After a mere day officially unemployed, I was already chomping at the bit to do something.
Yesterday felt pretty surreal. I woke up and couldn’t believe that I didn’t have a job to go to. A paid job, anyway. Apparently, on these weeks where I have the kids, I run a taxi service. I was up at 6:25, a definite improvement over my old schedule. Brushed my teeth, shaved, threw on some clothes, and was out the door twenty minutes later with Kid # 1. The round trip to his school and back took an hour, thanks to a wacky and completely unfair “compromise” that has him in his mother’s school district. It used to sort of make sense, because I worked in Camas and he goes to school in Camas, so it wasn’t too inconvenient to drop him off on the way to work and pick him up after. Now, though? There ain’t nothin’ convenient about it! I’m secretly hoping the government is hard at work on building a real-life Star Trek-style transporter so I can beam him to school and back every day. I got home, brewed a pot of coffee, ate a bowl of cereal, showered, and then it was time to drive Kid # 2 to school. Again, clear across town. And that is when my life turned into Mr. Mom.
Remember the movie, with Michael Keaton? Out-of-work guy suddenly has to take care of the kids, and he doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing? There’s a scene where he drops his kids off at their school, and pisses off the regular moms because he’s driving the wrong way (“South to drop off, moron!”). Well, that was me. Not only did I drive the wrong way against a big, white painted arrow across the parking lot – getting in the way of cars who were trying to exit – but I also entered a “do not enter” section of the lot, and to top matters off, nearly ran over a crossing guard. In my defense, a rat could find its way out of a maze easier than that. I need to have a word with the principal…
I finally got out of there without killing anybody, and made a few stops on the way home. First up? Kohl’s, for a sweater (because I have apparently turned into Ward Cleaver) and a couple of t-shirts. One early advantage of unemployment: shopping at odd hours, you don’t have to deal with crowds, and the sales associates are tripping over themselves to take care of you. Normally I have to wait in a line a mile deep when I’m ready to pay, but this time, I was out of there in less than a minute flat, and the cashier was chipper as hell – probably because it was 9:45 in the morning and she hadn’t dealt with anybody too annoying yet. Next up was Best Buy, where I bought a printer because my old one wasn’t wireless or Mac-compatibile. Ostensibly, I’ll need this for printing up resumes and cover letters. Wonder if I can get a tax write-off? My final stop was Chuck’s Produce & Street Market, a new upscale grocery joint in The ‘Couv that’s kind of like Whole Foods, only without the high prices. Despite the fact that Chuck’s was selling some twenty different varieties of apples, I still gotta say I like Whole Foods better – there’s a much bigger selection there. Finished with my shopping, I finally got home…and then it was time to turn around and pick the kids up from school. Seriously, I barely got a chance to sit down. I’m wondering when I’ll have time to actually, you know, find a job when I’m shuttling kids around in the car for three hours a day. Well, there’s always next week, when I’m kid-free.
So anyway, I didn’t feel like coming home and sitting around the house today, even though this is only Day Two. Autumn is definitely in full swing around here, it’s been rainy and cold, and I figured I wouldn’t have too many opportunities left to go hiking before the weather closes that door for the season, which is why I found myself driving north, out into the country, after dropping off my daughter. My destination? June Lake, one of the trails just south of Mount St. Helens. It started raining before I was halfway there, and by raining, I mean pouring. It was as if a giant tap in the sky had been turned on full-blast. Nevertheless, the drive was scenic, all greens and golds as the maples intermingling with the evergreens showed off their fall foliage, and low clouds obscured the mountains and treetops. I had good music playing – Built To Spill – and as I turned onto Forest Road 83 up past Cougar, my pulse quickened. I couldn’t wait to hit June Lake!
Suddenly, fat rain splattered my windshield. This is a term I coined (much like OLFR and “velcheetah“) because I crave world domination it is the best way I can describe rain that is mixed with snow. It’s wet and slushy and, well, fat. I was beginning to wonder if it might turn to snow. I didn’t have long to wonder, because the road continued to climb in elevation, and now the tops of the trees were dusted with white. Excited, I pulled over to snap a picture. Ha! I was about to encounter a lot more snow than that! Within minutes, the fat rain had turned to snow, and it was falling thick and heavy. The road became slushy, and then snowy. I finally had to turn around a few miles short of my destination, because there was at least 6″ of snow covering the road, and nary a plow in sight. Of course there wasn’t – it’s still October, for chrissakes! The weathermen have been predicting a cold, wet, and potentially snowy winter for the Pacific Northwest thanks to La Nina. If today is any indication, I’m thinking they might be onto something there.
I hadn’t made it to June Lake, but when it comes to snow, I’m like a little kid – I can’t get enough of it. And now that I had found myself smack dab in the midst of a winter wonderland, I wanted to play in it! So I found a place to pull over, and went exploring. Happened upon a trail – yay! – and hiked that for approximately a mile, all the while risking ruining my newish camera because I was taking a million pictures and it was getting wet thanks to the steadily falling snow. It was a beautiful walk; nature still thinks it’s Autumn even though it felt like the middle of Winter to me, so there were maples with golden leaves still clinging to their limbs, weighted down by several inches of snow and ice. I loved the contrast. I finally came to a sign that indicated I was on a snowmobile trail that was off-limits to hikers. Err…oops. Fortunately, there were no snowmobilers around (because it’s still October, remember?), but I figured it was a good idea to turn around there, just in case. I made the trek back to my car, and then the drive home.
And now, what a shock – it’s time to go pick up the kids! But hey, who can complain? Instead of being trapped inside the gray fabric confines of a stuffy office cubicle today, I got to play in the snow.
You know, being out of work isn’t so bad, after all…