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Castaway

image 1899 from bradism.com

How I looked after four days without internet...
And another week of holidays with internet.

image 1901 from bradism.com

We stayed in Sol Duc Valley - world wide web dead-zone - the past three nights and, surprisingly, I did not miss the internet all that much. It's not like I prepared with much offline content. I just did lots of hiking, listened to an audiobook, sat in hot-springs and drank $1.49 cans of craft beer from the resort store to get through.

By my second day offline, woodland creatures were literally visiting me.

image 1900 from bradism.com

This morning I ate breakfast at a waterfall. Eventually we emerged from the valley to free motel WiFi and a bunch of notifications that were almost all completely dismissable. What is the value of the internet, really?

Posting pictures of breakfasts at waterfalls I guess.

image 1902 from bradism.com

Worth It

image 1896 from bradism.com

After flying to the other side of the planet, then driving to Forks, Washington, we woke at 5am which was more pre-dawn gloom than twilight.

image 1897 from bradism.com

After another 54 miles of driving on the wrong side of the road, followed by 4 miles of hiking through temperate rainforest, we came to a washed up tree on a misty beach we had nearly all to ourselves.

image 1898 from bradism.com

It was breakfast time. Fruit, yogurt and cereal. Because some things you never need a holiday from.


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The Great American Journal Entry

It was the west of times; it was the north of times.

After driving 100 miles from Seattle I found a beautiful place on a spectacular lake which has convinced me that, on a spectrum, pizza most definitely is a vegetable.

image 1893 from bradism.com

Where else in the world does it cost on average $9.90 for a six-pack of IPA craft beers, and $2.50 for a cucumber?

Americans (who are on vacation and/or working in the service industry) are incredibly cheery. We passed one man on the Enchanted Valley trail, past Fire Creek, who asked us how our morning was. "Good," we told him. When we asked how he was, in the brief seconds that our paths were crossing, he said "not bad" and instantly I was concerned.

image 1894 from bradism.com

There is a distinct preference to avoid internalizing thought in this state. I was in the cereal aisle at Safeway trying to pick a breakfast/concede a daily sugar injection while a woman stocked the shelf beside me.
"Here we go," she said, opening the first of her cartons with a packet knife.
"Whole lot of boxes today," she added. We were the only two in the aisle.
"Just what I love," she said, pushing the first box of apple-cinnamon granola onto the shelf. "Stacking a whole lotta groceries."
How I was supposed to respond to this I had no inkling.
I don't think any of these people would enjoy my novels.

Tipped

image 1891 from bradism.com

There are a lot of things to worry about when traveling to America. Did I pack everything? What will the exchange rate fall to? Can my body survive a whole day of economy class? Will TSA find any bad jokes on my social media accounts and send me off home on arrival? But my worst fear was tipping...

Tipping is a nightmare. You walk a fine line constantly between a social faux pas, or worse! Paying more than full price for something. But in my first twenty-four hours in the USA - despite the jetlag - I seemed to be getting tipping right. I tipped with credit card at a restaurant. I carried my own bag to my room. I tipped a friendly bartender. I didn't tip housekeeping because I left a Do Not Disturb sign up for a whole day. I didn't have to work out if I should tip the barber because I got my hair cut short before we left Australia.

At a quarter to eleven on my first night, when my body had just reached REM state for the first time in two days, I was jerked from sleep by a sound that my brain took a while to process: the fire alarm. Rushing to dress, we joined the rest of the hotel on the fire escape and gathered on the sidewalk (footpath) to wait for rescue. Fire trucks soon arrived and, thankfully, it was a false alarm. Though it was good for one thing. A succinct reminder of how close to danger we always are, and how trivial such concerns can be in the face of a real threat. One second you're warm and dreaming, the next firemen are running through the lobby with axes looking for smoke, and you're counting yourself lucky just to have your loved ones safe and the shirt on your back.

image 1892 from bradism.com

As the alarm finally silenced and the firemen filed out and back to their truck my fear finally receded. Until I realised, wait... I have no idea how much I'm supposed to tip them.

The Precipice

image 1888 from bradism.com

We've been balancing a fine line the past months between living in the present, and planning our hiking holiday. Fortunately I don't need to learn any new languages to order beers this time.

Part of that balance involves the occasional practice hike to ensure equipment and processes are all good for the real thing. We've been up and down the Adelaide ranges testing shoes and learning lessons.

Lesson one: when taking a pre-walk selfie, find a background nicer than the toilet block.

Lesson one: when taking a pre-walk selfie, find a background nicer than the toilet block.

This weekend we did Lofty the long way, an 18km walk starting in Chamber's Gully. I don't think there will be many cafes with hot, fresh coffee on the summits of the mountains we're going to, but when we reach the top you can always rely on a view to make all the hard work worth it.

image 1890 from bradism.com

Bare Branches

It crossed my mind, this morning as I crossed a bridge, and a southerly wind whipped at my face, that Autumn is the most dramatic of seasons. Less than three months ago it was forty degrees, I could literally walk outside in shorts at any point of the day, and now I'm contemplating driving the long way home just to keep the heater pointing at my feet. I'll have to remember this for next Autumn's video...

image 1887 from bradism.com

Yesterday I had a craving for pasta, and all I really had to cook was a whole butternut pumpkin and a whole bunch of leftover pulled-pork. Well, it turned out pretty well after I turned it into a soup and dished it up on wholemeal spaghetti.

This morning marked the one week mark of having my new mouth-guard. It did turn out I opened my mouth too soon when I journal-jinxed my first major dental and not long after the temperatures dropped below the high-thirties the pain in my tooth returned. My endodontist's current theory is that nocturnal grinding is stopping the inflammation in the nerve from settling. Honestly, I don't believe that, but so strong is my desire to eat Weet Bix and berries with tiny seeds again that I was willing to pay $200 for a night-guard made custom for my mouth.
My dentist warned me that the first week would be challenging and that I might wake up to find the mouth-guard out of my mouth, under a pillow, or have trouble sleeping. I've had none of these problems, from the first night onward I've put it in, fallen asleep, and woken up with it in my mouth six and bit hours later. This is only reinforcing my theory that I am not a restless sleeper. I think it's also character revealing. I'm well trained at ignoring people and things that interfere with my personal space even if I don't want them there. One morning on the train a woman had the point of her high heel stuck into the toe of my shoe and I went twenty minutes without even clearing my throat.

In the USA they don't call it Autumn, they call it Fall. As in, I wonder how much further the Australian Dollar will fall before I start buying cereal and yogurt over there. At least it won't actually be Autumn in a couple of weeks, in both hemispheres, and at least I don't have to pay for major dental in US Dollars.