Trust Your Gut

I really thought I had posted this before, but found it in my drafts folder.

This was a brief moment in time but chock-full of unanswered questions and potential menace where my gut intelligence sussed out something so weird and so random. It was like a scene on a TV show.

A while back before the pandemic stopped most travel, I was taking a short flight. I had an aisle seat. As this was a smaller aircraft, there were only two seats on either side; window or aisle.

A man walked by and said his was the window seat. I got up so he could squeeze in. He was a big man, not really obese, but close to it. His bulk took up the entire seat. Thank you, he said several times, although I’m not sure why he kept repeating himself. He was looking at me as if he wanted to strike up a conversation and I wasn’t really feeling particularly chatty so I began to read a book. I could feel his eyes on me, though, and I felt a creepy vibe.

Here’s where the first strange stirrings of anticipatory dread occurred.

In the periphery of my mind, or maybe it was my gut, I had an odd feeling. That’s the only way I can describe it. Odd. Nothing tangible to point my finger at, nothing out of place, nothing I could see with my eyes, but a real feeling that something was wrong with this person flitted through my mind and my gut. In fact, I was on high alert for any gesture or words or behavior that might be inappropriate.

It’s unusual to have a first impression like that, don’t you agree?

I’ve been learning to trust my gut even when there might be nothing definite to satisfy my need for facts that I can see or hear or touch.

Luckily for me, as I was planning to dread the next few hours, a flight attendant stopped by and asked me if I’d like to move to another row by myself as the plane wasn’t full. I jumped at her suggestion and enjoyed the peace and quiet, all the while wondering what made me feel like there was something wrong with that man.

When we arrived at our destination, I grabbed my suitcase from the overhead bin and impatiently waited my turn to disembark. I didn’t give that man another thought as I was focused on a stop at the nearest restroom.

The next few moments were like a scene out of a TV crime show and it happened SO FAST, almost too much to process.

I noticed a man standing near the place where we all exit from the jetway to the flight waiting area. He had an intense gaze as he watched all the arriving passengers. That means that he obviously had to go through security.

Apparently I was right behind the man I had originally sat with. He was walking as fast as his size would allow. He spotted the waiting man too, but there was nowhere to go, nowhere to escape.

The man stopped him, said in a VERY STERN VOICE, “You know that you violated your parole, don’t you?”

The big man stuttered, “Yes.”

“Well, then there’s nothing left to say. You knew what would happen. I’m here to take you back to prison.”

I was gobsmacked (another one of those great descriptive Brit words).

I thought it prudent to extricate myself in case I became an unwilling participant in some sort of dangerous situation. Although I wanted to watch the rest of the show, I continued to the restroom, shaking my head and praising my gut instincts once again.

I KNEW something was off about that man, but I had no idea that he was a criminal.

I want to know the rest of the story. What was he on parole for? What crimes had he committed? Why didn’t TSA do a better job of screening?

And most of all, I’m thankful that for whatever reason, the flight attendant (and the Universe) moved me to safety from any potential harm. Maybe I’m being melodramatic and maybe I’m not. Maybe I really do live an enchanted life. Maybe there ARE angels protecting me.

How crazy is that????

From Bridges to Arches (National Park)

Aspirational…

May be an image of 2 people, mountain, nature and sky

Epic capture in Arches National Park, Grand County, Utah
Photography by Zach Cooley Photo
Check out his Insta, he’s a talented artisan photographer
https://www.instagram.com/zachcooleyphoto/?hl=en

#wordlesswednesday

Great Basin National Park

For #throwbackthursday, this is one of my most favorite places to camp and hike.

Great Basin National Park is in Nevada. At 10,000 ft., Wheeler Peak is one of the tallest peaks in the country. It’s full of bristlecone pines and turkeys and solitude and serenity.

Here’s a beautiful alpine lake:

Princess Rosebud’s Empowered Solo Vacation: Part Three

Hiking at Montana de Oro.

After a horrible night of not much sleep thanks to a bunch of obnoxious college students who must have been too drunk to understand that, to most people, camping means peace and quiet, not a beer binged free-for-all, we embarked on a day hike.

Our goal was Valencia Peak, but we first made a loop up Oats Peak Trail.

Valencia Peak is a coastal mountain located within Montana De Oro State Park. This trail offers gorgeous views of the Central Coast, great views of Morro Bay, Cayucos, and on clear days, you can see Cambria and beyond — with amazing views of Spooner’s Cove to the south.

It’s an easy trail with gentle elevation gain; I didn’t even need the alpine walking sticks I packed.

The spectacular views begin right away as you ascend up onto a saddle, and the rest of the hike is before your eyes.

The trail gets a little harder the closer you get to the top.

DIL and I stopped shy of the peak; my son wanted to run to the top and back, so we took a break, ate lunch, and admired the view of the ocean.

There was cell service, so I called tugboat man to say hi and to let him know we are DEFINITELY going to spend a few days here when he returns.

The views are beyond breathtaking. It feels like you’re on top of the world.

The hike down is much easier, but watch out for rattlesnakes. We saw a baby, whose venom is more potent than the adult rattlesnake.

Not too difficult, right?
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Ah-may-ZINGmontanadeorohike2 Kind of a hazy day, but perfect hiking weather.montanadeorohike3My little goat boy.
montanadeorohike4A narrow passage.montanadeorohike5View from the Visitor’s Center.
montanadeorohike6Part Four: Jade Cove, Julia Pfeiffer, Cambria, and Costanoa.

Princess Rosebud’s Empowered Solo Vacation: Part Two

After the mostly tranquil train ride (except for one poorly parented relentlessly screamingfordonuts toddler who seemed not to be bothered by her screeching while staring at their smartphones), I was met at the train station in sunny Santa Barbara by Professor Angel Boy and we stopped for lunch at an organic foods cafe.

We made an unscheduled detour because he wanted to check out the surf at Morro Bay, and because it’s always really all about him, that’s what we did.

Driving up the coast to Morro Bay.
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I’m not much of a seagull lover, but this guy was too photogenic to ignore.campingmay22seagullmorrobayAfter a brief surf session, we continued to Montana de Oro State Park, six miles southwest of Morro Bay and seven miles south of Los Osos on Pecho Road.

It’s fairly rural and rustic, but SO beautiful. We set up camp and were able to manage a late afternoon hike.

With the sun low in the sky; clouds and fog actively moving over the tops of the mountains, it was serene and enervating at the same time.

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Crossing a small creek.campingmaymontanawater

Lichen.

campingmaymontanalichen2Pretty yellow flowers.
campingmaymontanaflowersAh-MAY-zing view.campingMay23oroA mole peeking out of his hole.
campingmaymontanamole

Quail are everywhere and for a while, their melodic conversations were the only sounds we heard. These guys were walking around directly outside my tent.

Later that evening, after a relaxing fire and glass of wine, we heard the unmistakable scream/growl of a bobcat across the canyon.

At that moment, life was perfection. The only way it could have been better was if tugboat man wasn’t oceans away and not able to enjoy our holiday.

Little did we know that in a few short hours, in sharp contrast to this beauty and tranquility, we would endure the WORST EVER camping experience of our lives.

As we settled down to a good night’s sleep under a star-filled sky, a group of approximately twenty college students set up their camp nearby and proceeded to drink and yell and party LOUDLY until 4:30 a.m. in spite of the 10pm-7am quiet time rules.

Apparently, nobody, including us, got up to inform the camp host or the rangers of this HELL we had to endure, but we all complained to him the next day.

Just awful.

However, at approximately 3:30 a.m. just as we were dozing, or trying to, during the bacchanal, three fat raccoons furiously attempted to tear apart the locked food cabinet next to our picnic table. My son had to get up and shoo them away, and as he put the food in the car, one of them tried to sneak in.

Amazing.

It was an eventful night.

Right after THAT little adventure, a bobcat screamed so close we thought it was within feet of where we were sleeping, and figured that he had an altercation with those raccoons.

No one slept much after that, because we wanted to stay awake in case we could see him walk by.

No luck with the bobcat sighting, but as I unzipped my tent in the morning, see who was looking at me? An beautiful gray fox. These aren’t the best pics because I was in such a hurry to snap them before he ran off.

campingMay23fox1 campingmay25fox2

What an astonishing gift to sort of make up for the rude frat boys.

So far, quite an adventure, don’t you agree?

Part Three: A Ten-Mile Hike