We took our new house for a jaunt Sunday evening. A test ride, if you will. First, we brought her to the gas station so she could guzzle a bit on the journey. Then we went out to…what we thought might be the Boxcar Rocks trail head after a super duper yummy meal at my awesome friend and fellow foodie, Fern’s house. (Fern is an amazing Dirty Girl that came to visit me in Alaska [remember cabin, no electricity, no plumbing] and decided to change her life).
On our drive out, we had the pleasure of seeing the Dance of the Planets just above the tree line (although that’s not our picture, it looked almost identical). It reminded me of watching the Perseid Meteor Shower in Afghanistan. Aug 11th and 12th 2009. The 11th was enjoyed from the front steps of the TOC, but on the 12th, there was some scrambling and sneaking, and the splendor was watched from the roof of the building. In the middle of the shower, I remember a flash brighter than the others, then the sound hit. Meteors don’t make sounds as they streak across the night sky. It took a moment for me to realize I’d watched an IED explode. Our transportation crew was out…
I had looked up and handwritten the directions to Boxcar Rocks ahead of time. I even remembered to bring them with us!
No problem, right?
Here were the directions I found on the website:
Finding the actual trailhead can be tricky so don’t try to find this place unless you have a little bit of time!
Head north on Interstate 81 to the exit for Tower City and Williamstown. Take this exit and follow Route 209 South (west). Continue to Tower City and turn left in town at the intersection with Route 325 West. Follow this road for about three miles to Gold Mine Road which will be on your left. (There will be a little country gas station on the right.) Head up Gold Mine Road but take it easy because it is a pretty steep highway and there are two hairpins near the top. Continue over the first ridge and start counting gates. You’ll pass a large parking area with a gate on your left but continue on. Pass by another gate and at the third, park your vehicle as it will be on your left. This is the trailhead.
From Swatara Gap:
Take Route 443 East out of the state park and take a left onto Gold Mine Road. From Gold Mine Road cross one ridge and then near the top of the second you’ll see the road and gate for the trailhead. If you get to the top of Gold Mine Mountain and reach the hairpin turns you’ve gone too far. Turn around and start heading down. The third gate on your left, from the top, is the one you want.
In typical Hurricane style, here’s what I wrote down and brought with us:
81 to Tower City and Williamstown (107). Route 209 South (west). L -in town at Route 325 West. L- Goldmine ( gas station on right). cross one ridge and then near the top of the second. Start counting gates. You’ll pass a large parking area with a gate on left – continue . Pass by another gate and at the third – left.
Hmmmmmm…. Notice any differences?
We were on the top of the second ridge, completely convinced we were where we needed to be.
The next line should be “sleep came easily.”
It took me until 4:00AM ’til I was able to stop spasming and remembering. Tossing and turning.
I woke up easily that morning at 6:30. John was still asleep, so I took the pups for a walk. The morning was incredibly peaceful as an incredible avian chorus announced that they, too, were beginning their day with a beautiful energy. Periodically we’d hear a rustle, and Corky would charge as hard as he could into the trees and shove his nose down a hole while huffing and puffing.
He never caught anything.
I returned to the van, where John was still sleeping. Our plan had been to be on the rocks to watch the sunrise, but that obviously hadn’t happened (I was pretty sure we were at the wrong trail head by this point).
I waited somewhere between meditation and consciousness in the one remaining back seat. I watched the sun rays begin to stream through the trees, painting the forest in a new, golden hue. I listened to nature.
John wasn’t ready to get up quite yet, so I took my yoga mat into the woods with the pups and found a sunny spot to salute the sun as I would have with Reveille. Well, almost as I would have with Reveille, but in a positive, healing manner, one full of self-love and Universal love…
The things I didn’t quite understand while I served those full of hatred and war.
I ran through my sun salutations, downward and upward dogs, warrior poses, side bends, twists, and back bends, feeding my soul through my breath; feeling the warmth of the sun caress my sensitive skin. Smiling slightly. I felt grounded through the dry leaves to the soft, cool earth under my sun warmed mat. Connected to the past through death, the future through the guiding sunlight, I felt renewed and energized.
I returned to the van to find John awake and making coffee. We had some leftovers from the paleo/gluten free bar-b-q for breakfast, and casually drank a cup of coffee con Carolans, filled the thermos, packed a bag full of essentials, and hit the trail.
Walking through the lush greenery, I felt extraordinarily lucky.
Having the freedom to walk, even trot slowly on a natural path is something I had potential to never have the opportunity to experience again.
So many times.
It didn’t matter that we weren’t on the “right” trail to Boxcar Rocks, we were on the right trail for the moment. The Universe and my father confirmed with another beautiful heart. I hesitated, only when the trail took a steep dive down the ridge.
Where you go down, you have to come back up.
I thought of my old running mantra that I used to avoid downhills when tired.
We walked down.
We walked back up.
We returned to the trail head, fired up the van, and visited two separate trail heads before finally finding Boxcar Rocks.
We unloaded the pups and began the quite easy hike to the rocks.
When we first arrived, it was obvious Corky and Lily wouldn’t be joining us in rock hopping, so John volunteered to take them back to the van.
Sitting alone on the closest thing in PA to the Great Wall of China, in the warm sun and light breeze. I broke out my notebook to write, but ended up simply meditating on war, death, Memorial Day, and the growing religion of money. I watched a young couple encourage their young son to climb the rocks. I wondered if that little boy would end up embracing combat or peace in 15 years.
I thought of a young boy, almost ten now, who never got to meet his father.
A song came to mind that used to bring me to tears so very easily. I couldn’t listen to it for years. It still brings a tear to my eye, even today.
I let silent salty emotion pour from the corners of my eyes, streak down my neck, pool in my collar bone. I sent that eager child climbing those big, challenging rocks at which he continued to marvel, “It’s a big as a TWAIN!!!!” all the positive energy I could muster.
I wished with all my heart that he could reach adulthood without knowing war. Maybe he wouldn’t even be attracted to the war-based video games that glorify combat.
John returned dogless, and we began scrambling, bouldering, and rock hopping. We found a nice sunny, slightly dangerous for the balance impaired perch (John helped me get up without falling), and drank our gluten free ciders while having a moment of silence.
I remembered a conversation I’d had to interrupt that an older gentleman in survival school was having with a guy from Brussels. He was claiming, “The Iraq war wasn’t even close to as bad as WWII because the number of casualties is lower.”
I couldn’t hold my tongue, as I’d only been out of combat eleven months at the time.
I sneered, angrily
One death is one death too many in any war. Your son is four, right? In fourteen years, maybe we’ll still be at war. Maybe he’ll join, deploy, and be shot in the face. Then what? The war would still be harmless for you? You’d still support it?
John brought me back to present with a subtle movement.
Cider to his lips.
I felt love for the day, the moment, the man, the Universe.
I didn’t lose grasp of the nagging thought: One man, one woman, one child…One brother, sister, father, or mother lost to greed, hatred, and war is one too many.
I’ve seen war.
It’s time for peace.
Show children how to be peaceful.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
Don’t immediately turn to hateful insults when you don’t agree with somebody or something. Name calling, cursing, and sending negative vibes and hatred are unnecessary, and unfortunately, easily learned.
Live, laugh, love, dance.
Tomorrow’s not guaranteed.