"I love it! This so fun!!"
My mother-in-law turns to me, her face glistening with water, shirt and pants drenched and clinging to her. We're climbing stone stairs next to a waterfall in Yosemite. The 'mist trail' is turning out to be more of a 'rain-storm'. Each time the wind blows, we're soaked with another wave of freezing cold water. We're climbing steep walls of the river carved canyon on man-made stairs of boulders and rocks, all drenched with water.
Mom K keeps laughing. She's using one of the trekking poles we brought for her and Dad; she's mostly steady on her feet. She's 69, barely five feet tall and has the slightly bowed legs from being carried on other's backs until she was 8 (a maid carried her to school each day). I walk up behind her with my hands out, 'spotting' her in case she slips on the wet rocks. She only needs me once.
We finally get beyond the heavy spray and stake out a place in a patch of sun. I've been glancing back trying to spot Jrex and his Dad, but haven't seen them for a long time. While we wait for them, we try to dry off. She's still giggling, I'm laughing both with and at her. Her carefully blow-dried hair drips and curls around her sun visor as she wipes the water from her glasses. Neither of us have a dry item of clothing left, so we're just smearing big droplets into smaller ones. After a couple of minutes, she's ready to go on. I'm concerned about Jrex, worried something might have happened to Dad on the wet stones, so I insist we wait for them, "In case." She nods, "Of course. In case."
After ten minutes or so, Jrex strolls up with his Dad panting beside him. Dad sits down. His face is pasty beneath his sun-bronzed skin. He's been a heavy smoker all his life, and it's finally catching up with him. After drinks of water and photos of the waterfall, we trudge up more steps. At the next break (20 steps later), Dad K wants to turn around and go back down. We can almost see the top, but he's done. Mom K, contrary to any cultural norm that I'm aware of, wants to keep going up. We start to divide up the food so Mom and I can eat something at the top. Jrex insists on going back down with Dad, "in case". As we're digging through the backpack and discussing what I can fit in my pockets and small camera bag, Dad K interjects with disgust, "OK. I go up."
Fifteen minutes later, we make it. After eating, photographing, napping, taking a potty break (great thing about Yosemite--public toilets everywhere! No digging holes or going in the woods), and smoking a couple cigarettes for the road, we head back down. On the way down, when we reach the wet steps, Mom K starts hopping down them like a rabbit. I laughed and told her she was crazy and she agreed!
All told, a three-mile hike took us 'only' five hours...
As soon as I get the photos off of Jrex's computer, I'll post a select few. I went a little crazy with pictures. Dad and I didn't do competitive pics (though if I took one in a certain spot, he was quick to do the same). He didn't like how I off-centered people and took candid photos and he certainly didn't understand why I kept taking close-ups of rocks or tree bark. Actually, Jrex is the master of the super-macro mode and took some really beautiful bark pictures. He's got a great eye, he'd just rather BE where he is than document it.
We're back 'home' though it doesn't feel like home. Not just cause the in-laws are still here, but Jrex and I are realizing more and more that we just aren't desert rats. The dry, brown, or artificial green of California isn't our scene. It just didn't feel like we were coming back to our place. Even the apartment just feels like a collection of our stuff, but not really our home. We have two more years here, which we'll enjoy, but it's not where we want to settle (despite all of Mom K's hints that it would be a good place for us).
Still to come: I bonded a little too well with Jrex's niece.