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Part II »

Mountains and Molehills: A Vacation Diary
Part I

[Excerpts (and additions) from the (handwritten!) diary I kept on vacation. All links to go photos taken on said vacation. This will probably be five or six parts, so if you're not interested you might want to skip the next 24 hours or so around here]

sunset 3We set out at 5am, an ungodly hour for most people, but prime time for a morning person like myself. There are very few cars on the road at that time of the morning, and we made pretty quick work of the trip to Roscoe.

The farther we got from home, the more I realized how conflicted I am about the need for routine and familiarity and the feeling of having a cocoon of safety and comfort built around you.

I wanted to detach, to separate myself from civilization, technology, traffic, ringing phones and copy machines and computer screens and screaming neighbors and blaring horns. Yet as the signs of departure from home loomed - the crossing of the bridges, the narrowing of roads, the mountains rising up from the ground - I became nervous about the detachment. It's not that I would miss the internet or cell phone service or air conditioning; it's more like I would miss what those things represent: the confines of home. How strange to want to slip out of confinement, to be afraid of confinement, even emotional or mental confinement to the point of a mental sort of claustrophobia, and then to feel afraid because you are not confined.

Once we turned off Route 17 and into the town of Roscoe, I felt better. Roscoe is back-of-the-hand familiar. You turn into town, which consists of a small group of stores, some of which have been standing since I was a small child. Raimondo's restuarant, the grocery store, the fish supply store and, of course, the Roscoe train and museum.

From there it's a ten minute ride to the house in the woods. There's something about the ride from here to there that is almost magical in its ability to wipe out everything you left behind. It's like coming into a clearing and seeing only what's in front of you - sky, trees, grass - and hearing only what's around you - insects, wind, moving water - and knowing nothing else but the pure beauty of nature. Every stress, every worry, every minute detail of life is swept away and that feeling that we all get too often, that life is just whooshing by us at 100mph, it's all gone. You're at a standstill, a weird place where time and calendars and dollars, for a few moments anyhow, mean nothing.

You're driving on smooth curves cut into mountains, Johnny Cash on the stereo, the double yellow line uncoiling before you in a slithering series of ups and downs that make your stomach jump. On your left is the glassy surface of an enormous lake , the sky a deep shade of blue that you thought existed only in crayon boxes. On your right, a crop of wildflowers emerge in a blurred splash of blue and yellow and orange and behind the flowers the land rises up and centuries old trees tower above, the sun glittering through leaves and branches that have existed through hundreds of years of storms and changing landscape.

When you drive the same roads at night, they take on such a different shape and color. Even at dusk, the roads are washed in shadows; still black shadows of trees and flitting, gray shadows of bats that swoop and circle. The bumps in the road seem larger, the hills steeper, the woods menancing. The slow cadence of Queens of the Stone Age's Mosquito Song performs a fitting tribute to the sounds that play over the music - a constant buzz that is not just one bug, but thousands and thousands of all different breeds of insects waiting for a body to pounce on, a dead animal to feast on. They come in from the waters when the lights go down, hiding from the bats that have come out for dinner. You roll up the car windows to drown out the sound, and to keep out anything that might be lurking in the woods because we all know that things lurk out here at night.

Fat and soft, pink and weak
Foot and thigh, tongue and cheek
You know I'm told they swallow you whole
Skin and bone
Cutting boards and hanging hooks
Bloody knives, cooking books
Promising you won't feel a thing
At all

All photos (uploaded so far, I took 555) here.

[more to come]


You're driving on smooth curves cut into mountains, Johnny Cash on the stereo, the double yellow line uncoiling before you in a slithering series of ups and downs that make your stomach jump.

You ought to try it on a motorcycle.

That looks like a wonderful vacation.

It's just too bad you had the rough moments afterward. . . I hope you feel better soon.

Dave at Garfield Ridge