Thing = things = thing. Plural, singular, whatever.

Things that make a homecoming awesome:

  • Registration tags finally arriving 1.5 months after sending in my renewal! Plus evidence that they finally updated my mailing address! (Third time's a charm!)
  • A reimbursement check from the DMV for $6! (I'm assuming this had a part in why it took so long to process my registration, though I could just be overly generous with this thought)
  • A rebate VISA gift card from AT&T for my phone! (I had 2 months to mail in that rebate and didn't think to do it until a few days after the envelope had to be postmarked… I mailed it anyway because I only had a stamp to lose, so, yeah, I'm pretty tickled they gave me the rebate after all)

Things that make a homecoming less awesome:

  • A second notice from my HOA stating I still need to get rid of the weeds in my front yard.
    • Note 1: Admittedly, yes, earlier this year I was having an issue with weeds. I'm not a fan of extraneous chemical sprays, so I usually just pull budding weeds up by hand here and there when I remember, but I kept not being home, so the weeds… got a bit out of control.
    • Note 2: Yet when I got the first notice about a month ago, I actually looked at my front yard and was startled to see that somehow, all my weeds were gone. It's a classic Demetri Martin mystery novel thriller: "Hey, Who Weeded My Yard?"
    • Note 3: So you can imagine my annoyance at the receipt of this second notice, until I saw that they included a photo of the offending weed, whereupon you perhaps cannot imagine the flames of indignation that consequently engulfed me because HERE'S THE THING:
      • The photo was of this tall, willowy tree with pretty pink blossoms.
      • This tree is deliberately planted in the backyards of many of the houses in these neighborhoods, by the community builder.
      • But because it hadn't deliberately been planted in my front yard, because it was a result of a wayward tree seed implanting itself of its own reckless accord and then arrogantly choosing to grow and thrive without applying for a permit to do so, it was considered a weed. A WEED.
      • What's more, the stupid bushes that were deliberately planted? Look more like weeds in that they grow all out-of-control and spindly-like. I never got to choose them and if I ever want to replace them (and I can't just pull them out, they have to be replaced because I have to have X number of plants in the yard at all times), I have to apply for permission to do so.
      • So basically, I'm paying my HOA every month to harangue me about the upkeep of crap in my yard that I never wanted in the first place.

I ended up cutting down the tree, just to shut them up. It was actually really sad for me– I had honeybees visiting that tree daily, but hopefully now they've redirected themselves to the sprawling overgrown mint plant that has completely overtaken an entire corner of my back yard and which I can't bring myself to prune down because of– full circle!– the bees. I have packets of black-eyed Susans and some other really bee-friendly flower seed that I keep meaning to plant, but I can never get the season right. But the bees! The bees, man, I feel so bad for them, and my unkempt mint monster has proven to appeal to at least some of them in the past, so wild and flowering my mint monster remains.

CONCLUSIVE BONUS! Things that make a homecoming a tad speedier:

  • Being picked up from the airport in an RV.
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In which I post news so untimely that I’m writing about it a month later

Did you know that it was National Clean Up A National Park Day on August 23? Probably not, because it wasn't, though that's what Noah and I were telling people on that day because that's what we were doing. The day after we hiked Half Dome in Yosemite, we picked up trash alongside the main road and from the parking lot and hiking trail for Bridalveil Falls.

INTERESTING FACT: the majority of the trash we picked up was Trident gum wrappers, and let me tell you, it got old really quickly. We theorized that either one motherfucker was chain-chewing Trident and strewing the wrappers as s/he wandered about, or that Trident chewers in general are just motherfucking litterbugs. Either way, at least one motherfucker was involved in this populating of Trident wrappers on Yosemite grounds, a sentiment which I openly shared on camera more than once and which resulted in Noah getting reprimanded by the Fiesta marketing people, because apparently my NC-17 mouth was too much for their PG requirements.

DISGUSTING FACT: we also picked up dog poop, twice. The first time it was like a *pound* of shit in a bag that had split open, and the second time it was a solid log that must have come out of a St. Bernard. Or an elephant. The log, by the way, was hidden under a paper towel, so I jumped down into this stupid crevice thinking I was going to retrieve a paper towel for our growing trash collection, only to jump back and scream once it was revealed what lay beneath.

OH YEAH: the final edit of our trash day is on YouTube:

Speaking of Half Dome, though– did you catch that, before you were mesmerized by my fascinating paragraphs about Trident wrappers and canine excrement? We climbed Half Dome! And let me tell you: a 16.4-mile hike doesn't sound so bad because in all honesty, it isn't. A 16.4-mile hike, however, that consists of climbing uphill for 7.2 miles and then climbing downhill for another 7.2 (meaning there are about 2 miles total of relatively flat ground; I know I'm a girl, but I actually can do math), is really fucking hard. Climbing Half-Dome made me realize that I am either really stubborn or really proud, or both, because about 5 miles into the hike I was totally ready to turn around and go back to the car, but did I? No. I kept going.

And do you know what your reward is, for keeping on? A switchback trail where the steps are about 2 feet wide, and in places, one foot high. And do you know what your reward for conquering the switchbacks is? This:

Or, put another way, this:

Halfdome-close-sunset

That's 400 feet of near-vertical climbing. How near-vertical? So near-vertical that there are steel cables to assist the climbers in hauling themselves up. Even better, a storm was threatening to come in right as we got to the top of the switchbacks, and a woman from the NPS was standing at the base of the summit telling everyone she highly advised against anyone going up the cables because it could rain, making everything fatally slippery (going both up and down), AND even if we DID make it to the top, lightning could strike and kill us there. So we could die going up, die once on top, or die going down. Our choice.

Noah and I, however, decided that since we'd gotten this far, and since we were unlikely to do this hike ever again, we'd take our chances. Death by Half Dome: It's Death, Sure, But At Least It'll Get You Mentioned In Wikipedia.

I'd like to take a moment to share some advice. There's a popular rumor that you'll hear, particularly on the trail, particularly in the form of incentivized encouragement, that the view from the top of Half Dome is unlike any other view, that the view alone makes all the effort exerted throughout the entire hike totally worth it.

After we got to the top of the summit, I have to confess, I was amazed by the view. I was amazed because it looked exactly like the view from the bottom of the summit.

ADVICE: if you're in it purely for the view, save yourself the near-death experience, pat yourself on the back after the switchbacks, and call it a day. Better yet, just search the Internet. Not only has the Internet already done all the climbing for you, but the Internet also took pictures! Go climb 8300 steps on a stair-stepping machine and then look at this picture, and that's basically Half Dome, except better, because then you can reward yourself with an ice cream cone. Much to my disappointment, there weren't ice cream cones of congratulations waiting at the top. Which, to be honest, was my secret motivation for doing the climb. Sure, none of the websites *mentions* an ice cream reward for scaling the summit, but I figured it was just secretly understood by the Half Dome elite that ice cream would be there, because why the hell else would people put themselves through the cables? Certainly not for the view, that's for sure.

So, yeah. We climbed Half Dome and survived (also: the storm didn't come in, which made us really glad we decided to risk it because if we'd listened to the NPS lady and turned around only to not have it start raining, we would have been pretty pissed), and what's more, we made the climb subsisting solely on water and one airplane-snack-pack amount of Fresh & Easy trail mix. 

Come to think of it, Noah might have had something else to eat, but all I remember is the trail mix. We'd just finished the switchbacks and I was a super-sized scratchy pair of cranky pants, and Noah was all, "Hey, you should eat something, you'll feel a lot better", and I was all, "No, leave me alone", and he opened the trail mix packet and started eating some and did the whole "Wow, this trail mix is SOOO DELICIOUS, you should try it! Yum yum!" thing that parents do with their finicky-eater kids, and I was still all "No! Fuck off!", and then he more or less shoved some sunflower seeds and raisins into my mouth and I grudgingly chewed and swallowed, and suddenly I was in a much nicer mood. Noah: Wild Beast Tamer. He's available for birthday parties and bar mitzvahs, people.

(In my defense, I didn't actually whine at all during the hike. But I am a very poor judge of realizing when I need to eat something and taking subsequent action.)

So, in conclusion: HALF DOME

  • Was it worth hiking?: Yeah, sure.
  • Would you do it again?: Ha ha, no. [1]
  • Comments?: It's a geology-fanatic's treasure-trove, so that was really cool. The waterfalls were pretty, but you're not allowed to go over them in a barrel, so they're mostly useless.

[1] Surprisingly, not because it was too hard, but because it's really not worth the effort to do it again when there are so many other equally great (or greater) hikes to do– Angels Landing being one of them.