I was peeved. After a lovely morning at home, I'd donned sneakers and a loose t-shirt, organized a water bottle, downloaded a podcast, and drove over to Christina-Taylor's path. After walking nearly two flat miles with Not-Kathy on Monday, I was ready to tackle the 3.2 mile roundtrip along the Canada Wash.
Unfortunately, the construction on the nature preserve piece of CTG's park requires truck parking in the tiny lot; a Parks and Rec employee informed me, with no small amount of attitude, that there were no spaces. She told me to leave.
I made a u-turn, with steam coming out of my ears. Can't they park on the sidewalk or the open space? Can't they use the Community College lot across the street? It was 70 degrees and sunny, citizens were out on bikes and trikes and horses and feet and who was she to tell me that I couldn't walk with my little friend's hand in my heart in the morning.
Did I mention that I was peeved?
I drove, aimlessly, considering traipsing to the path from afar and rejecting the thought as I drove through the lot. I steamed and I stormed and I found myself driving east on Magee, across Oracle, without a plan until I remembered that there was a trailhead at the end of the road.
I drove. I parked. I organized my water bottle, plugged in my headphones, turned on a podcast, and set out. I walked through the underpass, admiring the graffiti. I passed the huge houses and the spring wildflowers poking through the dirt. I negotiated the smaller and the larger boulders, using my Smart Water bottle as a 1/4 sized hiking stick. Up and over and on and on I went, until it occurred to me that, no matter how much fun I was having going up, I was going to have to do back down the hill I was climbing.
Sense overrode desire; I turned around and, slowly and carefully, deliberately and cautiously, I descended. As I went, I thought about the fact that I was ill-equipped; I had no poles, no companions, no hat. The terrain was unstable and I was wearing Nikes not hiking boots; the difference in traction was noticeable as the smaller stones became lodged in the grooves of my shoes, scraping against their brethren and minimizing the connection between my foot and the ground.
It was an adventure. I was enjoying the air and the scenery as my heart was trying to stay calm and my feet were trying to stay under me. Back through the underpass and arriving at The Uv, sitting comfortably in her parking space, I unhitched my fanny pack and collapsed into the seat.
And then, it hit me. I'd taken a hike. I left the house to walk as far as I could on the smooth, gentle incline of CTG's park, and I ended up climbing over rocks and sand and cacti. I didn't fall. I didn't hurt. I wasn't all that frightened. I couldn't stop smiling.
Needing to share the joy, I called Little Cuter. I recounted the story, and her response was immediate and just a little teary.
"Oh, Mom. That is so beautiful. Christina took you there."
Of course, she did. It took one little girl to remind me of another little girl's presence, that's all.
She was with me as I drove to her park and it's obvious that she was not going to let anything as trivial as a parking space spoil our adventure. Never one to wallow in self-pity, she was a doer, a problem solver, a smiling individual who knew that the answer to misery was action. And so, inserting herself into my angst, she led me to a path where I'd passed her and her family many times, where they'd posed for a holiday picture, where I could prove to myself that, in fact, I don't need a flat, paved path in order to move in the great outdoors.
I can hike. Christina-Taylor showed me that I can.