Vacate: to take a respite or a time of respite from something
Respite: an interval of rest or relief
Summertime, and the livin’ is easy (George and Ira Gershwin)
Winter is when I really vacate and take a respite from the brutal Minnesota cold and ice. My wife and I with our granddaughter and sometimes one or both of our daughters go somewhere warm where there are a lot of beaches and chill out (or should I say un-chill out) for a week.
The past four years though I have used my summer vacations to do some hard outdoor work. In 2015 I took my first trip to the Boundary Waters. In 2016 I did trail restoration in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness area of Montana. Last year I did a week-long bike trip (the kind you pedal) in North Dakota. This year I was originally planning to through hike the Appalachian Trail, but I downsized this to a four-day backpacking trip on the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT). No problem – this should be easy peasy.
Don’t get me wrong; I like all this outdoor stuff, but it was a lot of work. Carrying canoes and portaging through chest high water. It was fun, but it was hard. Hiking three miles to the trail work site each day, swinging a pick ax for five hours then hiking back three miles to base camp was grueling work too. You can read about last year’s bike trip in my post “Lessons from a Penguin”
Training for my “wimpy” four-day hike went well. I was right there with everyone in my group for our two 8-10-mile training hikes. So off we went to the SHT to do the real thing. However, when the actual hike occurred, the newly formed bunion on my left foot was in full alarm mode. Also, the section of the SHT was extremely rocky and rooty which jarred my reconstructed knee more than I was comfortable with. So, after lagging behind everyone during the first day I told the group that I think it would be best if I stayed back at camp and met up with them three days later. This proved to be a good decision because the terrain didn’t get any easier.
So, I broke camp the next day after the rest of the group was long gone and settled by the Onion River where I re-purposed my trip to be a predominantly restful experience (as in vacate and respite). I did get in a total of 14 miles of easy hiking too, but I mainly hung out by the Onion River camp site and read a great book that I brought along on the trip just in case I had a minute or two to relax. As it turned out, I had multiple hours to relax, so I read the entire book, “The Evidential Power of Beauty.” The author is a Catholic priest who has an enormous grasp of science as well. In the book he details the intricacies and wonders of the universe, nature and the atomic world. Not a bad read under the stars in the beautiful North-woods of Minnesota!
Next year I am taking a respite from my active summer vacating to participate in the 50th year commemoration of the Woodstock Music Festival. Yes, I was at the original one! I don’t know what 70-year-old hippies are capable of, but I wouldn’t underestimate them from doing something crazy. I just hope that it doesn’t involve mud this time around.
Anyway, here is an excerpt from my summer vacation reading:
“The physical exploits of animals dim some of the athletic accomplishments of our world-class sports figures. An ant can lift 50 times its weight, and a bee can draw a load, on small wheels, 300 times its weight. A flea can jump 350 times its own length, and an Oriental rat flea can jump 600 times an hour for three days without stopping. A tiny midge can beat its wings 133,000 times a minute. In relation to their size, fleas are the bounciest jumpers in the world. Some can reach a height of over a foot in a single jump. In jumping 130 times its own height, a flea subjects itself to a force of 200 gravities. Many fleas can jump non-stop for hours or even days on end. At the other end of the spectrum we have the elephant, a monument of strength. With 40,000 muscles in its trunk alone (70 times the number each of us humans have) it can pull down a tree and yet delicately pick up a pin. Though it may not be at the top of our list of favorite animals, the rhinoceros beetle belongs to the family of the earth’s strongest animals from the point of view of relative size. One was found to be capable of supporting 850 times its own weight on its back.”