Though it officially begins Monday, I'm viewing today as the start of my week long vacation. I do not have to return to work until August 14th and I am elated. In fact, I was so excited this morning that I received a sudden burst of energy and at 10:30am I stuck a leash on Jack and set out for the park with every intention of exploring the 1.8 mile hiking trail that had been eluding me. I'd seen park maps for the trail but they appeared very convoluted and I couldn't tell where it would lead or where I could possibly end up. For a reason unknown to me, I decided to find out today.
Jack and I reached the park in no time to find a few people already there. A bulky man watched us from his massive, white 1988 Cutlass Supreme. We both kept our heads up and went on. We encountered an older woman walking her two dogs. Jack noticed the dogs first and began cowering at their size and I noticed the camera that hung from her neck and thought one day I would like to spend my days in retirement, walking the dogs and taking pictures of butterflies. She spoke with a European accent when she greeted me and her dogs began to wrap their leashes around my legs as they sniffed after a very frightened Jack. We chatted briefly about the weather, untangled my legs, and she walked in the direction of the park exit as Jack and I set out across the soccer field to find a beginning to the trail.
It turned out to be a bit more intimidating than I had expected. While the map did show the approximate area we'd be hiking across, it did not show the first half mile being down hill, and after reaching the bottom of the obnoxiously steep hill, all I could think to myself was "Do I have to climb back up that thing?" The trail smoothed out and I found us in the valley near a wooded park road that I drive every day to and from work. It was actually very pretty with numerous creeks running by and surrounded by so many immensely tall trees. We were only a mile or so from a road that was once considered the western boundary of the United States. We encountered more people out walking their dogs and they all pleasantly greeted me and my vigorous pup. And while I wish I could tell you that I enjoyed every wondrous minute of our now flat hike, I can't, because I was freaking out about where this trail was going to take us. Was I really going to have to climb back up that hill? I even began wishing that I brought my cell phone, because if that was the case, I might just call someone to pick us up instead.
The trail eventually lead us to an equally long and steep hill to get back up to the park and I climbed it without complaining though I can't explain the emotions that came over me as we emerged onto the familiar and grassy soccer field. They were a jumble of exhaustion, relief, and triumph all in one. I began to wonder why I stressed so much as we walked passed bushes covered in butterflies and I thought of the nice woman with her camera. The man in the Cutlass was still in the parking lot but this time he was ogling a girl at the picnic tables, wearing a revealing tank top and sunbathing. Creepy.
When we got home Jack lapped up an entire bowl of water and I downed a bottle of my own. I stretched, showered, and entered into a house cleaning frenzy. I rigorously scrubbed every surface in my kitchen and washed a couple loads of laundry. When I couldn't think of anything else to do I went to the grocery store. Because I thought I deserved it, I stretched out on the couch with DVR remote in hand, and watched a weeks worth of Dinner Takes All. I couldn't think of a better day to kick off a much needed vacation.
I will definitely sleep well tonight.