After all of those Cold Caps, popsicles, and ice cubes during chemo, the last thing I wanted to do over Spring Break was to head to Lake Tahoe for our annual ritual of snow fun. Instead, Earl and I packed the kids and our tent and other camping gear into the minivan and drove the hour-plus out to Big Basin to commune with nature in a reasonably temperate environment.
Trees, yes! Warmth, no! A warm winter has given way to a cool early spring. So we shivered the night and morning away, despite a couple of roaring campfires. My teenage son has always managed to stay very lean, even when ingesting his latest preferred diet of potato chips + fatty cheeses + sweets. The downside to not having a surfeit of body fat, however, is that he’s often cold, and especially so on this particular camping trip. I advised him to keep moving, reasoning that as warm-blooded animals we have the distinct advantage of being able to create our own body heat.
Side note: it’s a good idea to bring more than one method of ignition on any camping trip. I was in charge of packing up the kitchen gear, and brought just one butane lighter with us. The lighter typically gets trotted out on birthdays and camping trips and never in between. Apparently this particular lighter had lit one too many birthday candles so was not only almost out of fuel but also appeared to have a marginally functioning flint. Suffice it to say, we spent several frigid and frustrating moments trying to get the silly contraption to work. Thinking myself resourceful, I figured we could finally put the car’s cigarette lighter to use.
Step 1: Put key in ignition and turn.
Step 2: Push in lighter button. When it doesn’t stick, push and hold. Pull out and check for warmth. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Step 3: Consult car owner’s manual. Hmmm, lighter button should stay depressed when pushed and pop out when heated properly. Which means ours is broken. Which merely bolsters the notion that the cigarette lighter really is useful only when recharging one’s cell phone.
Step 4: Resolve to bring multiple sources of ignition on subsequent camping trips.
Ah well, fortunately I was able to flag down another camper and a park ranger to borrow and then purchase matches and not much later we were gratefully warming our digits while trying not to choke on windblown campfire smoke which seemed to change direction with maddening frequency.
The morning after we returned from camping, I awoke early as usual (but not too early, as it is Spring Break, after all). My plan was to bike to the pool for an hour swim before the kids awoke at 9am (remember, it’s Spring Break), which meant I had to leave the house by 7am when it was 39°F. After the chilling off session at Big Basin, my brain fought my body’s muscle memory for early morning exercise as soon as I opened the front door to a wall of cold.
Brain: Go. Back. Into. The. House. Like. Any. Intelligent. Person. Would.
Body: Put on shoes.
Brain: It’s. Too. Cold. Go. Inside. Now!
Body: Lock door. Walk down stairs to go to bike.
Brain: (Now numb from cold, so can no longer communicate. Body wins by default.)
Brain and Body engaged in another battle after I arrived at the swim club as I sprinted on toes from the locker room to the edge of the pool in my bathing suit, with teeth chattering. Fortunately, Brain had mere seconds to persuade, and before it realized, I was moving blissfully through 72° water. I reemerged 90 minutes later, thoroughly warmed to the core, with a smile plastered across my face. I had jumped into the water with the lowest of expectations (in fact, gave myself license to leave after a half hour if I was miserable), but ended up having one of my most enjoyable swims ever.
Body’s Note to Brain: Keep moving to stay warm, stay healthy, and be able to keep moving!
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