Hiking in Space

Monday I took the Geeklet to the woods. We escaped, in a way.

We took our backpack of provisions and off we drove, an hour away, to Paso Picacho in Cuyamaca State Park. After a mad scramble for the six dollars parking fee (this was a spontaneous trip), we parked in a lot in which no one but the squirrels were our company. This set a trend that continued all day. G and I sat and ate our early lunch while watching from a distance as a squirrel climbed into the engine of our car. Stupid squirrel. Then it climbed out again. Life at a campground must be rather boring if such daredevil stunts are your idea of fun.

After convincing the wee guy that no, no pumas were likely to eat us on this trip, we were off. And it was an amazing three-hour, 2.5-mile hike. We looked at seed pods and animal feces, dried grass and burned tree bark, rose hips and thistles. (That’s what Eeyore eats?) We made music by jumping on wooden bridges crossing currently nonexistent streams. We had a snack sitting in the dust in the shade of a half-burned tree, after which my small boy made quick work of any clean skin he had left. Carbon and dust were quickly applied in what I mentally called the “pig pen” approach: lay down and roll, then sit up and rub liberal handfuls of dirt into your hair.

Ben draws on Mama's leg, caveman style

Here he chose to draw on my leg, using a chunk of the same charred tree bark. We found a hawk feather, and one that probably belongs to a wild turkey (long, straight, and striped white and gray) but the minihiker took one look at it and was transformed into a baby eagle. He called to his mama to feed him. (“Mama! Mama! I need little dead mice to eat!”) Then he flew down the path, feather flapping. He also found a small ball of fluff that turned out to be down. He carried that, cupped in his hand, until it was a sweaty sodden mess, then insisted I carry it until we got home.

It was a successful trip, and we will repeat it. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. We spend way too much time indoors, and my little intellectual is already happier looking at the pictures of animals on their signage at the zoo than at the actual animals. We can’t have that!

When we got back to the picnic tables near the car, we had another snack, and watched three squirrels climb into the engine of the car next to ours. I can’t be sure all three came down again.

In other news. I heart Michael Collins. Not the Irish patriot (nor the Irish politician, Irish author, Irish footballer, or the drink), but the astronaut. We went to see In the Shadow of the Moon tonight, which was very well done and worth seeing, and as it was based on interviews with nine of the surviving men who actually traveled to the moon, there was a lot of personality portrayed. Alan Bean is hysterical, Buzz Aldrin comes across as kind of shy, and Mike Collins is funny, self-effacing, and I have a wee bit of a crush on his wrinkly old self. Maybe it’s all that moonlight.

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