Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lessons from the T800

Whistle had spent her entire life dealing with one inescapable truth: she looked very wholesome. No behaviors, no matter how bizarre, could sway first impressions away from her awe-inspiring wholesome-ness. For example, wearing a gigantic backpack and completely mismatched clothing, walking alone down a highway in the middle of a desert, unwashed, with a giant silver umbrella perched permanently on her shoulder, was not nearly enough to dissuade strangers. In one mile of highway walking, no less than three separate cars driven by kindly older couples or women pulled over to ask if she needed a hitch somewhere. And even after telling them very politely that, no, she was perfectly fine with being a wandering vagrant and that she was actually on a "trail" that "isn't finished yet", these strangers accepted her word and drove off cheerily, thinking to themselves my, what a charming young lady.

After turning off the highway, Whistle came to one of her water caches, which she knew had far too much water. Opening the box, she hmph-ed to herself, seeing the two gallons she'd left there with Mama Whistle days previously. She was in a conundrum, as she knew she couldn't carry that much out with her, but she couldn't leave it for someone else to clean up, and she couldn't just pour it on the ground, and she couldn't chug it all because she would barf. Luckily, a young gentleman named Tucker pulled off the highway and started unloading his mountain bike. Whistle rushed over to him to start a conversation, and after learning about all the various ways in which Tucker had broken all of his bones in various biking accidents, she asked for a favor. 

"Listen, I know it's not very often that you encounter a long-distance hiker who wants to give something away instead of just trying to get something for free... but can you please take this water?"

Tucker was happy to oblige, and thus it was that Whistle did not have to pour out fresh water onto the sand in the middle of the desert. 

Some time later, Whistle was hiking up a very steep mountain and listening to her audiobook about Russian hikers likely murdered by aliens when she heard a strange sound. She looked up, and there, standing in the middle of the trail at an impossibly steep angle, was a full grown cow. 

Whistle looked at the cow. The cow looked at Whistle. The cow made a judgment call about Whistle, and apparently determining that Whistle was indeed not wholesome enough, jogged up the trail away from her. As the cow turned, she revealed that she was with a calf. The calf followed her mother away from the scary stranger lady. After they scrambled away about 50 feet, they were still directly on the trail. Whistle then had to walk forward, and upon getting within 15 feet of them, the cows fled again. Staying on the trail. 

This went on for some time. Whistle: an unwilling provocateur in the world's slowest chase scene with a cow and its baby. 

Eventually the cow and its baby got tired of being repeatedly terrified of a slowly trudging, completely unthreatening young woman, and made their way off the trail and down the mountain. Upon reaching the peak of the mountain, Whistle saw across a valley, on an opposing ridge, numerous other wild cows, all perched precariously on the steep mountain face. They were like goats. Except they were cows. Big, fat, awkward cows in their natural environment. These cows were not escapees from a farm, they were indeed wild, which is why the two had been so skittish with Whistle's presence earlier. I know you were about to scroll down excitedly to the photos to see if there are any pictures of the cows. There aren't any. Whistle wanted to preserve the cows' dignity. Also, as everyone knows, every picture you take of a cow steals the soul of a hamburger somewhere.

Upon taking her first zero, Whistle watched Terminator 2. She sent me a vox about how when she was 13, she had read the whole series of books by Orson Scott Card starting with Ender's Game. She spoke about how there was a particular part of one of the books that had caused her to think about wanting to have children one day. This led to another series of thoughts, which I absolutely cannot transcribe. You must listen to her words yourself.

If the audio embed doesn't work for you, you can go here to listen to it directly:

Whistle didn't eat any tuna for the entire year of 2014, knowing that she
would want to eat tuna during her CDT hike, and not wanting to
die of mercury poisoning from eating too much tuna.
Whistle was very excited to eat tuna again.

Whistle brought some temporary tattoos.

Whistle describes how being in the desert covers your entire body in a fine,
complete coating of salt and dirt, which cannot be dusted away and must
simply be endured. This makes it very difficult to rub in sunscreen.


  1. Sara Connor had it wrong, your own children can and will lower you into molten steel, mostly in the teenage years. Then later it gets better, then it turns awesome. Love Beth

  2. Terminator 2 = Desire for Family. Brilliant, unorthodox, and touching. That's Whistle all over! :-) Love, Liz and John