The intensity! The drama! A Noder is Struck With West Nile Virus! Don't miss it!
A long summer listening to summer music in the southwest Colorado sunshine. The opportunity presented itself for me to work in southwest Colorado for the summer, taking kids on trips into the outdoors - rock climbing, hiking, camping at high altitude. How could I possibly say no? It was my second summer in Durango, working a job which adds up, all told, to just around a shilling per hour. The upside of the gig was that it wasn't really a job per se.
I would wake up at 7:30 every morning to the clang of an old iron bell half a mile away down in the Red Creek valley. The first peal meant that we had half an hour to get our dusty butts out of bed, but those peals were always in vain because the 8 year-old kids that lived in my cabin had undoubtedly been up since 6:00 or so. By 8:00 we were supposed to be at breakfast but I was usually still helping turn shirts rightside in and helping to put on socks. After we finally did make it up the hill to the breakfast area (logs on rocks) the day got off to a smooth start. Everything was carefully programmed by the camp director and then haphazardly executed by the counselors, so things came out okay. In short, It was the greatest summer of my life.
After camp, I decided to find a way to let myself down slowly from my high of living outdoors all summer; the alternative was to go straight home to a job in the real world. I hitched a ride up to Boulder with a fellow counselor (I love you Erica) so that I could go hiking with a good English nerd friend of mine (she's both a good friend and a good English nerd. Okay, exceptional). We spent around three days on the trail up near the CDT and had a great time. However, this trip had a darker, more sinister hidden side to it; bum bum BUM! it was on this fateful trip that I was bitten by a malicious mosquito and infected with the box office hit, West Nile Virus.
The virus incubated for enough time for me to take a Greyhound bus back to Portland to go on another hike, this time in the more agreeable (and green) Pacific northwest. To make a long story short, we brought our lightweight clothes - expecting typical weather - and it rained, hard, the whole time we were out. On the second day (of a projected seven) the trail led us through a parking lot where another group of hikers, out for two days, was packing up and getting ready to leave. Salvation.
Us, Sheepishly: Uh, do you mind, um, well, we were going to hike to Mount Hood but you see we seem to be a bit unprepared for the weather. So we were wondering if maybe you could help us out...
Them: Do you want a ride?
Us: Well, if we could get a ride out to the highway that would be great, then we'll be able to call home or...
Them: Well, where are you going?
Them: What part?
Us: Southwest. Near Multnomah Village.
At this point I leave it as an exercise to the informed noder to put together the rest of the dialogue. Hint: I would never have written this if the story weren't full of wild and unlikely coincidences.
So we got a ride from the middle of the Mount Jefferson wilderness area to within a few miles of my house. We got home and thought, "huh." We had, all of a sudden, a ton of time in Portland on our hands. But that was about to change. Bum bum bum....
All right, fine: I didn't know I was sick at this time but two days after I got back from the woods, I got a fever and don't remember the next five days. Now that is a weird feeling. After many long, slow physical therapy and "speech therapy" (these are the ones where you get to complete a sheet of one hundred simple arithmatic problems while simultaneously answering questions about your dogs) sessions, I find myself back to the point where I could almost go for a jog, as if I would possibly EVER want to do something like "go for a jog." Listen, all you noders: I don't care how eco-friendly you are -- wear deet! It will prevent life-threatening fevers and headaches! It will keep your insurance premiums low! It doubles as cologne!