Monday, November 15, 2010

What to do "In This Weather"

I know I have been gone awhile, and I am here to say I am sorry to each and every one of you. I thought that my blogging would pick up once the weather changed, but a funny thing called life got in the way. I know, as a business, it is my duty to keep you all informed of the goings-on of Exotic Hikes. I will do better. That being said, we will get to the meat of this rant.
The weather here in Olympia ranges from beautiful to downright gross, and for the past few months, it has been anything but gross. The sun was out almost everyday, from what I remember, and I got to go to some pretty amazing places with friends, family and other. I suppose I was a bit naive in thinking the fun would last forever, and that the war between blue and gray would be won by blue. This could be a Civil War reference, but it isn't. It just means that the blue skies that kept me so happy and outside turned and ran away, allowing the slowly leaking clouds to slide on in for the foreseeable future. It would be one thing if if snowed here, but we have a good 3 solid months of 42 degrees and rain before we get 3 days of flurries and back to clouds and rain.
Don't get me wrong, I am thankful to be in this area, because our mountains are some of the best in the country. We also have the Olympic Rain Forest, which, without all these clouds and rain would be pretty lame. The reason why I dislike this weather is a personal story of an injury that I am still recovering from.

So last January, around MLK Day, I came back to my parent's house from my grandma's house. I was house-sitting at the time, so I was returning to my parents house. It was a little windy, but nothing to mention to the weather people about not predicting. Driving home I saw a total of zero hundred reasons why stepping outside at 11pm was not a good idea. Sure, the tree branches were moving a bit in the breeze, but as I type this now I am watching leaves fly at a 45 degree and and splattering wetly against my car, driveway and trees. Speaking of trees, my parents house is surrounded by multiple 200 foot tall firs trees, keeping it cool in the summer and even darker in the winter than it ever should be. So I pull into the driveway, wade through the sludge that rain, leaves and poor drainage causes and go inside. I probably just should have taken my shoes off and laid upside down and watched The Daily Show, but apparently I care about the dogs. Who knew, right? I decided that I would take them for a short walk/jog and then feel like I treated them with a little respect. Grabbing a leash, and an old sweatshirt, I took Millie and Poppy for an adventure that none of us were expecting.
Right away, when I got to the end of the driveway, a gust of wind hit me and I heard pine-cones attacking the ground like Chinese military drills with chopsticks against the ground. Again, this is nothing new. I am watching the same scene unfold out the front window and just went out to get the mail. No big deal, and I, and the dogs, didn't think twice about it. We rounded the corner and walked down the dark cul de sac as the gusts sounded like cars passing overhead. I remember thinking something like "I wonder if Doc Brown will pick me up", but let the thought pass because no McFlys live in my neighborhood. After 15 or 20 minutes, we reached the end of the road and the dogs and I turned around and headed home. We were a little wet from the light drizzle, but not bad. In fact, the rain felt nice, which is something I rarely say. The wind was starting to pick up, and I started to hear small branches fall along with the pine-cones. I made a decision to start to jog home, as the wind was picking up every few seconds. It was when we started running that the gusts hit. The first gust surprised me, but having lived at the ocean for 6 years, wind was more fun than not. The second gust flew down the street, letting loose a barrage of small projectiles. Pine-cones, branches, kites, previously trapped cats and squirrels all jumped out the trees, some pelting me in the chest. The dogs appeared scared, so I picked up the pace. Larger branches fell, but nothing too big to do anything but make an awkward splat on the pavement. We got to the intersection right by the house and that is when things got "fun".
So, seriously, I am not even 100 feet from the front door to the house when I hear a large crack above me. I would love to have ran, or had cat-like reflexes and jumped away, but no... Before I had any time to react, the thing that cracked above me crashed down and hit my left shoulder and my head, knocking me out cold, laying in the street. Millie, the smart dog who doesn't need a leash, ran to the front door and started barking, trying to tell everyone that Timmy was trapped in the well. Poppy, the dog who would ride the short bus and needs a leash, bolted to freedom when the leash was released. I only know this because once I came back to life, I saw the scene unfolding. I was motionless in the street, still in shock, so not in pain. I had no clue what happened, like Central Washington University students drinking FourLoco (google it)...Go Wildcats! As strength came back, I realized I was under a huge branch and was covered in mud. I somehow got up, and to this day have no clue how I got there, but next I knew, I was inside. Millie was inside, following me around like always, and Poppy was...damn it, Poppy was still outside. So I took my busted self back outside, with the wind even worse, looking for a dog that was darker than a collapsed mine shaft. I called and called for her, but to no avail. It was then I looked at the street and saw the monstrosity that felled me. Using the one arm that worked, I grabbed the branch and started pulling. I was soon blinded by both pain and the headlights from a car, which stopped and asked what I was doing. I described my predicament in great detail, to which the punk driving the car replied "huh" and sped away. For his sake, he is lucky I haven't seen him again, otherwise I would pretend he didn't exist...yeah, that would learn him. After maybe 5 painful, tear soaked minutes, I had successfully brought the branch of doom into the yard. Right as I dropped the branch, Poppy came running up, soaked, but happy and we went back inside.
I decided that since it hurt to breathe, walk, sit, cry, swear and punch, I needed to go to the Emergency Room. I wasn't going to call an ambulance because I didn't have insurance. It was solid logic at the time. I called my grandma, but she said her eyes were bad and she couldn't drive at night (she later said i should have not pretended I was OK over the phone) so no ride from her. I called my sister, no answer. I called my parents, no answer. I called my grandma again and no answer, though I found out later her power was out. It turned out I had to call my friend who lived 30 minutes north to come give me a ride. Waiting, I prepared my camera to take pictures of the adventure. My friend showed up at about 1:20 am (they had a mid-term the next day). The doctors took x-rays, gave me pills. I waited...

They returned and said I didn't break anything. That was all I needed. I bounced out of there, picked up the rest of my pain pills and came home. The next few days sucked, but after realizing I needed to sleep on my left side and the I couldn't reach for anything, things got better. It was a few weeks later that my arm looked like this:

It didn't hurt too much, so I spent the next month rock climbing:

(Note- see wince on face as left arm is elevated)

Though it turned out, a few months later when I couldn't move my arm at all that I was misdiagnosed and had 2 separate fractures on my collar bone, that had I kept going all willie-nillie about it, I would have required surgery. It turns out my arm was more messed up than Lindsay Lohan. Who knew? Apparently everyone else, is who. I tell this to my friends, all 3 of them, and they are not shocked at all. This makes me happy. Not because they think I am dumb, but because they think I have a high pain tolerance.
Now, anytime the wind starts to pick up, and the rain is falling from dark gray clouds, I get gun shy. I used to love this weather. I used to run multiple miles in this weather. I used to go hiking and take beautiful pictures in the weather. Now, all I can do is watch the light from the sun fade away, and not leave my house, in this weather.

Douglas Scott of Exotic Hikes....out.