Posts Tagged With: adventure. national park

Just Jump

Bigfork Bridge

There’s a bridge in Bigfork, Montana that stretches over the Swan River as it lets out into Flathead Lake.  To some, jumping from the bridge into the deep part of the river is a rite of passage.  For me, this jump is a taunt.  A calling I can’t answer.

While enjoying a cocktail on her boat on Flathead Lake, my friend Edie asked if I wanted to jump from the bridge while I’m in town.  Lemme tell you something about Edie, she’s all about having fun which is a why I love being with her.  So, when she offered to jump with me it seemed like the best idea ever.

The water from my jumping point.

The drop from the bridge to the water is no more than 12 feet.  The water below is still and clear.  It’s easy to find the deep spot.  The rocks practically clear themselves out of the way.  Cars cross the bridge once every ten minutes.  The septuagenarian who lives below my parents dives off  on a regular basis.  I’m telling you, everyone has done this.

I’m not a particularly daring person.  New experiences are great but if they involve danger I can make a mountain out of a mole hill real quick.  A seat belt is my best friend.  I know how to cut it off my body and shatter a car window and have mentally prepared my escape if my car is sinking.  When I check into a hotel I ask for the room closest to the emergency exit.

I’m not sure why jumping off of this bridge seemed within my repertoire.  I wasn’t scared until I started climbing over the railing.  Then the gremlin voices began their chorus.

No one has ever gotten hurt but there’s always a first.

That water is really cold and it could be very disorienting once you submerge with that kind of force.

You could hit your head on the way down and knock yourself out then bleed out in front of your family.

Edie with her husband, Bob. Bigfork’s Ambassadors of Fun.

Edie demonstrated how to get to the ledge.  She gave me one hell of a pep talk.  She ran to get a life vest for me.  She jumped.  She jumped again.  A crowd gathered.  The crowd cheered.  I rallied and screamed, “Ok…1…2…” and chickened out.  Young men who promised they are certified life guards treaded water right below me for safety and moral support.  I asked the onlookers to come closer and tell me positive things.  Then I asked them to move away because they were crowding me. A kindergarten child said he would jump if I promised him I would jump.  I promised.   He jumped.  I broke my promise.

My point is  the only thing holding me back from taking the step off of the bridge, free-falling for .5 seconds, dunking in the clean river, and coming up victorious to applause from the crowd was ME.  This fear, of what I cannot pinpoint exactly, has been with me my whole life.  Most loyally, I’m sorry to report.

I meditate. I visualize success. I journal. I plan.  I pray.  But, this fear and I still take it to the mat on a daily basis.  I have five more days in Bigfork and that bridge is 200 feet from my front door.  I want to jump while I’m here— to pin that nasty fear.

But what if I freeze up again?

What if I messed with cosmic timing and yesterday was the best day to jump and now the water level is too low?

What if lightning strikes the bridge while I’m on the ledge?

What if…

Categories: People on The Stretch | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

So Far….

From the North Rim of The Grand Canyon

Hello, one and all!  It’s been weeks!  Weeks since I’ve written.  Weeks since I’ve had a steady connection.  Weeks since I’ve organized my thoughts on what’s happened on the road.  I’m staying put for a few days in Napa, California and will once again be filling your inbox with posts from The Stretch 2012.  In the meantime, here are some things I’ve learned since I started this trip almost two months ago.

1. As soon as I start feeling really sad to leave a place, I know it’s time to go.  I’ve learned that part of that sadness is actually fear that the next stop won’t be as special.  But, every single stop is spectacular in its own way and you just never know what’s around the corner.

2. Grocery stores that sell ‘coons for cooking leave one full paw on the skinned animal so the buyer knows it’s indeed a ‘coon and not a cat.  Promise.

3. Dining alone is not so bad. I actually like it.  I don’t even bring a book with me anymore.  Most of the time someone will invite me to join them.  If I end up alone for the whole meal the bartender usually sends a round on the house.

4. Earthquakes scare the crap out of me.  People who live in California sleep through 3.8 earthquakes.  I contemplated packing my bags and leaving the state as soon as it happened.

5.  Hospitality is the true sport of kings.  I now fully understand what it means to make someone feel at home and welcome.

Las Cruces, New Mexico sunset.

6. Saying “yes” leads to way more interesting happenings than saying “no, thank you”.

Almost as good as new.

7. Broken bones heal.  It just takes a while.

8. Above about 3,000 feet one cocktail feels like two… or more.

9. Sex cult members would like for you to join them but if you don’t want to they don’t seem to mind and still want to be your friend.

Highway 1

View from Highway 1 vista.

10. Esalen in Big Sur, California houses the mac-daddy of all hot springs experiences.  I wish I could show you pictures but photography would likely be discouraged at this clothing optional enclave.  I now judge those who take the option.

11.  California Highway 1 is the coolest, spookiest, most harrowing drive I’ve ever taken and I’ll do it again and again.

12. Seeing two national parks in one day is seeing one national park too many.

13. Sacred Peace Pipe ceremonies are usually not open to the public and are not advertised on the community bulletin board.

14. Checking your car’s tire pressure is super easy and when all the tires are right it’s a huge relief.

Standard uniform.

15. I like wearing the same four outfits over and over.  I wish I could ditch half the stupid stuff I brought with me— like the sequined tank top that’s shedding shiny discs all over the bottom of my suitcase.

16. Everyone has a story and everyone has the propensity to be a teacher.

Open road. Totally alone.

17. Gas station attendants across America agree that beef jerky is the most popular snack sold.

18. Lying down on the double yellow line of a quiet freeway gave me a sense of freedom I’ve never felt before in my life.  I hadn’t seen another car for more than two hours so I stopped my car in the middle of the road, blasted a random CD I bought in Austin, and laid down on my back right on the double line.  Like a star fish.  Stared at the sky.  Laughed and cried at the same time.

19. At one certain pueblo, no one wants to discipline the War Chief’s unruly and aggressive dog.  He’ll goose you and then back you into a corner nipping at your ankles.  The dog, not the War Chief.

20. I’ve fallen head over heels for the car I’m driving.  When I spot it in the parking lot I all but skip toward it and give it a hug.  It holds the contents of my entire life, provides shelter, and takes me to every single new adventure.

My one true love.

Categories: People on The Stretch, Stays on The Strech | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Sand Sledding in New Mexico

This is like no other place I’ve ever been.

White Sand Dunes Monument is National Park Light.  You can do the whole loop in 45 minutes or stay all day.  Get there early or late but the heat in the middle of the day is a killer.  It’s the desert for goodness sake.  The sand doesn’t get hot which makes sledding a blast.  Never did this as a kid.  So happy to check it off the Stretch List.

Categories: Stays on The Strech | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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