We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Facing Fear

        We all face fear daily.  We do.  Through this all, I've just about eliminated the majority of the fears that I had prior to Kim getting sick.  And certainly, have freed myself of the paralyzing fear that I had while she was in the hospital and since she passed.
        And then there is grieving...I know I've said this, but if I had a nickel for everyone who has told me I have to make time to grieve...well, we'd be in pretty good shape right now!  But, the drive time...that's one that catches me grieving...without thought - I don't think you can 'make time' to grieve.  It's something that just happens.  Unexpectedly.  For me, it works.
        You know, Kimmy promised to haunt me.  She did.  And she does.  On my way home, I will see her riding shotgun...as I'm hurtling down I-10, 70 to 80 miles per hours, she whispers..."Cracker Barrel.  Remember that time we drove back to Pa. and stopped at as many Cracker Barrels as we could?".  "Sure honey, and we slept in the parking lot of one, in the pouring rain, until it opened so that we could have breakfast?".  "That was fun."...."Oh, Howard Johnsons!  Remember that time we stayed there and could see that beautiful white horse on the ranch next to the hotel from our balcony?"..."Yes Kimmy, that was another greatest time!"...There I am, driving with ghosts, on a beautiful, sunny day, blinded by the sudden rain storm in my own vehicle...and my cell rings, but I can't find it, bringing me back, and I'm alone...

         Cody often asks me to ride throught the north side of Fantasy Island.  We've been through the south side a gajillion times and have ridden the east corridor quite a bit.  I've heard a lot of stories about the north side.  Rugged.  Technical.  It's where Angie's husband, Mark, took a horrible spill - his helmet looked like a chain saw had kissed it.  So, I've found 'reasons' not to.
          I'd ask Autumn and Tonio if they felt like riding.  So we'd have to stick to the 'Bunny Trail', which has always been fun and a good work out.  Out of fear.
          But, I've faced so many different kinds of fear in the last 6 or 7 months - why not Fantasy Island north?  When I picked Cody up at school today, I asked him if he wanted to run down to Target to catch up on household needs, or go through Fantasy Island.  "Oh man!  Fantasy Island!  Can we enter through the north side?"...
          It's 6.6 miles of rugged trail.  And it's challenging from the start, compared to the south side.  But exhilarating.  And incredibly beautiful.  As you snake your way into the desert, you lose all sense of the city.  Soon, you can no longer see the houses.  You cannot hear the cars.  There is nothing but pristene desert, with a small, 1 foot wide, swatch of a trail cutting through it.  It's comforting, embracing...you get so deep into it, but not in a bad way, more like when, during the colder parts of the year, you add layer, after layer of blankets, snuggling in the warmth beneath - comforting...
          Whizzing back and forth on switch back trails, down into rocky gullies and flying back up the other side, you get into a zone...dialed in, is how you feel...looking, searching for the best place to put your bike to avoid large rocks, ruts, craters and bumps...and total concentration to keep your bike on the path.
           I literally ran right through a creosote bush, thanking God it was not a cholla, as I missed the smooth part of the path we were traversing by scant inches, my tires cutting through deep river rock and unable to make the turn...I love the smell of creosote, so didn't mind the branches whipping against my forearms.  If someone bottled creosote scent, I'd wear it.  And today, I guess I was!
          Cody, slightly ahead of me, shouting out instruction: 'Stay left here, or you'll get caught up in that rut!'  and "When we come around the corner, there is a huge drop off!  Lift up your front tire, or your go over the handle bars!".  Great tour guide....Just as my lungs are burning, screaming...my cell phone rings!  Salvation!!!  Cody knows to pull over and I gratefully pick up: "Oh, I didn't know you were out in Fantasy Island, I'll call you back" Andrea said..."NO!  My lungs...need a break....thank you!!!"  Calling to tell me she'd just saved me another couple thousand in Kimmy's medical bills through some research and phone calls!!!  We ARE blessed.
              Our new phones (Cody's 8th grade graduation is Thursday so I upgraded his phone for him!), don't do this justice...there are some great drop offs and steep downslopes that get the heart racing - I'm glad I faced the fear of going through this side!! I was able to keep up with Cody, for the most part and handle the rougher terrain.

            Uh, yeh....back to the fear...headstones are always a little unsettling...this one reads "Here rests K.C. Stern. Pulled 3 G's on a 1 G turn...we were about to do the same!  But, I found, no fear was left - we've been through worse...and the encompassing beauty trumped any other feelings - we let go...
                    Cody was so attentive to me, making sure that I drank plenty of water and he would look over his shoulder to make sure his old man was keeping up.  But, I thought, I sure know what those sports guys mean when they say 'He's lost a step'...like Derek Jeter - still one of the greatest short stops ever and one of the best still playing the game, but he's not as quick as he once was - he's lost a step....I resemble that.

           Again, I wish we had proper video to properly display the severity of this drop!!  It was fun, and yes, there is a 'bypass'...Cody kindly offered to take it with me, but, I declined, knowing he wanted to do it.  "Let me go first and I'll film you!"  He was so excited, it made it worth it!
            Fantasy Island has various shrines and sculptures...like the 'windmill' - it struck me as so lonely and forelorn, the top most tire was spinning slowly in the wind, at the top of a tall hill...All the time, I'm looking for vultures circling overhead, seeing chipmunks, ground squirrels, etc.  Getting tired, hearing coyotes yipping and howling in the near distance.  "Hear that Cody? - coyotes.  Coming for us!"  "Yeh, no,  it's some quail in the bushes over there!"  he said. 

              This was an intense, downhill chute that Cody told me was called the half pipe...I shot down it first, hootin and hollerin the whole way, to Cody's delight, so that I could film him coming down...he's so fast!

                                                                     What a rush!

One last big hill, Cody kept promising...on the other side of this one, he finally had to walk his bike up the last couple feet exclaiming 'What?'.  He is right on with his twists and turns... a few times, I deviated by and inch or two only to hit sand and have to really dig in to make it to the top of a steep slope (but not slippery), and on the way down, being sure that my feet did not lose the pedals...and, you have to take care to keep those pedals parallel to the ground, or risk clipping a protruding rock and being sent airbound. By the end of this journey, how I feel is wrung out...like a dishrag...
The desert, the sand, the trees, the mountains...spending time with Cody, who has done so well, adjusting and helping me and his brother an sister.  It was nice to be with him!  On the way out, I thanked him for taking me on the north side...and said that Mama would have been concerened...for our safety...but would have allowed us to go, knowing that I was more likely to crash and /or get hurt, then he was! We talked about Kimmy for a little while, how we miss her... I thanked him for being him and he gave me a big hug I would have loved to take Kimmy through the north side...

  And again, the sheer beauty of this piece of desert will wash away any of your care, concerns, worries...remember, life is short!  


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