Everyone has a favorite places. Michelle and I have our favorite restaurant (Brad’s Swingside Café) our favorite wineries (Dusted Valley, Ross Andrew, to name two), our favorite date night spots, and even our favorite Hotel Chain (Holiday Inn Express!). We try new places all the time, but always migrate back to old reliables.
If I was asked about my favorite place of all time though, anywhere in the world, I would answer quickly without hesitation. Aside from snugged up next to Michelle in bed, the place I’d want to be on any given day, is Mt. Rainier National Park.
Monday I got back on the bike for a ride home, leg felt good and I flew! This weekend just flat didn’t work out for mowing the grass, so once I got home, and after a quick run to Rite-Aid (who by the way over charged me by $63!) It was time to mow the grass.
Got it done pretty darn quickly (I just consider it an additional work out), but I came inside sneezing up a storm, eyes burning and needing something to help me quick!! Popped an allergy pill, coupla eye drops and a powerade, and I was 100% better. I never have figured out exactly what it is I am allergic too. However, I do know whatever it is, it is in the area in force in June and July!
By mid July, when summer finally hits, and stuff starts drying out, I am fine. But depending on the year, that month and a half can SUCK! (If I ever meet Mr Clariton, I will by him a case of beer for developing Clariton D! Luckily it is an over the counter drug in WA) One independence Day, I spent the night sitting up on the couch trying to breathe after having watched the fireworks from a grassy field. I was MISERABLE!!
Funny thing though, I haven’t always had hay fever. For YEARS I would watch those around me suffer, and have no idea what the heck they were talking about. But then, July of 1997 happened!
Now I tell everyone I know that I have tried and failed to climb Rainier 4 times, and this is true. However, there was a 5th time. I don’t count it as I never actually started climbing with the guides. I figured out on my own I was flat NOT ready. (This in itself will be its own post another time….)
In July that year, the guys from work I had been considering climbing with, went up the mountain. Since I knew I was out of my league, but wanted to somehow support them in my own way, I went to Rainier National Park to do a simple hike. It made me feel like I was on the mountain with them (just lower down!)
I decided to go to Indian Henry’s Hunting Grounds to see the flowers and the lake and get some views of the mountain.
It was a GREAT day. I was in shorts, a cotton t-shirt (Yes I know, any good mountain climber will tell you cotton kills, but this was a day hike 🙂 )
I brought the camera, a book, a lot of water and planned to stay a spell. Now, I was new at this hiking game. I freely admit it. And I had bug spray with me. In fact, I sprayed it on my arms and face, as well as my legs. What I didn’t do was:
Spray my clothes
Bring the spray with me.
So there I was sitting, reading a bit, taking pictures. It was a great day. Little did I know I was the only meal for miles. so every mosquito within smelling distance was heading my way. I flat never noticed anything at all. Never saw one on me. Nothing, that is, till I got home. This is no exaggeration, I counted them, I had over 50 bites on my chest alone. Those suckers bit me right through my t-shirt! It’s a wonder I didn’t pass out from blood loss!
Now I am a guy, and being a guy, I HATE going to the doctor… (Now THAT is also a story for another time!) but this time, the itching was driving me nuts!! I even stayed home from work! The doc gave me some industrial strength cortisone cream, and some horse bill antihistamines. Even with that, though, I was hating life for over a week.
A month later, I felt one of those bastards on my arm, and smacked him one, but NOT before he bit me! Again, this is no exaggeration. That one bite, on the arm caused half the welts on my chest to come back. That’s how sensitive my body was to the bites. I was not a happy man, but there wasn’t a darn thing I could do about it.
A year later, was the first time I had hay fever. I am convinced that the skeeters threw something in my body out of whack, and made it more sensitive to pollen. I now understand what all those people were going through while I was sneeze free. Now I have multiple sneezes, stuffed nose, burning eyes, the works!
Since then I have gotten smart. I love hiking in the winter, no bugs! No bugs mean no bites! In the spring and summer, when hiking, I bathe in the strongest bug spray I find! I would drink the stuff if I could. And I never EVER hang out right on the shore of a mountain lake anymore… I prefer windy ridges where the bugs can’t get me!
I’ve also had to detour to a drug store more than once for drops or bills. Last Summer, Michelle and I were in Oregon, and I was struggling. We went for so Clariton D, but my neighbors in the south require a prescription to by it? REALLY? I had to get the wimpy regular stuff, so I tripled the dose and survived till we got home!
It’s hard to be an outdoorsman with allergies, but as long as there is Clariton D and DEET, I will take my chances!