As we started our last stretch of drive towards the campground after dinner Friday night, I called the park office to ask for directions. The ranger, along with confusing me with his non-stop ‘this-is-how-you-get-to-the-park’ dialogue, also warned me over and over about bear sightings in the area multiple times just that evening. “I don’t mean to scare you”, he said, “but be warned…do not leave any food outside.” I hung up and relayed the ‘warning’ message to the other three souls in the car only to hear tones of excitement over how we might get to see a real bear! And thus, we started the weekend with a bang. (If you are wondering whether we spotted a bear or not – no we did not. Oh well, maybe next time.)
Saturday was spent hiking. Wild berries and mushrooms, leaves starting to change color, streams flowing from the mountain top, trees uprooted, lake in the valley – all that and more. And we concluded the exhausting day by relaxing near the campfire that night. Marshmallows and oranges to munch on while discussing science, society and Rajinikanth. What more can one ask for!
Sunday was spent driving around the neighboring areas taking in the splendor that mountains are. But before we started that part, we did something that had many people looking at us going ‘you are brave.’
During our hike on Saturday, we had come across this pool of water that was freezing cold (that’s an understatement, as K puts it). As we woke Sunday morning, H was determined that he wanted to go swimming in that area. But as we reached the place and put our feet in the water, he realized how biting cold it was and wanted to give up. Just as we were nudging him to close his eyes and take a dip, there came this old guy, who without second thoughts, jumped into the water and started swimming. Looking at our eyes open wide and jaws drop, he came to us and told us that it’s just the initial shock and that it’s not so bad after. And that was enough to give H the push that he needed. He got rid of his apprehensions and walked right into the water. And man, was he glad! As cold as it was, he said that nothing else can be as refreshing. And before we knew it, K was in the water swimming, and claiming the same.
I sat there, hugging a tree, listening to these two discuss how it feels like million needles pricking their body as soon as they came out of the water. With so much talks about how this is one of the best experiences ever, I thought that the least I could do was wet my hair. So there I was, walking into the water, only planning to go ankle deep, enough to freeze my feet, and help myself wash my hair. But as I walked in, something came upon me and I kept going deeper and deeper, until I found myself desperately wanting to dive right in. And that I did. Not once, not twice but thrice, I think. And this surely did redefine the word ‘refreshed’ for me. The way I felt every time I walked out of that water has no comparison to anything I’ve felt before.
Now, with three of us drenched in ice cold water, it wasn’t hard to push S to do the same. And, no doubt that she was more than happy to have done it!
So, after this invigorating experience, we started our drive through the mountains, with stops every now and then to enjoy it all without any distractions. During one of our stops to sink in the beauty that surrounded us, we noticed the black clouds that hovered above. Thunders, so loud, we heard. Flashes of lightning every few seconds, we saw. Was someone trying to descend from heavens above using the silver ropes of lightning, while hiding behind the veils of mist and clouds, all the while distracting us, earthlings, with roars of thunders? We’ll never know, will we?
We spent some time there taking it all in and then ran to the car for refuge as the first few drops of rain came rushing down. And, oh, were we glad we ran! Because, within seconds, the clouds burst and a hailstorm poured. We sat there as we waited for the storm to pass while eating the apples that S had just plucked from a tree off the road. Bliss, at its best!
We resumed the drive as the storm passed, but as we drove a few miles we realized that we were chasing the storm. So we took a detour, went the opposite way taking a longer route. The best thing about having no destination, setting no agenda, is that we get to do things the way we want to without freaking out about time or anything of the sorts. We drove all afternoon, roamed around in a charming little town in the evening, and had dinner before starting our drive back. And that drive, again, had us going along with the clouds that were pouring generously on us. What better way to relax after The Day We Chased Thunderstorms but by falling asleep to music of rain?
Monday was mostly about wrapping up and driving back. Other than cleaning, packing, and traveling in more rain, the one notable thing about how the weekend came to an end was when I slipped on a banana peel. No I did not fall, but thankfully balanced myself. But that short slip after I put my foot on the peel had both S and K laughing so hard. Apparently, they had only heard, or seen on TV about how people can slip when they land on banana peel and now they got to see it for real. They laughed and laughed, and laughed some more when they narrated the episode to H, who joined the laughter party. Oh well, I shall not complain, for I had a good hearty laughter session myself. What fun!