As much as I love living in houseful of crazy teenagers and kids, sometimes it's nice to get away from the noise and confusion. For the next four days, I am leaving behind my children and my extras. I will be leaving behind the kitchen full of teenagers scavenging for food, the living room filled with musical instruments, and the desk piled with stuff that needs to be done. I will be leaving behind the computer, the telephone, the mailbox.
I will be visiting a state park that has great hiking trails, complete with nineteen waterfalls, gorges cut through rock, plunge pools filled with cold water, scenic bridges high above creeks, 200-foot cliffs, tunnels, and twisting staircases. When my mother went to this park for the first time in the late 1950s, local children were asking tourists to pay them a dollar to leap off high cliffs into the water below. This made my grandfather so nervous that he started paying the kids a dollar NOT to jump. It’s a park I’ve avoided for years because chasing toddlers, small children, and even teenagers – okay, especially teenagers -– around on the edges of cliffs is too nerve-wracking to be fun.
I will be hiking this park with just one other adult, someone I can trust not to make me nervous by dangling off the edge of a cliff. I will be traveling with someone I've known since 1978. We’ll be driving there, with plenty of time for long, lazy conversations. We'll be stopping to eat in cafes or small restaurants.
I am packing hiking boots, my new bathing suit, and my nicest lingerie.