Monday, September 22, 2008

Visiting and Revisiting


One nice thing about living somewhere for a while is being able to say that you have "favorite places." When Robb and I were moving around the country a lot, I had the impression that we were had more of a visitor's viewpoint than a local's.

Now, after a number of years in California, we definitely have our favorites. We love Mount Diablo, for example.

When Robb was first home from the hospital, I got it into my head that we should take a jaunt up to Mount Diablo. I really don't know what I was thinking, at the time. We were being pretty stubborn, and trying to enjoy the lifestyle we had before Robb broke his back. That first re-visit to Mount Diablo was beautiful, and we saw a coyote, but the uneven terrain was impossible for Robb to negotiate.

What we quickly learned is that Robb is not up for this sort of hiking, yet. I don't think this really surprised either of us. After all, two months ago, all he could do in terms of outdoor walking was push his walker around on smooth sidewalks. Still, we had a beautiful drive up the mountain, and he says that he had a nice time hanging out in the woods while I hiked on ahead of him.

We talked about this at some length last night. Robb feels that until he is more able, I should not put all my outdoorsy activities on hold, nor should I feel guilty if I go hiking without him. I'm working on this. It still feels weird to do things like this, and not have Robb right by my side.

This past spring, we went back to Mount Diablo with a group of friends.

Last Sunday, I had made plans to meet some friends (and friends of friends), on Mount Diablo. Robb was very hesitant about going at all, no doubt based on the lousy time he had last time. I wouldn't take no for an answer, so we packed a picnic, picked up Cricket, and headed up the mountain to meet Sheri and company.

Robb and I have settled into a bit of a routine with outings like this. He does as much as he can, and then retires for a lie-down in our car while I carry on without him. I always feel like a jerk for leaving him alone, but he assures me that he doesn't mind.

So after our picnic, we left Robb at the car and went exploring the part of Mount Diablo known as Rock City. We scrambled all over the rocks, and generally had a great time goofing around in nature.

And then my cell phone rang.

It was Robb, who had gotten bored and decided to try a bit of walking. When he told me which trail he was on, I assumed that he had struggled his way to the start of the trail, and would take forever to meet up with us. So I left my crew, and headed back to the parking lot.

No Robb.

I back-tracked figuring that I had somehow blown past Robb on some side-trail. I passed my friends and headed up the trail, expecting to run into Robb any second. When I finally found him, Robb totally amazed me by the amount of terrain he had covered.

He said that this walk reminded him of a day at the hospital, where he and the therapist went out on the patio to practice walking. There was some magic about having the sun and wind on his face that day, and he walked better than he ever had.

And likewise, on Sunday, Robb actually went hiking.

I had the memories of many different visits in my head, as we walked along the trail. Robb used his trekking poles, and progressed slowly but steadily. Annalisa, Ashley and I were content with this pace, because it gave us time to chat, and to really look at our surroundings. (Plus, we were searching for Big Hairy Spiders.)

But the whole time, I was thinking, "Is this too much for Robb? What if he slips and falls? What if he gets stuck on these rocky paths?"

As it turned out, I was wasting my energy, focusing on the negative. Robb did great. On the drive home, he spoke about how he always loved clambering over rocks when he was a kid, and how he particularly enjoyed the mental puzzle of figuring out how to find the best route across difficult terrain. He said he used this kind of strategy when he first started re-learning to walk.

And now, he's able to apply this kind of problem solving, in one of our favorite wild places. He says that he enjoys this every bit as much as when he was a kid, even if he's doing it more slowly.

(I almost cried when he said this. I blame this on the two things: the fact that I'm a total sap, and that I was coming down with a nasty cold at the time.)

Robb is peeking out from behind Ashley in the top photo. And, yes, the sky really was that amazing color of blue, as pictured in the photo of Annalisa and Ashley.


gollygee said...

Wow, that's awesome. I love puzzles too so I can totally relate to his love of figuring out just where to put your feet. I was a master of it when I'd play on the rocks on the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. It's a lot more difficult as an adult... Robb is almost at an advantage having to move slower! :) He won't rush himself and make stupid mistakes like I do now. :D

Anonymous said...

I used to live on the base of Mt. Diablo - I've covered a lot of terrain on horseback up there. It is a lovely place to be. On a clear day and in the right place you can see the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Mountains at the same time - well, you have to turn your head, but you get the picture. I miss exploring the mountain.

It is a great place for therapy - mental and physical!


Sue KuKu said...

I'm glad you mentioned Rob was in the top photo.

Without enlarging it, I wouldn't have seen him -- his shirt blends in with the background.

What a great story and a great day!


Anonymous said...

Who is that totally HOT gal sitting in the hole in the rocks? I bet she could attract spiders to her anyday!

Tee Hee!

Guess who!


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