I hopped out of bed and checked the thermometer in the hall.
48 degrees. I need to point out immediately that the arctic condition in the house were entirely my fault. The house has heat and it has windows that close - neither of which I had bothered to use last night.
It was invigorating! It was motivating! It was freakin' COLD!
I wrapped myself around a cup of coffee and sat out in the morning sun to thaw my extremities while I awaited the arrive of my good friends Steve and Sheila. Steve, in a rare day off from his life as a rock star, had offered to join me for a hike in the mountains.
He and his wife, Sheila would soon arrive to whisk me away from this dreary life of drudgery and toil I have been suffering through and deliver me to an entirely different sort of drudgery and toil; one that included steep, pointy rocks.
We were going on a hike up Welsh and Dickey Mountains.
|Steve, me, and Sheila. Much like Clark Kent, Steve often wears his glasses out in public so he won't be swarmed by screaming mobs of fans. It's tough being a rock star.|
We drove off to the trailhead and strapped on our small packs. The hike is a short one (so I'd been told) so we didn't need much in the way of supplies.
|Steve, in fact, was able to fit all his stuff into this genuine Boy Scout pack from his youth. He was a bit concerned about how the zucchini muffins he had brought along would travel, but otherwise, it was perfect.|
We weren't very far along the trail when it opened up into this stunning panorama.
|The trail is more meticulously maintained than Disney World.|
|Small, bordered gardens dot the area.|
|The wide expanse of rock is almost dizzying.|
|And, seriously, who takes care of these little gardens? I kept poking around, looking for a garden elf or something. I was, to be honest, hoping to kidnap it and bring it home to tend to my own garden.|
|Unfortunately, there are simply too many places for those pesky elves to hide.|
Steve, in addition to being a rock star, is a wonderful cook. His muffins, safely swaddled in the protective comforts of his Boy Scout pack, were intact and delicious.
|Muffin - shown actual size, with mountain for scale. That Boy Scout pack is very roomy.|
We continued on our way. I stopped only infrequently to shake bushes and underbrush in search of the elusive mountain garden elf. I figured that Steve could fit a whole community of them in his pack.
We passed many natural wonders along the way to the summit, many of them were elfin in nature, leading me to think that we were on the right track to capturing one.
|An elf swimming hole. I searched the area for evidence that Barbie had been here the night before, but there was none.|
|A tunnel in the rock.|
|Obviously the beginning of an entire elf highway system.|
|Although it appears that they still have a lot of work left before they're ready for rush hour traffic.|
We made a final desperate trek along an exposed slab of granite on our approach to the summit and lunch. It had been nearly 40 minutes since we'd eaten anything and we were reeling from the effects of starvation.
|The beautiful view from the summit.|
|Steve, contemplating the splendor of nature.|
|Or, actually, airing out his armpits.|
After a delicious, gourmet lunch (peanut butter and jelly all around) we began our descent, my hopes for ever capturing a garden elf lowering with every foot we went down.
The last sign of elfery we saw along the path was this ancient tower, built, no doubt, by the ancestors of today's elves.
There were a few more splendid view along the way down.
|Steve is NOT airing out his armpits this time. He's farting.|
At the end of the hike, we piled into the car. I was slightly depressed by my total failure to capture and enslave an elf to do all my gardening, but Steve was elated at the fact that soon we would have beer.
Or, rather, he would have beer, as I still have several gallons of red wine to use up. In the words of Marge Simpson, "I know doctors say you should have two glasses of wine a day; I just can't drink that much."
And that saying is totally true for me; except for the word "can't".
We stopped at the small store in the center of Waterville Valley so Steve could buy himself a beer.
|Here is the beer Steve bought, as well as the juice he bought for Sheila.|
Steve went to the counter to pay for the beer and the juice. the lady rang up these two items and got a total of $15.49.
Steve, to his credit, did not, as I would have, stood, dumbfounded that 22 oz. beer could possibly cost over $12 (the juice was $3). He did not scream. He did not cry, He did not lose control of any of his bodily functions. He did not even whimper as he bravely took out his wallet, peeled off a 20, and handed it over.
We trudged bravely out the door and it was Sheila who gave voice to the two words we were all thinking. The first was "Holy". The second was naughty.
Steve shrugged and we went back to my place to have snacks and drinks. Steve claims that he has spent more on a beer, but he had to travel all the way to Paris to do it.
Soon, our day was over and they were on their way and I had another Open Studio to host.
"Host" being my word for "Sit there and look awkward while people look through my stuff."
As I was paking my things into the car to go set up at The Curious George Cottage, I got a phone call from Maryellen, asking if I had eaten. When I said that I hadn't, she very kindly asked me to join her and her husband David at a restaurant that was conveniently located between where I wa standing and CJ's Cottage.
The timing would be tight, but it was a very kind offer and I was happy to join them.
We had a lovely talk over appetizers and, just as they were cleared off the table, I realized that I really had to go if I was going to be set up in time for a 7:00 Open Studio. They kindly offered to have my meal wrapped up and to deliver it to the Cottage.
I thanked them and raced over to the Cottage and did manage to have everything ready to go before 7:00.
|See? I'm a professional at this. Although setting up would have been easier with the help of a few dozen conscripted Garden Elves.|
|This is work I've done while here.|
|This is even more work I've done while here.|
|This is me, sitting in front of a shelf of Curious George books.|
|This is me and David, pretending that we are deep in thought, contemplating my work.|
The night wound down and people made their way homeward. I did the same, my doggy-bag of baked haddock gently beckoning me toward the kitchen.
I packed up and headed home for dinner, a dinner that was delicious, but would have been even more enjoyable had I some elves to help with the dishes.
I may go hiking again tomorrow. And if I do, I'm bringing a net.