Living - and already savoring - the Adventures across the backroads of western Idaho and eastern Oregon!

11 December 2008

For your Life

I wandered around DC's Union Station this rainy harum-scarum morning whilst awaiting my darling lil' sis and her manly man. By the way, I'm fascinated by people-watching and would consider becoming homeless just for the excuse to do it full-time. Well, nawh, the madness passed - I like sleeping in a bed too much. Thoughts du jour:
  • What kind of life is it if you have to run, briefcase and umbrella clunking about, just to get to work on time? Why bother - I'd dawdle and wonder what's wrong with this gig if I'm running to get to it. No dignity in that.
  • Blonde hair. I hear tell it makes women look younger. Trust me on this one today - it does not work for everyone.
  • Plasticware. Fascinating. Why did that gentleman stop by the ABP and tuck a spoon into his jacket? Does he peruse the plasticware every day? Is this too not dignified? And does he care - I think not. I just laughed to myself.

20 November 2008

Thoughtfulness in Black and White

I have this friend, Arkansawyer, who blurbs, eBays, and is somewhat Deviant too. He blogs too! And he's got this alter ego in Armadillo Creek - check out that ol' boy... The point is that you can have your eyes opened on a trip to something right in front of you, but it all looks better through the black-and-white perspective:

The colors of life often clutter the landscape of thought, of feeling, and make me miss what's right in front of me. It's caught in the camera eye - and this stranger is a long-awaited friend. OK, that makes no sense except to me, but I am, and remain, the Two Medicine Man who walks an odd road. Thanks to Arkansawyer and the Chebby, I have a lot to share this winter, so stay tuned.

18 November 2008

The Plexiglass Toilet

Color me disturbed. That's a color tone unique to white porcelain, namely a new toilet that I saw at a conference center. New. No seat. New. Cannot have a seat because there are no bolt holes in the porcelain and kind of low-to-the-ground, Turkish style. New. No non-desperate person would squat on it. Gave me the hebbies just checking it out. Euwh. Walk on...

Also on the short list of disturbing thoughts:
  • Led Zeppelin on tour without Robert Plant (likely).
  • The conjunction "that" can easily be eliminated even thought it's for necessary info, unlike "which". What makes it so expendable?
  • Chinese food that tastes better the next day. Without MSG. What is growing in my Moo Shu that improves its flavor?
  • Steven Tyler, Aerosmith: does he really shave his legs?
  • Carnies with webbed feet.
  • Women named "Sabrina" whose fashion flair brings to mind "Consuela." Disturbing or not -- you vote.

09 October 2008

Feel Good Music

We all have our fav's. I throw this out for consideration. As I leave commuter bus at 0645 by Navy Memorial, downtown DC, and walk twenty minutes past wizzing traffic, homeless folks and yummy-smelling eats, I proffer these tunes:
  • Cinderella - Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Blinded by the Light - Manfred Mann's Earth Band
  • Crazy Ones - JC Mellencamp, the Man, the Legend
  • Closer to Fine - Indigo Girls


  • Deuces are Wild - Aerosmith
  • Light Up - Styx
  • The Girl I love, she got long black wavy hair - Zepp


  • To the Last Whale - CSN or the Styx Remake
  • Horizon & Silvia - Steve Winwood
  • The Awakening album - Melissa Etheridge (play it all the way thru)
  • [Anything by Blind Melon]

08 October 2008

Just OK is not OK

A great song, either Soul Asylum or Switchfoot. Yeah, that's a bit of a musical chasm but what can I say - my AM musical tastes are a leap of faith each day that what's on Mr. iPod will fuel my ambition to return to work. Different subject: $2.5B lost in last 15 months in retirement funds. And here I'm frustated not to have mad money. Makes me appreciate the roof over my head and the peace I have at night when sinking into my fav chair. I got so mad at this recession that I upped my 401k by a percent. And reasolved to continue going to Dollar Store 'cause it's so much fun anyway! So there, Mr. Rain on my Parade!

Everyday should be a better day than before. Impossible but worth trying. So, I agree that just OK isn't OK. Onward, onward. Time to slam some Yes, Keys to Ascension, into the speakers and kick it up a notch.

15 September 2008


Isn't that a great word? C'mon - you can use it both in polite society to describe certain countries' fiscal policies, your father-in-law's eating habits or the people you see on the way to work. Or at work if you're not lucky. I would like to hear other fascinating adjectives that also are versatile and just a wacked-out bit off the mainstream vocabulary. Nebbish and wonky are two more somewhat dated words that I wish would come back into play!

28 August 2008

To Silflay or Not to Silflay

"Mister Pigivg..." If you don't have ANY clue about what I'm talking about, then you've missed out on one of life's finer literaty experience, a check-box to being a full-fledged literati.

I'm just two chapters out from finishing Watership Down and can't believe I made it through the workday without knowing the ending. I think those little blokes will be just fine though the warren is in disrepair at the moment. Never knew cute lil' bunnies could be so ... [you'll see].

Check him out! My son Chris is a sailor man. A manly man. Modern day Popeye, eh? I can't show the serious pix because you would be scared by his military demeanor. We are proud parents and I hope to loudly and proudly support the U.S. Navy!

P.S. - They train in Great Lakes Illinois, so don't worry about them sufferning in southwestern heat or anything like that. Well-fed, well-motivated and pumped to succeed. More to follow on this topic.

27 August 2008

Mizz and Ms.

Yes, it's been a long time since I rock and rolled, but summer's end means I bloom after wilting in the heat.

Today's brief missive is on the glaring shortfalls of addressing women as 'Ms.' Laaaa-ame. This sound has no flair, no ring, no glamour, and none of that pizzazz that the 'Ms.' of the world will tell you they have (right, Sabrina, Manya & Heather?). Sounds like some lumber-head bureaucrat needed a new title and came up with one before his coffee break. So, gentlemen, take a break to listen, front-to-back door of Melissa Etheridge's latest album, The Awakening. Doesn't exactly make me want to come over to the female side (I ain't man enuf) but it does leave in me a searing image of what women think and how they might feel going through life. Leave it to Melissa E. to get me thinking about this...

31 July 2008

Meetai dikir nemesheyui

"There is no hill that never ends."

This Maasai proverb aptly describes my life this month. Bet any reader would agree it's a universal lenses for all our lives. Any challenge that is overcome is followed by other ones. Even on vacation I'm faced with challenges -- like making myself relax! Maybe it's because I'm immersed in the lives of our two sons that I feel this one hits home. But life and love are good things (like breathing), so my quick thought here is that sometimes you don't WANT that hill to end. I'll be happy to see my young men get onward and upward but am in no hurry to cut the ties that bind, the ones that work both ways. Up the hill I trudge, like a good hobbit, and marvel and what awaits -- and wonder if I'm up to it. So far, so good!

30 July 2008

Picture, Schmickture

Not a nice title, maybe, but it best captures my strange reluctance to take pictures. I often am bummed to see a picture and find that it doesn't match what my memory. It's really simple, though; even a superb picture, full of colors, light, shadow, action and intrigue, aren't accompanied by the smells, sound and (yes, Charlie Bucket) the taste of the occasion. It's perfectly ridiculous to think that I could stand at Two Medicine Lake, MT, gaze up at the mountains and forever remember their magnificence. So, I should stop traveling alone and have a Voice of Reason that says, "Hey, dad, why don't we take some pix? Don't you want to be in some of them?" I always says Yes so fortunately do have some memories. Digital is the way to go, but I'm an Analog Kid at heart so still miss the Canon AE-1 Program days. Time to get with the program, eh?

Next trips are with my friends; with MT Mountain Man Lee to western MD and with PA Shutter Buster Jim to PA parts unknown. A day away from work is fraught with the peril of being closer to one's self, but it's a risk I gladly take.

I wonder at the downwind weather of the Lake Erie in November? I hear the soft and truly sad tones of Gordon Lightfoot and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald resonating in my heart and so will drift off to work, wondering at this new day and what it brings...

24 July 2008

Good Words, Bad Words

Walking to work this morning got me to thinking about more than just little 'ol me. I always reflect on the folks around me, almost relishing the predictable encounters with DC's street people. They're harmless, I think/hope, and they each tell a story. Here's the first in a series of observations that lead me deeper in the wonderment of God's vision of us and His bewildering way of teaching us about ourselves.

'Ingrid': That's the name I've given the pleasant but tortured woman who walks diligently past me as she scurries off to some daily important appointment with life. Ingrid has a noticeable Tourrette's issue. Yes, "issue" not "problem." Our dear friends from AF days past have a son, Shawn, with this issue and he's now 21 and well on his way to overcoming the life challenges and familial heartache it caused. Calling it a problem demeans the person, I think, and distracts us from the person living within this strange shell. Ingrid has her good days, when she's just a bit disheveled and harried looking, to the days when 'the bark' has her under its sway and everyone shies away from this outlandish person. I wonder if they ever see her eyes and know someone inside there also suffers at this ill-founded ostracism, of being looked at like some unhinged freak. It's only right that I don't shy away or stare when she's passing by. He has given her a tough path to walk and the observers of life like me probably are supposed to watch, learn and grow. I don't know what we'd do to help her but hope that she has loved ones who look out for her. Walk on, Ingrid, and let's hope we can share something from your walks through our lives.

21 July 2008

Neil Peart's "The Healing Road"

Ever read a book that grabs you and says, "I know you!"? One that makes you wish it already was lunchtime? This book has done so and, a mere 100 pages into Neil's transcontinental journey, I'm hanging on for the ride. Having lost his only child, 18 year-old Selena, and Jackie, his wife of 22 years, in events but ten months apart, Neil literally pulls himself out of his Québécois wilderness home and hits the road to stay alive.

Why bring this up? Well, first because the story by page 90 becomes uplifiting, an ode to the durable human spirit that powers our bodies. More importantly, his trip is a metaphor for one I'm on, in which I recently realized that it's much easier to keep life's pieces in motion, moving from pillar to post, than to stop and let the mundane realities catch up with you. Guess I'm not that courageous - it's easier to uproot and conquer something down the road than to deal with the here-and-now. Run, run and don't look back.

Ahh, but the runner's instincts kicked in recently and I started looking back. I basically liked what I saw but see you can be doing just Fine but be in the Wrong Place. Apologies for the ambiguity, but I do challenge my readers (if you exist; maybe I'm just talking to myself?) to try some Merlot Introspection. Just one glass while you mull over the why am I here/what should I be doing questions. Heady? Maybe not, but hopefully reaffirming and placing your life/job/plans in some larger bubble of purpose. Makes the day nicer when you kind of know where you're heading - then you know when to sigh in relief when you're arrived.

17 July 2008

The -tions

Today let's talk about the -tions that hovered about me this week like evil little fairies with bad intent: abnegation, resolution and absolution. Not particularly uplifting but as I pace myself through life decisions, they keep coming into play. Try making a decision that doesn't involve giving something up, telling yourself that the plum on the horizon is worth it and then seeking some solace or confirmation that it's a good decision - or that you seek forgiveness for eyeing the Road Less Traveled.

Every time I finish a volunteer park ranger stint, park my bike or running shoes or close down a campsite, I breath abnegation. Time to head back to civilization and the work that allows me to draw closer to what intrinsically is right about me and the world as I see it.

My friend Jim knows all about theless-traveled road - I see him at times through the trees when he shares his life stories and photos with me. Better yet, he sometimes treks through those hoary trees of life to meet mundane-old-me and share his inspirational outlook with me. Resolute and Visionary are his middle names.

Let's not forget absolution for personal miscues and decisions that affect others. I hum the Absolution Blues quite often (thanks, Mssr. Jimmy Page) and have an open tab on begging my family and friends for understanding as I dance to a different woodsy tune. But the tune is good, it is uplifting and I can taste the stars of the cold nights that always are autumnal in my mind's eye.

14 July 2008

What it all comes down to

Check out this application desktop for Blender, a 3-D animation application. It mesmerizes me so I've decided to upload a virtual version into my psyche. I will de- and reconstruct my reality as I see fit. On the fly. Why not? It's not like anyone will notice - unless they're talking and I give them the 1,000 foot stare that says, "You're talking and all I hear is 'Blah, blah, blah.'"

If you think I'm nuts, check out the Tour de France [yo, where's he going with this one?]. As each stage nears completion, some riders stand out for their impassioned bursts of energy. They defy predictions and alter the reality around them as they flare quicker toward the finish. They're seeing the world in a different way before they hopped onto that two-wheeled sled.

Remember: Being willing makes you able. Change your perspective and maybe your reality for the better!

10 July 2008

100 Years of Anne Shirley

Anne of the Island, the third volume, Montgomery has Anne looking out a window in one of her lofty moods. "In imagination she sailed over storied seas that wash the distant shining shores of 'faery lands forlorn …' And she was richer in those dreams than in realities; for things seen pass away, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

How inspirational LL Montgomery can be - even to a guy, by which I mean to say we y-chromosoners are not her target audience. As we sail into summertime, remember to keep those life dreams alive in your head. Sail on, sail away and set your eyes on that distant shore.

09 July 2008

Time, Time, Time

"Time, time, time
look what's become of me."

Let's stay on the subject of commuting today. I stumbled, yes stumbled - when your iPod has over 3,000 tunes it's stumbling - onto the Bangles this beautious morning. Decided it was good to be going to Liverpool on a manic Monday whilst the eternal flame was wondering if she knew what she wanted whilst walking down the street toward the hazy shades of winter. HAH! Top that silliness of jumbling up song titles into a mish-mash.

Beats what else I could be doing, like critiquing signs such as "Only 3 for a $1." Heck, that's a bummer - Was it 4 for a $1 before and now is only 3 for a $1. Or rather should they have said, "3 for only a $1!" It's all about the phrasing, baby. Just like, "I really love you!" versus "I love you, really!" You get my mental drift, right?

08 July 2008

Tones of Home

The title is just right for riding the commuter bus into work - it's a Blind Melon dirge of a song. I, however, took the high road on this gorgeous exurban morning and iPod'd to Summerbirds in the Cellar and to Wilco, both a bit more upbeat.

That off-set the ride on the Mad Max death buggy otherwise called the 'commuter bus.' What is it with those drivers? Unhappy? Undermedicated? Violating parole with wish to be dragged back to Sing Sing? Brake-go. Lane A-Lane-B-Lane D-to hell with it, back to Lane A. Hot, clammy and then icy cold. Did Stalin publish some manifesto on human misery that commuter bus companies have secreted away?

I've been back from campout but one week and the itch is scratching me to get back into the sticks. My reading materials, like the book on 1800's Canada naturalist experiences, must be a bad influence. Think I'll whack Mr. Driver about the head next time he messes with us. Great - I'll be on the roadside crews and be prime meat for him to wax me the next day!

Let me take a deep breath, mentally wander back to Ontario and futher mull over the vagaries of life in the commuter lane (we have NONE in southern MD, have I griped about that?). Too funny...

03 July 2008

Deep Creek SP

Did you ever take a trip in your mind that played out the same way in real life? I think I did. Went to Deep Creek State Park in western MD and discovered the joys of camping with electricity. It's underrated, as in WOW! for my son, who can bring along a couple of modern conveniences like a PlayStation, and for me, who brought Mr. Coffee Machine, my best friend. Let's not forget the Nature Conservancy's Cranesville Sub-Arctic Swamp (with plants left over from the Ice Age), Bear Creek and a couple of expansive waterfalls that the local kids loved to splash around in. We were referred to a great Mom-and-Pop restaurant and that capped a fine day.

Try it sometime - within an hour's one-way drive, we kayaked a large lake and then some wetlands, mountain biked between two state parks, hiked to a closed mine, fished (albeit fruitlessly) several times and had some great outdoor cooking (note to self - you rock)!

Ever wonder where best to teach a young man to drive the family wagon? you're right - a state park! 10 mph speed limit, lots of one-way roads, good signage and most folks not in a rush. 3.5 hours of it and I'm thrilled we tooled through and around the place. Try it sometime - I bet a state forest is even better as long as the roads agree with you.

Since you've hung in there, let me throw in some interesting tidbits:
  • Hummingbirds are as attracted to red Coleman battery lanterns as to a feeder
  • Balsamic viniagrette substitutes just fine for cider vinegar in a sloppy joe recipe
  • The Girl Scouts have perfected omelettes in a baggie - prepped at home and schnarfed at the campout ... yum, yum and no clean-up
  • Board games are livelier at a picnic table
  • Jumping fish, for me, mean I'll catch nothing that day
  • Cycle through mud bogs quickly, not slowly, to stay cleaner (if you even care!)
  • Unlimited cell phone time means you can catch up with lots of friends while hanging at the lake's beach
  • Rain is not your enemy unless you aren't prepared - just work around it and it actually improves the trip since you then can't waste time hanging around

Stop dreaming and get out there - the joy in your head really can come to life!

20 May 2008

Kickstart - November 2007

This is a kick-start of sorts to Two Medicine Man who probably forgot how, long ago, he added me up as a participant to this blog. Not to embarrass him, but here goes with some links to photos of said gentleman.

From November 2007 outing to Green Ridge State Forest in Western Maryland...

Day One:

Our campsite... far, far off the highways of the world, beyond the reach of cell phones and all but the bravest of mankind.

Funny thing is, we went for a several-mile walk... Nearing the end we saw the opening to Stickpile Tunnel - not knowing its name at the time. We thought, hmmm... wonder where that goes. Then we continued down the road - up over the mountain the hard way. Got to the other side, and boom - there was the other end of the tunnel. We could have been dry plus saved about a half hour's walking by going through it - but that's what adventures are made of. :-)

Day Two:

Saturday we took a break and went to Antietam battlefield in time to meet Mannie doing his presentation on one of the bloodiest days of the civil war.

One of the more photogenic areas of Antietam battlefield is Burnside Bridge...

Day Three:

This was to be supper - but when Jose jumped in to chase it down, it dove in and we never did spot it again!!!

These shots are at the C&O Canal running parallel to the Potomac, At the Pawpaw tunnel, on the eastern end...

We were camped right down there, just around the bend in the Potomac past the abandoned railroad bridge.

The end of the day, Sunday, we went past a couple of churches (it was Sunday so Jose said we needed Churchin' Up!) By this point in the weekend we were stinking enough that we didn't go inside - just took photos from down the street (Cumberland MD).

Day Four:

Believe it or not, he whacked that poor tree about a million times with his hatchet... He told me that he was re-enacting the George Washington cherry tree fable... (My take on it was that he'd been working in Washington a bit too long!!)

25 April 2008

You ever ask "Why?"

I do. And as I less-than-gracefully age, I feel more curmudgeonly and confused. So, help me out and tell me why:
  • DC Metro station managers are uniformly nasty. Not overtly, but in that subtle and sneering "Are ya stupid or what?!" mode. They must eat the same bad food.
  • DC Metro signs bite. My #2 Gripe: Dear Boss of Metro: If the walls are dingy from age, why would you have the station's name posts be deep brown with white name lettering? Do you want people to get lost? You'd think Metro gets paid by the time you're a guest of the system. Glad the rides and equipment are great, tho, so I keep coming back.
  • Springtime brings out clothing on certain body types that (really, dear) ought to have been left in the closet. All it does for me is to remind me to be humble and not try to dress for public success since I don't carry it that well. I think I'll start carrying a sign that says, simply, "1 - Go Home and Try Again."
  • Men's bathrooms are so dreary. It's not like I want to hang out in them, but come on, throw me a decorating bone. And what's with all those mirrors? Guys usually don't (tho they maybe should) spend time fluffing their hair. I'd rather they put up a scratching post or something... And what's with that scent, Death by Various Floral and Fauna. I could be rich by creating great scents like Beef Jerky, Another Rack of Ribs and Campfire Nights. Heck, THEN we'd hang out!
  • Lastly, why do people look in buidling window reflections at themselves? Sabrina had a point about elevators and I soon noticed (mostly women, but some guys too) people watching themselves walk. Why? Did they forget to check out the accessorizing at home? I will respect etiquette here and not devolve further into my thinking, so let's just leave it at this: if you're gonna watch yourself sashay down Massachusetts Ave., don't stare. Then other folks will stare at you too and you may find it a tad embarassing...

11 April 2008

Gotta Love the Metro

Here in DC, we have the cutest Metro persona. She coos over the loudspeaker to say things like,
"Please remember that the car doors will not reopen automatically if your purse or
arm gets caught in the door. To improve today's Metro experience, we recommend..."

Is it just me who wonders just how sub-standard your Metro experience would be if you had to depart the platform with only half your arm in a position that would likekly ensure it's not hacked off in the tunnel? I'm glad the lady's voice expressed no compassion nor remorse to cause undue concern about loss-of-limb... I must worry too much.

Sabrina remarked about how uncomfortable it is to have someone looking at you in the elevator's mirrored surface. Hmm, for starters I never get that (?) lucky, but if I did I imagine one of the reactions below would pin the stalker's intentions down. Assuming they're of the opposite gender:
  • Put out your tongue
  • Very discreetly and politely begin drooling
  • Give them your best Mr. Bean imitation
  • Look right at them and tell them it's about time they looked - you've been dying to go out for drinks with them
  • Give them a dead-pan stare right back ... then wink at them!

I imagine it would be different if they were same-gender, so I recommend:

  • Starting pounding your head on the wall
  • Lick the wall (OK, kind of gross but drastic measures may be needed)
  • Kicking up your heels a la Riverdance
  • Again, drooling is a time-honored classic ...

10 April 2008

Tell Me, America!

Why do people push the elevator button at each floor ... while it's still lit. What, we trust technology enough to bet our lives we won't plummet into the building's abyss, but don't think the little white light works right?! And what up backing into parking spots when it takes you three attempts? Are the folks in DC that bad at driving? I reckon "Yes," but maybe I'm missing something here...
Lastly, as I reach out to Arkansawyer, I again feel the truth, the insight, the brotherly love behind the adage, "Old friends are the best friends." Comment number three from him was in April 2006. Two years later, I now see the blogging light and am coming toward it!

Back in the Saddle

It's time to share thoughts, insanity and general mental mayhem with the American populace...