Tuesday, September 23, 2003

I’m at my parent’s house now using my brother Mike’s laptop. He’s on the phone with my aunt Margaret, who just got a computer. Dad and I helped Mom pull out an inch-long mole hair, all gray and wiry.

Now it’s an hour later and Mike is sitting next to me eating a turkey sandwich looking at “Recipes for Mammoth Appetites,” a fundraising cookbook for the Rock County chapter of the Ice Age Trail. Esther and picked up 20 copies last night at our chapter’s monthly meeting. They are available for $7 each. Send me an e-mail at raruhiker@yahoo.com if you want a copy. Shipping is $1.50.

The Cubs and Astros are tied for first place. The last time I remember the Cubs being in first place this late in the season was 1989. And that year I wasn’t nearly as big a baseball fan as I am now. Back then I caught a game every now and again, and only if I was bored and flipping through the stations of a Saturday afternoon. I think the Cubs have a better chance to advance in the playoffs, considering they’ve won a few games against playoff teams like the Giants and Braves. Their starting rotation is as strong as any team in baseball. And if they can get some timely hitting from the likes of Sosa, Alou and Kenny Lofton, who knows… The Cub fan must remain ever hopeful and optimistic.

Friday I leave on another backpacking trip, this time with Dave Long and without Esther, who could not get time off work. And since I am not currently getting much work from the Rockford Public School District, and it’s late September, the perfect time to be outdoors (no bugs, cool nights, fall colors up north). We are going to Porcupine Mountains State Park in Michigan’s upper peninsula. I was last there in early January when Dave and I did some winter hiking, in lieu of snow-shoeing, as originally planned, because there wasn’t enough snow. The hotels and resorts really suffered from the mild winter. The first backpacking trip Esther and I ever took, Labor Day weekend 1998, was in the Porkies. We didn’t sleep well. Every movement in the brush we thought was a bear.

It’ll be nice to be up north again, but I think after this past weekend’s cold night experience I’ll pack a fleece blanket along with my sleeping quilt. I’ll offset the extra weight of the blanket by not packing any bug netting. Plus, we’ll only be out three days, so the food won’t be as heavy. I’m surprised at the ability of my Go-Lite Breeze pack to hold seven days worth of food along with my backpacking gear. I took my Vasque Sundowner boots to the cobbler Monday and should have them back Thursday. The right boot has a hole in the toe and on the side. The left boot has stitching coming off near the laces. Other than that, the boots are in good shape, considering I’ve walked approximately 3 to 4,000 miles in them. I call them my space pod shoes because they perfectly conform to the shape of my foot.

Last weekend after we did trail work we came back to the Mondeaux Flowage campground for dinner and conviviality. Since we were in a picnic shelter, with fire places on either side, instead of everyone sitting around a big campfire, we broke into two groups. Kind of weird to split everybody up that way, but a jovial spirit remained. I overdid it on the booze though. In addition to 4-5 beers, I took countless swigs of a bottle of Finlandia cranberry vodka and a nameless Chinese strong liquor that Buzz (appropriate name) brought.

The next morning I woke just before dawn and threw up, went back to sleep for another 40 minutes or so. And when it was time to go to breakfast Esther handed me some water and Alleve. As soon as I drank it I ran to the edge of the woods and hurled again. Gary Stephenson, a member of our local chapter who rode with us to the work weekend, joked that I was car salesman now, selling BUUICKS!!! God, did I hurt. I thought I’d become a smart drinker and that’d never happen again, but it’s hard to keep track of how much you drink when you take swigs straight out of the bottle. At least I didn’t act foolish.

Last night after the Ice Age Trail meeting Esther and I stopped at Everett’s, where we spent $60 on a variety of booze, including the makings of a Manhattan, which we might make our fall drink (gin and tonic was our summer drink). Our purchases included bottles of sweet and extra dry vermouth, Jack Daniels whiskey, Angosturra bitters, cocktail cherries, Framboise Ale and a six-pack of my favorite beer, Hoegaarden. We each tried a Manhattan when we got home. A bit too strong for my tastes, especially in light of my recent experience, but very good.

Don’t get the impression I’m an alcoholic. I’m a very moderate drinker, usually only having one or two drinks when I do drink. But I do drink on a regular basis, usually with or after supper. A wimpy stomach for excess and absolutely no history of alcoholism on either side of my family keeps me from becoming an AA candidate.

Well, it’s almost 1 p.m. I’ve got to get groceries, mow some lawns, maybe do some creative writing, Cubs-Reds tonight. I’ll look into applying for work with the Harlem and Hononegah school districts.

No comments: