Today was a good day externally, though inside my head there was a storm going on. I would be walking around, looking at trees or smelling the air or listening to birds, and I would get smacked by a sudden strong desire to be sharing the moment with someone else; to turn to someone next to me and grin and say "isn't this great?"
But there was no one there. And confronting that, and that part of me, was part of this trip. I had deliberately chosen this situation in order to get some time alone to think. Now here I was, and I was thinking, but I was on the wrong track.
I decided to go riding around, to shake myself up a bit.
I rode a few miles up the twisty mountain road and then pushed my bike into the woods on a disused hiking trail. Then I unpacked the camera and began to browse slowly around, composing shots of whatever caught my eye.
It was neat to see the materials of the forest in every stage of their cycle. This tree stump, for example, is actually as fragile as a sponge. If I were to kick it, it would explode into sawdust and termite excrement, and eject a thousand bugs from their high-rise building. If I were walking in a forest near a town, this stump would not be here, because someone like me would have kicked it. Because I know from experience that tromping around a forest kicking things is quite fun!
I pondered as I wandered. After quite a while, I realized that what I needed to do was simplify my approach. I took out my phone and wrote a note to myself:
"Focus on quality of life, you idiot."
Two more of Dan's friends arrived at midday, and brought with them a huge supply of shotgun shells, some additional guns, two large boxes of clay pigeons (orange ceramic disks that can be launched into the air for target practice) and a spring-loaded launcher. As they were setting up their equipment on the far side of the cabin, I had one of them take my picture next to the sign in the front. Because it's got my name on it!
Over the course of the day, Dan and company worked their way through a huge number of shotgun shells and clay pigeons. The sound of gunfire and bad puns and dirty jokes and hoots of truimph boomed around the valley for hours. I went out for another bike ride and could hear them at least a mile away.
After a long day of shooting - photographs and bullets - Dan decided to nod off. I followed suit, and listened to short stories by Arthur C. Clarke and napped in the van.
Later in the day it was time for Dan's famous ribs, on the cabin barbecue. Here he is pointing out how famous they are.
Chomp, chomp, chomp ...
I bedded down in the van, like last night, after walking around for a long time, feeling trapped in my head. When I eventually did fall asleep, I slept quite well. It was wonderful to be in a place where there was absolutely no street noise.