I know what you’re thinking. Has it been a week already?

Yes, it has! I’m back. I missed you. I have stuff to share. I took over 425 pictures while I was gone, so we better get started if you want to get through this post today.

I’m kidding, of course. But I am going to share a picture from each place I went and also some times when I surprised myself because that’s what I said I’d do. I’m hoping you did something you normally wouldn’t while I was gone, something that made you feel wild, or daring, or happy, or gorgeous. Something wonderful.

Here’s what I did…

Day 1:

Chad and I hooked up with a group of seasoned bike riders for their regular Sunday ride. We rode from Arcata to Trinidad and back, about 35 miles. That I said yes to the ride, despite the fact that I haven’t ridden my bike seriously since breaking my wrist in a spectacular crash a couple of summers ago, didn’t surprise me. I do stuff like that. (The wrist-breaking incident itself happened when I very ungracefully hurtled myself down the side of a mountain on my first serious mountain bike outing ever.)

What surprised me was that I finished. At the end of 35 miles, where body connects to seat, I was not happy, but everywhere else, I was ecstatic. Unprepared, underfueled and utterly out of my league, but happy in that way that only pushing yourself past your edges can make you.

Oh! And for part of the trip, I rode the shoulder of Hwy 101. Riding my bike on a freeway is something I’ve never done. I felt very badass. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures. It was really all about the need to keep pedaling.

Day 2:

I woke up feeling alive, the previous day’s bike ride part of my (ahem) muscle memory. I had this epiphany in the morning (which counts as a surprise, I think), and I visited the (surprisingly) pretty Arcata marshes in the afternoon.

Day 3:

I sort of stumbled into Fern Canyon, located in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. It is more beautiful than my pictures can show you. A creek winds through the center of the canyon, and the fern-covered walls tower over you on both sides. (The second picture has a person in it to give you a size reference). I surprised myself on Day 3 too, but it would take me a long time to explain it. Suffice it to say that sometimes, in an attempt to assuage our own disappointments, we manage to tap into our better selves.

Day 4:

I spent the day with The Boy who isn’t much of a hiker. He’s more of a wander-around-town kind of guy, in and out of interesting buildings, picking up interesting stuff, listening in on interesting conversations. So, in the spirit of compromise we spent the morning wandering around Arcata (where I saw this cutie pie waiting for his people to finish drinking coffee)…

… and the afternoon hiking Patrick’s Point State Park, where I caught The Boy in the midst of amazing (click this one to get the full effect).

Day 5:

We hiked Skunk Cabbage Creek trail, which is more remote and wild than the other trails I’d been on. It is stunningly gorgeous, weirdly prehistoric, and full of frogs. (I love frogs.) We hiked two and half miles to the top of a hill that overlooked the ocean. That’s where we had lunch, and also where The Boy gave me some invaluable tips for surviving the zombie apocalypse.

I know, I said just one picture from each place, but look at this guy!

That night we went here, where they showed two entirely different movies than the ones listed (because that’s how they roll, baby), and I ate popcorn, french fries, pizza and beer for dinner. (Anyone who knows me knows THAT is surprising.)

Day 6:

The Boy’s and my footprints on Moonstone Beach, where we climbed rocks and crawled into sea caves and talked about how vast the ocean is… and also what kind of house we’d live in if we lived in medieval times. (I had some great conversations with The Boy this week.)

Day 7:

Spent the morning in Mendocino, checking out the unique shops. Some, like the kaleidoscope store, were ridiculously cool. Still… I didn’t really get excited until we wandered down to the beach and found the tide pools. Look at this heart-shaped sea anemone!

I had a soul-filling vacation; I needed an inner adjustment and I got it. It left me feeling clearer, more certain of myself and my direction, a step or two closer to balanced. I’m going to try hard to hang onto that.

So now it’s your turn. Did you surprise yourself? What did you do while I was gone?

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