“yesterday’s weirdness is tomorrow’s reason why”

title quote: hunter s. thompson

Since leaving Ohio State, pouring concrete, chasing bears, and wandering through months of incessant confusion trying to figure out why the scenery did not convey a strong enough spectacle to engage my interest, I remember now in February an event some odd years back when it was equally bitter outside.

There in the middle of open space called “the oval” were laughing sophomores throwing snow in the air, shaping angels on the ground, and happy.  They were not careless.  Perhaps some of their antics and fervor attracted attention from the dilettante intellectuals who constantly sought others to muse with.  Most likely, without assuming mind altering substances, they were just a group of friends enjoying the outdoors.  Passing by the frolickers walked the types who did not know or comprehend the performance.  Studious curmudgeons complaining about the weather and their grade point average did not notice the angels, only the childish behavior.    Drunkards laughed and even joined for a few minutes in the snow, but did not know why.  High heeled gangsters prowled through without making eye contact toward the nearest overcrowded happy hour. Random loners with earphones or cell phones pressed to their heads passed by every so often with each one less memorable than the other.  After an hour the oval was left quiet and disserted, but with several snow angels along the walkway.  There is no way to determine which one is the best.  We’ll never know what they were doing or even if they knew.

Today in America, the college experience is a contradiction.  Really it begins before high school is over.  The overarching theme taught to students is to get an education to succeed.  To get an education, go to the best school you can get into.  Make sure you study hard and add some community service to your resume so they’ll be impressed with your abilities.  Visit some schools too.  Go on the tours led by premeditated enthusiasm and catchall phrases to thrill eager minds.  Maybe visit the financial aid office.  Listen to interns explain subsidized loans and how easy it is for anyone to pay for tuition.

At parties, individuals congratulate themselves over the choice of Natural Light Beer, “nattie.” They pay premium to be in college, yet shop at the dollar store for kicks.  The term “poor college student” makes no sense.  If someone is qualifying for tens of thousands of dollars in loans a year, they are not poor.  In fact, they are living large and without saying it are promising to make a lot of money and give it back to the banks.  Due to frustration, I will not go on about the madness of paying for college entirely on loans.  There is nothing wrong with doing it that way, for many, it is the only way.  The madness is how easygoing these commitments have become and how little thought goes into the deepening hole while drinking nattie.  The tragedy of today is that after these four years, there is no guarantee of a job to earn money to pay the bank.  Some choose to stay in school to prolong the bank’s feast.  Others spend money, whether their own or not, on immediate satisfaction to feel whole.  Then there are those who have found a job. Let it be a good job, not just a job for money to satisfy the bank.  And of course there are others…

I can’t really say who is doing it best.  I have no idea what most people or doing or even if they know.

Still Kicking

Gateway Arch

St. Louis, Missouri. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow all locked in, west of the mississippi. Been some time since the road has opened up a new place. The momentum carries the day through to different horizons and by the time you realize it is happening, you see it pass on by, too far away to catch. When it’s over, when the journey is on a leash with only so much to do, when days are predictable or at least feel that way, it’s time to shake it up.

It’s bleak in November. The bridges over the river, the stone buildings on the shore, were usual urban fixtures. The big metal arch though, the Gateway Arch, brilliant. Known as the Gateway to the West, it brings up the subject of westward expansion as subtle as a 630 feet high and wide monument could. First sight, the river crossing appears doable by a strong free stroke swim. But after remembering that I had already made it over to the west side, there was little motivation to get wet just to walk on the east again. The east is where I am from, where I was born and raised. There is not much I can say against it or even go so far to agree that ‘the west is the best.’ At the same time it is not easy to dispute western claims to fame and desire. Sure California is going bankrupt and even goes to measures of an inarticulate legalization vote that failed. Mexico and the border states, the relationship is that of failed college roommates. The Northwest is full of enabling bum lifestyle settings. There are endless flat lands and the same with mountains and marvelous landscapes national park and wilderness alike. Boundless they say. But they say a lot that is either untrue or inexperienced. Being so vast a territory, who can believe they’ve seen it all. ‘See it yourself if you can.’ There is only so much time and spending it haggling over the minor details.

Still, there are only so many tomorrows to come and the longer the wait, the less likely a chance of finding the right sunset. I’m open to suggestions. There’s been some good experiences, nice places and so on. Not too worried, just anxious about the next adventure. I hope to take better photos as soon as that sunset is found. Until then…

Where we are at so we know where we go

“I’m not worried about the future, cause it’s going to be the same, I’m just going to be older.”
– unknown quote from rubber tramps documentary

There is a difference between those who can not stand society and leave the commonplace means of being and those who choose to do what is different from the common path. Overcorrection to fix any kind of misunderstanding can make things feel fine, but an over-the-top deal may make things worse. The trick of course is balance of freedom and conception of the tomorrows. Times are different as they always are. Those in the 60s and 70s youth had a beef with the 40s and 50s style. Why is it so hard for those of the 60s and 70s to identify with the problems of the 80s and 90s youth? It is all random numbers when it comes down to it, but how many more repeats must it take for a rational conversation of debate to occur. Forget the whole, “I’ve been around longer, I know more.” As Huey Walker of the film “Flashback” said, “the young are the ones with the most to lose. They are the ones with the least protection and the means of change resting upon their mere presence and not monetary power as those of age above.”

What of those generations can agree that things are going fine. And that those who are going know that things are fine. Blind to the consequences and 401k securities. I am not putting one penny in those programs because of the simple fact that the funds may only be useful 40 odd years from now. Will we still have the same kind of stability that would provide for those funds. Burroughs was onces talking about the thing Kennedy once said, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” and Burroughs said, “what bullshit, the government is supposed to be there to serve the people, and bullshit it is that the people are there to serve the government.”

Instead of so much contempt of those of the past who have done things of difference, think of those who have done nothing and remember how boring things would be if only those of predictable action would do things and tomorrow you would wake up with no worry about sleeping in because nothing really is going to be of a surprise. (sp due to battery nonsense)

Nine years

Nine years now, nine Septembers and no real attack has come again. Was it a onetime occurrence from the extremists? The war on terror goes on, billions and billions and billions wasted while the rest of the world is left ignored. Russia grows in global influence. China continues to build its economic power and ignores rules that slow growth. Castro claims communism does not work for Cuba. The madman in North Korea is about to hand power over to his western-educated son. Africa is but a footnote except for the exciting pirates. Mexico is in a state of chaos, but all we hear is about terrorism. People are still starving all over the world, over-population continues, oil shortage will be a problem very soon. And the global economy is still a mess. It was a tragic event in 2001, so unexpected that it propelled our fears to heights of response never seen before in the history of the world. A response that involved invasion of two sovereign nations and countless others turned upside-down. Sure we are rid of Saddam, but the Taliban survives and divides both Afghanistan and Pakistan. We ignored what others were saying and instead focused on the worst case scenario:  nuclear attack by irrational terrorists. It is no rationalization, no cause, and no pretext. If today we thought the same thing, we would be invading countries left and right. FDR said the only thing to fear is fear itself. Bush and now Obama use the fear to continue this understanding that we are being attacked by an invisible enemy. They are, but not just in Iraq and Afghanistan. The whole world did not pause while we attacked the terrorists. The world moved on in directions unknown because our global presence has been weakened and our foresight limited. This has been a strategic mistake, an operational mess, and a tactical failure. There is no time to waste. Such an embarrassment that we are in a frenzy over inconsequential building plans and the goofy actions of a lunatic Floridian. A new plan must be put in place so that we can remember that the world is far too vast for a tiny group of fanatics to take up so much of our time and energy.

BIG PICTURE

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