a short hike...

We spent a few days at our ranch on the Palo Duro Canyon camping and hanging out. It was great fun even if it was a bit hot and muggy. The first night we gazed at the moon and stars when they came out and watched the incredible lightening storm off to the south east. We talked about what to do the next day, where to hike and find the best picnic spots. Dreamed of one day building a house on the point with the best view. Shannon brainstormed about building roads and dams for ponds. The boys, for once, acted like civilized people and dreamed along with us. I sat enjoying the family time and breathing in the fresh night air.

When it was time to hit the sheets, the camper was still pretty warm even with all the windows open. We did our best to fall asleep but with sweat running down your back and bugs dive bombing your head, it was a little hard. Finally the air cooled and a nice breeze blew in and we went to sleep long after midnight. We awoke at 11:30 am! Amazingly, we felt rested and commenced in the making of breakfast. Sausage egg and cheese biscuits. Can I just say these were the most amazing things? Sorry, Micky D's we'd put you outa bizness! So then we decide to head out on the ATVs and do a little exploring...

We ride out to a beautiful point where you can see the canyon for miles and decide this is perfect for a picnic table and fire pit. Shannon tells  us he's never been down the hill and over to another point just a short distance from where we are. It looks hike-able so we decide to do it...

Shannon- It'll only take us 30 minutes or so.
Me- OK, do we need to take the backpack with the water in it? 
Shannon- Nah. We'll be fine. We'll take one bottle and share it if we need a drink.
Boys- Do we have to go? Can't we just stay here and ride the ATVs on top? It's hot. I'm bored. When are we going home? What time are we going to eat lunch. I want my computer and air-conditioning. My phone doesn't work out here in the boonies...
Shannon & Me- Ignoring the boys and pretending to hear: This is great fun! I never wanna go home! We love you! Who needs phones and computers when you can hang with your super cool parents...
Dogs: Pant, pant, pant...Sniff, sniff, sniff...eat rabbit poop...sniff, sniff...eat deer poop...sniff, sniff...yelp...don't sniff cactus...sniff, sniff...yum, raccoon poop...

Mind you, it is 1 pm and the sun is shining brightly. Thankfully, it was a little cooler that day but the humidity must have been about 973%. 

And so we begin our trek down the hill. We start on what seems to be a trail the animals have made. We are enjoying nature and it's beauty until the trail begins to narrow leading us through brush so thick we need a machete to get through. We are not detoured, oh no! We press on through the cedar trees as they slap our faces and various body parts. Mesquite trees and various thorny plants scrape our flesh from our legs as we hike. We step, jump, dodge, and weave our way though cactus clusters, stopping only to lift Bubba (the white westie ranch dog) over cactus barriers and pluck thorns from Mollie's paws (the non-water loving lab). Cedar flies and horse flies have joined us as we struggle to stay upright on the downhill, rocky, non-existent trail. Sweat has dampened our brows and made our clothes stick to us, but we are warriors and adventure hungry for more. The dogs are trying to find shade where ever they can, squeezing under the tiniest tree to cool off. An hour later we finally hit the spot Shannon had scoped out earlier. I am so tired and hot and sweaty and thirsty, I can't even enjoy the view. My hips, knees and shins hurt. Sweat burns my eyes. We pass around the 16 ounces of water  and it only increases my thirst for something ice cold. 

Now, it's time to turn and head back UP to where the ATVs sit baking in the sun. The boys spy another "trail" and we are off. First, downward we must go. Again, I brace myself against the slapping and flesh tearing plant life that is so beautiful when you are gazing at it from a lawn chair. After reaching the bottom of the hill we must now travel straight up another "hill" which now seems as tall as Mount Everest. I begin planning the songs I want sung at my funeral while looking for a rock for which to etch my final wishes into the canyon hillside. Hoping I'll be found before the buzzards over head move in to feast upon my remains. My breath is the only thing I can hear as I gasp and sputter my way up the hillside. The ground is made up of crumbly caliche (sp?) rock and cacti so keeping your balance while hiking at a 90 degree angle becomes the main goal. I am no longer looking to the top for the finish line, I am watching every step and praying I don't end up face down in the ER while cute, young, resident doctors pluck cacti from my hind end.

Ahhh, the top of the so called hill is a welcome sight. I am so dehydrated by this point I can no longer sweat. My tongue feels as though I drug it along the ground as I made my way up. My lips are stuck to my gums and my teeth are gritty from trail dust. I have dirt in most of the creases of my body. Bloody scabs and torn flesh dangle from my legs thanks to the local plant life. My neck is sunburned and my clothes look like I've been homeless for years. Thank goodness for my hiking shoes, they did their job with out blistering my worn out feet. We are now walking across the grassy plain looking out over part of the beautiful canyon. The ATVs still seem about a hundred miles away though I can see them glistening in the sunlight. The wavy view due to the heat has me dreaming of driving straight home and into the pool, ATV included. We finally reach them and drink the remaining bottles of water that were patiently waiting for us. As I sat staring at the now empty bottle, it begins to mock Shannon. The heat must be playing games on me because the bottle is mimicking Shannon's earlier words: "It's just a short hike...no need to bring the backpack..." Shaking my head to clear this hallucination I glance over at Thomas pouring water on his 4 wheeler seat and watch it sizzle, steam and evaporate in mere seconds. Mollie and Bubba refuse to get in the back of the ranger instead they insist on riding in the shaded seat with Shannon and me. Eventually we get Mollie in the back but not with out a fight. 

Finally we head back to the camper, dreaming of going home and falling fully clothed into the clear blue pool. When we reach the camp site everyone rushes toward the coolers packed with ice cold beverages and collapse in the lawn chairs. We decide to pack up and head over to our Claude place to shower and become human again. Meanwhile, the clouds have darkened and the sky is looking stormy. As we are leaving the gate the heavens open up and bless us with a shower of rain. We all get out of the truck and stand in the cool drops as they wash rivers of dirt down our skin. 

We pull up to the Claude ranch and run to the showers. I stand under the hot water until my skin is squeaky and puckered. I am thankful that I live in 2010 and not 1810. There were no showers in the dugouts the settlers lived in...

We decide to hang out and eat dinner here. We lounge on the couches and enjoy the air conditioning. Life is good.

Comments

  1. Monnie, you are so funny. I know it sounds much funnier than it actually was at the time. God is good- he gives us that wonderful sense of humor that gets us through tough times.

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