It seems to me that every adventure story must begin with that pivotal point of no return. That one moment where you realize it’s impossible to turn back. For me, it was that short and quick trip down the hill, riding on my butt , feet kicking out trying to slow myself down. I suppose bright red ballet flats are not meant for hiking (no traction). This was the point where my adventure began.
I had been enjoying a leisurely stroll around the museum grounds, distracted by the Ipod at my waist, when I came across a path that looked interesting. I figured I could take the path until it either circled back to the museum, or for the duration of three songs, whichever came first. It was just an ordinary path. A large number of branches caused a strobe light effect by blocking out the sun every inch or so; makeshift stairs that served no purpose except esthetics.
In spite of (despite?) my biker babe sunglasses, I still blinked when the path opened up onto a large field overlooking the river valley. Finally, a spot in Edmonton that’s actually beautiful! With my eyes fixed on the water ahead I took a few tentative steps forward. A few more steps, these ones more purposeful. My third set of steps (yes, I paused between each set) led to the tumble down the hill (with no Jack tumbling after!). In my eagerness to view the water I had missed the drop off on the edge of the path that led to the field. Where are the useless stairs when you need them? Though I suppose putting stairs in a place where they could be used defeats the whole “useless” theme they had going on. Edmonton landscapers, please take note.
I was a bit stunned when I finally stopped sliding and it took me a moment to get my barrings. Ipod, check. Shoes, check. Purse, check. Dust covered bottom (a glance over my shoulder), check. I suppose a lot of people pay for the worn out, faded jeans look. I’d just saved myself $50. Standing up took little effort, though maintaining my dignity while being laughed at by children on the hill was beyond my abilities. Who needs dignity anyways? Nobody who’s successful today had dignity as a kid. Just ask Bill Gates. Dusting off my backside only resulted in clean hand prints on my dusty pants and was abandoned shortly after it began. There is no point in cleaning up until you reach the end of your journey; you’re just going to get dirty again anyways.
A quick look to the top of the hill where the path to the museum lay was enough to discourage a return trip the same way. Oh well, where there is river there must be road, right? A quick look down at my hands showed me which direction was left (thank you L), and so left I went.
It’s been beautiful weather in Edmonton these last few days. Today it had hit 20 degrees before I had even left for lunch, great weather for a stroll. I nodded at joggers as I plodded forward, trying to find a way back up to Jasper Ave. Joggers may not be the friendliest people in the city, but at least they are too distracted by their own pain to sneer at my ragged appearance. (I definitely heard at least one runner muttering to themselves, “Feel the Pain, Love the Pain”. Strange.) I walked for about ten minutes, bobbing my head in time to the Beatles and MGMT, before I finally realized that I recognized nothing. The bridge I was approaching was not one I knew. The road signs did not ring any bells. Even the large curve in the river was not familiar.
I had misplaced myself.
I shuffled through my Ipod to find an appropriate playlist for being lost before continuing on my way. (In case you are wondering, I chose “All by Myself” by Celine Dion, “Canada is Really Big” by the Arrogant Worms, “Always Find Your Way Back Home” by Hannah Montana and “Far Away Boys” by Flogging Molly.) Since logic dictated that I turn north, I walked along the river until I found a road crossing and headed up and away from the river. There were still no recognizable street signs or bus numbers but I was optimistic (how can you not be optimistic, grooving to the Arrogant Worms or Miley Cyrus?). The road started to curve, and still I trudged forward. A half hour had already passed and I was going to be late getting back to work. As my super cute red flats squeezed dents into my feet I started to resent the nice weather. Sunshine? It felt more like heat from a microwave! Thank you Global Warming!
Halfway through Flogging Molly my Ipod died, adding to my frustration. I decided to take a quick break and leaned against the large mesh fence lining the road. My feet felt broken, my jeans were too tight, and my shirt was wet with sweat. This was not a pretty picture. Apparently I am not one of those girls who can be gorgeous while exercising.
My only consolation was the reminder that no adventure story is complete without a bit of adversity. With a determined nod, I started to push away from the fence when I was literally struck from behind. A golf ball to the bottom! Hadn’t I suffered enough indignity? I turned to glare but the golfers were too far away to be intimidated. At least the mystery of the large mesh fence was explained. Apparently I had stumbled past a driving range. While I am sure David would say the golf ball was sucked in by the gravitational pull of my ass (caused by a diet of too many fuzzy peaches), I prefer to think it was just unlucky. Either way, the hit gave me the perfect motivation to continue on!
I was no longer traveling straight north as the road was curving south (once again, to the people in charge of city planning for Edmonton, what’s the point in a road that goes North only to turn south again? Couldn’t you have just built a road going East?). I no longer cared about my poor broken feet, or my dust stained jeans, and when I spotted a sketchy looking path that looked like it when in the general direction I needed, I took my chance.
I darted across the street (looking both ways before crossing) and half climbed, half crawled up the steep dusty path. Much to my later disgust, I muttered the words “Feel the Pain, Love the Pain” to myself as I dug my formerly adorable flats into the ground to create foot holes. Had my Ipod not died this would have been a perfect “Eye of the Tiger” moment.
The path started to level out and, once on firm ground, I bent over to the knees in victory. With a deep breath I filled my lungs and finally stood up straight only to have my entire victory cheapened.
The path that I had suffered on, trudged up and defeated opened out onto the middle of a stair case. At the top of the stairs lay 120th street and Jasper Ave, a few blocks away from my work. At the bottom lay, to my disgust, the exact spot where I had been standing before. Had I not darted across the street when I did, I could have walked like a sane person to the cross walk and climbed the stairs rather than courting my doom on the fake path from hell.
But where would the adventure have been in that?