When I was given the news, or as my wife worded it, reminded of what I supposedly already knew, I laughed, thinking it was all part of a practical joke. But Maxine’s crossed arms and cold stare quickly reminded me she was not exactly what one would call a “stand-up comic,” this being no exception. She swore that I agreed with the plan. No way! If I were told of such an event I would have nipped it in the bud before even hearing the details. “You probably had one too many drinks that night,” she retorted, “and forgot.” Normally that could have been a possibility. She had pulled that little trick on me more than once to get what she wanted. I’m sorry, my wife can be such a Jezebel! But not in this case. No amount of alcohol would have sugar-coated this form of agonized torture. We were going to join her family on a, (I hate even printing the word,) hike!
Ranking right up there with the word, “jogging,” “hiking” is not a part of my normal vocabulary, other than, “take a hike,” which I had a strong urge to say to my wife. Unfortunately, saying such a thing ranks right up there with the perils of landing at Normandy on D-Day. Repeating, as she swore she did, we were all going to walk a two-mile trail in the Olympic Forest, following its path along a river that ended at a waterfall. During the winter it is supposedly a spectacular sight. Not being a big fan of spectacular sights when hiking is required, my mind went into overdrive. Let’s see, water depends on gravity, which means flowing water only travels down hill. And the trail follows its course upstream, which means we will be walking uphill. “Up” used in the beginning of each of these words was not encouraging. If I was being roped into a forced death march, you would have thought the least they could have done was find a trail that traveled down hill…in both directions. I grumbled my excitement.
As our weather guessers had forecasted, the day of the hike was crisp but sunny and clear. (Yeah, now they get the weather right!) We met my wife’s two sisters and their husbands, along with a couple of off-springs at the trail’s head. I looked around. Surprisingly, there were several other small groups ready to begin the hike, all huddled in small groups of conversation. They all seemed to be dressed in proper hiking attire; light-weight trousers, shirts, and backpacks. I was dressed in jeans, a sweat shirt and carrying a disposable grocery bag with a few snacks. In a feeble attempt to fit in, I tried putting my plastic bag on my back, but one of the loops broke. I’ll tell you now, when it comes to a back pack, you can’t trust a Safeway shopping bag.
I looked for any old pot-bellied men. There were none. Old, yes, pot-bellied, no. I noticed a few doing stretching exercises to ward off strains. I decided to do the same. Within seconds I did quite the opposite. I strained something while stretching to ward off…straining something.
I did not need a fortune-telling guru to forecast that this hike was not going to go well. I needed a plan, and I needed it now. Being a published outdoor writer, my omoeba-sized brain came up with an idea….
My brother-in-law, Stan, is a back-yard Botanist, and my wife’s sister, Anne, is an amateur Entomologist. Now if you are not familiar with these terms, don’t feel like the Lone Stranger. Just typing those words caused two of my fingers to twist into double-hitched knots. Anyway, a Botanist studies plants, and an Entomologist studies bugs. As far as I’m concerned both hobbies are a fine form of boredom that teeters on the edge of a full-blown coma. But they were a God-send to my plan….
Continued: A Wonderful Use For Botany And Entomology-Part 2