Please tell me this the top.

I’ve been enjoying my relaxation time here in St. Helena. In between shuttling Juliette to and from the airport, I have been going to the gym, eating too well and watching a few movies. I’m not studying as much Spanish as I should but I will buckle down now as I only have a little over a week before I leave for Mexico.

I did get to see my buddy Adam who had moved south from San Francisco to Morgan Hill. The last time I saw him he was single and living in San Fran and now he is married with a baby on the way and has a house in the burbs… so to speak. A huge change but he seems to be taking it all in stride and enjoying his life changes. His wife is considerably younger than he but they seem to have a great relationship and get along well. It reminded me of the sweet early days of my marriage and I had to smile when I thought of all the wonderful joys they are about to experience. I wish them well.

Juliette has traipsed off to India for ten days so yesterday I decided to try out a hike that she had done in her youth. I left the house before 8am and was at the 4,400 foot Mount St. Helena trailhead by 8:30. The mountain is the highest in the Napa Valley and one of the few Bay area mountains to get snow in the winter. I was the only car in the parking lot and the sign read 5.1 miles to the top of the mountain. What it didn’t say was that the vertical rise was over 2000 feet so my 5.1 miles felt like 10 miles on a POW death march in the desert!

By the time I realized that this was going to be a challenging hike, I was already a little tired and half my water was gone. I pushed on, putting one foot in front of the other and trying to convince myself the the burning in my hips actually felt good instead of serving as a reminder of what a fat bag of lard I am 🙂 After about 2 hours, I came to the saddle of the mountain. There were 5 peaks that I could see and chose from and after much debating I started up again headed for the highest peak. I won’t lie, it was a bit of struggle and as I rounded what I thought was the high point, I realized that the north peak was actually even higher. OMG… you mean this isn’t the top!!! The last 200 vertical feet were brutal but somehow I made it to the top, puffing and panting, and crashed out on the rocks to take in the magnificent views.

I took a few pictures and had a quick bite to eat while finishing my water. After about 20 mins at the peak, I started to head back down the mountain and on the very steep part near the top I passed a beautiful blond in running gear who cheerfully said, “Please tell me this is the top.” I assured her that she was close and proceeded to head down the mountain. Then I stopped in my tracks. What the heck am I doing, I thought. There is a beautiful blond at the top of this mountain and I’m walking away!!! So, I turned around and trudged back to the top, claiming to her that I was an idiot and forgot to take pictures… small white lie but fate had put her in my path and the long hike down was going to far more pleasant with her company.

We stuck up a conversation and spent the next hour and a half hiking down the mountain and chatting like a couple of old hens. Turns out that she was not only a very beautiful, smart and complex woman but that she also RAN up the mountain!!!! Ran… I was suitably impressed that a 45 year old woman, one, looked as good as she did and, two, ran up that mountain. Way to go Holly! The walk down was very pleasant and we seemed to click so about half-way down I asked her to join me for a bite to eat. We spent the rest of the day in St. Helena enjoying a good meal, excellent wine and an nice gelato at the local cafe while delving into the details of our lives. We called it a night fairly early but met for breakfast the next morning as she made her way back to Santa Barbara. I wussed out and didn’t ask her to stay the day and play with me… a decision I now regret because neither of us really had anything we had to do.

Will I ever see her again… maybe? She did invite me to stay with her on my way south but I couldn’t tell if she was being polite or if she actually wanted to see me again. Women… amazing creatures but who the hell can figure them out… not me 🙂


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