Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Real Regular Day

My shuttle bus seat is small, because I'm not. That's often the case
with seats, doors and the like. I'm a large person and regular stuff
doesn't fit my regular.
I try to stand between me and my immense bounty. I'll bike ride,
paddle, hike, climb, swim or take steps (450 of 'em in Wind Cave) to
explore and enjoy the world. Frankly, I often do it slower than
regular people, or with more gasping. But I get it done. And I love
getting it done.
Today, I'm on a shuttle bus to explore a dinosaur fossil field 5,000
feet up in the Utah mountains. It's a part of the Dinosaur National Monument, a federal park in the upper eastern corner of Utah, on a
border shared with Colorado.
We ride halfway there, then hike a 1/2 mile up into the craggy
mountains in search of the remains of the largest creatures to ever
hang out on Earth.
I look around. There are six other people. No one else squishes out of
a seat. Just me. OK. Game plan A: keep up with the crowd, no matter
what, so I don't stick out. Pretend to be regular.
My group of seven plus our park ranger (a college intern) hop off the
shuttle and begin our ascent. I take up the rear (so no one can hear
me pant).
This isn't bad, The initial ascent is minimal (See the picture? That's
my crew and I'm lagging behind). We hike through three distinct
ecosystems and millions of years of the earth's history. Along the way
the ranger stops us for a chat, to explain the rocks, the mountains,
the dinosaurs. To transform us into amateur paleontologists,
archeologists and geologists. And to rest! Catch our breath! Then we
move on.
As we near the dinosaur field, the pitch becomes steeper, more
challenging. We see fossils, small ones, and learn how to find other
ones. The ranger promises big discoveries. Up there. She points up. To
the trail that goes up. It's a switchback path. With very steep steps
at the end. And it's at the end, she says, where the biggest fossil
can be found.
Bait. She's dangling bait to get us to climb. I go for it, of course,
and I pant my way to the very end, where I see and feel a 6-foot
section of dinosaur femur, just hanging out in the rock face, where
it's been for millions of years. My reward. So worth it. (I didn't get
a picture. Go figure.)
I turn to scramble down and I see a startling sight. Three of the
regular people on this adventure ignored the bait. They're sitting on
a rock ledge. Resting. They've had enough. The steep climb back down
scares them, so they don't climb up. And miss the catch.
OK. This is a big lesson for me. I can climb up and down this mountain
because I want to. Because I challenge myself to do it. Not because
I'm overcoming obesity.
It's because I want to.
So I do.