As it turns out, the wireless internets at this place is jive. I asked the manager if there was something special I needed to do in order to be able to get online. "Yeah, you know," he said, in pleasant, spacey bewilderment, "it just doesn't really seem to be working." Full stop, no elaboration, no plans to correct the issue. Dude's main job seems to be moving the sprinklers to the appropriate locations and overall maintenance of the irrigation system, which runs constantly here. Oh well. I said I had mixed feelings about the availability of wifi out here in the wilderness anyway. For five days I haven't even thought about the fact that I have a job, or jobs, if you want to be accurate about it. Haven't missed my phone. Haven't missed being online.
Here are some things I have been doing instead.
Today was the first day of the Brit's two-day fishing license. I'm not interested in fishing, really, even though I suspect I would love the zen oneness and supreme focus of the activity itself--so I rode along on the first two outings (post-breakfast and post-lunch) and spent the entire day sitting on the river in my Crazy Creek chair and reading my book, and occasionally photo-documenting the day. The Brit caught an enviably large rainbow trout within his first hour, like the biggest one my dad has seen in these parts in years, thereby gaining for himself fairly instant notoriety throughout the camp. My dad cooked it on his camp stove and they shared it out at lunchtime. I took lots of pictures.
The post-lunch trip was less successful for the Brit, but we nonetheless passed hours in and next to the river. I'm working on a Wally Lamb book right now and will probably be done with it tomorrow. If I do another day of accompanying the fisherfolk and watching, as my dad calls it, The River Channel, I'll need to start in on another book. I'm working my way through the pile my mom brought me after she read my post about her book-pushing.
Yesterday we did one of the easier hikes, a long series of switchbacks that brings you up to a spectacular overlook, a meadow, and then another meadow. In the second meadow, we stopped and ate our bag lunches, sandwiches and chips and food service grapefruit sections, which are delicious. They're pre-sectioned, membrane-free, verrry slightly sweetened, super-refreshing. I ganked them from the breakfast bar. All around us were evergreen mountains, snowy peaks, blue sky, and golden meadow. Had I been wearing a dirndl, I would have spun in the field singing "the hills are alive."
As it is, I've had the song in my head for days. I foolishly left the sheet music at home and will have to sing something else at tomorrow night's variety show. A variety show at which, I should mention, Jude is planning to do "rock-n-roll Itsy Bitsy Spider." He was asked if he'd be doing the hand motions. "No," he said, "because I have to play air guitar."
Henry has lost yet another tooth. He spent today receiving and transmitting ghost stories about the camp, completely fabricated by a fourth grade girl--by which I mean there is no tradition of these stories in the camp, and they could not be corroborated. He is going to be worried about going into the buildings and, let's face it, trying to sleep tonight. Molly tried to do damage control, but I think it's too late. Sleeping has been bad enough without the threat of the supernatural. Every night has been like Christmas Eve for Henry, and if he wakes up as he invariably does in the wee hours, he starts thinking about all the things there are to do. Between that and Willa getting a few more top teeth in addition to the chiclet-looking front ones she's sporting, I don't think my sister's gotten many hours of sleep.
Down in the field, some of the older kids are playing softball. My dad and his cousin, Cuz (whose Pittsburgh accent does my heart good), and the Brit have all gone off for another round of fishing, and if I knew what was good for me, I'd walk the mile or so down the road to meet up with them. The food here is carby and abundant; I leave just about every meal feeling stuffed if not bloated, and lard knows I didn't get any exercise today. I console myself with the fact that merely subsisting at this altitude requires more calories than usual.
Tomorrow I'll try to hike again. After we got above the second meadow yesterday, we were having to stop every fifty feet or so to catch our breath. Under normal circumstances I can push my muscles if I'm tired on a climb, but when you can't get enough oxygen, you pretty much just have to stop. Plus, whatever was growing in the meadow practically felled the Brit, allergically-speaking. I was glad we turned around when we did. On the road back to camp, we ran into my dad and Cuz fishing on a little rocky beach. "Bring some beers down from the car and pop them into the river for awhile," he invited us, which is pretty much exactly what you want to hear if you're hot and sweaty and footsore.
We parked our asses next to the river and stripped off our wool socks. Dad had driven a family friend from Bozeman--someone I persist in thinking of as a kid even though he is in his late 20s--upriver to kayak down through Hell's Canyon. The kid's dog was placidly keeping watch next to my dad, waiting for his person to surf in, and occasionally snapping at and munching on flies. We drank the beers and loafed and watched the kids from the camp--the ones who work here--swimming in the frigid water and getting up the nerve to jump off the rock face on the other side of the river. My dad wedged himself comfortably between several rocks until it looked like he was sitting in a la-z-boy.
So you see, I am not really feeling the loss of the internet, or wondering what to do with myself. After meals, for example, I could sit and watch Willa breakdance on the floor for hours, and that would supply half the day's entertainment. Sometimes I wish we all lived in a commune.