Day 55 – A Much Needed Escape

On August 28th, my wife lost her job. 24 hours later, I lost mine. This blog is a continuation of the day-by-day chronicling of our emotional journey back to employment. This is bound to be upsetting, hilarious and hopeful.

Thursday – October 23, 2014

A recent photo of me and Erin.

A recent photo of me and Erin.

Today, we made our escape. We got the kids to school, loaded up the van with what we needed for an overnight, and headed North past the closed down casino and into the foothills and just-starting-to-get-cold part of the mountains to spend a night in Uncle John’s Cabin.

Yep, Uncle John’s Cabin. I know that sounds like a Grateful Dead song or the title of a woodsy short story about some urbanite’s misspent childhood summer days at a long dead relative’s humble abode, but that’s really what we call it. Uncle John’s Cabin.

The cabin is really a two level condo planted in Bass Lake, a small but picturesque mountain community Hollywood likes to use and abuse now and again (The Great Outdoors, a 1980’s Dan Ackroyd/John Candy vehicle being the most notable, unfortunate example). Uncle John is not a shotgun wielding hermit. He’s a lawyer with a generous heart. He lets family freely use the cabin, with the simple request that we not destroy it.

To avoid restaurants and their gross chef-cooked meals, socialistic free bread, and annoying table service, Erin and I bought food in neighboring Oakhurst on our way up to cook at the cabin. Well, Erin cooked. I can pour milk and spread butter over toast. If I were to combine the two things into a dish they would make a meal you would not want to eat.

We love our kids and our house and the internet, but boy was it nice to get away from all of those things for a day. The longer this all goes on, the more stressed Erin and I get. We’ve been through tougher things, but the strain times of stress puts on our relationship is something that cannot be taken for granted. There’s a lot of taking care of each other that needs to happen for us to navigate times like this successfully. Having some space and time just to ourselves today with absolutely no one else in the world we know remotely near us was a much needed recharge.

When we weren’t just out-and-out napping sans child jumping on our heads, we hiked. This was a bit of a comedy of errors as we tried to find a decent trailhead with the very worst of maps (that I had committed to memory instead of, y’know, printing it out–still the map’s fault though) and ended up driving right out of the Bass Lake area. We doubled back, picked a trail near the Cabin, and just went for it to wherever the trail took us. Turned out it was the trail we’d been looking for in the first place; a steep climb that would have led us to waterfalls if we hadn’t wasted so much time searching and it wasn’t so close to sundown that we had to turn around early. Stupid map.

Of course, given California’s current status as giant dry creek bed, we may not have seen waterfalls at all. When we did stumble upon the Lake of Bass, it was mostly dirt and mud. This drought is the worst I’ve  seen in my lifetime, and that’s including the 7-year drought from the late 80’s that left me, as a young child, wondering what this magical thing known as “rain” could possibly be.

The lake stank of fish and dirty bones. We could walk down into a fair part of it, to spots that would have seen us completely submerged and surrounded by water any other year. Docks attached to houses were no longer floating but instead reaching straight down to cold earth that probably hadn’t felt the air since the Lake was first created decades ago.

For the evening, Erin and I watched movies (The Bourne Ultimatum and Bernie), played games, and talked. We just talked. When we didn’t talk, there was glorious silence. It was the oddest thing.

Erin went to bed at 10pm, her usual time. I read a book (All You Need is Kill) for about an hour afterwards before heading to bed about three hours earlier than usual. I can’t remember the last time I was relaxed enough to do that.

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