It was getting dark by the time I got back to my car. I called my husband.
“Ummm, yeah. So I don’t think Renee and I should do things together anymore,” I told him.
“Why?” he asked. “What did you girls do now?”
Siig asked that question because he knows that Renee and I tend to get into all kinds of trouble whenever we go on any kind of adventure, even a small one in our backyard. I’ve known Renee since we were 19 years old, when we met our sophomore year at UC Santa Barbara. So that’s almost 20 years of getting lost, stranded, going the wrong way, you name it, if we are together we will almost always do it wrong.
Last night was not the worst of our experiences, but pretty much par for the course. It was Renee’s 37th birthday and she wanted to go on a mountain bike ride. Seemed harmless at the time, but knowing our history we should have known something was bound to happen. About a half hour into our ride, Renee said: “My bike feels weird. How’s my back tire?
One glance at her pancake of a tire, and I knew we were in for our traditional misadventure. “That would be completely flat,” I said with a sigh.
Good news: Renee’s husband, Drew, a former bike mechanic, had attached a bike pump and fix-it kit to her bike. Bad news: we had no idea how to use any of the tools.
Good news: I had my cell phone. Bad news: mosquitos were out in force.
So we called Drew, putting him on speaker phone while he walked us, step-by-step, through the process of removing the tire from the bike, then the tube, and then how to pump the new tube back up. We felt like we were passengers talking to air traffic control while we tried to land a 747. In other words, we were totally clueless, and slightly nervous as it was past 7 at night, and getting dark.
All in all, the situation was much better than other conundrums we’ve gotten ourselves into. There was the time we were hiking the Atlas Mountains in Morocco when we decided that oh, unlike every other single tourist out here, we don’t really need our guide. So we paid him to leave us alone and then proceeded to take the wrong way up to the 14,000 foot peak, falling and tripping our way up the rocks and scree until finally I called it quits even though the top was in sight. It was pretty miserable, although we got a good laugh out of it later once we were safely in a van full of Berbers bouncing along on our way back to Marrakesh.
Another time we were leaving a bachelorette party in Napa Valley, rushing back to Tahoe since Renee was pretty sure she had strep throat. I got on Highway 101 heading north, because of course I thought that Tahoe, being in the mountains and all, was north of Napa. In actuality, it’s east on Highway 80. About two hours in, nearing the Oregon border, we realized our mistake. Needless to say it was a long drive home.
And then there was the time we were hiking in the Tetons in Wyoming. At 5:00 in the evening, we had reached probably 10,000 feet or so and I felt it was time to turn around. It was September and I didn’t want to risk getting stuck in the dark. But I think we were suffering slightly from altitude sickness and didn’t quite have our wits about us, and somehow we managed to lose the trail as we were descending. After crossing the path of a pissed-off moose, we made it back to our car right as the last bit of daylight was disappearing.
Which brings me back to last night. Renee was doing pretty well following Drew’s directions, but it turns out we had the wrong pump so after much trying and cursing and fretting, we said, quite literally, “fuck it,” and decided to walk our bikes back to the trail head. The walk didn’t take us that long and was actually quite beautiful with the pink alpenglow and crescent moon up above, and yellow colors of fall already overtaking the meadow.
And, of course, it was almost dark when we got to the car. But as usual, somehow, yet once again, by the skin of our teeth, we had survived and made it back to civilization.
I am hoping that our misadventures won’t lead us off a cliff, Thelma & Louise-style. But if we are headed in that direction, than I got dibs on playing Thelma. I always wanted a night with Brad Pitt.