Saturday, April 19, 2008

Roughing It

Tonight, I feel a bit out of sorts.  I think I'm ready for that vacation which starts Friday.  I can't wait.  Five days, me and nature.  Oh and a big old house in the mountains.  Since my idea of roughing it is a Holiday Inn, I think a house in the middle of a forest is a perfect compromise to actually having to rough it.   My niece will be there with her dog.  My sister won't and I'm a little sad about that.  I miss her, so I'll just have to settle for her house.  I'll be taking a wee bit of yarn with me to try to finish her anniversary gift.  I'll use the house as inspiration as I sit on one of the decks and watch nature occur.  I'll reminisce about the last time my sister and I "roughed" it together.

A few years ago, my friend Jeanne from work asked me very sweetly if I'd like to walk the Breast Cancer 3 Day with her.  She played up this event with all it's meaning, inspiration and sisterhood and told me it wasn't that hard to do (like a fool, I bought this hook, line and sinker.)  It was too late to sign up for the Detroit event, so we chose the San Francisco event instead.  All we had to do was raise about $2,100 from friends, family, and coworkers for the commitment.  No big deal right? .  My sister was so inspired by the fact that I was doing it and signed up too.  Before I knew it, I was up to my eyeballs in candy sales, bake sales and an auction at the bar trying to pry several thousand dollars out of people.  In my off time from this full time planning, I worked my full time job and trained for the event.

Prior to this walk, I had only been to SF briefly for Karmanos Cancer Institute, I don't know how it escaped me that it was particularly "hilly."  I trained in Detroit where places like Farmington and Bloomfield "Hills" aren't truly hilly in comparison to San Francisco.  I think I should have has some clue about this since I grew up watching the Streets of San Francisco.  I trained my ass off for this event and wasn't in the teensiest bit prepared for what lay ahead.

Our walk started in San Mateo where we walked our way to our first night in a pup tent adventure at Coyote Point Park (I worried needlessly that this park was named after creatures I'd meet in the dead of night as I made my way to the porta potty.)  I don't remember much except it was on a bluff overlooking a big body of water and it smelled like heaven (eucalyptus trees.)  I was too exhausted from my 20 mile walk to truly appreciate it.  It hadn't been very hilly to get from where we started to where we camped our first night, just long and tiring.  After a good night's sleep, we'd be off to do it again.  The only catch was there wasn't a good night's sleep.  It was cold and like fools, my sister and I stored our gear between us and each slept against the wall of the tent.  We both froze our fannies off.

On day two, we woke up stiff, achy and probably hypothermic and joined up with my colleague for breakfast.  We had to pack up our gear and schlep it to a truck to send ahead to the second night's camp.  Then we started day two where we walked around and around and around and around.  The only way I knew they were making us get to a total of twenty miles by having us walk in circles was that SF International airport would be in front and then behind us.  In front and then behind.  It was a bit demoralizing, but still, not that hilly.  We hit camp exhausted and in need of a shower (showers were inside 18 wheeler trucks--kind of fun and very warm.)  We ate like queens then partied and danced for hours after walking 20 miles.  Obviously, endorphins had kicked in and lulled us into a false sense of security.

Night two in the pup tent and we had grown wiser.  My sister and I put our gear against the walls of the tent and took advantage of shared warmth.  Somewhere in the middle of my exhausted sleep, an awareness began to seep in that it was raining.  Late October in San Francisco = rainy season.  Fool.

Day three sort of dawned and we schlepped our way to the gear truck yet again.  That night,  we would sleep in a hotel room (praise God.)  We walked our last 20 miles through cold, damp hilly terrain as fast as we could.  It was brutal.  The heavens spit cold rain at us the entire day.  It always threatened to come down in torrential downpours but didn't really, it just drizzled.   There were times we'd get to the top of a hill and just cry because we knew we had to go down (down is harder when everything hurts) and then back up to get to Golden Gate Park.  Over and over.  We persevered and triumphed but I still haven't really seen San Francisco.  My rain parka covered my face for most of the day.

After the event, we checked into our hotel and showered.  We decided we were ravenously hungry but incapable of "walking" anywhere.  We left our hotel by cab and made the cabbie drive us two blocks to Chinatown.  He was somewhat irritated by the short fare but hey, we figured we'd earned a little pampering.  Would I ever do it again?  I have.  I would recommend this event to anyone ever touched in the least by breast cancer.  My claim to fame?  I walked two of these events in 9 months.  Not bad for an old broad.  A special thanks here to Jeanne who has done "many" of these walks.  If not for you, I'd have no appreciation for what it means to rough it.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Ruth, It was nice to re-live the adventure by reading your words.


Rudee said...

Well Jeanne, thanks to you, I'll not soon forget Lombard Street. I still have no idea why the brakes in the back seat of our minivan didn't work!