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Category Archives: Inspired Adventures

This is a semi-regular series here at Adventures in Borkdom. It chronicles adventures I have that are directly inspired by the books I read.

Out of True by Amy Durant Lucy's FootballThis latest Inspired Adventure comes from my reading of Out of True by my friend, and fellow blogger, Amy Durant. Here is Goodreads’ synopsis of the book:

The poems in “Out of True” flow through the stories of life and love, deep feeling and light perspective, all with a foundation in the elemental core of the human spirit.

A few concessions are in order. First, I am a friend of Amy’s. I adore Amy’s blog Lucy’s Football. I also engage in lots of good conversation with Amy on Twitter and email. Amy is one of those people whom I know I can ask for advice, ask a silly question, or just commiserate with, and will always receive a truthful, thoughtful response. She is very real, she is very true.

Second, I hate poetry. No. Correction. I have always proclaimed that I hated poetry until I “met” Amy on the internet, and she guided me gently into exploring poetry. I am learning about poetry, and Amy has been my teacher. She is an expert in poetry, and has provided me with recommended reading lists, as well as guidance in my own poetry instruction as a teacher.

Third, going along with my second concession, I am NO poet. I winged it when I was assigned poetry in creative writing classes, and would boast that “I write poetically in my short stories, so it’s all good. I’ve got lots of poetry in my writing.” But, I don’t. I just write and try really hard to sound poetic with a lot of repetition and seeming rhythm in prose. But, I’m not a poet in any way, shape, or form.

So, with the concessions out of the way, let me also say this: Amy’s poetry spoke to me. To different parts of me. And, I found, that every time I picked it up and read it, I found a different statement there. Duh, Mandy. There’s a bunch of different poems with different themes and different topics in that book. Yes, this is true. But, I guess it’s like what everyone tells me about art (another area I “don’t like” because I struggle with “getting it”): it’s different for everybody. And just as I find with Shakespeare, every time I read it, depending upon who I am at the moment I read it, I get a different story. Or, in this case, a different poem.

Reading Amy’s poetry truly was an adventure in itself. As, I said, I’m a coward when it comes to poetry. I struggle with just taking it in, swirling it around on my tongue, and letting the flavors reveal themselves. But, I took my time with each of Amy’s poems, and found that I got it. Amy’s poems revealed not just who she was, but helped in revealing who I am. I forgot that writing can have that kind of power. That’s the whole reason I switched to an English major in college: I was trying to make sense of my own life, and literature acted as a guide. Amy’s poetry had power for me, just as my first reading of Hamlet did.

In particular, Amy’s poems concerning her searches into the past, trying to make meaning of people and events that happened many years ago, REALLY spoke to me. I am a nostalgic person by nature, and I have a tendency to wonder “what if?” and “who are they now?”. And, I wonder if they feel the same way. I found myself pondering the children of my past when I read Amy’s poetry, and I’d like to venture into this theme with Amy’s guidance.

Therefore, this Inspired Adventure will be two-fold: I will overcome my fear of poetry and putting my raw feelings on the printed page, and I will explore my own feelings of the past.

Looking to the Past

Remember: once upon a time, you knew what it was to laugh

– Amy Durant, “If I Disappear, Here is How to Find Me”

When I read Amy’s “Class Reunion 2002, Photo 23 of 30”, “Downed Wires”, and “If I Disappear, Here is How to Find Me”, I realized that I wasn’t the only one looking to the past. Amy writes of people of her past, who, in the present, are barely recognizable. Yet, she still sees them for who they once were; she still remembers. Sometimes, she seeks these memories, and sometimes she seeks these people. I found myself when reading Amy’s words.

I’m an Air Force BRAT (Born, Raised, And Transferred). What that means is that, for most of my young life, I had to move from town to town every four years. I would make friends in one place, only to be uprooted and repeat the process in a new place. This was pre-email, and my friends and I weren’t exactly good about keeping in touch.

This upbringing had an enormous effect on me as a person. I am very reserved when meeting new people, feeling them out before deciding to move forward in friendship (or dislike). Also, I have an addiction to moving–once my Dad got out of the military, I still felt an urge to move every four years, and did so (and might do so again, soon). Finally, I have a severe case of nostalgia. I feel like so many stories in my life are incomplete. What happened? What did I miss? What are my friends and peers doing?

Facebook solves that problem for the people in my life from the last 15 years or so. But, what about my childhood? I still dream about the kids in my elementary school in Oklahoma. I’m still living my life as a 10-year-old when I go to sleep. It probably doesn’t help that I still sleep with the teddy bear I got when I turned 10.

I’m very fortunate that I have very fond memories of my childhood. Growing up in a small town in Oklahoma was the best upbringing I could ever ask for. It was very simple and pure. We had fields to run in, fossils to unearth, and street lights to gage our time by. I don’t hide from my memories, but rather relish them. Being a grown-up sucks. What I wouldn’t give for the wonder I felt at discovering an abandoned tree house in the woods. The fear that the red clay sucking at my shoes was actually quicksand. The simplicity of stressing over a spelling test. Those were the good days.

I don’t think that I’m an anomaly for looking to the past. Whether we shirk it or seek it, we are living, breathing encyclopedias of certain pasts. The people we encounter, whether we want them to or not, live within us. I think about this a lot. The people who are, perhaps, “nobodies” in their current lives, are absolutely huge “somebodies” in my life. And, they don’t even know it. Amy’s writing has encouraged me to share about these important people in my life who live every day within me and my memories, even though I haven’t seen or had any knowledge of them in the last 22 years.

Poetry Class

I sing the hey nonny nonny, I drop my flowers

into the river and I think about whether or not

I would sink or I would float; the wind stopped

being southerly for me weeks ago.

-Amy Durant, “Channeling Ophelia”

Now, for the moment I dread: putting real feelings down on paper and sharing it with the world.

My defenses go up. I’m thinking Hey man. I’m just an Engineering School dropout who likes to read books. What business do I have with writing poetry? I’m into logic, not art.

But, this is an adventure, so I’ll do it!

Amy uses a lot of literary references in her poetry (see Amy’s allusion to Hamlet above), which I love, so I’m going to try to do that.

Also, I’m going to write something in response to her poems. Because, Amy, who’s to say that there isn’t someone out there searching for you? Thinking about you, writing poetry about you? Remembering the beautiful girl that you once were (and still are) and wondering who you are now?

So, here it is. Gulp. My poem. Inspired by Amy Durant’s Out of True. I’m no poet. Please don’t blame Amy. She’s just my teacher. Check out Out of True: it is an amazing, raw collection of poetry that I’m sure will speak to you as much as it did to me.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. But, this is true for me.

The Immortals

Immortality comes from remembrance.

That’s what I believe.

Shakespeare was not for an age, but for all time.

And all that jazz.

My mind constantly returns to my immortals.

Melanie, who loved unicorns.

Tommy, with a lisp, who loved Def Leppard.

Curtis, throwing up on his desk.

Brian, Nelou, Bill, and Danny.

These children will always be children to me.

They will always be remembered by me.

Do they remember the girl who moved away?

The girl who almost won the spelling bee?

I haven’t forgotten who you are. I know your dreams.

You may not have become the star pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.

You might have gotten knocked up in high school and never lost the weight.

You might be dead.

But, you’re not. Because I remember you.

And you are always perfect. And always beautiful.

Montag was the Book of Ecclesiastes.

I will be

Daniel, with the best hair, who made me too shy to talk.

Seri, with the homemade acid-washed jeans.

Tommy, that sweet boy whom I see in all of my struggling students.

Casey, who seemed to have the best of everything.

Danny, who wanted to take me down to the Paradise City where the girls were green and the grass was pretty.

Robert, the poor, starving boy with the thick Okie accent and a jar of pickles for lunch.

Steven, who knocked my tooth out. I haven’t smiled fully since.

C.B., the coolest, MTV-watchingest kid, who better be awesome now.

Valerie, the genius girl who taught me that reading was cool.

Bill, the best guy in the whole world.

Brian, the boy every man has had to live up to.

Jeff, the Webelo.

Scott, the rascal.

Kerrie, the girl who wanted to make the Barbies have sex. Ick.


Nelou, the girl who taught me that it was possible to have it all and still come from nothing. You changed my world.

Along with Amy Durant’s writing, my feelings are perfectly encapsulated by the following:

“Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” by Pearl Jam


“I Was There” by Green Day

You can buy Amy Durant’s book Out of True here at Amazon, here at Barnes and Noble, and here through Luna Station Press.


This is a weekly series here at Adventures in Borkdom. It chronicles adventures I have that are directly inspired by the books I read.

As many of you know, a major portion of this summer’s reading has been centered on Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I read these books along with SJ and the gang in participation of Putting the Blog in Balrog readalong. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and PtBiB concluded this last Friday with our final drinkalong to Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King. I was sad to say goodbye to this project, but at least I got in one last huzzah–an adventure inspired by “The Battle of Pelennor Fields” from Tolkien’s The Return of the King.

TThe Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Ringshe third part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic adventure THE LORD OF THE RINGS

The armies of the Dark Lord are massing as his evil shadow spreads even wider. Men, Dwarves, Elves and Ents unite forces to do battle against the Dark. Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam struggle further into Mordor in their heroic quest to destroy the One Ring.

The devastating conclusion of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic tale, begun in the The Fellowship of the Rings and The Two Towers.

On Sunday afternoon, I took to San Diego’s Morley Field to witness a different kind of field battle –Live Action Role Players (LARPers) taking part in the Battle of Morley Field!

Admittedly, I didn’t just go to Morley Field to relive my favorite scenes from The Return of the King. I have heard about the Morley Field LARPers all year from my friends and husband and have been dying to watch. I just needed a reason.

LARPers at Comic-Con

The Knights of Terre Neuve at Comic-Con

I have been a little obsessed with LARPing ever since I first saw the battling knights on the mezzanine terrace at Comic-Con five years ago. There is nothing better than taking a much needed snack break outside of the convention center, resting one’s tired feet, to the sounds of battle. Sword hitting shield. It’s awesome.

Darkon LARPing documentary

Then, I came across the wonderful documentary Darkon, which profiles a group of LARPers who participate in the massive LARPing game Darkon. If you haven’t seen this documentary, I highly recommend it. Finally, I have been anticipating the release of the movie Knights of Badassdom, which stars Ryan Kwanten (Jason Stackhouse of True Blood), Summer Glau (of Firefly) and ….wait for it….PETER DINKLAGE (Tyrion, duh) as LARPers who have to fight demonic forces. Actually, check out the trailer (I just re-watched it). THERE ARE A TON OF AWESOME FOLKS IN THIS MOVIE! WHEN IS IT COMING OUT? I WANT MY DINKLAGE!!!(I think it was supposed to come out last year, but still hasn’t!). Here’s the trailer I saw at Comic-Con ’11:

Ok, back on task. As you can see, this Inspired Adventure was a win-win for me. So, I set off to Morley Field around 2 pm on Sunday, excited to get a LARPing fix.

As soon as I first took my seat under a shady tree, I started picking up on the rules of the game and the characters involved. Apparently, there were two teams: Team Carl and Team Pokey (?), comprised of a rag tag bunch of players in full gear and players in street clothes. All bore either a two-handed foam weapon or a one-handed weapon with a shield. Also, all were men. Once the game started, the dudes would attack, balls to the wall, scrapping against each other with their foam weapons. Ahhh the sounds of battle:

“Are you dead?”

“I died a while ago.”

Across the field: “Is Elias dead?”

“I said, I died a while ago!”

Apparently, when one fighter receives a mortal wound (presumably a hit to the head, back, or chest), they drop to a knee, count slowly to five, and then it’s game on again. Extra lives, just like in Zelda!


“Hit harder!” Exile is on the right…

One fighter stood out, a cocky dude with a two-handed weapon, called “Exile”. He was barefoot, wearing some sort of drapey, homemade pants, and he clearly loved to battle and enjoyed an audience. In fighting with the newbs (the guys in street clothes), he would command, in obvious irritation, “Hit harder!”. There was never any question when he was out of the fight, because he would yell out “Exile’s dead!”. Thus, why I knew his name.

I think Exile was the Boromir of the crew.

After this somewhat disorganized melee, the group took a short water break, and then the real battle began.

All of the fighters took to the field and then split into two groups: the experienced and the inexperienced. It was now time for real battle! I imagined the Pelennor Fields…


The Southrons


LARPThe Northmen

Great was the clash of their meeting…

But, the white fury of the Northmen burned the hotter, and more skilled was their knighthood with long spears and bitter. Fewer were they but they clove through the Southrons like a fire-bolt in the forest.

And behold! There were two Eowyns amongst the ranks of Northern men:

“But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn. I am, Eomund’s daughter.”

And now the fighting waxed furious on the fields of the Pelennor; and the din of arms rose upon high, with the crying of men and the neighing of horses.

And in that hour the great Battle of the field of Gondor was over; and not one living foe was left within the circuit of the Rammas. All were slain save those who fled to die, or to drown in the red foam of the River.

And now, it was the fighters’ water break, and I decided to depart (I felt a little shy watching them and taking pictures. Plus, I was almost hit by a thrown spear). So, I returned to the car. As I walked, I thought about how much fun those LARPers were having…and how much exercise they were getting. It seems to me that LARPing is a way better form of recreation than hitting the gym! I think these guys are onto something…

Once I got to the car, I got one more LoTR fantasy: my own personal Legolas:

Jesse practicing his archery.


This is a bi-weekly series here at Adventures in Borkdom. It chronicles experiences I have that are directly inspired by the books I read.

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery L.M. MontgomeryToday’s Inspired Adventure comes from my reading of the well-loved classic Anne of Green Gables, a young adult novel, written in 1908, by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Here is Goodreads’ synopsis of the book:

As soon as Anne Shirley arrived at the snug, white farmhouse called Green Gables, she knew she wanted to stay forever… but would the Cuthberts send her back to the orphanage? Anne knows she’s not what they expected — a skinny girl with decidedly red hair and a temper to match. If only she could convince them to let her stay, she’d try very hard not to keep rushing headlong into scrapes or blurt out the very first thing she had to say. Anne was not like anybody else, everyone at Green Gables agreed; she was special — a girl with an enormous imagination. This orphan girl dreamed of the day when she could call herself Anne of Green Gables.

This was a re-read for me, and I am so very familiar with the plot and characters of the story, that reading it again was like coming home. I was first introduced to Anne via my childhood obsession with the mini-series, directed masterfully by Kevin Sullivan. I watched this, the subsequent mini-series Anne of Avonlea, and then the TV series Avonlea (as titled on Disney Channel) anytime they aired. In college, I was thrilled when my Dad bought me the VHS copies of all three (unfortunately, they’re warped now due to too much use). However, it wasn’t until I started teaching that I decided to actually read the books. I don’t know why I never thought of it before, because these are, of course, even better than Sullivan’s adaptations.

Throughout all of my viewings and readings, one scene always stuck out to me–Diana getting drunk. Oh what a fiasco that “little girls playing tea time” ended up being. Instead of giving you a synopsis, I’ll just show you Sullivan’s rendering of the scene, which he pretty much nailed on the head:

Tragically, Anne was banished from Diana’s life for a good chunk of the year after this mishap. It was an honest mistake, yet Diana’s mother truly believed that Anne was a terrible little girl who intentionally intoxicated her daughter. I’ve always wondered how easy this mistake was to make. When I was a kid, I always knew the difference between a Coke and a rum and Coke…anyone who saw my face after I mistakenly took a sip from my mom’s glass would know it by the wrinkling of my nose. How did Diana not know? And what’s raspberry cordial anyway?

“Diana Is Invited to Tea with Tragic Results”

There’s a bottle half full of raspberry cordial that was left over from the church social the other night. It’s on the second shelf of the sitting room closet and you and Diana can have it if you like.

– Marilla Cuthbert, page 147

So, I decided to try my hand at making some raspberry cordial, and, if possible, getting my hands on some currant wine to make a comparison between the two red beverages.

First, the cordial. I did a quick google search on raspberry cordial, and second on the search list was a recipe for “Anne of Green Gables Raspberry Cordial Recipe” from The recipe comes from the Anne of Green Gables Cookbook by Kate McDonald, so this must be the best and most accurate recipe to be found.


2 (300 g) packages of frozen raspberries

1 1/4 cups of sugar

2 lemons

6 cups of boiling water

Raspberry Cordial Anne of Green Gables

It required only four ingredients which were readily available at my local grocery store. To be a bit more Marilla-like, I chose to buy only one package of frozen raspberries, and then two packages of fresh raspberries, since they’re in season and all. I bought these on Sunday, and unfortunately by Tuesday, when I planned on brewing, one package of raspberries had gone moldy. A very Anne-predicament, if I do say so myself. Of course, Anne wouldn’t have noticed until the last minute when they were already in the pot, would be too scared to tell Marilla, and then once some fancy visitor like the minister’s wife or her teacher Miss Stacy is invited for tea, and goes to take a sip, Anne would exclaim “Stop! Don’t drink it! It’s full of mold!”

I am a bit quicker on my feet than Anne, I guess, because I just supplanted a package of blueberries that I already had in the fridge. So, I was making Partially-Blueberry Raspberry Cordial now.


1. Put the unthawed raspberries into a saucepan and add sugar.

2. Cook on medium, stirring occasionally until all the sugar has dissolved.

3. Using a potato masher, mash the raspberries and syrup thoroughly.

4. Pour the mixture through a strainer, extract all the juice.

5. Squeeze two of the lemons and strain the juice, add it to the raspberry juice.

6. Add the boiling water to the raspberry juice.

7. Allow the cordial to cool, then chill it in the refrigerator.

Raspberry Cordial Anne of Green Gables

1. I put the berries and sugar in a pan…

Raspberry Cordial Anne of Green Gables

2. Cooked on medium until the sugar dissolved…

Raspberry Cordial Anne of Green Gables

3. Smashed up the berries to the best of my ability…

Raspberry Cordial Anne of Green Gables

3. Almost done?

So, I started the cooking of the berries and sugar, and by the time I got to Step 3, I realized that I wished this recipe was more informative. It could use some time guidelines. I mashed up the berries to the best of my abilities, but how long did it need to cook? Oh well, I just went ahead to Step 4, assuming that once all the berries were smashed, it was long enough. Steps 1-3 took about 10 minutes.

Raspberry Cordial Anne of Green Gables

4. Poured the mixture into a strainer…Watch out for raspberry splashes!

Raspberry Cordial Anne of Green Gables

4. Straining…straining…straining

Raspberry Cordial Anne of Green Gables

4. That’s it! No more! I’m done!

Step 4 is the worst of all possible recipe steps! I hate squeezing juices through a strainer! So tedious. The thing is that it’s a lot of work–constantly stirring the fruit around the wire mesh of the strainer, all the while trying to press the juice through. This process easily took 15 minutes, if not longer. Also, it’s very messy. I forgot that I was wearing a nice work shirt, and ended up getting little drops of raspberry juice splattered on the front. Those probably won’t come out, will they?

Raspberry Cordial Anne of Green Gables

5. Squeezing Lemons

Raspberry Cordial Anne of Green Gables

6. Added the boiling water…

Now, it was easy breezy. I squeezed the lemon juice in and poured the 6 cups of boiling water. Voila! Now it was all about cooling. I waited about 20 minutes longer for the cordial to get cool enough to pour into containers. Once it was cool, I had a new dilemma: what to store the cordial in? I didn’t want the red stuff to stain any of my plastic containers, so I decided upon two glass milk bottles that I had left over from a few “fancy milk” buys at Whole Foods.

Raspberry Cordial Anne of Green Gables

7. Slightly cooled and bottled up!

Once poured and sealed, I placed the bottles in the fridge for 24 hours to cool.

Raspberry Cordial vs Currant Wine: What’s the Difference?

Anne, you certainly have a genius for getting into trouble. You went and gave Diana currant wine instead of raspberry cordial. Didn’t you know the difference yourself?

-Marilla Cuthbert, 154

So, the next task was finding currant wine. That was not an easy google search. I sought it out the day before, and all I found were really expensive bottles being sold at wineries far away. I was going to have to pass on the taste test. That’s when, as Marilla would say, Providence stepped in.

When I put the bottles of raspberry cordial in the fridge to cool, I noticed the bottle of red wine I had bought and drank from last Friday. I bought it because it was supposed to be a really good variety of mead, recommended by an employee at a local wine seller (not a liquor store–this place sold only fancy-pants stuff), and I only drink mead when I watch Lord of the Rings movies, which I was doing last Friday. Anyways, I examined the label, and lo and behold! It was currant wine!

Raspberry Cordial Anne of Green Gables

Currant wine? Right next to the ketchup and salad dressing of course!

Doesn’t that just beat all?! So, I was prepared for the comparison test.

Raspberry Cordial Anne of Green Gables

Raspberry Cordial vs Currant Wine

Twenty-four hours later, I pulled out the cordial and the wine. I poured them into matching glasses, and analyzed the traits of the two. Here were my findings:

Homemade Raspberry Cordial:

Smell: A very strong, delicious raspberry scent.

Color: A nice red raspberry color.

Taste: So good! Sweet and luxurious, I feel as if I’m spoiling myself. It definitely tastes just like raspberries!

Moonlight Meadery Embrace (Currant Wine):

Smell: Acidic and definitely alcoholic. No hints of raspberry at all.

Color: Deep purple, almost black.

Taste: Ugh! How did Diana fall for this? It’s dry and full of tannins, and would only taste better if I mixed it with the raspberry cordial!

In my opinion, Diana must’ve

A. been lying when she said she had drank Mrs. Lynde’s raspberry cordial before. Unless, Mrs. Lynde was slipping her a mixed drink.

B. never tasted alcohol before (this seems likely in Avonlea, especially with Mrs. Barry as a mother).

C. possibly never really tasted raspberries before either, because currant wine doesn’t taste ANYTHING like raspberries! Meanwhile, raspberry cordial tastes as if you’re drinking up a whole bush of the berries.

Raspberry cordial is delicious, and this recipe was relatively easy. If anyone likes sweet juices, or would like to make a really good mixer (I’m thinking the cordial would go good with vodka), I recommend making your own cordial as well. It only cost the price of the raspberries, which wasn’t much, and it made a whole lot. And, if you haven’t read Anne of Green Gables, get it on it! It’s an amazing book!

Next Week’s Inspired Adventure: Inspired by the great battle scenes of The Return of the King, I will go check out some local LARPing (Live Action Role Playing). Prepare your foam swords!

This is the first of a bi-weekly series here at Adventures in Borkdom. It chronicles adventures I have that are directly inspired by the books I read.

Hatchet by Gary PaulsenThis week’s first Inspired Adventure comes from my reading of Hatchet, a young adult adventure novel by Gary Paulsen. Here is Goodreads’ synopsis of the book:


Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother has given him as a present — and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart ever since his parents’ divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self-pity, or despair — it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive.

After reading this amazing book, I was inspired to seek out nature. I decided that I would take to the mountains of San Diego County, namely the Laguna Mountains. This is an area which I was already somewhat familiar–occasionally, my husband and I take Sunday drives up to the mountains and daydream about making a home in the wilderness. We’ve also made a few backpacking/camping trips to the area, so I had some ideas about trails to take. Finally, it should be noted that this is our evacuation location for the impending Zombie Apocalypse. So, this hike would be useful for both making connections to Hatchet, as Merrellswell as for scouting out the logistics of a future survival scenario.

On Wednesday, right after a grueling work day of writing assessments for the upcoming school year, I headed home and gathered all the supplies I would need for this adventure. I needed water, a few snacks (granola bar and peanuts), and sunblock. I also changed into my trusty Merrells and some adventure-seeking shorts. I was ready to go! Almost.

What if something happens to me up there?

I wanted to be as prepared as a boyscout, so I stopped by my garage and grabbed my hiking fanny pack (yes, I have a fanny pack, and no it’s not as cool as the New Kids on the Block fluorescent fanny pack that I proudly wore in 1989). The pack still held some useful items from my last backpacking adventure–energy bars, a flashlight, lip balm, a lighter, a pocket knife, and a tampon (who knows how long I’ll be stranded up there!).

The drive up to the mountains typically takes about an hour or so, yet this one took a bit longer, due to typical city slicker-types of issues. Afternoon traffic. Re-paving the mountain roads. Getting lost. Ugh. All I wanted was to immerse myself in nature and deal with nature problems, but civilization keeps getting in the way!

After dealing with traffic, I decided to go to a closer wilderness area–I was losing daylight. So, instead of driving on to the Laguna mountains, I took the exit for the Cuyamaca Mountains. This area is full of trails and interesting wildlife. Plus, it was close, so I could get to nature quicker. That’s when the re-paving happened. I was stuck in a line of cars for about ten minutes, waiting for the signal from the dude in the orange vest that would allow me to drive on. Once I got that, it was all about finding a hiking spot.

I pulled over at the West Mesa loop. I had never taken this trail before, but there was easy parking on the side of the road, and besides…this was ADVENTURE! Speaking of adventure, as soon as I stepped out of the car, I was nervous about the other side of this adventure. I was alone. I have never hiked up here alone. What if a killer drives by my car and decides to follow me into the woods to kill me? Yikes! I needed to text my husband to let him know where I was. No service! I am so dead, I thought.

My name is Brian Robeson and I am thirteen years old and I am alone in the north woods of Canada. (45).

Well, this will be a short hike. I quickly grabbed my fanny pack, attached my water bottle via carabiner (I am such a pro!), and headed to the trail. “Cold Stream”, the trail was called, and immediately I found out why.

I was in Hatchet mode, and the first thing I identified was my water source. Brian had a lovely, clean lake, where he could drink up as much water as he could ever want. Here was my water source:

Not the clean, cool, refreshing water I was looking for!

A nearly dried-up little stream, clotted with some parsley-looking foliage. Well, that will probably be no good. I will need to boil this water to make it potable. Noted.

As I crossed the “stream”, I took notice of my surroundings. This area was hit hard by fires in 2003, and so there are many blackened trees amidst the chaparral and brush. Not quite the same as Brian’s setting.

The scenery was very pretty, he thought, and there were new things to look at, but it was all a green and blue blur and he was used to the gray and black of the city, the sounds of the city.(39).

At least there’s lots of dry wood!

I didn’t see much green and blue–it was mostly a yellow and brown blur, but it definitely contrasted with my own gray and black city home. And the sounds were nice–

There was no sound. Then the bird started again, and some kind of buzzing insect, and then a chattering and a kind of cawing, and soon there was the same background of sound. (49)

I made my way along the trail, and remembered Brian’s first meal: the “gut cherries”.

The slender branches went up about twenty feet and were heavy, drooping with clusters of bright red berries. They were half as big as grapes but hung in bunches much like grapes. (61).

Gotta keep my eye out for berries.

Further up the trail, I came across some coyote scat (dung), and remembered Brian’s animal run-ins. He had run-ins with bears, wolves, moose, and a skunk (which blinded him for a few hours). In these woods, I realized that I had dangers of the animal kind as well. Thinking of the local news reports announcing the maulings of hikers by mountain lions, I got nervous again. What else is up here to be concerned about? Rattlesnakes. Can coyotes be dangerous? Maybe. Although, looking at the scat, it appears they eat a lot of berries. But, there does seem to be some fur in there too–rabbits or squirrel maybe. They eat berries…where are these berries?

Can you spot the food source? What about berries? See any?

Speaking of rabbits, I come across a couple of rabbits hiding under the brush next to the trail. They don’t even seem scared of me. I step closer to take a picture, and the rabbit isn’t even fazed. Food source! Let’s take stock of the food sources available so far: unafraid rabbits. Lizards staying cool under the huge rocks. I saw a turkey on the way in, and I’ve seen groups of turkeys in the past. Deer.


Lots of meat sources to hunt. But, where are the berries? Maybe closer to the stream? I’m not going down there, though. There might be a killer on the hunt for me, or a mountain lion getting a drink of water. Plus, I need to pee.

Hatchet never delved into Brian’s toilet situation. Well, it did point out that he had massive diarrhea after eating a shit-ton of gut cherries. I need to pee, and I’m on an adventure, so let’s make it real! I dropped my shorts and pissed on the side of the trail. It wasn’t really an uncomfortable situation–I had toilet paper in my fanny pack.

So, I guess it wasn’t a completely realistic pee in the woods situation. Oh well.

After a little more walking, I decided I was done. I still thought that some killer might be stalking me (human or mountain lion), and my husband didn’t know where I was, and I was nervous. I walked back to the car, taking stock of my resources and dangers in this survival scenario.

The most useful things to Brian in Hatchet were his proximity to a lake, and his trusty hatchet. He built fire with his hatchet, hacked dry wood with his hatchet, sharpened arrows and spears with his hatchet. His hatchet was his life. I left my hatchet at home. Oops.

Look at that scary mountain lion! Good thing I always leave my hatchet at home.

But, I did have a hatchet. And, I realized I did have a lake. Approximately four or five miles away from the trail was Lake Cuyamaca. This could be both a water source and a fishing source! I’ve fished this lake before, and it is full of catfish, bluegill, and trout. Yes!

Water and Fishing Source: Lake Cuyamaca

Survival Issues



Water Source

Beautiful, clean lake Dried-up stream; Lake Cuyamaca (5 mi   away)


Grouse, rabbit Lizards, rabbit, deer, turkeys

Fishing Source

Lake full of fish Lake full of fish (5 mi away)

Predators/Animal Dangers

Bears, wolves, moose, skunk Mountain lions, rattlesnakes, coyotes

Berries/Fiber source

Raspberries, choke cherries (gut   cherries) None found; evidence of berries found   in coyote scat


A small cave close to the water None found (I forgot to look!)


Eaten alive by mosquitos! No mosquitos, but I know there are   nasty little ticks in the brush!

Fire Source

Hatchet struck against wall of his   shelter. My lighter.


Hatchet, shoestrings. Lighter, pocketknife.

My adventure was done. I learned a bit about my surroundings, and forced myself to consider how I would survive in the local wilderness. Thanks Hatchet for providing me with this adventure!

Check back here on Thursday for the next Inspired Adventures post! I will be inspired by Anne of Green Gables and brew up some homemade Raspberry Cordial (just like Marilla makes!).