11 October 2011


Steve won't speak to me. We spent the long weekend with family at the Coast, and I forgot him at home. Here he is, sitting on my bedside table, pouting. I'm really sorry, Steve, but someone had to stay home with the guppies! You know they get scared alone in the fish tank at night.

I didn't even notice that I had forgotten him until we were on our way home. We were heading for the mountains, when suddenly it crossed my mind that my trusty teddy was not with me in my bag. Those aren't small mountains we were heading for, either. It's a 230 km trip from one side to the other; the summit is at 1728 m. There's a special feeling to approaching that last exit on the freeway, that last chance you have to turn off and go back to the flatlands. You mentally run through the list: Gas? Check. Engine coolant? Check. Snacks? Check. Thermos bottle full of tea? Check. Teddy bear? Oops, forgot him!

It's just a little scary to know you're heading into the high mountains, and there won't be another chance to stock up on the essentials until you come back down on the other side. Scary - but also exhilarating. When you pull past that last turnoff, and the steep forests close in on the right and left of the freeway, you know you really are unequivocally on your way. You can't stay in the flatlands, avoiding the scary, lonely, barren mountains, if you want to get where you're going, get home where you belong. You have to take a deep breath, push down your foot on the gas, and just go.

There'll be semi trucks on the way blocking your lane (can't they go in the slow lane where they belong? Sheesh!); there'll be that spot on the side of the road where you got stuck just after 9/11 with four little kids in the car and had to get towed back to safety; there'll be the beauty of the wild river beside the road and the flaking granite of massive Zopkios Ridge, wreathed in a narrow necklace of cloud, towering over you on the left. You'll find yourself suddenly in the middle of a fog bank, barely able to see (haven't those people ever heard of putting on their headlights in a fog? Good grief!), and then just as suddenly have your view sweeping over valleys upon valleys as you crest the summit. And then, you're heading down the hill - faster than you like sometimes, having to put on the brakes to keep yourself from running away - and before you know it, you're out of the mountains. The Lake appears on your right, you sweep around the curve, merge onto the regular highway, and soon have to slow right down to city speed.

And then you're home. You drop the pizza you picked up on the way through town on the counter, kick off your shoes, put your bag into your room, and apologize to your teddy (who won't speak to you; but don't worry, he'll get over it). You wouldn't be here if you hadn't entered those mountains, if you had safely stayed in the flats. "High Mountain Road - Expect Sudden Weather Changes", the sign says. Yes, there are sudden weather changes up in those mountains. And you've got to get through them to get to where you're meant to be.

Life, the Universe, and high mountains to cross. I trust Steve will forgive me eventually.


  1. You're a brave woman going over the hill this time of year.

  2. Well, it was be the last time before spring! I don't drive that mountain between Thanksgiving and Easter.

  3. Ah, I love Steve! Do you have four kids? I remember doing that drive with four little kids, many times. Especially that time when the toll booth attendant looked at me and said, "they are all yours?" :)Now my kids drive themselves through the mountains, which is a different kind of scary.

  4. Thanks, Elle - I'm rather fond of Steve myself. He was a Christmas present from my oldest son (who's 20 now) a few years ago. I know what you mean about differently scary when they're driving!