Just Scratching the Surface...


The views where magical. Every turn of the wheel revealed another stunning backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. A thin layer of clouds were sitting at eye level as we rounded every corner on highway 101 on our way towards Big Sur.

I decided to pull over for the perfect shot because I thought I saw a little trail that cut through the thick, thorny brush that lead to the cliff. I grabbed my Nikon D300 anxious to capture what would be the shot of the bay below, clouds and all.

But there was no trail. Not even a little trail; just thick shrub that seemed non-threatening in the moment. Whatever, I thought, as I stood there, camera in hand, wearing my favorite flip flops and shorts. So I just stepped in it. And kept stepping. For every step I took I could feel vine, branch and thorn lashing out at my exposed calves and shins. I kept stepping.

When I finally made it out of this quandary, my legs were violated and bleeding, but I didn’t think much of it. I got back in the car and drove on.

Two weeks had passed when all hell broke loose. I was at a work conference wearing my typical corporate attire of coat and slacks. All of a sudden my legs were itching like they’d been submerged in tub of famished fleas. What followed were hideous little blisters and a red birthmark that I created with my very own fingernails. Even though I was just scratching the surface....

Having run for more than 10 years over and under every kind of plant and shrub, and never catching a trace of poison oak, clearly, I assumed, I was immune to the stuff. Not so. Turns out the old adage about “assume” (that it makes an ASS out of U and ME) got me.

The remedy? The same stuff that I’ve used to heal my blistered and bruised toes after a 100 miler – Epsom salts. Soaking once a day and then applying Epsom Rub has been a savior.