So we were walking along, climbing a hill, on our way to a trail that would lead us to a place called Grace Lake, which I wanted to go to purely because it was going to amuse me to write about visiting Grace Lake instead of writing Grace. I was planning the blog post in my head, about how even though I’m being a terrible writer, I’m having lots of fun experiences.

We’d just seen the eclipse and even though we weren’t in totality, it was pretty damn cool. It hadn’t gotten dark, but the light had definitely changed and there’d been a noticeable drop in temperature. But it was warming up already and the sun was beautifully golden. Nothing like an eclipse for making one appreciate sunshine. There was no real path to where we were going, so we were making our way along rocky ground, through scrubby bushes.

Blueberry bushes, in fact.

I’d gotten out in front with the dogs (three of them, all off-leash), probably because they didn’t care about blueberries and I, having spent hours already this summer picking blueberries, wasn’t all that excited about discovering the random leftover ripe berry on bushes that were mostly over for the season.

I turned and looked back. It was so incredibly beautiful — the mountains, the clear sky, the pine trees — that I pulled out my phone and took the above picture.

And then Reino (in the red shirt in said photo) straightened up. In an absolutely casual voice, he said, “Bear.”

I waited for him to continue the sentence. Bare what?

And then I followed his gaze, out across the hill in the other direction.

Oh. Right. Bear.

No, no, I mean, BEAR!

I did not take a picture. It didn’t even occur to me until later, actually.

Instead, I dropped to a crouch and put a hand on Zelda’s collar. She, of course, was right next to me. I held out a hand for Bartleby, who, upon the indication that a treat might be in store, promptly joined me. He wasn’t overly put-out by the fact that instead of giving him a treat, I grabbed his collar, too.

And then I realized that I didn’t have their leashes. I’d been carrying B up the hill before I set him down to take a picture, so P had my bag with their leashes inside.

So I waited. It felt like a very long time before P made it up the hill to me, but I’m sure it was about a minute. I think we were all torn between wanting to watch the bear and wanting to get the hell out of its way. If it had been going in another direction, we probably would have stood there and admired it, just like we’d been admiring the eclipse. An incredible feat of nature, right? But since it was trundling toward us, or rather toward the blueberry bushes that we were standing among, getting out of its way seemed like a very good idea.

It wasn’t until we were moving away that I realized I was maybe a little scared. I didn’t feel scared, but I know you’re supposed to make noise when you’re around a bear — they don’t want to run into us anymore than we want to run into them. And with three people and three dogs, there was no way a bear would approach us if it realized we were there. All we needed to do was make sure it was as aware of us as we were of it and our encounter would get no closer.

In other words, we needed to sing.

But I could not think of a single song lyric. Seriously, not a one. No Christmas melodies, no hymns, no pop ear worms, nothing. I had nothing. Total adrenaline brain fog.

Fortunately, my singing was not required. But we never did make it to Grace Lake.

Other things I want to remember:

Last Saturday, I met up with some internet friends and played games. (Betrayal At House On The Hill and Fluxx, specifically). It was very fun. I had the occasional moment of thinking that I really didn’t know the people I was with, but actually it felt like I’d known them forever, that I was a casual friend who lived around the corner and dropped in for games all the time, instead of being a real-life stranger.

On Sunday, we drove up to Stevens Pass. P is volunteering at Stevens Lodge this week, basically a hostel-like place for Pacific Crest Trail hikers to stay. It’s the first time it’s been open in the summer — usually it’s a ski lodge — so she didn’t really expect anyone to show up. Reino and I came up to keep her company and watch the eclipse. But some hikers did show up, so we got to meet some people hiking the trail, which was cool. I don’t really understand the desire, personally. But it’s always fun to talk to people who are in the midst of an adventure.

Before the hikers showed up, I was wondering if I could make eggs Benedict in the hostel-style kitchen. Many, many years ago, it was the thing that I wanted to make — the reason I wanted to learn to cook. I spent several months trying, with some moderate successes, but eventually decided it was just too much of a pain. Hollandaise sauce is hard to get right, and poaching eggs is a pain, and the timing of getting a warm toasted English muffin, plus the sauce, plus Canadian bacon, plus the egg, all right at the same time — it was just too challenging. But I’d brought some gluten-free English muffins at a store in Seattle and I was… well, just wondering whether I could get it right now.

Answer: eh, not exactly. My Hollandaise was a little thick, because I didn’t have enough butter, and my eggs kept rolling off the muffins, which I think means they were not quite done enough. And I didn’t have Canadian bacon, so I used prosciutto. Also the gluten-free English muffins were terrible, so bad that I threw away the leftovers. And I dropped one egg on the floor (literally) and destroyed another one, so that it was more like an egg drop soup egg instead of a poached egg.

But! If you want an appreciative audience for non-successful cooking experiments, you should definitely find some PCT hikers. One was a vegetarian so he got spinach with his muffin and egg and hollandaise, and another was gluten-free and very tolerant about the horribleness of the English muffins. Both were perfectly happy with my rather messy Eggs Benedict.

And it was close enough to good that I’m definitely going to keep trying. The Hollandaise is a bit of a problem — how often do I really want to make something that requires an entire stick of butter? It’s not like I want to use eight tablespoons of sauce. But maybe I can figure out how to make it and freeze it.

And this has turned into a very random blog post, downright disjointed, but I am posting it anyway and then getting on with my day. I feel like I have much to do and not nearly enough hours in the day. Today’s plan includes another sous vide experiment, some room organizing, an attempt at a new screen door — possibly very simplified, because my complicated screen door plans have not been working at all, and yes, some time on Grace. Oh, and also publishing a short story. I made a cover for it yesterday and I’m posting it to Amazon today. Hmm, that’s what they call burying the lede. But yeah, I’ll write more about that when it’s actually available. 🙂

How did it get to be Wednesday already?