Monthly Archives: July 2003

lying next to the pool of our apartment building. tsafi just got sunscreen in his eyes. he’s studying for the cpa test in november. he sits back away from his books with his feet up on an opposite chair. sometimes it’s hard to switch from work mode to study mode, i understand. i know he will do fine on his tests.

staccato ripples in the shadow end, sun soaked spirals in the shallow end. smells of cookies and instant soup mix. the sun bounces off my skin. tsafi still struggles with his burning eyes. we grew from our fight last week. we both avoid arguements now, knowing how upsetting they are and how needless.

spirit

spirit is returning. not quite up to full moon drumming circles again but a more eternally non-satiated beat is starting to resurface, the beat of my independence and self-accountancy. i think i was brain-washed in israel… truly, not just a soul-stripping experience but a loss of something vital to me. something i would never have considered giving up before.

yosemite national park

we awoke at 5am. dawn had just yawned and made the land just visible enough for us to pack up and get outta dodge. i rolled over off the air mattress and twisted off the knob that kept the air in. a great big exhale came from it and within 10 minutes we were dismantled and bound for yosemite national park. the car was absolutely filthy and when we stopped to refuel in bishop, i washed down the windows with the squeegie thing. it’s one of the joys of life to me. i love to wash windows in gas stations. it makes me happy… i tried to wash the door handles of the car and goops of ick formed. best to leave that for the car wash back in civilization, we decided. and as soon as we got back on the road new bug guts smashed into the window again anyway. yesterday tsafi got a speeding ticket… hee hee…. the cop thought our car was grey from all the layers of dirt from our adventures. he had no sympathy for my birthday and ticketed us joyfully…the bastid.

big birthday in the great outdoors

at gray’s meadow campground at the foot of the sierra nevada mountains in inyo national forest. independence creek flows like thunder all around me and i’m escaping the late day sun under an oak tree. there are no showers here. we’ve had to go to an RV park in Bishop to steal a shower for the past 2 days. they do have flushable toilets however… it’s good that this weekend wasn’t about plumbing…it was about exploration…

we left los angeles at 3pm on thursday heading northeast. ‘gray meadows’ was the only campground that had a camping site available and just the coincidence of it being near the town of independence had me intrigued. independence day in independence, california… perfect… we arrived to the campground just before sunset. signs warning of high bear activity and the realization of no showers made us silent. we soon set to work on setting up our tent, air mattress and sparklers. the tent was still recovering from its last adventuring ordeal, the last night in the mud on foss lake in oklahoma. mud nuggets filled the holes in the mesh windows and the stakes were painted with dry mud. the inside was clean and spacious and we have a soft spot for our tent, our ‘home away from home’, no matter its external appearance. tsafi connected the poles and i pumped up the air mattress and put the finishing touches on the campsite. fireworks? check… a stolen hotel doorknob sign from the stardust hotel in las vegas saying ‘privacy please’? check check…

we drove 6 miles into town to the nearest civilization and went to a food market there to buy the neccesities. there was a real stuffed bear there smack in the middle of the market, which was a place not unlike 7-11. it had a neon stuffed toy fish in its mouth. there were maps of mount whitney and the nearby sites with dust on them. we bought tequila and marshmallows. the woman who rang us up had cracked front teeth and raised her eyebrows at our purchase. “campin…” i told her… “the necessities…” she put the tequila in a brown paper bag and that made me giggle… pixies don’t swig tequila from paper bags like common hobo people. they’re supposed to mask it in purple dinosaur thermos’ and such. next door to the market was a subway where we split a foot-long tuna sub. the woman running the place also had teeth issues. she had one long middle tooth sticking out passed the other front teeth. she looked to me about my age. we made a joke about couples or family or marriage and she chimed in with her life story. she’d met her husband at 13 years old and has SIX CHILDREN. tsafi and i were kicking each other under the counter as we built our sub up with ‘all the veggies, nothing hot.’ “shenayim shella!” (“her teeth!” we giggled in our secret code, hebrew) i was very excited about our purchase of marshmallows and couldn’t wait for the campfire. tsafi had it in his head that we’d go all guerilla romantic and eat our sub by the creek…but in the dark, in the mud, bending flora underfoot to sit in wait for a bear or a candle to be blown out by the whipping wind was not so appealing to me and so began the mood wars. “you want a fire? you make it yourself!” he said…and ooooh don’t you know that was all i needed… he sat in expected gloating as i went about the preparations of said excited fire. newspaper and sage brush and a log were thrown together and ignited and WHAMMO! my fire was a-rockin! “TAKE THAT!” my mood warrior triumph! mwa ha ha!

the sky was darkening and i lit 2 lanterns, hanging them on a small dead tree over our tent. they would soon become the creative focus of the evening. time lapse digital photography and electric spheric trails in front of our tent. some tequilla and marshmallows were thrown into the mix and we attempted to clear the air on some issues that had been resurfacing. some battle, some moods, some understanding later and then we lay in the tent staring at stars in love again. the winds whipped thru the tent and love was stirred and we woke up at dawn in wonder of our view. valleys of sage, pine trees on desert mountains, clear bright morning…

my 30th birthday…

we brushed our teeth, put on bathing suits. we filled our jug of water up in the creek. the water tasted of springtime sun, and minerals. the car was in organized brilliance. maps and journal underfoot, 3 small water bottles between us, the jug in the back, clothes for all purposes within arms reach in the back and the camera accessible at all times as well. food was in the trunk so as not to provoke the bears. we stopped in another local market in independence where someone told us about the 10am fourth of july parade and how it’s the biggest thing since beef jerky on a stick. “you better not skip town! they’re going to close off the highway!” that guy must’ve been the sherriff or something of the town. and this ‘highway’ of his was some one lane pothole mess. tsafi and i exchanged looks of “let’s blow this town” and headed north to bishop’s visitor center to see what there was to do in these beautiful mountain places besides giggle at the toothless. we ate breakfast and laid in the park for a nap awaiting the opening of the visitor center at 10am. the woman working there knew almost everything there was to know but, not to our surprise, she also had teeth issues. we looked past it to the stuffed rainbow trout on a plaque behind her. she told us the whole story of that fish and then sequed into a story about how her husband once brought home such a big fish that, even with the head chopped off, still wouldn’t fit in a frying pan. “the tail stuck out of one end like this and HOOOOEEEY, it was a big fish!” we collected pamphlets and recommendations of where to go and left that triangle-shaped building talking about the big fish in the frying pan in hebrew cowboy accents. “and it was yay big and…”

we drove far and long to get to our chosen hike of the day, the ancient bristlecone pine forest at over 9,000 feet above sea level. the drive up wound around mountains and through views breathtaking. we stopped almost all the way up to gawk at the view. we pulled off the road and began climbing to the edege of a mountain. there were bees and a quiet there so precious that the sound of the bees sounded like music. there were blue dragonflies and ice-capped mountains. mount whitney and all the peaks were in plain sight. we continued driving up to the ancient forest where the trees are the oldest living things on earth. tsafi fell back as i began hiking the discovery trail. these bristlecone pines were insane! some of them were 4,000 years old! some had been dead 1,000 years. these fallen gnarled goliaths had roots taller than 3 of me…the alive trees had roots close to the surface to absorb moisture before evaporation. some had woodpecker holes, some twisted in such a way that my eyes widened with every turn and twist, imagining that after thousands of years these trees must’ve wanted to break free and move and this was their dance standing still. i was alone up on the trail at mid-day, no one in sight, touching ancient trees, following the path, careful not to disturb anything. many times i just stopped and stood still. it’s not often that i find myself just standing still lately and so the lack of momentum was a surge, a high. i pressed my palms to the trunks of the trees, somehow repelled by dead roots and i tried to pick up on their stories. these trees were alive at the time that the egyptians built the pyramids. alive through eons… such wonder! i climbed higher and round a bend to the other side of the mountain and there was a path made through these red stones. there was a plaque there explaining what those red jagged things were. apparently they were the sediment on the ocean floor before the last ice age and over time and through extreme heat and pressure formed these red rocks, red slabs of lava-like texture. the path in front of me was clear, save for one perfectly heart-shaped rock…in israel, i collected heart-shaped rocks offerred up by the mediteranean. i’d put them in tsafi’s pockets, in his bag, next to our bed. and when we relocated to america, i gathered them up in a glass jar and they sit now in our living room, some scattered throughout the house. these heart-shaped rocks are a phenomena to me… i move to a country to jump in my love’s story and on lonely foreign doubting days strolling along the shore’s edge, these rocks would be lying in my path as confirmation. so when i found this red ancient heart-shaped rock in my path, i knew it was for me… as careful as i was to not disrupt the sanctity of the place, i knew the rock belonged to me… and as it belongs to me, it so belongs to tsafi. i ran down the trail to give it to him.

we then drove to owens river…. there was a rope tied to a tree over the river and tsafi swung over it in a complete circle. two dogs were swimming feverishly in the current. they were the best of friends. their owners were beer-guzzling, pick-up-truck-driving, tattoed potential-wife-beaters that backed up their truck to the rope and, while drunk, attempted to balance on the back end of the truck. the first attempt almost ended in disaster. he swung out and right smack into his truck. laughing but curious of this display of misused adrenaline, we watched on. on the third attempt he’d finally got it and swung out over the river, did a back flip and emerged from the current, blue worn bandana still in tact. we follwed the dogs downstream a bit. i waded in to the river with my shoes on. tsafi sacrifieced a toe. too cold for him, my spoiled warm-water surfer man. there were two obese women sitting in the shallow water with their sagging rear ends just touching the water. they were drinking cans of beer and telling me about one of their granddaughters having blue hair. “it’s just a teenage thing. you’ll grow out of it.” they assured me, thinking me a teenager. i kept my birthday secret and tracked my muddy sandals out of the river back towards the car…now our car…. our beautiful new car, unnamed as of yet… had bug guts and dust-like dirt all over the poor thing. bugs in the grill, the windows all hazy. it’s sad actually… our beverly hills status contradicts our adventuristic tendencies. tsafi told me how when he was in kindergarten, he got so dirty that before his parents came to pick him up sometimes, the teacher had to clean him from head to toe with a broom. our car takes after him, i suppose. we were pretty filthy as well, and as the day drew on, we’d had it in our minds that finding a shower before our dinner reservations would not be easy. we were more in need of a nap, so we drove to millpond park just past the town of bishop and laid out the tapestry. we talked there about our bickering lately and about communication issues. i laid in the fold of his arm as sap fell on his belly. i played with a ladybug and when she flew away, we walked by the pond where children were protesting their end to swimming. we drove to an RV park and stole a shower. we stopped off at a shoe store and bought him sneakers and adventure sandals..then we drove a desolate scenic road to the place that i made dinner reservations at. i’d consulted the chamber of commerce last week and, as it was a big birthday, i didn’t want to feel disappointed if tsafi didn’t plan anything, which actually was the case. he planned nothing…. he didn’t even get me a gift, a card…nothing. i know birthdays weren’t that important in his family but to me, they are. it’s one day of celebration over someone, appropriate to at least acknowledge… and this was a big one for me…

the road was desolate, barren, timeless, endless desert with distant mountains. we entered a bend in the road and there in a grove of trees with a stream was the paradise restaurant. rustic yet intimate, a log cabin with a stream running thru it. dim lighting, a bar in the back room, a bear skin on the wall. we sat next to the rushing water with a candle between us. we ordered champagne. by glass #2, tsafi was spinning and i was feeling very happy with myself for finding this place. tsafi motioned behind me to the bar and when i turned around, on the television above the bar, was my city lit up with my birthday. i rushed up to the bartender… “is there sound to this?” the bartender reminded me of a country version of iggy pop. “yeah, sure” he said and up went the volume and i missed new york terribly at that moment. back at the table, we drank off the bottle of champagne, talking about what kind of parents we want to be and about what traditions we will instill in our home, about what kinds of schools we want our children to attend. we agree on all points, in theory… we will see what reality brings. he ordered the ‘catch of the day’, which turned out to be halibut, and i ordered checken breast with lemon and herbs. it was all delicious! as soon as the waitress set down our plates we instinctively cut half of each of our entrees and give it to the other. it was a perfect meal… we tried new things (halibut). we drank champagne. tsafi asked them to put a candle in a piece of chocolate cake. we stumbled satiated out of that log cabin to the car and drove to bishop airport for the fireworks display.

we parked just outside the fence of the airport. i ran across the street to pet a mule while tsafi set up the tripod and camera. the mule was very friendly. i was afraid he’d sneeze on me though. behind him were two horses…one white, like an angel, and one brown, healthy and strong. they stood facing each other cheek to neck and rubbing each other in comfort and love. it made me run back to the car to kiss tsafi. that’s when i noticed the mosquitos. they’d taken over the car and our legs. i asked the car next to us for bug spray. the fireworks soon began and i jumped up onto the car. sitting on the back end with feet dangling faster and faster in excitement. every year it’s a fascination, an explosion of celebration for me alone. as i get older i never tire of fireworks and i never insult them. as far as i’m concerned any burst is sufficient. even my saddest sparkler ever, my one birthday in israel. the only year i have ever or WILL EVER work on my birthday (the following year i flew back to america to have a proper birthday). i was at a construction site in israel with my one lonely sparkler. it sparked upa small surge in me and even that, my lonely sparkler, was enough. the bishop firework display reached just over the treetops. tsafi took amazing time-lapsed photos. it was his first fourth of july in america. a nearby car had their radio on loud and we could hear the music being played. it turned the sky into a music video. the finale began and i called tsafi over. he sat next to me on the trunk of our dirty dusty bug-ridden car. we kissed and i told him of how i never tire of fireworks.

today we slept in til just AFTER dawn and drove to onion valley where we hiked miles up a mountain. we prepared a backpack with 5 bottles of water, fruit, bread, and veggies, corn in a can, tuna and the necessary utensils. by the time we parked the car the sun was already raging. we walked to a herd of horses and the cowboy there told us the hide to the nearest lake should take us a half hour. “just follow the path alongside the horses” he said. and so we began…

horse cakes and mosquitos abounded. one foul turn (my fault…hee hee) and were were in for quite the adventure. there was a sign for “kearsage pass” which sounded to me like a BIG climb “passing” mountains and things. and then there was a sign for trout lakes which sounded a bit more right to me… in reality it was just the opposite… gigglegigglegiggle… we got into it, REALLY into the thick of the mountain. at times climbing straight up. we walked through waterfall streams, the coldest purest water. tsafi refused to dip even a toe. he clung to precarious rocks mid-stream and muddy outer banks of it while i just plowed right into the freezing water just for the rush of post-toe hypothermia. we got lost once. the path just ended suddenly. rocks piled up higher and higher with no trail in sight. we stood with hands on hips trying to figure it out. that’s when two other hikers appeared. and while they wouldn’t share their bug lotion, they did point us in the right direction. that’s when the real rock climbing began. i crawled up that beast of a mountain. tsafi’s sunburned shoulders always ahead of me. this huge glorious waterfall was always in site above us but i never thought we’d get to stand under it. we did, in fact, reach that waterfall and it was one of the most beautiful things i’ve ever seen. the thunderous raging spilling current arched over my head with sporatic timber lodged by rocks thinning out the current, causing this cleansing spray. tsafi left the bag and descended to the point where the water poured out in the most dramatic way. he disappeared for quite a long time and i began calling his name. the waterfall engulfed my calls and i had to squint to see him. he returned with amazing photos and we continued our ascent. the path got narrower and steeper and we were just over the mountain when a quick look at the map showed we’d actually turned down the wrong path entirely! “half hour, my ASS!” we said and hours later decided to turn back. we’d encountered a couple who confirmed our thoughts. he was bleeding profusely from his elbow as he told us “yes, this is one of the more difficult hikes in the region.” and told us to go back to the kearsage pass sign. i slid all the way down that mountain. pebbles and sand covering my feet. sometimes when i tried to stand up, i’d find myself surfing sand down the mountain. when my knees began to hurt, i went down backwards like a toddler descending stairs. by the end of the steepest incline, sand and rocks had found their way into my most sacred parts and as we crossed back over streams i’d try to shake myself clean like dog. dirty pixie dusty pixie! by the time, we got back to the sign we’d lost interest in the lake. we felt lucky enough to have met the waterfall. a lake was…p’shau… old school.

it was only mid-day and the sun in its lower altitude was oppressive. we then got into the car and made a plan for lunch in the great outdoors. we’d stocked up from a market. the itch for a lake still wasn’t satiated apparently so we set our compass to lake sabrina in bishop creek. the drive there was beautiful, like switzerland. lake sabrina was surrounded on all sides with snow-covered mountains. we set up the tapestry in semi-shade. there were boats parked in the shallow end. the grass was soft. we washed fruits and vegetables, peeled a cucumber, opened cans of corn and tuna and unraveled the bread that got squished on the hike. the bag holding the tomatoes was filled with tomato guts and we ate them like apples. after lunch, i curled up into tsafi’s side and tried to nap. a little blonde girl came over and babbled childlike to tsafi. “excuse me?” i heard him say charmed in his softest affected way. he whispered to me to look at her. and i turned to see the cutest little angel. she ran away and we laughed. the breeze picked up and we’d run out of steam so we drove back to the campground. i sat on a picnic table as sunset passed over the mountains and put me in desert shadow. a chill quickly set in. tsafi got a second wind and had gone to climb more waterfalls. i stretched out on top of the picnic table…and wished he’d come back. i was thankful that we’d successfully stolen another shower from the same RV park, but my feet remained filthy, permanently it seemed. i washed them in the creek, scrubbing my teva adventure sandals. i came back and set to work on the night’s fire… but i couldn’t find the lighter. that’s when tsafi returned and we made a fire together. we put turkey dogs and marshmallows over the fire and marvelled in silence at the half moon igniting the western sky and the land in front of us with desolate blue haze. several times i thought i saw a bear bumbling about in the brush by moonlight. a few swigs of tequila and a trek around the campsite to brush teeth and we called it a night…

at the foot of the sierra nevada mountains

2 hours before my 30th birthday. drinking tequila by a campfire. 2 tealights in lanterns, dying embers spiraling upwards in a pit. sunrise will bring mountains but for now life is fire and lanterns and stars streaking across the sky. my fingers are numb from burning accidental. lips dry. sage brush having ignited quickly.

i see more stars at this moment than i have ever seen in my life.

tsafi stretches out his arms to illustrate the milky way. we started the night out in caustic moods. he wanted to eat dinner by candlelight near the creek but i stepped in mud and was in fear of bears. i love when marshmallows go up in fire. i love to blow them out. i love when tsafi offers me blown out marshmallows, a gift of warm sugar, crispy, charred and sweet.