Friday, September 4, 2015

Terrariums and Fossils

It is difficult to pinpoint when my love of the mountains and being outdoors began but I was reminded of one time in particular on a recent run with my friend Christie.  As with many long runs in the mountains conversation end up all over the place at some point she was talking about a terrarium which brought me back to when I was a kid.

For those of you not lucky enough to be an 80's kid they were essentially a glass box that you put plants, dirt and rocks in.  We had two hexagon versions (similar to the picture) that were at both ends of the couch in the front room and were used like side tables with a lamp on them.  Each week one of the chores in the house was to dust them and carefully remove the top for watering.  I don't recall when they were finally removed but in the bottom of one of them was a very special piece of shale.

In the summer of 1982 our family went to Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada.  We were there for the annual Anderson family reunion.  While we were there we had fun camping and exploring Lehman Caves.  One day during our stay my mom decided she had had enough of staying in camp and watching kids.  She told my dad she was going out for a hike and on her way out I asked if I could come.  I don't recall the exact conversation but as a parent of 4 children myself I imagine it went something like this....

I am not sure you understand what 'Mom' time is, Ryan.  It is where Mom's leave and spend time alone to relax and get away from kids.  

I was relentless and wanted to go though.  She ended up telling me I could come but she wasn't going to put up with any complaining or whining.  Check, let's go!

I don't recall what we talked about or what the trail was really like but I do remember how much fun I had spending time with my mom.  Since it was just the two of us it made me feel special that I got to go and I wasn't going to ruin it by being a whiner.  I was 8 and don't recall that I was a big whiner anyway but she would the definitive source on facts like that.  While we were out we found this piece of shale that had a small plant fossilized in it.  It was quite a find and we had fun showing it to everyone when we got back.  This piece of shale was placed in the terrarium in our house when we returned it was a weekly reminder for me of the fun time we had for years.

Me and Dad
During our trip, there was a group of us that climbed Wheeler Peak which is near the campground where we stayed.  There were two kids that made it to the top that day.  I was 8 and my cousin Pam was 9.  It was a gorgeous hike and the view from the top was amazing.  It was the end of July and there was still snow all around.  While I was looking up information on Great Basin National Park and Wheeler Peak I realized that it is the highest point in the surrounding 180,000 square miles at 13,063 feet. Not bad for an 8 year old!

When I topped out at 11,000 feet at Speedgoat in 2012 I thought that was the highest I had ever been in the mountains.  Going into the race I wasn't sure how my body would react.  I felt great afterwards and came to the conclusion that some people are ok with high altitude and some aren't for whatever reason.  I have lived in Boise most of my life at about 2,700 feet so 13,000 was a big jump that day.

Top of the world that day

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