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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Stories in Place: The Toast

(This pandemic has put a cramp in our camp, so I thought I'd start a series of short stories from our travels. You know, those kinds of stories that go around the campfire after a day of exploring, and may get repeated more than once over the years. I hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy telling them. Pull up a camp chair and grab a beverage. Let's Story in Place together.)


Everyone has them. We probably have too many for our own good. One that started in Hawaii many years ago involves viewing the sunset from the beach every night, toasting to another day well spent. This tradition has spilled over onto our camping trips: every night we try to find the best vantage point to watch the sun as it sets, clinking glasses (or plastic cups or water bottles or whatever we have at hand) as the sun sinks below the horizon.

On the last night of a week-long camping trip last year we found ourselves at Patrick's Point State Park on the northern coast of California. The fog had been so thick the entire day it might as well have been raining. The dogs were wet, cold and shivering, and we were all of those things plus annoyed with them for being so whiny. Just as we wiped them down and shoved them in the camper so we could start dinner in peace, the fog finally started to lift. Mark poured himself a glass of wine, I grabbed my water bottle and we walked out to the edge of the nearby cliff.

The sunset was looking to be a good one, but our vantage point here wasn't the best. The cliff was facing northwest, and the sun was around the corner, too many trees were blocking our view. We consulted the map board near the trailhead and we found a spot called "Wedding Rock" that looked to be just the right place to view a sunset.

We walked down the trail that followed the meandering cliff side, weaving in and out of the trees and up and down the gullies. Mud from all the fog made it slippery, and tree roots threatened to trip us up as we walked faster and faster trying to beat the sun.

"How far was it supposed to be?"

"I don't know, I think a mile? Two?"

"We're not going to make it. We better pick up speed."

Faster and faster, we ran down the trail, Mark holding his glass in front of him carefully as he tried to compensate for the joggling pace. A little slopped over now and then and he would lick his hand. None would be going to waste. "Go go go! We're almost there!"

We could see the large rock ahead of us, the trail weaving it's way down the cliff side before a stairway cut into the stone switchbacked up the huge chunk of granite. The sun was just touching the horizon and starting to cast an orange glow. Why do we do these things? Just as we were reaching the last set of stairs, Mark caught his foot on the edge of a rock and almost took a tumble. He recovered, but most of his wine did not.


Twenty-nine years of marriage entitles one to certain rights. There are always times when it's best to sympathize and express concern and sympathy. And then there are those other times, hard earned through years of sacrifice for the sake of harmony.

I started giggling, feeling sort of superior for having brought my water bottle with an actual lid. I tried to hold it back, but I was not winning the battle. I could hardly breathe from trying to climb all those stairs while laughing so hard my eyes were watering and blurring my vision. Mark took it pretty well. He glared a little and beat me to the top, just as the sun sunk below the ocean edge. I staggered to the rock wall once I caught up and looked in awe. It really was beautiful.

With what little was left in the glass, we toasted another successful trip, and another beautiful sunset. All was right in the world, and that half glass of remaining wine was sipped as we admired the fading colors from our perch on Wedding Rock. We lingered a while enjoying the scenery then started down the stairs.

"Did you bring a flashlight?"

"I thought you did."

1 comment:

  1. Nothing like a good sunset. "Did you bring a flashlight?" You guys are quite the pair.