“Well, it was a nice walk, at least.” I’ll have this on my headstone.

05/04/2010 By Shawn Burns

Sometimes I just load the kids in the car and drive somewhere far away and then get out and walk around for a while. I hope that the destination is interesting, nice to look at, unique in some way. I hope that the hike is a little strenuous.

Sometimes the hike is more than a little strenuous. (Stay tuned to this space for “Erin and Adrian Go on a 7.25 Mile Hike and Their Dad Makes Them Climb a Goddamned Mountain All Before Dinner” and “Erin and Adrian Go to Point Reyes and Their Dad Makes Them Climb 30 Stories Just to See a Lighthouse and No Whales). But today’s hike was not only strenuous: it got me thinking about mortality. Hiking doesn’t normally do that.

We got in the car today and just started driving. We drove all the way across the Golden Gate Bridge. We drove all the way through Marin County. We drove all the way to Sonoma. I’ll drive environmentally-unfriendily-far just to go for a walk, apparently. We had lunch in the old town-y part of Sonoma.


Erin tried to avoid the Pop-arazzi by going in disguise. But I’m wily. I just looked for things that a pre-schooler couldn’t wait to touch and break and I camped out there, waiting for a pre-schooler to show up to try to touch and break them. In this case, candles were Erin’s giveaway.


After I corralled her we started to walk up the hill behind the town. I had read about a trail that was a fairly short walk up to some great views of the valley below, and I followed the directions I read kind of…casually.

I got the part about hanging a right at the Veterans’ War Memorial correct.


And maybe it was the War Memorial that got me thinking about mortality. It surely wasn’t the length of the hike, or the duration of the climb, since both were short. I have no idea what else could have brought on those thoughts.

I continued on, looking for the sign indicating that Overlook Trail was beginning. It looks like this:


But I didn’t see that sign until I was on my way down the mountain.

How had I managed to get up the mountain without using the hiking trail I was looking for?

Well, step one was: Refuse to ask for or look for directions. Also, as you’ll see, I would not really have wanted to get an answer from those available to ask.

Step two was: Do not be deterred by what is clearly the wrong path. Look, it leads uphill, and uphill is the point.


Step three was: Be resolute in the act of treading on zombie ground.


Because that, my friends, is a cemetery.

I think taking the kids on a moderately strenuous hike up a hill through a cemetery wins me some kind of award.

Nice view, though.


That’s a grave.

I win at dad.