Glory Days

Some federal money and extra taxes for a prettier field and home stands.

Some federal money and extra taxes for a prettier field and home stands.

Just a week back in town and an event presented itself in flying colors. New swimming pool and stadium; how in the hell? One of the worst economic events, according to the news and a few few-mongering economists. Let that argument fester. Sure things are tough. They should be. I quote a movie by the guy who wrote the West Wing with Martin Sheen. America, its advanced citizenship, you gotta want it bad, because it’s going to put up a fight. And a lot more to it, but the point being things have changed these days.

On the most recent Friday, I and some friends decided to attend the season opener of the Avon Lake Shoremen Football team verses Avon. We spent the first half pregaming talking about old times and definitely getting too theoretical for a post five year analysis of what it would/was be/ like if we were in the now then. Nonsense talk usual for those who have experienced high school football and may or may have not moved on still relish the thought of days past. The worst part about it is how predictable the “remember when” is and as much as I respect those who were part of it, I believe it is not worth more than what it was. Of course we were just going through the Molson experience while talking about this and when we reached the new fancy stadium in our own ways it was no different. Familiar faces and randoms running about. Towny elitists trying to make their way regardless of outcomes. Discrepancies amongst veteran players with police officers about walking on the new field were just the beginning of the madness worth avoiding. Only the millionaire VIPs seemed to be on the field basking in the glory of their accomplishment of being on the coat tails of the stimulus package. As I walked up the fancy new stands with my girlfriend, I could only see faces of desperation hoping to top the past or in some way find a means to getting a pat on the back. Nothing against any of them, but the face of expectations was on them all. Us arriving in the second half were with the crowd upset with a disappointing 3-14 score trailing Avon. At the end it was either 3-21 or 3-28; I stopped paying attention to the game. The crowd was far more interesting. Yelling and other noise, not that much worth describing. Anyone who has experienced football on any level understands this. As the upper box coaches walked down the stairs once the game was over, I attempted to say “things are better in the east,” but I’m not sure if I made an impression. After evacuating the stadium and avoiding the uncomfortable talk to the players, I and Sue made it to a bar but within an hour left and were exhausted with Avon Lake passion. Good luck to the Shoremen with the season. They will do great as soon as they realize that they must earn each win.

American.

Avon triumphs over Avon Lake in the newly advanced Memorial Stadium

Avon triumphs over Avon Lake in the newly advanced Memorial Stadium

Leaving Yellowstone

Stefan was under the influence of rabid marmits who refused to leave us be

Stefan was under the influence of rabid marmits who refused to leave us be

I don’t know what to do or what is next. Sitting here in Tower Ranger Station watching Almost Famous before my final shift of the season is beyond confusion. “It’s all happening.” I do though look forward to coming home and seeing how all the good people I know are doing. If I can, wish to enjoy the company of the birthday of tomorrow, Kyle Stokes, but it may be impossible, so if anyone sees him, say “hi.” As I bid farewell to the grizzlies and co-workers, we left for Jackson into the night for an early morning flight. The rest of the story will be coming soon to a theatre near you.

On the road again, but actually through the air to home

On the road again, but actually through the air to home

And the hike back

The wilderness is just beyond as we left the trail to go truly into the backcountry.

The wilderness is just beyond as we left the trail to go truly into the backcountry.

Around 8 we made some coffee and began to prepare the cabin for our departure. Things readied and the day ahead, we started hiking at 11. Instead of following the trail curving the opposite direction of our destination, we bushwhacked down a cliff through grizzly habitats and stopped for lunch before climbing down a thousand feet by means of balancing across down trees. Although the short cut lessened the distance of our journey, we did not return to the ranger station until 1900. The Hobo Party was pushed back a day to allow us more time to work on the lyrics to our song.

This was a nice lunch spot and we did an O-H-I-O

This was a nice lunch spot and we did an O-H-I-O

Back to the backcountry

Patrick Coyne playing some tunes as Stefan Isaly-Johns and Brian Birch rest midway on the trail

Patrick Coyne playing some tunes as Stefan Isaly-Johns and Brian Birch rest midway on the trail

At last the time has come for one final journey into the wilderness of Montana. The team consists of four: Patrick Coyne, Stefan Isaly-Johns, Brian Birch, and myself. At first light we slept in and had a breakfast at the Roosevelt Lodge to energize the day. Most of the rangers knew I was leaving, but the few that didn’t talked highly with uncomfortable compliments and overall cheer about the wonderful summer. After submitting my travel plan to the communication center and listening to Kevin Dooley give advice and requests to count down trees along the way we set out from the Hellroaring Trailhead en route to Buffalo Plateau Patrol Cabin. The plan would take us to and through Montana and on back around Bull Mountain the next day for a total of about 35 miles with risk of bears and river fording. The elevation change varies from 6000 to almost 10000 feet and hopefully the weather will be perfect and the bugs few. We are all is good shape but still taking all of the precautions to ensure a return in good form. This will be our greatest adventure yet and ultimately we’ll see how it turns out.

As we walked into the Pleasant Valley entrance of the trailhead we saw many other hikers but within no time our route took us away and we saw no other human for the rest of the hike. A bear was following us at a distance and the increased elevation combined got the heart pumping. A storm was following with thunder and lightening also so we increased our pace and continued up to a tree line for shelter as we waited for the hail and madness to pass. Once the sun came shining through the lodgepole pines we continued on up toward the cabin. On a few of our rest stops Patrick played some tunes and we had some water and food. It was a beautiful day once the weather passed. We were making good time but it still took almost 6 hours to complete the 9 mile hike. It was a climb so the return around Bull Mountain should be of a higher pace. Once we reached the cabin and came across some elk, we filtered some water from a ground spring and prepared dinner. A grizzly had broken into the cabin a few years back but we were ready for whatever would happen. Our fashioned spears, axes, and bear spray should take care of any problem. As long as we stayed bear aware. I was sitting outside the cabin with a drink and felt some dripping on my head. Some damn rat spit on me and it really was offensive although my following language probably was worse. After finishing dinner and bear proofing the cabin we retreated inside for drink, music, and conversation. We sang, wrote song lyrics, and laughed about the times to come. Brian almost burned down the cabin, I almost blew it up. Good thing Stefan knew his stuff. As long as the rat did not get in we kept the door open to get the smoke out. And the final moments consisted of crazy thoughts of how things must have been in the days of home in the back country and living amongst the wildlife trying the coexist. Today though we are at comfort with drunken cell phone conversations. We ate again and retired. At last we were able to relax and think of tomorrow. We’ll see what happens.

The team making mac n cheese

The team making mac n cheese

How you doin Bob?

After an intense storm, the clouds parted just before dusk to warm the land.

After an intense storm, the clouds parted just before dusk to warm the land.

Was in Jackson for the night. I guess the billionaires pushed out the millionaires, but there are still good people who enjoy the life near Grand Teton National Park just south of Yellowstone. John Kerr offered a place to spend the night after I picked up Patrick from the airport. There were a few close calls with the elk along the dark highway with only the Tetons silhouetted in the horizon. After locating the essentials from the per capita leading town and leaving the airport we made our way through a maze of dirt roads, down the foggy abstract street names, the Garmin confused and not a streetlight in sight. A note was left on the door with instructions along with some snacks. Through conversation we dwelled upon the possibilities of the upcoming final week in Yellowstone. There was a four hour drive ahead of us in the morning, supposing to arrive by noon for a shift. There was much stirring in the darkness as we trekked from the carriage house to the main where the bathroom was located. Soon enough the night had to be called so an early morning would be possible. After the struggle to rise and depart, we enjoyed a breakfast at some local joint with John Kerr. “Time to go.” Hitting the road a little before nine added a little edge to the deal but with little music on the radio couldn’t be sustained. Perhaps a thousand bison delayed our arrival and busy was Tower Ranger Station with medical after medical. Once unloaded and dressed I shuttled some law enforcement vehicles to their particular locations while everyone else struggled to let the day mellow out. The grizzly sow with two cubs crossing the road close by as I directed traffic made the shift end happily although I felt sorrow that it might be the last time I ever see her. Trying to take as many pictures and video these final days only serves to exacerbate the pain of departure. So Patrick and I sit tonight with drink and work on the lyrics and melody to the “untitled tower ranger goodbye.” The video will eventually posted of the Tower Ranger Station singing at the 2nd annual hobo party this Wednesday evening.

I believe it was hail, but we did not stop to ask.

I believe it was hail, but we did not stop to ask.

Cousin Patrick Coyne in the truck perplexed by the massive herd of bison.

Cousin Patrick Coyne in the truck perplexed by the massive herd of bison.

The end peaks

Wildland firefighters prepare for a jaunt back to the scene of the fire to put it out.

Wildland firefighters prepare for a jaunt back to the scene of the fire to put it out.

The night was late but the morning started early. At 8am I walked to the gas station for coffee and talked with a few people along the way who were going fishing. I eventually made it back to my place and watched, “I hope they serve beer in hell.” My review: it is pretty good. Although part demeaning to our women, it is funny and a satire too. Just as I was taking a look at the outtakes I heard a knock on the door and saw a woman in the window. “There’s a bear just outside here.” I immediately grabbed the radio to tell someone on duty that we needed to move this bear away from the residential areas. Nobody responded so I threw on some boots, without socks which was foolish. With bear spray in hand and radio in the other I spotted the bear about 10 meters away so I started to clap and yell, “Get away from my house bear. Go now!” The bear started to move up the hill and I pursued behind making noise along the way. John Kerr, the ranger who I work with on bears, radioed in and provided support from the station. The bear did not care about me being close and I felt like using my spray because I did not want this bear hanging out any longer in the area because eventually it would find human food and will face the barrel end of several shotgun bursts. After chasing the bear into the thick woods up a hill, John Kerr met me over by the Roosevelt employee cabins of Zanterra Hotels. He gave me a ride back to my place and I reshowered for the day. Work started normal chasing bears away from the road and hiking for lost hikers. When it calmed down a bit I began to shuttle Ranger Scott Sabo to Mammoth, the next area about 45 minutes away, to pick up oxygen tanks and his vehicle. Before we left the Tower area we heard over the radio that there was a motorcycle accident. So I 180ed the HHR and drove as fast as I could back to the Ranger Station to get the ambulance. Before we reached the Station I spotted smoke about a mile into the tree line. Sabo radioed the communication center and we decided to go to the scene and assess the fire or even put it out. We hiked as far as we could before reaching the Lamar River. Once there we saw the helicopter begin to drop many gallons of water upon the fire so we did not have to ford the river and instead went to find a place for the helicopter to land and refill gas. As we were meeting the wildland firefighters, the helicopter came in fast to a smooth landing. I talked for a while with the pilot and learned that the helicopter had been in service since 1982. We joked around while it was refueled and I advised some fisherman to stay in their vehicle with the windows closed so the dust from the propellers would not disturb them. Two of the fishermen were from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Once the helicopter cleared the scene and the fire out, I returned to the Station to plan out the next night when my cousin Patrick Coyne would be visiting. The plan is to spend the night in Jackson Hole and then haul back to the Station for a noon shift, at least I hope if Ranger Claire Stout switches shifts with me. The rest of the day was easy going. I picked up Ranger John Murray from the backcountry. They had to kill a black bear because it fed upon abandoned human food from a campsite with a bunch of idiots who did not use common sense. We drove around some buffalo on the way back and I decided to call it a day and pour a drink and hopefully find some dinner.

It is up for debate whether or not the fire should have been put out. The lodgepole pine needs heat.

It is up for debate whether or not the fire should have been put out. The lodgepole pine needs heat.

Instead they brought in the big guys and they took care of it. Cool dudes

Instead they brought in the big guys and they took care of it. Cool dudes

The Blacktail Drive

The Blacktail Plateau drive is a road that goes 6 miles off the main highway and is filled with sights of the grizzly along with the wildflowers of August and other things. The rest of the experience can only be understood by driving through it at night. Susan and I did so and came across very little but the twists and turns were enough to make the day view so far beyond explanation.

Happy Birthday Brian Wick

Jim Coyne, Colby Anton, Brian Wick, Brady Kirwan, Amanda Wilson

Jim Coyne, Colby Anton, Brian Wick, Brady Kirwan, Amanda Wilson

23. Of course when another year goes by it feels like time is fleeting and age is gaining a tragic obesity. Life is long if you know how to use it according to Seneca. Please remind that whole discomfort of growing older that experience and memories gained are the point of living. Keep on keeping on and believe that each new day is a gift worth enjoying. Take the time to remember all that. Happiness is deserved only if you seek it out and continuously prioritize the fact that you must earn what you want. Keep the golden rule and all that selflessness in your mind and nothing but good things will happen. The big point that I hope I can make is that I am in the debt of the birthdayee. I really want him to understand that I am grateful. But in the end Brian Wick made the past 80 or so posts possible and so much more that the experience was and still is for the next few days. So with the oddness of saying things like that aside, let’s hope that the night is full of good times and perhaps some singing if the confidence comes around.

Again with the photographer who couldn't figure out how to press the shoot button.

Again with the photographer who couldn’t figure out how to press the shoot button.