Yesterday was my favorite day of the year. You never know when it’s going to come, but you know it when you see it. That, here in the PNW (Pacific Northwest for those outside the zone), is the first real sunny day of the season. I suppose they have those everywhere in the temperate zone, but here in the PNW it’s particularly intense, because although we do not have particularly frigid winters, they are without a doubt the most depressingly damp in the known universe, and that’s counting London.
The first sunny day is always, always too chilly for shorts, which makes it even more endearing to see all our fellow Oregon/Washingtonians out in their Bermudas and sandals and goose bumps, soaking it in with gusto.
Back in the day, I felt right at home amongst the whiteys with their winter-whitened limbs hanging gracelessly out of their shorts, and the bikini-clad college students littering every grassy knoll on the University of Oregon campus like they had been sucked up by one of those forest fire water-tanker planes from some lake where they had been swimming and sprayed over the lawn in an attempt to stop the spread of some unseen lawn fire.
These days everybody spends the winter in tanning salons just waiting for this day. That leaves me at a distinct advantage, as I am banned from tanning salons by…well, by common sense. I am the whitest person I know. That used to mean something around here. Now it just means that I am a reverse rebel. Kind of like having no tattoos. But uglier.
Captain A and I chose to spend the day on a hike, going from the Columbia Gorge floor to a rocky ridge about 1,500 feet above it. The wildflowers were blooming, the forest smelled piney and pregnant with spring green, and the natives were restlessly hiking up and down the path. Luckily, it’s a long path, and even in the Portland area, there aren’t enough people with the aerobic capacity to climb for 90 minutes without several cardiac mishaps to make the many hiking trails around here feel crowded, so it was nice.
Meanwhile, up the road at Multnomah Falls where no effort is necessary to witness nature showing off its good side, there was a traffic jam of somewhat larger-sized northwesterners enjoying the waterfall and the smell of fried foods wafting from the snack bar. (What? What “healthier than thou” attitude? I will take my superiority where I can find it, fella.)
My memories of the hike:
- Lots of unleashed dogs (no, Harvey, come here, no, come here, come, Harvey. HARVEY!).
- The dogs included many labs, a couple cattle dogs, one depressed Viszla, one Chihuahua, and as many as three Pomeranians. Who knew Pomeranians were such avid hikers. The dogs, not Europians from the regions of Germany and Poland bordering the Baltic Sea.
- Earworms included Heart’s “Dog & Butterfly” (because there were dogs and butterflies), Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You” (because I recently watched the Starsky & Hutch movie, in which it made a smarmy appearance, I suppose in order to place the viewer in the one year in history in which you were legally allowed to play such a song on a top-forty radio station), whoever-the-hell’s “In the Year 2525,” because I was recently reminded of that crime of music by Dave Barry, and “Macarthur Park.” I’m going to have to blame Barry for that one too.
- Killer view at the top. But in spite of the trail’s name (Angel’s Rest), I saw no resting angels. This time.
- A nice after-hike dinner in Hood River at 6th Street Bistro. I know, we weren’t even close to Hood River, but it’s a nice town to hang out in, especially after doing something outdoorsy.
- Drew’s backpack-style water thingy, which requires the user to suck water out of a tube. The end of this particular tube is really rubbery and squishy. The whole thing was way too bovine for my taste.
- I appreciate Drew taking up hiking like this. If not for me, he would have been happier on his bike (pedal or motor) on a day like that. That’s what friends are for, I guess. At least the good ones. The lifers.