May 14, 2011
Hello again blog readers and I apologize for the long gap between my postings. I’m presently recovering from minor surgery this past Wednesday and today marks the first day I can sit for more than 5 minutes at my computer without reaching for the Vicodin. I’m recovering quickly from the procedure in my groin area (ouch!) and plan on taking a walk around the block with my hiking poles this afternoon. I’ll just pretend that I’m on a trail on Mt. Tam rather than the paved sidewalks of my Alameda neighborhood. At least many of my neighbors have a lot of wildflowers planted. I do still plan on climbing Mt. Whitney later this summer (August 4th) and I should be doing some real hiking in about 10 to 14 days.
Today’s excerpt is from trip #3 in 2005. This was one of my solo trips. I made it to Trail Camp at 12,000 feet and then descended. It was the one attempt in which I felt I had little to no chance of reaching the top. I’d had several injuries and ailments in the months preceding the climb that prevented me from training consistently. Instead I used the trip as a way of celebrating an important milestone: 10 years of sobriety. My plan was that after the Lone Pine/Mt. Whitney portion of the trip, I’d drive to Las Vegas to hang out with Mike Gibbons and some of my other friends who had moved out there from the Bay Area in recent years. The excerpt centers around my much anticipated dinner at Seasons Restaurant on Main Street in Lone Pine. I’d eaten here after my two previous attempts in ’98 and ’02.
THE MOUNT WHITNEY JOURNALS — Book III — 2005
I’m the first to be sat at Seasons restaurant. If this were Florida, I’d qualify for the Ultra Early Bird. I’m just thrilled that this restaurant is still in business and hasn’t suffered the same fate as the now defunct Caffeine Hannah’s, the Lone Pine coffee house that Mike Gibbons and I visited in 1998. I’m convinced that I am a business jinx and that me loving a place is the kiss of death. In San Francisco alone, I’ve personally condemned my favorite place to smoke a cigar (Alfred Dunhill), my favorite toy store (F.A.O. Schwarz), taqueria (Andale’s) and my favorite bookstore (Rizzoli).
Sitting at the table, I find it incongruous that hours ago I was stumbling down the final switchbacks on the mountain and now I have a crisp, starched napkin on my lap and a white tablecloth on my table. As I’d planned all along, I order a medium rare 8-ounce filet mignon with green peppercorn sauce and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s cooked and seasoned perfectly. I’m sure the wait staff is accustomed to seeing their diners’ eyes roll back in their sockets as they eat their first good meal after days of eating Clif bars, trail mix and freeze-dried stroganoff. I’m no different and at first bite I almost laugh at how sublime it tastes. I was almost afraid that since I now work at Boulevard, I’d find the steak here lacking in quality by comparison, but my fears are unfounded. For dessert I have a decadent chocolate lava cake and a cup of French Roast coffee with two refills. I’m hoping the coffee can keep me awake for at least a couple of hours, otherwise I’ll be back in my room by 7:30, asleep at 7:31, and then up and wide awake at 3 or 4 A.M.
When I get up from the table my legs are stiff and sore, and my calves are cramping. What scares me is that my legs will be even more painful tomorrow during the 3 to 4 hour drive to Vegas and what’s worse is that they don’t have chairs or stools at the Bellagio crap tables and I’ll be forced to stand. I’ve seen some casinos bring a stool over for some gamblers, but those people are usually high rollers or somebody breathing through a tube connected to an oxygen tank. Since I fit neither of those very narrow demographics, I might have to be content with sitting at the twenty-five cent Deuces Wild video poker machines and hope that any cries and screams are from winning a $100 jackpot rather than my legs developing turbo-cramps and charley horses.