Having started a seasonal retail position on Saturday, I am not looking forward to this fall/winter. I finally gave in to the need for money, and idealism be damned (for now - after Christmas I probably won't have any more hours with the store, so I'll go back to being unemployed, delivering snarky commentary on the terrible plight of retail workers and dreaming about the awesome jobs I might eventually run into if I just hold out a little longer...)
Anyway, I had yesterday and today off, and after some much-needed sleeping in and some much-enjoyed lounging, I spent this afternoon reading the blog of one of my camp friends' moms, who is an awesome woman and someone I wish I could spend more time with. Unfortunately, she still lives in New York. Fortunately, she's taken up photography as well as hanging around camp and updates several(!) blogs with pictures of the area for me to oooh and ahhh over, including my favorite place in the world - Camp Timbercrest (here is the Timbercrest Blog). I miss that camp SO much. I've written about camp before. I think it's awesome, and Timbercrest is the most awesome camp. I still get teary-eyed when I think about all the time I spent there and all the friends I made, and the fact that I can't just get in the car and drive over makes me feel empty deep down.
See, I really love nature. "The woods" has been my favorite place for many, many years and I habitually seek out quiet, nature-y places when I'm upset. Unfortunately, since I started college I haven't found many of those places. I've been living in cities and large towns, cut off from the best parks by a couple dozen miles (unlike my mom's house, where we had a forest in the back yard), without a car for most of that time, and without anyone to share the trails. For years Rick and I have been saying: "It's spring, we should go camping soon!", and then: "we'll go camping this summer", followed by: "well, maybe we'll make it this fall", and finally: "it's too cold now. We'll definitely go next year." Of course, there's always something in the way of just throwing the sleeping bags in the Jeep and heading for Laurel Highlands. Invariably, I spend all summer humming camp songs and staring at state park websites and all winter wondering if running around in the cold is really as bad as I remember it being and whether any of the parks are open for winter hikes. I keep thinking I might give in and join a local hiking club, but I'd probably feel bad when I showed up with my 6-year-old fraying-at-the-edges hiking boots and plain cheap water bottle, getting winded on a 5-mile "easy" hike while the rest of group is hauling state-of-the-art frame packs and energy gel drinks on 30-mile hikes around the Allegheny park system. Is there a "casual nature walks" club for 20-somethings?
It would be better if I had a camp or a park here that feels as reassuring as Timbercrest did. I might even quit bugging Rick about camping if I could walk or bike to the nearest large stand of trees whenever I needed a nature break. Pittsburgh's very own Riverview park is within dog-walking distance and is a pretty big park, for being located on the edge of a city... but you can still hear the cars on the bordering highways when you're wandering the trails there. Call me a sentimental fool, but city noises just ruin the whole "oneness with nature" thing. And I don't have any hiking/biking/exploring buddies, which is to say: I'm lazy, and without anyone to encourage me to go out and explore the city's green spaces (and there are a lot!), I will sit in the house, complaining about the cold and the fact that it's supposed to rain all week and that I'm sore and tired from work, etc, and I won't be able to drag myself out for that utterly revitalizing walk. November is a lonely time for walking by one's self. Only nuts go out on a day like today, when it's grey and muddy from yesterday's rain, and windy and only 45*. I'm a nut, but I'm a lazy nut. I need other nuts to drag me out of my shell (pun intended).
So: Anyone local feel like making a new friend for some trail walking this winter? I don't bite (hard), and I can identify poison ivy!