This week, after nearly five years, the spacecraft Juno began its orbit of Jupiter, a mind-boggling 1.74 billion miles from its origin. As Juno embarked on its scientific mission in the Final Frontier, I lamented my own station here on Planet Earth, where, thanks to Bix’s on-call status, I was relegated to Cell Service.
I usually hate spending weekends entirely within triangulating distance of a cell tower, but with enough advance notice, we had time to make a list of all the things you can do within thirty minutes of the office and while perpetually waiting for a phone call you hope will never come.
The list includes activities from Climb all summits visible from back porch to Eat every meal at a different quaint coffee shop, which was my suggestion. We live at the magical convergence of foothills and creeks and peculiar mountain sensibility. It’s the sort of place where you don’t think twice when you see someone pedaling a bike down the street with a kayak paddle lashed to their backpack.
On Sunday, we settled on Three sports in one day, which narrowly won out over Mountain bike five different trails but handily trounced Let’s just run hills!, obviously a Bix suggestion.
It was already hot by the time we ran up North Table Mountain, and hotter still when we traded in our trusty mutt for our bikes (“Damn metal-beasts,” says Bodhi) and rode to a neighborhood access point for South Table Mountain. By the time we’d ridden to the top, taken in the view, and made our way home, I was ready to lay in a hammock for the rest of the afternoon.
“I don’t think hammocking is a sport,” Bix said.
We walked down to the creek, inflated our packrafts in an unoccupied baseball diamond in the middle of town, and put in at the whitewater park. The maneuverable little boats make it easy to catch an eddy, even on Clear Creek, which plays it pretty fast and loose with the eddy designation.
I was pleased to find I was marginally better than Bix at something—these moments are few and far between for me, especially as he catches up to me in skiing ability. I smugly congratulated myself as I watched a series of misadventures float down the creek past me, including an unhappy looking dog in a life vest (pulled to safety at the eddy adjacent to the library), two teenagers on an air mattress, and what appeared to be an entire soccer team in inner tubes, each of whom flipped, one on top of the other, on a rapid I’d just managed to run without incident.
Just as I began to mentally pat myself on the back, Bix’s hand-me-down packraft bobbed around the corner, followed in short order by Bix, who managed to grab it and huck himself into the boat just in time to make it through the same small rapid. I was impressed by his moxie, but still couldn’t resist giving him a self-righteous lecture about his ferry angle, which was so annoying of me. (I would pay for this two days later, when I got stuck in a rapid in the whitewater park and had to flip to get out, losing my favorite hat. I deserved it but Bix was very gracious anyway.)
It wasn’t a weekend in the backcountry. We didn’t get away from it all or find solitude or even turn off our phones, because that was pretty much the only thing Bix wasn’t allowed to do. We didn’t get into anything Super Duper Epic, because sometimes—even when you’re a Weekend Warrior—life gets in the way. We don’t have the time (or energy, in my case) to tackle first ascents or explore uncharted wilderness every weekend, but that doesn’t always preclude you from having a hell of a good time.
Next time we’re stuck in cell service, we’re having breakfast at every restaurant in town.