Yesterday afternoon I played hooky from work to go hiking with Amanda, Brian, and Amanda's friend Scott. We drove east of the city to the Columbia River
Gorge, which was mind-blowingly, jaw-droppingly, wait-slow-down-holy-shit-look-at-that-yo
Amanda's and my work schedules are so opposite (I work on weekdays, from early morning through early afternoon, but nobody wants to take guitar lessons then; everyone takes guitar lessons after school or on weekends) that we rarely get to just hang out and have fun together. As for Brian, he works all weekend too, and there's only one night a week when we can practice because it's the only time when he, I, and the practice space are all available. So it was refreshing to spend some utterly unstructured time with my friends. We hiked for five miles and saw chipmunks, wild rhubarb, three large banana slugs ("When I look at those things", said Brian, "I can believe that we evolved from a pile of goo"), and about ten waterfalls. We skipped rocks, we climbed exposed tree roots, we crossed bridges with two-person load limits, we peed in the woods. It was fantastic.
I live pretty far east of downtown and all the close-in, hip neighborhoods. Far enough that people who have already offered to drive me home sometimes wince when I tell them my address. (Said complainers should try living in Chicago sometime, but that's another rant.) I don't love that it's a long way from my house to New Seasons, or that none of the coffee shops are open late, but I'm kind of starting to realize that the farther I am from the hip neighborhoods, the closer I am to the mountains and the waterfalls and the wild rhubarb. I can pick up the Springwater Corridor trail just a couple of miles from my house, and a few miles past that, I'm in open green space with just a farm or a baseball diamond here and there. A lot of it looks like suburban sprawl on the map, I guess, but running through, you'd never think so.
The past couple times I've been running out there, I've noticed this apartment for rent. It's at the intersection -- if that's the right word -- of the trail and a two-lane blacktop, and it's the upstairs of a little rural convenience store, the kind that sells bait and firewood as well as smokes and beer, and there's a deck facing east and a Jacuzzi and it's right along the part of the trail that affords a direct line of sight to Mount Hood, and the posted phone number happened to be very easy for me to remember today, even on top of the 98% of my mental capacity that track 4 of Hail to the Thief was demanding, and it's not like I'm really looking, but after I got back home something compelled me to call and find out how much they wanted for rent. I never in a million years would have thought that I'd want to move even further east than I already am, but still -- that trail, that view.