My beautiful wife wanted to go on a trip for her birthday. Of all the places we could have gone my city-girl Czech refugee wife picked... Klamath Falls.
I never did figure out why. I just felt happy and grateful.
I miss the high desert and sometimes it is a literal ache in my heart. The smell of sage and ponderosa pine. The burning sun heat and icy water. Graceful antelope, small quick lizards, scorpions and ant lions. Tracking deer and coyote and racoon and porcupine in sandy soil that is made for teaching children how tracks form and how to read them. Ice caves. Obsidian. Thunder eggs. Lightning storms and full moons red from wild fires. The song of coyotes.
She wanted to go and we went, just for a few days. She'd never seen Crater Lake and her jaw dropped at the sapphire blue, the impossible cool color under the desert-tan rock of a shattered mountain. Kami took endless pictures and marveled over all the plants that she couldn't identify.
We journeyed a little south to the Lava Beds National Monument and walked some of the battlefields of the Modoc War. We went through five caves and saw many, many petroglyphs.
The kids saw their first rattlesnake and I was very impressed with them. They gave it room, not afraid but not stupid either, treating the snake just like what it was- an animal. Not a mystery or a toy or a horror. Level headed teen agers. Kami had to remind me it was a national monument- I wanted to show the kids all the neat tricks- how to catch a rattler alive with a fishing pole and then how to skin it and preserve the hide... just flashing back to my youth.
Note to self: You are a 200 pound forty-two year old, NOT an eighty pound twelve year old.
At the big petroglyph point, I found a tumble of huge boulders that might have been from my childhood and taught my son my favorite game of all time: Rock Tag. As kids we would play tag, running along the boulders, jumping from one to another, leaping crevasses. Sometimes the falls were well over ten feet and the ultimate test of skill and showmanship was to stand on a very wide precipice with two possibilities for jumping and lure "it" into charging you then leap away at the last minute when it was too late for him to avoid running off the cliff... Good times, baby.
Anyway, at 200 pounds when you jump to a rock six feet below and land with cat-like reflexes on the narrow edge you get this big freaking bruise on the sole of your foot that leaves you limping all weekend. I'm an idiot. It's still fun, though.
The waters of Crater lake were icy cold on the bruised foot (we went through again on the way home). It was a beautiful weekend- fun and adventure and fine meals and a loving family.
Happy Birthday, Kami.
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