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

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!