September 15th, 2006

In Appreciation of an Underrecognized National Park*

After much procrastination, tomorrow I’m taking a field trip to the site of my fantasy-novel-in-progress.


Yes, I’m driving two hours north to Ventura, hopping on a boat for another hour, and then landing on scenic Santa Cruz Island for sixish hours of hiking, research, photographing, note-taking, and surely inevitable sunburn.


While I’m looking forward to seeing a non-Catalina Channel Island in real life (as opposed to photographs and DVDs), hiking around terrain I’ve tried to create inside my head, imagining my characters trotting here and there, and (likely) getting great new ideas to realize more fully my paper-and-ink world, there are a number of things I am less looking forward to. To wit:


  • So I get up at 5:30 on weekdays—there are people who get up earlier. But on a Saturday? Why am I such a masochist? (Note to self: potential topic for future blog entry.)
  • Will the other island visitors be giving me sideways glances and snickering at my workout pants and sneakers? Where do people go for appropriate hiking attire? (I’m not even there yet, and already my lack of hikiness is screamingly obvious. Sigh.)
  • Island Packers makes a pretty big point about the “potable water” from a “public spigot.” Am I seriously to understand this as “bring your own latte?” When’s the last time I went so many hours without coffee-based caffeine? If the other hikers stumble across my prone, de-energized body, will they drag me back to the catamaran, or just leave me lying there to commune with the mice, ravens, skunks, and feral pigs?
  • Feral pigs? Are they serious? What if my past-life regression was wrong, and it was actually some sort of forecast of the future? Okay, so I’m not a guy, I’m not married, and I’m not planning to march around topless with a spear looking for boars. But still, it’s a concern. 

If I make it back alive, I’ll let you know how it goes. If my blog is suspiciously reticent next week, send out a search party. 

* According to the National Park Service, Channel Islands National Park is one of the least-visited national parks.