Monday, February 08, 2010

Finally made it onto the Wall in the snow


One of my very few regrets about our time in China was that I never made it onto the Great Wall in the snow. There was  march snowfall my last spring there and I thought about clearing my schedule and barreling up but I didn't do it and figured that I would have another year to make it up there. Then we moved back earlier than expected, in December, and it never snowed again

Well, here I am now and it's beautiful. Thanks to Jim Spear and everyone at the Schoolhouse, who have given me a free house for a couple of days of writer's retreat. So far so good. I am in this beautiful little remodeled house in the middle of a peasant village by the Mutianyu Great Wall. And it's a bit surreal because I have a strong wifi connection so I am connected to the world -- I even just had a nice Skype chat with Becky and the kids -- while also being a million miles away. The Super Bowl is playing now and I have checked in a few times on ESPN.com but it feels very distant and irrelevant and that's just fine right now. I have been drinking coffee and tea and writing since 6:30 am. I'll go up for another hike later today.

I got up here yesterday afternoon feeling a bit shattered because I could not sleep after the excitement of the gig on Saturday night. But I wanted to make sure I got on the Wall while it was snowy so I dragged myself up and ended up walking all the way to the end, which I had not done in a long time because we always went the other way, to the alpine slide. The open section ends with a long steep climb. I don't think I had done it since one of our first visits there, in 2005, with Hal and Ruth. A sleeping Anna was on my back then. Now I was just dragging my exhaustion and hangover. I was winded, but I got up there and enjoyed the solitude. As I was ready to come down, a big group of high school kids started arriving. It was a high school symphony from Princeton New Jersey and they could barely stagger up. So that made me feel a little bit better about my own struggles.

--
Alan Paul

"The Expat Life" Columnist
Wall Street Journal Online

Senior Writer -- Slam
Correspondent
The Wall Street Journal, Guitar World

(973) 761-4587 (o)
(973) 570-2898 (mobile)

www.alanpaul.net
www.woodiealan.com



--
Alan Paul

"The Expat Life" Columnist
Wall Street Journal Online

Senior Writer -- Slam
Correspondent
The Wall Street Journal, Guitar World

(973) 761-4587 (o)
(973) 570-2898 (mobile)

www.alanpaul.net
www.woodiealan.com