30 September 2012

The Art of Saying Yes, and Also What's Next

While the daily high remains at 75F and the sun is as reliable as ever, the chill is lingering longer each morning and setting in faster each evening, and the conference season is half over. Unlike most of the nomads that work here, I simply can't embrace the fly by the seat of your pants lifestyle. One of my coworkers is a bit of an astrology nut and she informs me that as a virgo, I'm a total homebody and prefer organization, routine, and stability.

Yep. I'm such a homebody that instead of looking forward to the next adventure, like WWOOFing in Hawaii or road tripping to Mexico, I'm already dropping roots. Applying to work at Heavenly, hoping my fun and charming officemate will let me live with her in South Lake for the winter, and, most importantly: accepting a job as a three-season evening manager at Stanford Sierra. It's not for sure but I can't think of anything I'd rather do than stay here for at least another year. In the brief in-between of November I'm seriously considering a trip to Moab, and anyone that wants to join me is welcome. 

In the meantime I'm working on being more spontaneous. With the aid of one Mr. Ennis I spent the last year practicing the transformative art of saying yes. That doesn't sound like a big deal but it's served me well here, in fighting the entropic forces of my antisocial nature. When unusual opportunities present themselves, my first instinct is to say no, but saying yes often leads to great times. A couple days ago my suitemate suggested an impromptu camping trip to some hot springs hours south of us, and instead of offering up some lame and trivial excuse I decided to join the gang. There is something so Californian about chilling au naturel in hot springs under the full moon, drinking Sauvignon Blanc in the middle of nowhere. I felt like I was finally living up to my mother's hippie legacy. 

Buckeye hot springs
Pics courtesy of Viv (at least I'm stealing from friends
instead of strangers now)

Sunrise over our campsite
 Who knows what else saying yes could lead to. Everyone at camp is on a skydiving kick right now, and daytripping to Yosemite or the coast isn't out of the question. I also sometimes need to drop the book or postpone sleep for more mundane things like night hikes, Halloween DH races, group road rides, and cruising on the motorboat between shifts. It's tough, really.
The treehouse, for no other reason than I like it
Pic courtesy of Elena

18 September 2012

Life at Camp

I have been remiss in my duties.
Also I inexplicably broke the camera Dan gave me, so I will now resort to stealing photos from the internet because I'm classy like that. 
So here's my life in a nutshell right now: 

A couple days a week I work a 9-5 in the office. This frightened me at first, because of the sedentary nature of the job and more so because of the hulking, complicated beast of a phone that crouches on my desk, ringing constantly. I am not the best receptionist, but I'm learning, and after overcoming my stage fright I've started to really enjoy the office because it's challenging work, and we function as the hub of the whole operation. I love always knowing what's going on and where everyone is. 

On other days I work a shorter office shift and get some other random shifts too. Sometimes it's housekeeping, or working at the camp store/bar/coffee shop, or serving lunch, or setting up social hours for boozy guests. 

I, along with everyone else, am always alert for the meal bells so that I can scurry to the dining room for fish tacos, beef tenderloin, curry, or whatever else the kitchen chooses to put out. For breakfast I like to read on the deck overlooking the lake, drinking cappuccino and eating yogurt and raspberries. Other meals are a more collegial affair and I set my plate down wherever there's room, and laugh and gossip with whomever is available. 
The boat dock is right outside my cabin
When I'm feeling motivated between shifts, there is time for sunrise yoga, a morning paddleboard outing, some beach volleyball, or a trail run. Sometimes I prefer to just read or paint my nails on my cabin's little porch. After work is over I grab a beer from the Fountain (just put it on my tab) and join the raucous crowd at the smoker's circle or sit on the boat dock with my feet in the water or chat with my roommate and neighbors.

We get two days off a week, which seems downright luxurious. Rebecca and I have the same day off and so have plans of one epic mountain bike ride per week. The first outing was Mr Toad's Wild Ride, a roller coaster of rock gardens and stunning views that earned its reputation as one of the best descents in Tahoe. At some point a day trip to Downieville is on the agenda. 
Toad's was all about maneuvering over big rocks and
through a foot of moon dust.
On my other off-day I have a posse of like-minded hiking buddies. We're into really hard hikes with insane views and possible detours for swimming in alpine lakes. On Friday we scrambled and grappled up a moraine chute to Mount Tallac, at 9700 feet. It was by far the best hike I'd ever been on, even though we ended it sunburned and deeply dehydrated. 
You can see Fallen Leaf and all of Tahoe from Tallac.
Desolation Wilderness stretches out endlessly in the other direction.
I keep waiting for the magic to fade but it just gets better as I get to really know my coworkers and feel competent at my job(s). I would recommend this place to anyone--seriously, if you've ever considered temporary work, add this link to your favorites bar and apply for the spring season. 

11 September 2012


I'm not sure why I waited so long to update on the current situation--I'm probably only a couple of days away from an insistent email from the mother or father.

I think maybe it's because words fail me. I keep having to pinch myself to be sure this is real, that somehow I deserve to be here staying in a free cabin, eating three free (delicious) meals a day, working with friendly, outdoorsy, sometimes hedonistic, perpetually nomadic people.

More than anything, it's just the most beautiful place I've ever been, and the idea that I can wake up every morning to the sun rippling over the cerulean lake and through the spruce pines, and go for a ten minute hike that puts me in a skree field overlooking both Fallen Leaf and Lake Tahoe, seems almost absurd. The other night the staff director took all us newbies on a night cruise in the pontoon boat and pointed out all the intensely illuminated constellations. We're surrounded by sinister 9,000 foot peaks that delineate sky and earth in no uncertain terms. There's enough time in the day to hop in the bracingly cold lake, take out a kayak or paddleboard, or head out for a quick ride. I've even found a riding companion who knows the nearby trails and yesterday she took me up a mountain and back down.

Suffice to say I'm already dreading the end of the work season, only two months away.

06 September 2012

3 Days, 3 Rides

as usual just imagine i have images to grace the words.

after too much down time i got back on the bike and went explorin'. the open space minutes from the g-ma's house yielded a really delightful piece of previously undiscovered (and illegal) singletrack. then gaskin brought savannah and the man to walnut creek for some hang out time. i dragged them up mount diablo just cuz, and while it was stupid and painful, it sure wasn't boring. ok, we had to stagger up vertiginous hills, barely able to find footing much less push our bikes, cursing the sheer insanity of the road engineers, but it was so dang beautiful. she has pictures, i do not.

then today i went down to pacifica, south of san fran and perched on the ocean, crowded on all sides by mountains. my riding companion du jour was more of the bro-brah persuasion and laughed at my clipless pedals and short travel, but i did all right. pacifica offers some of the only DH/FR in the bay area and as i swept through the eucalyptus groves, pinballing off berms and dodging doubles, i was reminded a lot of galbraith, in bellingham...if it hadn't rained in six months. we could pretend i was doing this, but in reality i remained within six inches of the ground at all times.

very exciting stuff though. i do love new places. and now onward to where the riding is nearby and by all accounts magnificent. tomorrow i'm heading northeastish, and giving a lift to a young meatneck coworker. this'll be fun.

04 September 2012


north to santa rosa and south to santa cruz
the humboldt house, the boardwalk, and the homemade tattoos

sunk my heart at the bottom of the bay
gonna wash up on the black rocks one day
like unlucky sailors just swept out to sea

it's just so easy to have FEELINGS in a place that everyone writes songs about. 

california i'm coming home 
oh will you take me as i am 
strung out on another man 
california i'm coming home

02 September 2012

Killing Time

lodged as i am in the bustling bay area, this massive concrete zone that encircles the city, i'm chafing to get back to mountains, and to work. meanwhile my family provides endless entertainments that, while not outdoorsy or athletic, are still diverting. whether it's dancing in the sketchy part of SF, eating at highly rated restaurants, drinking bubbly at celebratory brunches, or attending giants games, i'm staying busy.

fêting the matriarch
i've been promised several moutain bike outings that have yet to materialize. there are golden hills within running distance of my grandmother's house so i expunge my restlessness with outings into the knee high grass shaded only by the rare oak. at the top of every dizzyingly steep hill is a 360-degree view of my surroundings, which are aesthetically pleasing albeit crowded with houses. i have yet to tackle mount diablo again, that towering plinth i yearn to summit, but i'm running out of time.

but i guess i do live here now, after all.