Sequoia National Park - kenkistler

Commitments! Man, aren’t they a killer.

Minor little things like family, friends, and employment keep getting in the way of all the fun. I’m joking! Totally joking. I actually love my job. I’m grateful for my friends, and I’m pretty well convinced I have the best wife and kids in the entire world!

That said, every once in a while a day or two shows up on the calendar when you have absolutely no commitments. There’s no where you have to be, nothing you have to do. When I have those moments, I usually find it a little hard to believe. So, when my wife and I discovered that our Friday and Saturday were empty, open, and void of any set plans, she looked at me and said “Leave.”

For some guys this word might spell trouble or even horror. For me it was only surprise.

“You serious, babe?”

“Yeah. I’ll take care of the boys, you go somewhere and take pictures.”

I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t surprised by my wife’s kind offer. She’s as gracious and giving as it gets, I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t leaving her in the lurch.

“I’m serious, sweetheart,” she said to me again. “Go and have a good time. Come back whenever you want on Saturday.”

Twenty-four hours later my car and I wound our way north into the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. When I saw the welcome sign for Sequoia National Park, I pulled over, folded down the seats in the back of my beat-up SUV, inflated the air mattress and went to sleep.

The car felt cold when I woke and the sky looked dark with just a hint of gray on the eastern horizon. Dawn was coming. I slipped out of my sleeping bag, wiped the sleep from my eyes, and grabbed a cold Starbucks from the cooler my wife had packed. See, I told you she’s pretty great! Forty minutes later I’d driven deep into the park and found my way up a dirt road that led up the side of a mountain. It dead-ended, so I got out and walked.

I went up and up the mountainside till my thighs burned and my lungs hurt from the exertion. I’m an almost middle-aged Junior High History teacher, not Sir Edmund Hillary (the first man to climb Mount Everest, for those of you who aren’t history teachers). It took me a little while to top out on the peak, but what a view. From the peak I could see down the length of the valley I’d driven. Half the valley lay green and yellow in the warm morning light. The other half dozed in the gray darkness of the mountains’ shadow.

The rest of the day filled quickly with short hikes, explorations, and enjoyment of creation. By mid-afternoon I stepped back into my SUV and turned the wheel toward home. There’s something special about being away, but there’s something special about heading back too. Something special about home. Something special about all those wonderful commitments.

Burned Tree in Sequoia Forest