Road Closed

Traffic is light on the roads of the Tower district as only visitors from the Northeast Entrance have access. Calm resonates into the still snow covered mountains. Elk wander around looking for an appropriate spot to have their offspring. A grizzly ate up one of the new elk over the weekend. Disgruntled visitors do not understand why the road is blocked by landslide. Park administrative travel is permitted through the Blacktail Plateau. It is a muddy mess through the drive and increased traffic is not helping. Snow still covers the road between Canyon and Tower Junction and is not likely to open for another few weeks.

View from the old road

View from the old road

Rangers took advantage of the first beautiful sunny day in quite a while. After nine hours getting geared up and keeping an eye on grizzly bears and consoling visitors who could not drive around the landslide, a workout was in order. So up the hill to the lost lake and I had yet adjusted to the elevation. Not so bad at 7500 feet with the elk grazing around and the snow covered mountains in all directions. The roommate, a retired fire chief from the east climbed to over 10000 feet up a still chilly mountain in snow boots. The ambulance is prepared for the group heading into the mountains to ensure that it is safe for visitors to pass through once the road is plowed. The fire chief demonstrated that it can be done. Road crews are working to clear car size boulders from the road so visitors can have access to the whole Park. Restlessness is in the air as the day will come when the crowds fill the roads and bears crisscross to move from feeding ground to feeding ground. They are machines that have to be watched over and as the cars drive through and photos are snapped from cameras ranging from a disposable Kodaks to long sense expensive digital scopes. Civilization is coming to see the epic natural world of America.

The snow is melting. The sun returns to the great land that is Yellowstone.

Nobody comes in. Nobody goes out.

Nobody comes in. Nobody goes out.

Storm Chasing

Great beads of sweat fell from his forehead from pure excitement and exhaustion. We bounced the car up on the Algiers ferry and found ourselves crossing the Mississippi river by boat. “Now we must all get out and dig the river and the people and smell the world” said Neal bustling with his sunglasses and cigarettes and leaned and looked at the great brown father of waters rolling down from mid-America like the torrent of broken souls—bearing Montana logs and Dakota muds and Iowa-vales and every cundrum clear to Three Forks where the secret began in ice. Excerpt taken from page 133 on the original scroll of On the Road.

To the west across the river

To the west across the river

The delay caused by car trouble led to a hybrid journey across the Mississippi into tornado chaos. Without any trouble the gas tank took us 400 miles for under $25 with a Giant Eagle GetGo discount. The tank did require a refill along the way for the final leg of the trip. The caffeine amped meteorologists on the weather channel talked of the recent outbreak of tornadoes citing previous killer tornadoes. Outside things did not seem bad at all. The barren Iowa fields, unable to show the changing winds, stretched into the dark clouded horizons. Recent days have accumulated more rain than needed and led to unwanted weed growth in the fields. Immediate surroundings were peaceful but other areas were not as fortunate. The timing brought us clear around the warning zones and free from harm other than a flash flood of the English River a couple miles away from the farm house.

Iowa Hawkeye murals were painted on the sides of several barns along the two-lane roads that separated much of the crops and led in all directions including 30 miles north to the University of Iowa. Smaller farms between 1000 and 2000 acres are not always confined to one patch of land, but instead are mixed between other farms and rental land. The larger farms encompass more land, but with greater vested interests come greater risk and potential loss when prices drop, diseases spread, or the weather turns for the worse. The storm did not hit though.

The journey to the west is only beginning and whether the weather had some meaning is unknown, but along the road storm chasing did come to mind. I’d always been attracted to storms. People who seemed on the edge or had some monumental circumstance had a quality of interest greater than those whose days always went to plan. Crashes, explosions, lightening, and all the other special effects encapsulated the major motion pictures of the 1990s when so many children of that generation were inundated with several televisions in every house. We can not help our fascination with violence. Violence does not always mean one human hurting another human. Violence instead can be the waves crashing on the break wall, or trees slamming into the ground after aged collapse, or even high density high speed traffic on the highway. Now when the day slows down and all that noise is silent, the iPod’s battery is out, the party dwindled to just a few, the mind is free to think again. And when we think about what we seek, what is it?

We are a generation of storm chasers. Always on the lookout for some new exciting app and ready to experience it all, no matter the cost. But every once in a while, we can drive hybrids or recycle or hold the door open or volunteer or visit the old persons home or tutor a child or even call a lost friend. Storm chasers are never satisfied until they run smack into the middle of an F5.

Prius averaged 50 miles per gallon on the first day

Prius averaged 50 miles per gallon on the first day

Storm chasers are never satisfied until they run smack into the middle of an F5.

FURTHUR Yellowstone High

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming parts of Montana and Idaho is the world’s first national park. The idea was about setting aside the area as a pleasure ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people. All the people and not a select few. The entire world visits the Park and witnesses the beauty of America and the purity that still exists. The land embraces the gift and deserves to be treated as such beyond that of a tourist destination. Yellowstone is a vast spectacular example of the great territory of the USA.

In 2010, 3,640,184 people visited, breaking the previous year’s record. Politicians in the government favor cutting spending, however lose sight of the importance of maintaining the land. The grizzly bears are out and about with less rangers to prevent encroachment from visiting fools and motorcycles will speed through fearless of the limited law enforcement. With good fortune, all will be safe within the boundaries of Yellowstone, however dangerous behavior is bound to inundate the protectors of the Park with accidents. Ambulances will not be able to reach people in time due to increased traffic resulting from “wildlife jams.” Hopefully the Park karma is good this year and all will be well. The struggle begins as the volume of visitors doubles from May to June and again into July and August.

Caution to visitors: don’t do anything stupid and please stop littering.

How do you want?

Lift-off is delayed, the launch postponed, still in Ohio until the weekend’s end.  Technical difficulties never abate.  Ease is not part of the game.  Answers are certainly vague at best with clarity at sporadic parts of the day, often forgotten.  Instead of a big dipper trajectory, the journey west will instead be a straight shot toward Yellowstone.  No problem at all if you know how you want it to go, how you want it to be, how you want it as, or how you want it after.  What you want changes almost every minute with goals lasting slightly longer.  There are so many whats out there and the hows are usually more interesting.  Finding how you want it is far more doable and maneuverable so there you go.

Ohio is a good base.  Fortune, however, has not cast as much upbeat karma upon the heart of it all over the past thirty years.  Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Dayton, and some others in no particular order have had their ups and downs.  Ohioans leave the state every year claiming to never return, but they will come back.  Living in the desert, in the Deep South, in ultra-urban cities, in California, and in some other places are fine, but not for all time.  The heat, the lack of fresh water, the season-less years, the stench of overpopulation, and pricey accommodations are bound to decrease desirability.  Keep it a secret though in case the land runs out due to the droves of profiteering vagabonds.  Do not forget that Ohio is a border state that must be wary of the conspiring Canadians and speed boat smugglers.  Over the next thirty years Ohio will need defense over encroaching coercion.  Returning Ohioans will bring with them experience, creativity, spontaneity, energy, and love only possible from years seeing the rest of the world.  We’ll see how it goes…

Decide

The top of the mountain is bound to awe even the most traveled. The distant promontory brings forth an inspiration of the world and everything in it. You cannot capture its meaning with a photograph, nor can you effectively tell about it later to others. They have to see it to really understand it. What it is will be revealed when the time comes. It is such a foolish word to start a sentence with, however it is indescribable. Even those who reach those heights where they see it will mostly agree that it is better experienced with another person, preferably a friend.

Many prefer to travel alone and through experience have learned that others certainly can lengthen the day and limit the distance covered. The solitude found during a journey eventually gravitates toward a desire to share the experience with others, whether at a diner along the road in Iowa or a bar in Ohio. When one adds another to the journey, when two individuals share in an experience, there is less a drive to seek feedback from those who were not there. Sharing great moments enhances the moments and therefore trumps the solitary adventures. Walking into unknown territory amongst friends and those you trust is not only more enjoyable, but highly recommended by all reasonable people, especially those who have in the past had to go on search and rescues for those who hurt themselves or became lost.

The wilderness, like life, is not easy and to go at it alone you risk all the positive reinforcement along the way. Loners are bound to go mad and lose themselves at some point. That does not mean you should surround yourself with people for the sake of surrounding yourself, or to feel popular due to the many text messages you receive each day or the social dynamics of Facebook. You surround yourself by those who enhance your life (hopefully it is mutual).  Let that friend in and move forward. Experience the world together and in time enhance the world around you. It all starts when you know it starts. Build real friendships with foundation and diction. Conversations about the past are good every so often, but hope for the present and future are likely of greater benefit. Come on along in if you please, for the door will only be open for so long before the wind slams it shut. I’m certain that it will open again, but not sure when.

Avon Lake

What does one day about the home town?  “We grew up together.”  High school, grade school, and all above and below.  Is it a city or town?  It is for sure a suburb, and from what I’ve heard, most of them are all the same.  A couple restaurants, some 100+ house neighborhoods no older than 20 years as the 1990-2000 years brought people out of their starter homes and into bigger living room homes with extra spaces that never get used.  Then came the housing crisis. Most people who bought their homes during those years were spared.  The group that attempted to emulate their example from 2001-2007 were up the creek without any savings.  Avon Lake, just like any other place is full of good people, full of great families, and full with the desire to live in peace.  In a middle to upper middle class town, there still are outlier problems with individuals who cannot handle themselves or selfish elderly who refuse to vote for school and library funding.  Yet that does not make it a bad town.  There are more than enough good people to make up for those who take individualistic behavior to the next level and revert only to themselves.  As a lake front town, there is but a small portion that is available to the public that many forget the lake is even there.  A relic of a house has been sitting empty for over a decade and longer than that was used only as storage and insignificant office space.  Tear it down, start something new and interesting, hopefully include many windows.

Happy

The mastermind behind violence against those of the free world was eliminated over a week ago.  Since then, most of the world has celebrated.  The Bloomberg magazine had the face of the terrorist on the cover as well as many other magazines in recent days.  Bloomberg’s article is worth the read, Al-Qaeda’s Leader Lost Because He Was Wrong. It shows not that America beat him at the end of the day due to our military might, but due to our American will to pursue happiness in a world full of hatred and fear.  Read the article for further words about the subject.

We must move on, away from them and focus more on us.  We have the power to influence so much good within our own society, yet we choose to focus so many energies outward, as if we were diluting our own truth and meaning with a contrast to the dreads of the rest of the world.  So what do we do?  Only the individual knows for certain as our society has pressed for so long especially in the most recent college graduate generation that we can all do anything we dream of.  They forgot to stress the eccentric quantity of work and time that it requires to achieve great feats.  They forgot to humble us as to the realities of this world with the advanced American citizenship that we were born into.  They forgot the important lessons and instead showered us with the self-esteem building preschools and little league sports that made the average athlete feel like he or she could be an NBA star, as long as they tried hard.  Today, our generation has more ACL rehab professionals for non-professional athletes.  We are banging our heads together in eighth grade football because we see movies of glory and imagine a college scholarship or even NFL career in which everything is easier.  It only gets harder.  It only gets more complicated.  We dream of a world in which we finish the college experience that is jokingly referred to as a higher education program, and expect it to be easier after.  We expect to get that job offer right out of college, and if it does not come, then “oh, no what am I going to do?” We give up so fast on what we want to do, faster than any generation before us.  We will not survive if this continues.  We lose sight of so much so soon.  The lessons of self-esteem start to tear the very fabric of our optimism and all we do is settle.  Settle for less.  Less excitement.  Less ingenuity.  Less freedom.  Less happiness.

There is no excuse for this.

The world is far more complex than ever, yet that has never stopped us.  America’s society embraced the rapid change of the 20th century and became an amazing symbol of human ingenuity and prosperity.  The 21st century is here, over a decade into it, and it does not appear we have caught on yet.  Let’s do it again.  Let’s do it better.  Forget that stable job, unless that is all you want.  Find what will not only provide for you and yours, but provide for all a better world.  Life is much more than the weekend parties.  Break’s over!  It’ll be one wild ride and the stories that we’ll be able to tell fifty years from now will trump any previous generations.  It’s our choice.  Now, go forward.  Be happy and we will win yet again.

What’s to come

The preparations for the journey:  suitcase & backpack.  Compression.  Travel light.  Move quick.  Decisions made easy.  For one week, the road will show many things, many national parks and crater canyons.  So much has changed over the years when it comes to travel and convenience.  Complex technological devices that can fit into the palm of your hand make for great distractions when all else seems mundane.  I highly doubt the road will be boring.  Every forest, every field, every river and pond, every desert, every everything has something to offer.  There are those who sleep though the journey (understandable to sleep through a windowless flight though).  Treat it as a lucid dream during which ideas and inspirations spread from place to place and ear to ear, lip to lip, all the while with interesting moments of truth and virtue.  Take the elevator to the top or climb the mountain?

+44° 55' 13.65", -110° 26' 43.10" after a long day with Tower ambulance driving back to the ranger station

For all the states and all the drivers plates, I expect to bring back an original concept that will set the foundation for the book.  The book that contributed to my eviction.  The book that pushed my limits to exhaustion and mad contempt.  Now refocused, I travel not to seek the answer or the reason, but to add some flavor and hope to the story without an end.  New business card, new boots, new color, new vibe, new mind.  Anything is possible.  Live a real life, dream no longer of life, just be.

The Journey

The Journey to the West begins on a Tuesday

“There are two different ladders. One of the ladders is straight old Judeo-Christian ladder with Charlton Heston at the top of it with a big beard and everybody’s trying to climb this ladder and kiss God’s ass; and always the people to blame are these people down there living in their Buick. As where over here, there’s this other ladder. And it’s all wiggly and taped together and Dr. Seuss looking ladder, going up to the clouds, you don’t know where it’s going, but everybody that’s on this ladder knows that they’re not on that ladder. We aspire to different things. And this is our salvation because we don’t know where we are going. These other people are certain where they’re going and they’ll never get there. We don’t know where we are going, so we don’t know when we’re not there. But, I know this: that everybody if they are going to be mature, they have to have a run. They’re going to have to make a run outside of their little family circle. Or they have to go somewhere and do something. Then they can come back and they’re whole. If you don’t sow a few wild oats, you don’t raise any oats.” – Ken Kesey

Attributed to 2001 documentary Rubber Tramps.  Created by Max Koetter, Kenny Rosen, Sam Taybi, Brett Beardslee, Jamie Trueblood

Ready for Life

On any given morning, if you keep your eyes open and aware, you will see what others sleep through. "People will read again!"

All I knew was that I had to get moving. Time and time again it would hit me, but I’ve finally been knocked to the ground, and it took a couple hours; I recovered just enough to realize that I was done with the old silly lifestyle and ready. Ready for what? I was uncertain. I drove out of town, evicted, homeless, tongue tied, nervous. During the drive toward Cleveland it all come together and people were the answer. After a delightful weekend with old friends in Avon Lake, Ohio, I realized that I was ready for life. We sat around a fire, we talked of various stories and attempted to bring rhythm to a night devoid of bothersome worry. There were a couple spills and the beagle did get into some chips left on the ground, however, the only overall emotion was that of happiness and a thrill of the tomorrows to come. It truly was the big chill that I’d sought after for so many years and what came of it was not what I expected. After Sunday night, a decision was made, to stop performing life, and start living life. Now it looks like a lot of time needs to be made up, and the catching up is where I go. To the road…