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strange trip

Last weekend Shawn and I hiked up to Pine Creek Lake in the Absoroka Mountains, south of Livingston, MT. The trail climbs over 3,000 feet in four miles, which wouldn’t have been a big deal, except that shortly after we started, I noticed I was hungry. I thought about the omelet I’d made myself that morning with Swiss cheese and smoked turkey — a feast befitting a stout day hike. I remembered setting the lid on the pan after turning the burner off to melt the cheese on the eggs, and then realized…the omelet was still there. At home. In the pan. I’d forgotten to eat.

Seriously. I’ve NEVER been one of those “Oh, I forgot to eat!” type girls.

It was odd. Made me think that I’ve been forgetting stuff a lot lately.

“Do you ever worry about forgetting stuff?” I asked Shawn. “Like that you’ll be one of those statistical tragedies who gets early-onset Alzheimer’s?”

“No,” he said, handing me a half a PB & J sandwich from the lunch I’d packed us, which he was carrying.

The sandwich held me for two hours into the hike, until I started asking Shawn how much longer, warning him that I was going to need food soon. We only have 20 more minutes to the lake, he said, not wanting to halt our momentum.

Twenty minutes later I informed him that we weren’t there yet, to which he replied “Just a bit longer.”

So I sat down on the trail like a small child. He kept walking, then finally turned around and looked at me. “What?” he said.

“I’m not moving until you give me food.”

He handed over some peanut butter cups, sesame sticks and Gatorade and I perked up. When we got to the lake we ate lunch, and Shawn announced he wanted to climb the rest of the way up a nearby peak. Lucky for me I KNEW he would say this, and packed a book so that while he and Angus played mountain men, I could relax and read. (Back when we were dating I would’ve killed myself following him up high peaks, but we’re married now. Why pay for sausage when you already own the boar? Or something like that.)

Turns out Angus is a peak bagger.I read my book and soaked my feet in the icy lake, noting the marginal paint job I'd given my toes, which appeared to have been done by someone with very poor eyesight. I thought of my mother, who’d called me from the beauty shop the day before, while I was at work. “I’m waiting for my toenails to dry and I’m bored, so I thought I’d call you,” she said. She was having some sort of art installation done on her feet, a fireworks theme that pleased her. My cheapo polish job was an attempt to hide two unsightly black toenails that came as awards from various trail runs.

When Shawn returned we prepared to head back down the trail while Angus stuck his head between large boulders, snuffling after a small critter. Then some rocks shifted and he couldn’t get his head out. Have you ever heard a dog scream? I hadn’t either, until Angus got stuck. Turns out it’s hard to keep your cool and move boulders while your dog is screaming. When Shawn finally found a rock with enough wiggle room to get him out we were both shaken, and Angus just trotted off.

When we arrived back at the car we were hot and filthy, and decided to stop at the Yellowstone River for a dunk on the way home. We pulled into the river access, cars of fishermen and floaters packing the lot. I ignored the people standing around and waded into the water, waist deep. A kayak with two men inside pulled up next to me, and I looked at the guy in front and thought, Huh. That guy looks like John Mayer. Then I thought, Holy shit! That’s John Mayer!

I read the tattoos covering his arms, and somehow — perhaps because I like his music — couldn’t come up with one intelligent thing to say. Then Shawn swam out and helped pull a drifting raft that was with Mayer’s group to shore and John said, “Hey, thanks for your help.”

I’d heard Mayer recently bought a home south of Livingston, and his latest video has several shots filmed in the area. Now here he was, floating the Yellowstone with friends, standing next to me. I slunk around the edges of the group on the beach for a while, just in case he might want to ogle me.

“I’m sad,” I told Shawn when we got back in the car and began the 40-minute drive back home. “John Mayer never checked me out.”

It was a weird day.

And despite what I’ve written, it was a good one.

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Reader Comments (6)

First: Memory Loss. I can relate. FavAuntie insists that I saw a certain Star Trek movie, with her, that I have zero memory of. None. I'm also noticing certain things that have been done around the home that she tells me I did. Huh. As long as I recognize her I'll call it a win and not worry too much.

Second: Angus the Wonder Dog. He Rocks! (no pun intended. really)

Third: Sitting around reading a book in that kind of country sounds like the best thing ever. Not even close to reading a book while sitting on a beach, which is the closest we can come to it here.
("Why pay for sausage when you already own the boar?" Nice.)

Fourth: we're looking forward to seeing y'all next week. Now I have your mom's toenails to look forward to seeing also. (and there's another sentence you don't hear from me very often)

Finally: Say hi to Mr. Mayer the next time you see him. It'll give you something to say.

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrotherJohn

That picture of Angus makes him look like a giant. I love it!

Not eating your carefully cooked breakfast? You were obviously very distracted. Probably somebody was insisting that you get a move on. At first, I thought you were going to tell us you left the burner on! That would have been a lot worse than forgetting to eat.

I'm going to have to get something festive painted on my nails this weekend.

I'm impressed you recognized John Mayer. I sure wouldn't have.

July 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaveAuntie

Well, I've never heard of John Mayer so I'm gonna check out your link as soon as we hang up here. At least I don't remember having heard of him...

This forgetty stuff comes with stress, Megan. I know this sounds like it's irrelevant to you, given your calm environment, boring hours, and free time, but if you do a bit of research, you'll see it's not Alzheimer's, but good old stress. (Maybe you did research; just forgot.) But reading a book by an icy lake is a really good start, a nice invitation to your mind to come on back and hang out with you.

I love that Pine Creek hike, although it's been a few years. Your photos are magnificent, and the day looks PERFECT with that blue sky and fat clouds. Then there's Angus with his comic relief, but looking heroic like FaveAuntie says.

And if your mind doesn't come back, maybe we could room together at the Home. Every morning we can introduce ourselves and have a nice day with a brand new friend!

July 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterniceladywithdog

You're pictures always inspire me and I love that you share your adventures here. Angus is clearly King of the Hill.

July 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTracey

Distraction, stress, forgetting important stuff (food). Sounds like you had the best day for an antidote. (minus Angus's escapades)
Funny about the John Mayer thing, not being able to say anything. I've often thought about what I would say to someone like that (in my case it would be Bruce Cockburn because I really love his music) and the most intelligent and appropriate thing I can think of to say would be "thank you". It is not an easy thing to pursue one's art and it makes my world richer for their having done it, so "Hey, thanks man".

July 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPooknelle

BrotherJohn: I'm fairly certain if you ever completely lose your mind you'll be one of those people who's still quite pleasant to be around, so there's that. And as you mention, you have FaveAuntie and still recognize her 100 percent of the time, so that's a good thing. Can't wait to hang with you guys!

FaveAuntie: Oldest Son and I are John Mayer fans, gossip and unfortunate public comments be damned. About the memory loss, it's interesting to note that the Hashimoto's I was just diagnosed with lists memory loss/poor concentration as a symptom. Which was sort of a relief to discover...

NLwD: See above on the forgetfulness, but you're also right, as Hashimoto's is an autoimmune disease, and symptoms are heightened by STRESS. Sort of stressful to think that I haven't been handling stress well :)

Tracey: So glad to hear it! Thank you.

Pooknelle: I agree, thank-you would be the most heartfelt thing to say. But in retrospect, I think I would've needed a bit of conversation starter to get there first. Could have asked him where they launched from and started their float. Alas, such obvious conversation eluded me.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterminor catastrophes

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