Monday, August 02, 2010

A Place Apart, Part Three

(The continuation of the story of my time at Echo Lake with some girlfriends, something definitely on "The List." To start with part one, click here. If you don't know what the list is, click here.)

That first night on the dock really set the tone for the week for me. I say 'week' because it was not a weekend, but really, it was Tuesday afternoon through Friday morning, just over three full days. No matter. Those three plus days were better than most full weeks. So that first night was enough to yank me away from my regular life, at least mentally. When the sun had risen, we lay on our beds and enjoyed the lovely morning. The other two women joined us from the house and Cindy brought a pot of coffee and some mugs. When my bladder called me to the house, I stayed in the kitchen long enough to put together a tray of melon and grapes and slice up some chocolate banana bread to carry back out with me. I went back in again and warmed up a platter of mini-quiches I'd brought from home. We enjoyed that breakfast on the dock immensely--or at least I did. We lingered over it quite a while in the long rays of early morning.

After being lazy for a bit, I had to go into work mode for most of the day, as I have a gallery show opening this Friday and I am just completely out of time. Fortunately, it was relaxing work for the most part--or at least it was creative and artistic, so there was no stress, and fatigue wasn't really much of a factor. I was painting over one of my photos. I had printed a photo on canvas, stretched it over a frame, and was going to paint a clear texture over the whole thing with an acrylic base that is intended to have pigment added to it. Without pigment, it is a lovely clear gloppy texture that I can lay in a variety of patterns to match the various elements of the image. I've tried this technique before and it is really fun, but this was my most ambitious attempt by far. It took me six to eight hours or so (I'm not really sure, since we weren't using any timepieces), but it was enjoyable work and very satisfying. When I was finally finished, I quickly changed into my swim suit and joined my friends, floating in the lake.

After some relaxation (who am I kidding? the whole time was relaxing) I decided to go out with my camera and find a way to get a photo of the cabin from a point I could see jutting out into the lake. I changed into jeans and heavy shoes, in case I would need to do any hiking, slung my camera onto my back, grabbed a mountain bike from the shed and took off toward the main dirt road that winds around the lake. I found a smaller road that seemed to be heading to where I wanted to go, so I followed it until it ran out. I rode as far as I could, and still wasn't to the lake, so I started to push and pull the bike over the terribly rugged terrain, full of fallen trees from a recent wind storm and the logging operation that has followed it. After much struggling with the bike, I decided to leave it there in the woods, hike the rest of the way to get my photo and then come back for it. I was glad I did; it was rough going and I was working up a sweat, even without the bike. Eventually I came out into the clearing on the point and snapped a couple of photos of the cabin. I called out to my friends who were lounging under a shade tree and they laughed, surprised to see me out there. Our voices carried effortlessly across the glassy surface of the lake with almost a musical quality.

When I turned to go back and find the bike, I noticed a small logging trail not too far away. My bike was more than half way there already, so I decided to go back for it, drag it through the brush and ride the logging trail back out to the road. It took a tremendous amount of effort and I won't go into all the details, but let's just say--I was really happy to actually climb onto the bike finally and start to ride. I was dirty and sweaty and scratched up, glad that I'd changed out of my shorts and sandals but hot in my blue jeans, and the breeze felt really nice once I got moving. I startled several deer as I cruised through the back woods, the only person they'd seen in perhaps a very long time. Other than the trail, there was no sign of civilization at all.

I knew where the lake was, roughly, and which general direction I needed to go, but the logging road didn't seem to be going that way. Hmmm. I decided to keep riding. It had to come out to a real road someplace. After a couple of miles, and several other small lakes and ponds, I found myself wishing I'd thought to bring my cell phone...or a water bottle. Oddly, I wasn't really nervous. I was sure I would find my way back eventually, but wondered how long 'eventually' might take.

Aha! At long last, there was a road. I turned right, the direction I'd told myself a while back I'd need to go, and looked for something familiar. Hmmm. I didn't appear to be anywhere near Echo Lake, and nothing looked right at all. I wasn't even sure what road I was on. No matter. I was enjoying the ride and had a song in my heart. If it got really bad, I could always ask someone for help...if I ever found another person or a house.... It was a fairly lonely stretch of dusty dirt road.

I rode and rode, up and down hills, my heavy camera banging against my back as I bounced through pot holes. While the gravel crunched and popped under my tires, I made a big decision: when I got home--to my real home--I would be selling my ridiculously vain cruiser bike--an enormous and heavy beast of a single gear bike--and buying a mountain bike. This thing was easy to ride and very pleasurable. I was still sweaty and short of breath from exertion, but if I were on my own bike, I would have been walking next to it for a long time by now. I rode on and on.

And then I saw it! I recognized a corner! I knew the cabin was only another mile or so from there. I rolled up to the property, parked the bike in the shed and hobbled on spent and trembling legs to the cabin. It took me quite a while to start to breathe normally again, and my beet red face continued to pour sweat for a good fifteen minutes or so, so after chugging some water and inhaling the plate of food that Nance offered me, I jumped in the lake, clothes and all. I love that about vacation. Once cooled down from a lovely swim, I was ready for a hot shower and early PJ's.

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lot of fun. Fun does not have to be expensive, does it?

Uncle Ed

Amber said...

I am loving this story. How is it that your lovely life is so full of adventure?
I went on a little girls weekend last summer to the Washington coast with 2 friends of mine. It was Friday night through Sunday and was loverly. Exactly as you describe: we didn't care about food or schedule or sleep...glad you had some time away.