We had a plan. A really great plan. But, you know what they say: humans plan, God laughs…
So, hiking is our thing, Mike and I. He has a good idea of the vistas and sunsets he wants us to experience here in the US southwest. Neither of us are natives but Mike seems to have taken to the Nevada wilds better than I so I tend to let him lead the way. Most people would say the desert isn’t beautiful but it takes my breath away. I love the stark landscape that gently gives way to bristlecone pine trees and snow-capped mountain peaks. It’s a hundred and ten degrees in Las Vegas and a cool 72 in the mountain.
I love our adventures together but often my challenge is dealing with my paralyzing fear of heights. Acrophobia. I don’t like being high enough that the fall could kill me. How is that a phobia and not just a reasonable way to live? In any case, Mike has the patience of a saint sometimes, especially when it strikes me to the point of being immobile.
On this trip, though, there was another challenge. Let’s call it the Hammock Challenge. Here was the plan: Mike and I hike up the mountain to the perfect vista. We find the perfect set up and layout a hammock. Then, we string up said hammock for an amazing time spent taking in the view, basking in the the well-deserved rest earned from gaining that view, and enjoying each other. What could be better? I was sold.
Until I tried to buy what I was sold on. The hammock turned out to be on sale for seventy dollars. When had they gotten that expensive? Then, the prepackaged hooks needed to string up the hammock was an additional forty-five dollars. Right off the bat we’re supposed to invest, with taxes, about a hundred and twenty dollars. What nonsense? Mike and I decided to buy nylon rope, with a tensile strength of about 400 pounds because the cost of that?…five dollars. Perfect!
Now, for those of you who are hammock virgins, there are certain rules one must anticipate.
- Everything slips. No matter how strong your knots, no matter how firm a grip your rope has on the supports, no matter how well secured is the canvas to the line, until you actually commit your full body weight you do not know how much everything will slip. What does that mean? With your weight, knots tighten, the supports give, the rope slides down if your support is a tree, the canvas gives… Everything slips. The result is the hammock will hang much lower than you expect or seems apparent when it is first strung up, taut and empty.
- Almost your entire body mass is in your butt. Being behind us, we don’t really spend much time thinking about how heavy our butts really are. I mean, sure, certain of us spend time concerned that our butts are too big but that’s a different issue. You can be the fittest person on the planet with the most perfectly toned glutes but that won’t change the fact that your posterior is far and away the heaviest part of your body. In fact, I looked this up in the book of Totally True Stuff that I Totally Made Up and found that the human butt accounts for 86% of our entire body mass. What does this mean in a hammock? This means that your butt will hang seven or more feet below your head and feet. You will instantly turn into a V, the entire length of which will be at least twice your natural standing height.
- The no cousins rule. Sounds nice, sharing a hammock, right? If you think about rules 1 and 2, though, you will soon realize that if you weren’t previously already intimate with your hammock-mate once you share the swinging bed you will be. There’s simply no way not to. So, in sticking to the societal rules of familial sexual relations, do not share a hammock with cousins or anyone else nearer to you on the family tree.
We spent a healthy part of the day climbing our mountain. Once we found that perfect spot, strung up our hammock, it was lunch time. We had a hammock, we had sandwiches, we had drinks. Mike strung up our hammocks between two trees and we sat in it. Instantly, we realize our mistake…in being that Mike is five foot six and I’m five foot four. Not enough height to reach the optimal distance needed to make a hammock work. Instantly, the rule that everything slips kicked in. The canvas spread open and swallowed our bodies. Humans, sandwiches and beverages all disappeared into the cloth. Then, rule #2 kicked in and we fell directly onto the hard, rocky ground butt-first. The tensile strength of our bargain rope was a lie as it snapped apart and whipped me on the arm. Finally, the no cousins rule engaged and what had once been six distinct entities became an involuntary mass of human-beverage-sandwich sexual relations – and not in a good way like in the movies.
After several minutes of struggling, we finally emerged from the hanging bag of horror, bruised, scrapped and unable to look our lunches in the eye. With a big hole now in the center of the hammock, we said good-bye to that fantasy, packed up, and trudged back down the mountain.
-Beth D. Carter
Amanda, Cooper and Everett were the best of friends, and after an intimate encounter at Cadence Falls, Amanda believed they’d be together forever. But when Everett leaves without a word, her heart breaks and she pulls away from Cooper, too.
Years later, a dangerous felon has escaped from prison. When he disappears into the vast Montana mountains, the US Marshalls come to town and they bring along a Shadow Wolf tracker—Everett. For Everett, it’s the one place he really doesn’t wish to return to since he knows the long lost love of his life, Amanda, still lives there with his once best friend, Cooper.
For Cooper, Everett’s appearance brings up remembered love and pain, creating more discord between the three of them. When they’re forced to work together to help capture the criminal, will they be able to get over past hurts and reconcile, or will they forget about their time at Cadence Falls forever?
About Beth D. Carter
I like writing about the very ordinary girl thrust into extraordinary circumstances, so my heroines will probably never be lawyers, doctors or corporate highrollers. I try to write characters who aren’t cookie cutters and push myself to write complicated situations that I have no idea how to resolve, forcing me to think outside the box. I love writing characters who are real, complex and full of flaws, heroes and heroines who find redemption through love.
I’ve been pretty fortunate in life to experience some amazing things. I’ve lived in France, traveled throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand. I am a mom to an amazing little boy. I live in Los Angeles, surrounded by friends and family. I hate washing dishes but I love cooking. I hate washing clothes but I love wearing them. Writing my bio is difficult because I never know what to say so I hope you like this one. My favorite color is red but I look best in black (it’s slimming). I hate people who don’t pick up their dog’s crap in public places, people who don’t use turn signals, and I really hate people who are rude and condescending. I especially hate discrimination in all and every form. And although I love holding a book in my hand, I absolutely adore my ereader, whom I’ve named Ruby.