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Tuesday, July 15, 2003

5:20 pm. I can't tell you what the last thing I packed last night was. Every time I thought I was finished, I'd get into bed and almost fall asleep. Just before checking out completely, something would flash across my mind. Something I knew I'd forget unless I got up right now and put it in my bag. Then I'd go back to bed and start over. And over and over.

Eventually I got too tired to do anything but sleep, so I did. Whatever else I forgot stayed forgotten. My last conscious decision was to let myself sleep as late as I needed to. It was going to be a long drive today, and I wanted to get all the necessary sleep out of the way before I got behind the wheel.

That's how I ended up not leaving until almost ten this morning. Earlier I'd toyed with the notion of getting out the door earlier — like six or seven, which might as well be the middle of the night as far as I'm concerned.

This worked out better, though. The traffic wasn't too heavy, and I managed to find all the markers without making a single wrong turn. I came close once, and if there had been a car in the other lane I would have been stuck going to Benicia, but I survived that close call and it was smooth sailing afterward.

It was hot outside, but I wasn't outside. I was inside my air-conditioned Saturn, with the CD changer loaded with six discs I'd made with this trip in mind. Eight hours of music will more than cover the round trip. I was on the lake by two this afternoon, and I still have three discs left for the ride home. Then I'll just start the first one over anyway, so this whole long drawn-out discussion is pointless. But hey! I'm on vacation.

There are six of us on the houseboat today. That's a fairly low number for us, but it fits in with my mellow mood. All I want, at least out of the first day, is a chance to relax. I'm not a strong enough swimmer to jump in the lake and take off, but I did spend a good long time bobbing around with the life vest on this afternoon. All lathered up with sunblock, of course.

We started getting shade on the back deck about 5:00 pm, so that's where we gathered to sit and read and tell stories (about those who are absent; we'll tell other stories after they show up). On the back deck is, in fact, where I'm sitting and writing this. And I'm not taking it for granted at all.

In fact, I'm savoring every moment, while at the same time trying not to think about the life (and responsibilities) I left behind. In fact, let's not even go there.

For one of the first times I can ever remember, there was no music on the houseboat today. It was peaceful all afternoon, and then this evening Eric took his twelve-string up on the top deck and strummed notes and chords and tunes. It was pleasant background music for all of us, but I enjoyed it especially since I haven't heard him play his guitar for a long time.

It was much better than hearing something electric (or electronic) blasting from one end of the houseboat to the other. (I'll admit, though, that sometimes I'm the one who loads the CDs, and I don't always choose quiet, peaceful music. I do like a break from it sometimes, though.)

I started this at 5:20, and I have no idea how long it's been. I haven't kept at it straight through, but I haven't been doing much of anything else, either. For once I have no agenda, no deadline. I had to drive half the day to get to a place where I don't feel driven myself.

Shasta Lake 2003

Shasta Lake 2003.

When I called the boat from the gas station in Shasta Lake City to let them know I was getting close, I used the phone card I bought last week. It was the first time I've used one, and I didn't know you had to listen to so many commercials before they'd let you dial the number. It doesn't seem fair, since I'd paid cash money for the card. Plus, they were docking me four message units just because I was calling from a pay phone.

I won't blame them for the fact that I lost two quarters in the first phone I tried. I didn't realize that no dial tone meant the phone was dead. I thought if you put in the right amount, you'd get the dial tone. Apparently it doesn't work that way. Even the coin return lever didn't work. Well, I haven't used a pay phone in a long time, either.

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