I was once again returning to the Big Island of Hawaii. I had month’s earlier secured a round trip ticket to and from Alaska and had since quit my job- so I was broke… again. I gave away all my shit, cashed in my 401 k. and bought a sailboat on the Columbia River so I had other things to do and the timing was not the best, it never seems to be right? That’s usually the reason why people never walk out that door, simply because there is always something more pressing, what a shame. Besides it was non-refundable so if I didn’t use it I would have to eat the ticket. I was most likely going to lose my MVP status without having to fly to the Northslope for work anymore so what the fuck? Might as well rack up some more miles so I can fly to Cancun and try to get lost near the Mayan Temples next Autumn. Why not?
I already flew down to Seattle to buy a sailboat, so I dispatched out of there instead of Anchorage, with very little money and as usual a backpack full of camping gear that would keep me alive while on the Island Walkabout. I made a few contacts I had on island one being a beautiful blonde hippy gal I have known for years and always love to hook up with. She was down in Pahoa and told me she would be waiting naked until I got down there, so of course I got to stepping! I also had a friend bringing my Ukulele, her daughter carried it on the airplane for me since I had such a crazy adventure leading up to flying to Hawaii in searching for a boat in the Pacific Northwest.
So when you’re traveling on a shoestring budget (that is if you have a budget) that usually means a backpacking/camping adventure since you can’t afford to stay at hotels and even if you had the money- wouldn’t stay at one anyhow, that is unless your friends let you shower there when they have a room. I was thinking of returning to the remote and rugged Hamakua Coast where I have for the past two years been trying to link up the Lost Trail of Awini between Pololu and Waipio. Twice I was thwarted and spit out of the jungle broken and burnt so I wasn’t feeling that so much. Hilo is just to God damned wet and since the eruption last year there is nothing left in Pahoa to enjoy except maybe Uncle Roberts and that naked hippy gal hopefully touching herself in my absence. I also had to consider my time frame of 10 days and my lack of travel funds.
Packing the backpack in Alaska, I needed warm clothes for Seattle and all the camping gear I would need to go to Hawaii. It seems that I am constantly in between places. I have mail trying to catch me from Utah to Alaska and then back down to Washington General Delivery. I have to be careful as I am now on unemployment and Medicaid which require replies from letters that cannot be forwarded or I may lose my benefits. I always have a friend back in the “Wood” to check my mail for me and notify me if I have anything urgent that may need attention. The friends I had that were also going to the Big Island were working undercover for me as we were making plans to surprise some other Alaskan friends, we have there who had no idea I was on island. The couple I wanted to surprise had let me stay at their house after all that Cancer Bullshit and it was where I was able to convalesce and did a lot of writing. I am very grateful to have people like this in my life.
I had never even contemplated staying on Kona side before, I usually want to get away from it. It’s where most the big hotels are that I so loath and despise. I do remember though from the previous year, those stone ruins of Ancient Heiaus and how it stirred a desire to explore some of these places to learn more about the Hawaiian Culture of long ago. I knew there had to be a way I could take all this into account and have a great adventure, so I started doing research on this:
National Historic trail is 175-mile-long trail located on the Big Island of
Hawaii. At the height of its existence, it once encircled the whole Island.
Although today it is not yet a continuous trail but can be accessed at several
broken segments along the coastline. The trail was established to access the
traditional ancient Hawaiian culture along with natural geology on the island
and was established in 2000, as a National Historic Trail which is managed
under the National Park Service. Ala kaha kai means “Shoreline Trail”. The
trail follows the coastline over ancient fisherman’s trails through over 200
ahupua”a, the traditional mountain land divisions. In ancient times travel
would often cover both land and sea in canoes for portions of the journey it
passes through both public and private lands providing access to numerous
beaches and resorts, so that would prove interesting. After researching the trail,
I found that there is a State Law that was passed that provides public access
to all Hawaiian Trails built before Western Colonization. I have in the past
had some interesting interactions with security at a four-star hotel while
tramping around the island of Kauai some years prior. I was trying to find a
secret beach I was told about by some locals where there was a small cabin
built I could find shelter during storms. As I was cutting through a golf
course one early morning as I like to do, a couple of security Moke’s on
Segway’s started yelling and leaned their electric scooters towards me. Now I
have been chased many times in my illustrious career as a vagabond. I have been
chased by Cops, Asian Gangs, Black Kids and once by an angry mob of spikes and leather
wearing homosexuals in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. (I was never
so scared in my life.) I must admit though I was at first alarmed when I seen
those Segway’s burst with uncanny speed towards me but soon found it was all
for naught. You see those little electric scooters needed to stay on the golf
cart path’s or they would tear up the grass on that 4-star hotels nice golf
course. I on the other hand had no such restrictions so I just dipped into the
outskirts of the thick jungle. They were not happy that a guy with a huge backpack
that could elude them so easily nor could they fathom why he seemingly jumped
off a cliff and disappeared. Sorry, got off on another story….
Back to the Kahakai Trail. Much of the trail receives only limited maintenance and sections have been eroded or developed into roads. So, I knew it would be difficult to find but that’s half the fun, not knowing what to expect. Would there be “NO TRESPASSING” signs on barbwire fences with a beach full of pinkies or tweeker’s in beach pavilions hustling the tourist? Regardless, it was my intentions to get away from all of that. I wanted to go where people don’t like to go because it is such an undertaking just to get there. I wanted to go where the Local’s don’t even go anymore.
It was my intention to find and hike this trail down to Kona from the airport where I could gather provisions to keep me alive on the remainder of my journey. It’s probably only a seven-mile drive on the highway, and meanders more like 14 along the coast as I was about to find out.
When I got off the plane, I was so tired from lack of sleep because the newlyweds sitting next to me wouldn’t quit professing their Love for each other and sharing their everything w/ one another and constantly asking how the other was doing or how they were feeling or if they needed anything. I’m thinking to myself I bet I could get that plane door open and jump out before the stewardess could stop me, dive into the Ocean below and swim to shore. About made me vomit listening to this bullshit. Wait until the Honeymoon ends when they’re on the beach together and she sees for the first time when he is slyly checking out one of these dark scantily clad Wahini’s on the beach. Congratulations! You just married a Dog.
So, after we landed, I checked into one of my favorite hotels on island- that being in between two coconut trees I could hang my hammock, but the perfectly planted trees were too far apart. Not 100 yards away from the baggage claim though did I find some bushes I just let my backpack drop to the ground and wrapped up in my rain fly and fell asleep. I awoke sometime in the night and heard rustling next to my head so I put on my headlamp I never go to sleep without, lifted my backpack and found about 100 cockroaches in some kind of insectoid orgy. I was relieved it wasn’t huge Cane Spider coming to feast on me as I slept, so I just rolled over and went back to sleep. The following day I made it down to Wawaloli Beach Park where I would start my journey. It’s just a mile or two south of the airport. I’ve been to this park before on my previous escapades on the Big I and like the way the breakers hit the rocks here which make huge splashes. There is a lava shelf that fills in at high tide and creates a great Kiki Pond (Kids) and there is nice white sand here with a few trees and picnic tables, outdoor beach shower and restroom where I could load up on water. My backpack was probably about 40 to 45 pounds. It was a dry bag with shoulder straps on it, so not a true backpack in the sense of the internal frame. So, it just basically hung off my shoulders, something I didn’t mind when I was testing it out before I left but something I would come to later hate. I chose this pack in case I planned on doing any boat drop into some remote areas as I have done in the past. They do work well at keeping things dry when your swimming from the boat in huge waves. Nothing worse than getting to a remote beach, miles from nowhere and all your grinds are soaked with sea water. Made that mistake before- never again. I knew the trail meandered through the lava fields, but I couldn’t find exactly where due to all the industrial buildings around the airport. So, I just decided to make my way down the coast, and I would keep an eye out for anything that looked man made in the torn landscape.
This part of the big island is very inhospitable, not only is it the driest side of the island on the islands leeward side but there are ancient lava flows here that make traveling overland difficult. Every step is one misstep from a twisted ankle which would prove disastrous out there. It is also this reason why so many old Heiaus (Hawaiian Temples) and remnants of villages remain unlike the other side of the Island where they get a lot of rain, the jungle reclaiming the footsteps of the past
Do not fall
here while gawking at the ocean waves, because if you do you will get shredded
by this inhospitable landscape. Some of the lava flow you could tell cooled
down very slowly (Pahoehoe) while other flows were very chaotic (A’a) by the
features it has left behind. It’s a cheese grader for humans. There were no
friendly beaches here either. The ocean crashed into the rocks as she has
always done. An ancient battle between the Demi God Sisters- Pele’ and
In the mid-day heat I set up my hammock on an old Lanai which is like a porch if you will. The foundation stones of old structures were everywhere. I imagined how many others before me had been at this very spot many years before. They were born, lived and died all within this region. Their bones are the Earth now.
Here I contemplated on exactly what I was going to do with my 10 days here. I had been in contact with my friend from Alaska and asked her if our other friends from Girdwood were going to be on the Kona side anytime soon. She said that they were planning to be at Ho’o kena Beach some five days in the future. So, I thought it would be cool if I just surprised them and I sought to make my way there. It’s probably easier to catch the bus but I never liked the easy ways, that’s for pussies.
Within my backpack was my trustee hammock with enclosed mosquito netting, rain fly, fuel stove, water filter, small first aid kit, an assortment of dehydrated foods, a pair sandals and a ditty bag full of miscellaneous items, long underwear & hoodie (it gets chilly between two and five a.m. hanging in a hammock) I had found an old reed mat that some other tramp left behind so I retied it with beach sage and long grass which would serve me well for insulation. I also found a hideous Hawaiian Shirt, Keen open toe sandals and a Nike sun bill someone left on the beach the night before while watching the Sunset. Mama provides. I couldn’t wait to find unknown treasures and long forgotten beaches. There were many coves, points and bays to go in and out of and explore but most the day was just trying to get from point A to point B. I usually start early in the morning when it was still cool out so to stay out of the heat but sometimes, I would get a late start hiking in the heat so that meant I would be drinking more water which meant carrying more. Water was most of the weight I was carrying to begin with anyway which is seven pounds a gallon. All I know is I was going to try and make it to the old Kona airport beach and I just knew that was south. Keep da’ Mauna (Mountain) on your left and da’ Moana, kai (Ocean) on the right. On day 2, I made it to Pele’s well.
It is a lava tube that goes straight down for about 10 feet before curving 90 degrees toward the Ocean where the waves come and fill the tube and explode into the air. It’s an amazing blowhole hardly ever visited because of the difficult trek through the lava fields that is unless you are on a boat sight seeing tour. here I found a Kiawe tree which has these huge thorns. he missionaries introduced it to the islands to dissuade natives from running around naked and barefooted and has since become a huge problem as a invasive species like Guava and Eucalyptus. As I mentioned earlier my arms and legs were sunburnt unlike the rest of my body which was pasty off white from lack of Sun. So I put on the Hawaiian shirt to protect my shoulders/arms and tied it around my waist like Mary Anne so it would tan my mid section and that’s it. So there I am for all the boat tourist to gawk at and wonder how the hell I got there. After a gorgeous Sunset which required meditation with the crashing waves, that evening the stars came out as I was preparing for the next day’s hike. What a brilliant night sky. Mesmerising.
I headed out early the next morning to stay out of the heat and found some remote surfing spots along Ooma Beach. The local surfing community accessed it by a gnarly 4×4 trail I tried to drive a van rental to last year. They set up all kinds of pop top canopy’s and were enjoying themselves on the waves. I seen some gorgeous young Wahini Mermaid’s out there, and loved the way they looked while paddling out into the waves. Right before a wave crashes on them they push the board down into the water which thrust their gorgeous sun kissed asses up and out for a moment displaying their brightly colored thongs covering their most sacred of places, so not unlike the fleeting moment of the “Green Flash” they would dip beneath the waves and escape it’s wrath. Fucking Gorgeous. Women just seem natural out there on the waves and you see a lot more of them out there than days past. I guess that could be said for a lot of things such as snowboarding and big wall rock climbing. It’s simple physics really as women have light upper bodies and strong lower as to power through and not to mention they are more cautious than their male counterparts. I encourage this type of behavior.
I bumped into a guy there and made some small chat on how far the old
airport was while smoking a little weed with him. His hair was sun-bleached
blond his beard was long, and clothes look tattered as if he had been out here
a while. I knew the look as I once sported it myself years before on a much
older island known as the Green Emerald.
He told me if I just kept on going south that would find a foot trail that would pop out at the end of the road where a private community club was and you couldn’t go any further except for on the old trail. I pressed for more info on the “Old trail”, but he had none, so I thanked him and walked into the Private Property I so loathed. Low and behold! Could this be the ancient trail that I was initially looking for? Here it was for the tourist all nicely displayed and not rugged and remote as I desired, WTF?! I followed it for quite some time throughout different types of terrain. until I finally came to the only place I was able to find fresh water which was alongside some outdoor showers for the KOHANAI Private Club Community. They don’t like riffraff like me popping out of the jungle scaring tourist and even though I needed a shower I didn’t want anybody to see that I was there so I drank as much as I could and just filled my water bottles, then I left no one the wiser I was there at all.
They had a historical living park there with some old Hawaiian huts in a garden that were impressive and a display on how the ancient mariners navigated by the Sun and Stars. It is amazing how they mastered the waves and seemingly were much more in tune with the Earth than people find themselves now. I’m always thinking about shit like that. The plight of Man and all. It was these ancient Mariner’s that brought plants like Taro and Coconut to the islands we all identify with Hawaii but was in fact a introduced species like a lot of what we perceive as indigenous.
As I was walking up, I could see that there are high-end homes and multi-level condos in a sprawling golf course alongside which they had planted ornamental bushes to keep rich folk from seeing people that were on the trail to the beach. I can’t tell you how I hate these fucking places. They are huge and out of place here and I have pleaded with my friends who visit the islands to stay away from these facades of Hawaiian Culture and to try going to the real towns with real locals instead. Falls on mostly deaf ears as Ignorance is Bliss. Tourist go to Hawaii and just want to drink Mai Tai’s, forget about their lives back home and lay on the beach all day doing much of nothing. They don’t want to have to go anywhere when it’s all provided for them there at the all inclusive four star resort. Nothing could be further from the truth in what people perceive as true Hawaii and what is. The rich folk live in their little safe communities away from those lowly dark people pushed into even darker remote corners of what was once their own. Discouraged and kept away from all the perfect spots that were once reserved for Royalty now can be had for anybody with cold hard cash.
I was picking up the pace and making myself disappear off the paved paths even though my ankles were sore, the backpack was now pulling me to the ground like a python. After I passed through the main complex of this fake ass private community, I found the most perfect beach that not too many people knew was not natural at all. Little known fact is that the resorts spend millions of dollars to dredge up white sand and put on the beaches for those dumb ass tourist from ho dunk USA to sunbath on.
They had obviously destroyed sacred places to build this Disney-like bullshit. Here were petroglyphs ripped from the lava amongst ruins of where people lived and died now displayed like a museum. Not a “living” museum but a “dead” one. I guess that’s exactly what it was. Yes, there were some interesting signs that told you of how it once was and some of the mitigation measures, they do now in order to preserve these spots but I felt somehow disgusted by it all as well. People get to go to pig roast luau’s where locals have sold there traditions for tourist just like the Alaskan Natives have done up North where they dance in full regalia for the tourist getting off the cruise ships. Maybe I just overthink stupid shit and why should I care about a different culture anyhow right? Yeah, that’s the problem with people, they just don’t give a fuck about each other only their little world and they’re place in it. It’s funny to how these people must have an audience. They are looking around to see who is watching them. It’s all a display for each other and they’re Ego’s.
FUCK HIGH END RESORTS BUILT ON SACRED LAND!!
After escaping those fat ass bright red scabs on the beach slathering themselves over and over with toxic chemicals that kill the coral reef, they all proclaim to love. The corals in Hawaii are mostly dead, that’s what makes White Sand beaches. Most don’t even realize the bleached coral beds that are still attached are dead without color, vibrancy or life, but they are happy to snorkel about with their Go-Pro’s and film countless hours of a few fish within a lifeless sea. The fish populations have damn near collapsed so in order to encourage more fish to stay around the islands for the sport fishermen, the fisheries have put out huge mooring balls that are not for mooring but introduced chains that go to the Ocean floor and has replaced the coral reefs that are dying. This provides shelter for many fish that are damn near extinction. For enough money you can fish for one of these beautiful species on the dawn of extermination to hang on your wall back in Ho Dunk USA.
I came along the section of the trail that was apparent there was ancient work to lay the stones. No one today could build such a thing- economically feasible, that is. Most these sections of the path were created by a King’s Declaration and committed too, by slaves and criminals. That is the only way something of this magnitude could have been built at all. I cant help but think of their plight building a flat surface in such topography they must have worked for years day in and day out.
That day I was hiking at a pretty good clip, and the day was getting hot, I found myself with no shade from trees out in the heat. I could feel that my shaved head was starting to burn since the Nike bill only provided shade for my beak and not my skull. Great, now I look like a Fushia Friar Tuck.
I bought some sunblock when I flew out of Seattle which it is not known for. Not only was it a low sun protection rating (30) but it was in a solid form like a stick of deodorant. I had put some on the morning I departed the airport in a rush. Now I could see that I had what appeared to be sunburnt tiger stripes all over my chest where I haphazardly applied the sunblock and the middle of my back where I could not reach felt like parchment. The backpack was digging into my neck and felt as if it was going to cut off circulation to my arms. Up and down- In and out of the coastline I trudged on through the many tidepools of wonder and grasping talons of lava. I could see the thermal illusions rising in the distance and knew I had to get shelter soon.
My lips were cracked, and I was parched having drank most my water during this leg of my journey, the Sea constantly reminding me of my thirst. I was taking mental notes on what I was going to abandon out of my pack when I got to Kona. Did I really need spare batteries for my headlamp, change for the bus, auxiliary battery charger for my phone since I take so many pictures, foot powder, toothpaste & toothbrush, 2 pots rather than one and not to mention I have my shitty cross trainer shoes and a pair of flip flops along with the open toed shoes I adopted. Three fucking pairs of shoes, really? My Possessions have Possessed me. It angers me on how much plastic I carry in the form of containers and food packaging. When your living out of a backpack one realizes how much garbage you produce on a daily basis because its on your back not disposed of so easily in a trash can and forgotten.
When the lava flows finally gave way to grasslands, I knew I had reached the boundaries of Kaioko-Honokohua National Historic Park. This is a wonderful example of ancient ingenuity. Here the ancients-built amazing walls into the bay that caught fish when the tide would come in. It had several huge holding tanks and it was a source of fresh water. It is just amazing how they built square walls with round rocks. All I wanted to do was go into the fresh water lake and drink but it was KAPU (Sacred). I was able to find a waterhole away from the brackish fishpond to use my trusty water filter and get out all the bugs but believe when I say I would have swallowed it without the filter if I had to, I think algae is good for you and small bugs provide much needed protein.
So, it’s day three I believe when I came to a lovely crescent shaped bay and inviting sand beach. I let the backpack fall from my weary shoulders and made my way to the Ocean discarding my sweat encrusted clothes along the way. This was the first spot I had seen where I could enter the water safely. I waded out into her embrace and let the waves take me, it felt Divine. Then I see this local guy making his way to me and he don’t look happy, so I make it back to my shorts. As I’m dressing, he comes up to me and says:
“Ho! You can’t be naked out here! Dis’ is a National Park Brah! Oh, da’
ladies up der, you see, they want to call da’ cops on you now.” Ho!!
I plead I meant no disrespect and just wanted to clean the trail from my
body on my trek. He then asks where I came from and I told him. He looked at me
You come ova da’ lava? Why you no drive?……
“Well, I um……..” was all I could come up with.
“Oi’ Do I go to Yosemite or Yellowstone and get naked?” he ask.
“I dunno? I stammered.
“No!! I don’t go down to da’ Redwoods and get naked! So, don’t come ova’
here and get naked!! People gonna think I don’t do my job now.”
He softened up a bit after I ensured him, I meant no disrespect to the
ladies, the Hawaiian People or the Mother Goddess Pele and have nothing but
great respect for the islands and all its inhabitants. Then he told me I could
get water at the Honokohau Boat Marina and if I kept going south, I would make
it to the Old Airport Beach and assured me there would be many places there I
could get naked.
I let you go wit da’ warning brah but those ladies gonna fry you Cuz,
c’mon let’s go.”
Then I was escorted from the premises of KOHANAIKI Beach Park where I then discovered I was not at a remote beach as I thought but a tourist destination for all those old bluehairs that just stared at me with disgust as I walked by hiding my face from those ladies who were giving me da’ Stink-Eye hard. The funny part was as I was walking to the marina I look back to the beach and there is a gorgeous woman lying naked on the beach which no one seems all to concerned.
Double Standards Hot Chicks Never Have to Worry About!
Now I refilled my water bottles at the marina watching all the tourist cram onto some sight seeing boats that only rich white guys seemed to own. Not one local Hawaiian had a tourist operation at the trendy marina with all it’s quaint little shops and bars. I am seeing a trend here.
This next section of coastline was north of where the old airport runway used to be so I knew I was getting closer to Kona. This part of the hike made the first section look like child’s play as the lava ungulate over and over making traveling very difficult. It was very hot that day as well but nowhere was there any kind of shelter, I had to press on through the mid day Sun. The beach sage tangled my feet and my ankles were sore I felt as if I had just walked through the Gobi desert. When I seen a park bench and a outdoor shower I damn near cried aloud as I knew I has made it to the park on the outskirts of Kona. I ran up to the shower pushing kids and old people aside so I could drink directly out of the shower head. Locals stared at me like I was an apparition of long dead Elders. I just stood there gulping down water until I could drink no more then lay in the shade of a palm tree, take off my shoes to let my feet breathe and think about my next move.
First on that list was to charge my cell phone/Spare battery as they went dead from taking so many pictures. I found a electrical outlet at a softball diamond so I hooked my phone up and sat at a picnic table while it was charging. I noticed a person sleeping in the dugout and some weird lady pacing back and forth along the runway as she made her way towards me. She yelled:
“I’m going to sit at this table and don’t give a fuck what you think!”
I replied “Go ahead” unplugged my phone and started walking into town. I could see all the street people that lived on the outskirts in their little shanty tarp homes. It’s sad really how some people live over there. I am used to seeing all kinds of people living in the streets but when I see whole families out there I can’t help but wonder how they ended up in such dire straights. Some people have kids living like that with them. I see the parents get the kids ready for school from a tent and eat breakfast on a park bench, a stark contrast to those rich white folk in their Private Communities. Sad.
People who visit the islands don’t think about how difficult it is to make ends meet over there for the locals. Minimum wage is all the high end resorts pay and many find that they need more than one job just to make ends meet. I guess living in Paradise comes at a high cost even for those who were born there.
I picked up some things from the store I would need to make it down to Ho’ Okena which was another 20 miles south of Kona. I walked down the Ali’i Drive (Road of Kings) I found a public beach where I could plug in my phone and make a few contacts. One being a organic marijuana grower that grows the best bud I have ever smoked. His two main varieties were Strawberry Cough and Lemon Chem Cookies which is a hybrid of Lemon Haze, Chem Dog and Girl Scout Cookies. Mmmmmm good. As I was waiting for my phone to charge I noticed this strikingly gorgeous woman. She was standing there in her G string taking some selfies along the beach then looking about like she was lost so of course I just acted like a “local”. I introduced myself and became her photographer for the day. She was so beautiful. Most likely of some Slavic decent, brown long hair, pouty lips and bright blue eyes with a body that was mesmerizing. We watched the Sun set and then said our goodbyes. I would have given anything to just be with her a little longer but she had a plane to catch that night
I hiked up into the high country the following day and made it to where my buddy worked to get a ride further south from him. He could not believe that I had walked that far and just thought it was cool I was doing it at all and was more than happy to part with some of his awesome flowers. I prepared to make my way down to the Ocean and surprise my friends, as I was walking down the long and winding road a small pickup full of locals picking Noni truck pulls over to give me a ride and I smoked them out.
I finally make it to my destination and wait to surprise my friends who have no idea I’m even on the island. As they were unloading their van with camping stuff I approached them with a map hiding my face and with my best pigeon ask if they knew the way to Girdwood! They were all dumbfounded. How the hell did you get here they asked? Our other friends showed up as well and we spent a few days together checking out the south side of the island together,Why would I spend 7 out of 10 days hiking in the blistering heat over lava, when I could have simply stayed on the beach you ask? Because there may be a day where I am too old and broke down to do stuff like this anymore and I am filling up my memory bank so I can remanence about my times as a wayward vagabond.
Besides I like getting lost and have to make my way to that wahini in Pahoa
I am the Ice Road Warrior alone in the vast emptiness of the Arctic. Luna my old friend escorts me as I barrel down the frozen reflection of the sky above.
“Those dumb sons of bitches didn’t realize who they were fucking with.” I thought.
There I was in on the furthest push westward into the National Petroleum Reserve on the Northslope of Alaska. I had recently just made the decision to terminate my employment with Pacific Environmental who I had been working with over the past 7 years.
I have worked as a oil spill technician as far East as Point Thompson near ANWR, far West as Red Dog Mine which coincidently was just fined for Environmental violations, well within the Interior and the Cook Inlet. I know all the in’s and out’s of the slope and have run damn near every ice road up there.
I had for sometime been looking forward to this Willow project which is Conoco Philips latest bid to get more oil from Alaska’s Northslope.
The Willow wells were drilled in early 2016 in the northeastern portion of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
Once the federal government agreed to lease land in the Indiana-sized reserve, it was cracked open for oil development by Conoco and partner Anadarko Petroleum Corp., holding a 22 percent interest in the unit. The discovery was on federal land.
Conoco recently began oil production at the first producing field within the reserve’s boundaries, CD5, where 20,000 barrels of daily production has beat expectations by 25 percent. It is beginning construction this winter at Greater Moose’s Tooth 1, where peak production is estimated to reach 30,000 barrels of oil daily.
“The acreage acquired in the recent state and federal lease sales gives us running room to test the concepts that led to Willow and other NPR-A discoveries,” said Richard Lunam, a top Conoco official.
The Willow wells were discovered in the Brookian Nanushuk geologic formation, relatively shallow rock that has been overlooked by Alaska’s oil industry, as explorers scouted for the deeper and older pools of oil such as those at the giant Prudhoe Bay.
The Nanushuk and the related Torok formation were created roughly 100 million years ago as sediments from eroding mountains deposited across the Slope, when it was an oceanic basin. Caelus Energy and Armstrong Oil and Gas have announced two large Slope discoveries in the formations over the last year.
For all the preparation CP has performed in order to get the permits there seems to one flaw that no one is taking into account and that is that the Northslope is warming up. In order to protect the fragile tundra ecosystem and abundance of animals that call this last vestige of wilderness home all the Exploratory Drilling Projects happen in the winter when there is adequate snow cover. On any given site there is the drill rig, man camps and all the heavy equipment that it all entails to succeed.
This project has a lot of money riding on it, Billions in fact. So when the temperatures were to warm to build ice roads out to the remote location some heads began to get nervous. When I first started working up there I would be dispatched no later than Halloween and would usually work through until Easter. The past three years I have started consistently after New Years and we have to be off the ice no later than March. So needless to say that makes for a short season in order to get anything done.
Like I said I was looking forward to this next project but when I got out there in mid February I knew something was wrong. We were already three months behind schedule and the ice road was compromised by the fluctuating temperatures. All the contractors involved were scrambling to make things work at what I perceived at the expense of safety and environmental concerns. The stress levels were through the roof from the top on down and it was not uncommon for decisions to be based on projected results even though everyone knew we were not going to hit our deadlines anytime soon.
Now I have quit many jobs before but this job was good for me since by the time people started to piss me off the project would end. On the first day I got my ass chewed out by another contractor for something I had nothing to do with. I was told to not worry about it but after the second time I had to set this S.O.B straight on how our relationship was going to flourish. He stood there with mouth agape when I told him calmly that I had once put a man in the hospital with several broken ribs and a dislocated jaw for disrespecting me like that. He turned in a huff and went crying like a little bitch to his boss who then told his crew to keep an eye out for me. One of their workers took me aside and told me that they had it out for me and I needed to be aware of what was going on. That’s fine, I could give a fuck. I let me night guy know what’s going on and he told me that he was also having problem with this outfit.
Later on that same hitch I seen a light plant at an intersection that had frozen and was not working so a semi truck blasted through the four way and went barreling into the tundra which is a gross violation. I had to report it and thought first I would let the Ice Road Superintendent know before I put in all the paperwork. When I went into his office and thought I was being a team player I ended up getting my ass chewed out for causing ripples on the project and to stick to cleaning up oil spills and mind my own business. This is from the main superintendent field wide so I just laid low as I began to realize what was going on. The ice road was two months behind schedule and the rig was starting to move even when they were not quite ready to receive it at the site. Anybody could see that things were setting up for failure but the word from the top was press onward regardless. I called my immediate Supervisor and told him of my concerns and was told to just lay low. So am I just here going through the motions I asked. “Pretty much” was the reply. I knew then this was all a sham and they really didn’t care about environmental or safety concerns it was all about making the deadlines set forth by some guys in Houston, Texas.
So I just continued to do my job the best I saw fit and stay to myself but that all came to a head when I went in to get my timecard signed by the Company Man. The Big Cheese/ Head Honcho. Now I knew better to go up onto the rig during the beginning of the day since that’s when all the big wigs were meeting and the stress levels were at their highest. But I had to get it signed and get it turned in that day before it was to late. That’s when I knew I would no longer be working on this project as the Company Man proceeded to chew my ass out for having to sign the timecard and then he accused me of fudging my hours. I looked him in the eye and apologized and told him I needed to get this signed so I could turn it in. He mumbled something and snatched the timecard from my hand and scribbled his name. I apologized meekly and told him I would I would see him the following day when I started my shift, which couldn’t have been any further from the truth.
That night I went back to my room and started packing my gear with the intentions of driving the 100+ miles of ice road back to Deadhorse and get off the slope as soon as possible at any cost. The following morning I got all my stuff packed and relieved my night guy who had no idea what I was planning. I went about my morning duties and said my pleasantries to the Company Man as promised. I then took one of the trucks I knew had a 60 gallon slip tank for extra fuel I would need on the epic 100+ mile Escape from the Northslope. I filled that tank as well as the onboard tank and set out before the Sun rose. I then pulled the ACS magnet off the doors so I would look like all the other leased trucks on the slope.
I felt a surge of adrenaline as I was committing to something that I knew everyone up there had thought of once or twice in their time there on the “Slope”. You see it was not only this recent experience that got me thinking about my future up in the Arctic. I had 9 months earlier been diagnosed with Stage III Colon Cancer and had experienced a paradigm shift in what I perceived as important in my life. After surgery and chemotherapy I was healing pretty good. I did though start experiencing some gnarly side effects caused by chemotherapy. It was a condition called hand-foot syndrome where the flesh on my hands cracked and my feet began to develop these small blood blisters that were like walking on glass. I was nervous that the cold up there was going to make life difficult which proved true after working in -55 below zero temperatures for a week straight. My right foot went numb and it would not thaw out. Perhaps a condition worsened by the lack of blood flow caused by Diabetes I was now also having to deal with.
Another thing that really was in the back of my mind was the total lack of empathy from my employer on the State of my Health. After all that I had been through with Cancer no one ever asked how I was doing. The only thing that mattered to them was if I was able to work that winter or not. Even when the owner of the company came up to Alaska from Hawaii he didn’t even know who I was, what I had been through or even remotely gave a fuck. In all those six years working for them, taking on jobs with short notice and staying beyond termination dates I had never been offered a raise. In fact I had recently been in talks with our main competitor to go work for them at a increased pay scale. So I wasn’t really to worried about walking away Penco. But I have to tell you I just dont feel right doing this anymore.
The great expanse of the Arctic was there before me as I drove down that lonely Ice Road. The Sun was still well below the horizon and the Moon was full lighting my way. I knew that soon the drill rig would be calling for a fuel transfer which could not be completed without a spill tech present. In fact any fluid transfer would not be able to completed without me there. You see like I said before I have quit many jobs for many reasons but this one in particular was going to feel good. In fact I look for new and interesting ways to quit jobs not content with simply walking away.
The Moon distorts as it raced along side me and became a deep orange color. I bid him farewell and promised I would see him the following day some 700 miles south when I was in Anchorage. Although I was not sure how I was going to get off the slope without assistance from my company. You see, I have seen people get fired or walk off because of the shitty conditions. Its this time when the supervisors would schedule a plane ride off the slope but not before making a spectacle of the would be “quitter”. They would make you wait for the next available plane ride and in the meantime would ream your ass in front of the rest of the crews on site. I seen it done before and was not going to play that game.
But first was the obstacles at hand. On the Ice Road there are Security checkpoints throughout the entire length of road to keep people from accessing projects off limits. I had a total of four separate checkpoints I would have to go through and I knew that once the word got out I was not available and they figured out I was not returning to the project that they would cancel my badge that allowed entry/exit through the checkpoints. This ain’t my first rodeo though and I have been on damn near every ice road on the slope. As a subcontractor for Alaska Clean Seas I had full reign and access to the ice roads which I took full advantage of. So needless to say I knew all the in’s and out, short cuts and ways to avoid these check points.
It was when I was about forty miles down the ice road when I realized that I had forgotten my backpack with my wallet back at my CONX so I had to turn around to retrieve it. Now usually you are not supposed to go over 35 mph. on the ice but here I had to make an exception and like Mad Max from the Road Warrior I was flying down the ice with determination of a fugitive.
As I pulled onto the ice pad where the rig was I grabbed my backpack I forgot and proceeded to do a few more duties so people saw me. I went out of my way to get in people’s way so there was no doubt I was on site. Then I went and got more fuel and set out on the road again. I was not nervous in fact I was having the time of my life in this cat and mouse game. The first check point was at 2L pad and I knew there was a back way around camp I could go to avert it. I stopped in and flirted with this baker gal I found attractive and told her of my plans. She was more enthused than I was and made me a lunch to go and wished me luck. I grabbed her, pulled her in close and told her I wanted to see her when she got offslope. She blushed as I turned away and got in that truck. In case you haven’t noticed,… I’m going for it.
Now the Sun was beginning to rise and I knew the rig would be doing its fuel transfer soon so I blocked everyone that would be trying to call me and turned off my phone for good measure. The next check point came at the camp of Alpine where I went into to grab some coffee and food for the journey onwards. As I walked into camp I seen one of my fellow co workers that was attached to that camp. He had his back to me as he was changing out some spent batteries so I stealthily walked behind him and down the hallway.
“Pando?” I heard from behind me and picked up my pace into the kitchen where I made a couple of quick turns through the kitchen I knew all to well from working there the previous year. I then caused a commotion with the cooks as I chewed their asses for not disposing of their kitchen grease in a responsible manner and told them that my co worker was on his way to make sure they were in compliance. I saw my coworker get assaulted by the kitchen manager with a barrage of questions about what I had told the staff as I smiled and walked out the back door, jumped in my truck and punched it down the road humming that Smokey and the Bandit song
East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’
We’re gonna do what they say cant be done.
We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there
I’m Eastbound, just watch ol’ Bandit run…
I thought I could catch a plane out of the main hub of Kaparuk but was notified that it did not fly on that day so I had to continue onwards to Deadhorse some 80 miles further. I had to be careful here as I knew my boss was prowling around somewhere and I’m sure by now the word was out I was nowhere to be found back at Willow. Now I don’t get nervous easy but I beginning to feel a bit fidgety thinking about how I was going to get through the last check point when I went from Conoco Philips leases land to British Petroleum land. It was my last obstacle.
I knew that they probably cancelled my badge and would be apprehended and to tell you the truth I was close enough to Deadhorse now that I knew it wouldn’t be long before they found me. As I pulled up to the one and only check point I could not get around to scan my badge, the Security guard asked where I was coming from and I pulled some total bullshit out of my hat and told them we had a emergency out on my rig and was told to go to Deadhorse with no delay to pick up a much needed part that was being flown into Deadhorse. He continued on that he couldn’t find my place of origin and I told him that I had experienced problems with my badge before. He was skeptical and wanted to call me in but the office was getting packed on the truck drivers were waiting behind me to get through. He handed back my badge and I thanked him. The Ice Road Gods were helping me out as I breathed a sigh of relief I made it through all the check points but I still needed to find a way back to Anchorage some 800 miles to South without any assistance.
As I drove into Deadhorse I called my buddy who worked for a airlines carrier and told him of my plight. He was more than happy to help me hide the truck while we figured out how I was going to get off the slope without having to go through interrogations of how in the hell I was able to get as far as I did in a seemingly secure world. I even contemplated stow away on a truck on the haul road back to Dawson. Or perhaps I could hitchhike back with some tourist who found that they could not access the Arctic Ocean without a badge which I coincidently had one available.
My buddy found out that there was a Alaska Airlines public plane available that afternoons I walked down to the airport right past the window I knew my boss would be looking out of. But he wouldn’t be expecting me over one hundred miles off my project. Even if he had gotten news I was nowhere to be found we had experienced communication problems in the past so it wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities that I was out on the ice road cleaning up a spill but could not communicate with shitty reception.
I walked into the Alaska Airlines terminal and told them I would like to get a flight off the slope. They asked who I worked for and why I wasn’t leaving on a scheduled Shared Services flight as ALL employees had to do. Now I have used my ethnicity to my advantage before and have passed as Hawaiian, Spanish, Navajo and once as a Puerto Rican so I just stated I was laying over to visit my Aunty in Barrow, I was now a Athabascan for all intended purposes. The problem was it was going to cost me over $500 to fly on short notice. That’s when the lady at the counter asked me if I was a part of the Club 49. Which I stated I was and she informed me that I had access to a one time voucher to get 40% off a ticket for short notice flights. Fucking A man…… Book It Ma’am!
I kicked it with my bro and told him of my latest adventure. He and his co-workers just sat there transfixed as I told them all that led to this situation and they were all in agreement that they wish they could do the same. It was stories like this that people thought of but had never heard of actually happening. We all laughed about it and I felt a great weight being lifted off me as I went out to the Company Truck and took out all the Arctic Gear the company provided for me and placed it in the truck I would leave in it so they couldn’t hold my last check. That is if they could ever find their truck.
As I was waiting in line to get onboard the plane I thought at any moment Security was going to come in a drag me off but nothing of the sort ever transpired. As the plane took off the tarmac and we reached into the Cold Arctic Sky, I saw down below all those poor Sons of Bitches that were looking above at the plane I was on wishing they could leave the Icey Talons of the Oil Indusrty.
I pressed my face on the window as the airplane tilted towards the Southern Horizon and “Flipped” the Bird with my middle finger to all those assholes below caught in a perpetual destruction of the Earth.
Therein I left it all behind as I Escaped the Northslope and contemplated pulling my 401k. to buy a sailboat to start an adventure of Epic Porpotions.
Our dread locked vagabond remained in Colorado after that Winter of 92′ in Crested Butte, Colorado. He was known to be seen at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival from time to time and the Old State Bridge rail house that got converted into a bar which played great music. He seen Deep Banana Blackout there once. It was also the point where you could take a old forest road to Steamboat Springs through some beautiful mountain valleys, somewhere out there was a place called Casa del Rio (the River House) a commune of river rats, mountain bikers, nudist, retired criminal bikers and those seeking to soak their bones in the plentiful hot springs were among the banks of the Colorado River. It was surrounded by buses and tents full of river raft guides and old ski bums summering in the lowlands. In the center was a outdoor restaurant that would literally open their walls that only served the best Bar B Que ribs in the middle of no where, every dog had a bone. He used his sisters boyfriends house in Grand Junction as home base and started venturing out into the surrounding country as far west as the Manti La-Sal range and town of Moab, Utah to the West, Mesa Verde Anasazi N.P. to the South, Crested Butte to the East and the Bookcliffs to the North. there was no shortage of gorgeous country to try and get lost in.
He found the freight train Hobo lifestyle indicative along with the hitchhiking mode of transportation more to his liking than owning a car. Every fast food truck stop was a opportunity to grab free condiment packets. KFC was a favorite because they had handy wipes to go, perfect for hippy bath’s when those hot spots get ripe. It’s here on a highway outside of Rifle Colorado that he and a random hitchhiker find themselves on the side of the road where no God fearing cowboy would dare pick them up.
“Hey check out that dead deer, must’ve got hit recently.” the stranger admits.
“Hmph” the Wannabe Tramp replied.
“Shit, I’d eat that, wouldn’t you?”
“Uhm… I dunno man, looks a little bloated.”
There they stared down at the poor beast frozen in it’s death throws, eyes wide open- black, lifeless. The guy with the huge backpack was hitchhiking to Snowmass Ski Resort up near Aspen. He had been collecting Pepsi proof of purchases and ripping others off the boxes in order to cash 250 of them in for a free voucher deal, he took full advantage of collecting enough to get him a week’s worth of free tickets. It took him about 2 weeks to gather them all begging, borrowing and stealing them all. He had his trusty backpack still full of outdated camping gear from every thrift store he could find along with a Dayglow Green 169 Barfoot he got from some dready gal in Crested Butte earlier that year when he hitch hiked from Oakland. He had since hand painted all kinds of tribal shit and runes in crazy dayglow colors that had the power to induce hallucinations in recovering addicts just by the sight of it. He met the other hitchhiker as they both were trying to get a ride for half the day with no good results. It was getting towards nightfall and the temperatures were beginning to dip as the Sun wen’t behind the steep red sandstone cliffs.
So as the hunger starts to creep up on these two tramps hitchhiking outside of town, a figure was seen walking up the on ramp to where they were hitch hiking. It was definitely female from the strut she was luring drivers with. To their dismay, as she got closer it became apparent that her glory days were over and had been through one hell of a life. It looked as if someone tried to put out a fire on her face with a ice pick. She must have just got released out of jail from last summer festivities and looked like she had been detoxing something fierce. She was of some kind of Indian tribe, which one? I couldn’t tell you and she had some battle scars along a tattoo on her neck to prove it. Now as I mentioned before these two guys had been sitting out there all day as the Sun went from one side of the valley to the other and only one car pulled over only to speed away as they ran with wild abandon up to the truck to only be left spitting out rocks as it sped away. Dick.
Now comes this gal wearing go go boots, daisy dukes barely concealing her her old weathered saddlebags. There she was in the middle of winter working her Mojo on the roadside as the two watched in amazement. Whatever incantations she was shrieking to the sky along with some rudimentary twerking maneuvers ( In her defense it was the early 90’s so they were still perfecting the new craze) it damn near near caused a 20 car pile up as all them blue collared tweekers were vying for position like NASCAR to pick her up. It happened so god damn fast it left their heads spinning as all these pick up trucks pulled over to get her, then as fast as they pulled over they all left after she got in one. There they stared in disbelief as no one offered them a ride. The old tramp cursed most of “woman kind” in a verbal tangent and it was all he could stand, said he was going to hop a freight train to Denver. The Wannabe rubbed his old battle wound from that Crazy Train years before and bid him farewell and started making plans to seek shelter for the night when a car pulled over and offered him a ride.
Staring at the bloated carcass he got to thinking about how he got in this predicament out there on that cold lonely highway. Reminiscing how he got a mountain bike at a pawn shop in Grand Junction that folded in half which was great to start riding from Orchard Mesa up onto the Highway 70 on ramp on the outskirts of town where he could then fold up bike to stash in the trees until he returned later. The bicycle ride was half the adventure. Here he was with this huge metal frame backpack on his back w/ a snowboard, gear and boots strapped to that. Once he was at a good hitchhiking spot which needs to be both an easy place for people to turn off to pick you up but also a place where your going to be seen by all. He had by now had a routine of setting the backpack and snowboarding gear front and center which usually got someone to realize he was not a psychopathic killer out on the highway. He always thought it was funny how people would worry about him hitchin’ rides everywhere. He had done it for years and when that didn’t work he would hop freight trains to get somewhere he had never been before.
Sometimes things went bad as it did in Oakland one time while hopping a freight train after the bars were shutting down in the heroin infested suburb of Jingletown. He was too shitfaced drunk from the Tropicana bar to walk home. He knew the train that was going by would take him across the Fruitvale Bridge into Alameda where he lived. He attempted to run alongside the rail cars and half ass dove for the ladder on the side of it like shit James Bond would do. That’s when he heard a loud bang then nothing. Everything hurt and he found himself lying in front of a car waiting at the railroad crossing arm. He couldn’t tell if he was seeing red from all the blood in his eyes or from the flashing red lights from the railroad crossing as the bell was ringing in his ears. As the train steel wheels ground out their shrieks he thought he might have lost his legs as he reached down to feel if they were still there. He couldn’t hardly move and he wasn’t sure where it hurt more. The wheels were inches from his head as he lay prone on the ground in terror. Then he heard a voice yelling at him from the car he had landed in front of after getting hit by the train (or “he hit” as some may argue) he was an elderly black man
” Hey man?,……. get the fuck away from that train!” He shrieked standing alongside his old Buick.
It was all he could do to crawl away leaving a trail of blood towards his car.
” What the fuck is wrong with you man? You trying to get yourself killed?” The old-timer cursed as he helped him to his feet. He went on to tell him how he watched his futile attempt to dive for the ladder and instead got hit and flung twenty feet into the road where he was waiting for the train to pass.
“I thought for sure you was a goner!”…. lucky fucker.
” Guess so,..” he muttered
He turned and walked back into the bar where some old Mexican Boxers stitched him up on the spot. A huge gash was alongside his jawline. He would wear that scar for years and was the main reason he started to sport a long goatee which he would make popular for grunge rock stars to imitate.
He ended up digging a snowcave into the hillside and spent the night out there in the Blue Spruce and Aspen forest. Eating a piece of beef jerky and a peanut butter and jelly tortilla roll, wondering how that deer would taste. Happy as fuck to freeze his ass of in order to get some free turns on yet another ski resort in the Colorado Rockies.
He got rides from all sorts of people and found most had some soft spot for his plight. Just the size of the backpack spurned images of Jesus bearing his cross and for those who had to suffer the grind day in and day out thought it was something nice they could do for him because most of them wished they could drop it all and do the same.
There’s a riot in the streets, tell me where were you?
You were sitting home watching your T.V.
While I was part of blatantism anarchy
There he stood above the tunnel in between Alameda and Oakland,
California where looters and protesters were causing all kinds of havoc on Broadway Avenue,
protesting the Rodney King Riots that were sweeping across the Nation.
“Sad it has finally come to this shit.”
He thought, as he put his newly acquired stereo in his backpack.
He was used to the racial tensions but never really thought he would live to see the day when the
National Guard shot rubber bullets and tear gas into one and all regardless of race, religion or age.
Nothing new he thought considering in 1966, (the year he was born) then acting Governor of California,
Ronald Reagan sent in Riot Police and the National Guard to beat down demonstrations against the
Vietnam War at the University of California, Berkeley
-the epicenter of Vietnam War protest.
He was born into a time of war and civil unrest……….
Everything was in Crisis.
Crisis of Confidence.
Or there always seemed to be a War.
Cold WarWar on Drugs, War on VietnamContra CostaWar in the Middle EastWar on the Poor It’s what he grew up with. It’s all he knew and saw Mr. Cronkite, the last honest journalist, on the
television set 24/7. Some called it Civil Unrest while others called it Anarchy.
ANARCHY,…………….. he liked the sound of that.
About half way through his first year of college he found out the kid he was raising wasn’t biologically his and the State of California came and took him away. It seemed like it was a blessing in disguise having a kid got him to get his GED so he could go to college and off some hardcore drugs but at the same time when they said he wasn’t his, he wanted nothing more to get out of the East Bay and go to the Mountains. Tired of all the bullshit following the riots he decided to cash in his financial aid check from attending Laney Community College to pursue his new found passion of Snowboarding. He had skied before in Lake Tahoe back in 1976 when he was 10 years old but took to this new found “snow surfing” more to his liking. It was so different from skiing in so many aspects and it was new.
The first time he went “riding” was at Dodge Ridge ski area in 1989, a small Ma and Pa mountain one of the few resorts within the Sierra Nevada mountains of California that allowed snowboarders at all. As they were deemed to dangerous and out of control with their crazy hair, music choices and clothes style that bucked certain trends of the day.
One of his friends at the time took him up to the top of the lift and told him to just get to the bottom in one piece and to take it easy. Attaching his required leash strap to his leading leg and snowboard, he stands up taking in the view of snow encrusted mountains then pointing the nose of the board down, he soon found himself flying down the run, tears streaming behind. He could feel his heart beating with adrenaline, cold air burning his lungs and then somewhere in the distance could hear his friend screaming from behind;
“Dude!….Turn!….” Tuuuuurn!!…..” Oh FUCK!!,….. TUUUUUUUUUUUURN!!!”As he was gaining more speed the board begins to shake and shudder and soon what was once in motion ceased to be immediately. The next thing he learned about snowboarding was called “catching a front edge”, so into the hard packed snow he face planted with a total “yard sale” of all his possessions not enclosed in a zippered pocket or strapped onto his body which coincidently included his bag of weed and brass protopipe which no “Shredder” ever went without.
Coughing up blood and snow he laughs back:
“Now you tell me?” He was sold from that point on. Even though the rest of the day continued to be full of “caught edges” to and fro and no shortage of face plants into the Sierra Cement that tasted like Vanilla to him. It had a much easier learning curve than skiing he thought. Since that experience back in 76” was somewhat similar on top of Squaw Valley where he employed the same tactic, which came to be known as “Point and Shoot Technique” within a few yards he ended up hitting a ski lift tower. A female Ski Patroller came to his rescue. He was in love at first sight of her Farrah Fawcett hairdo, huge white frame Varney’s and “tight ass hell” fitting multi colored one piece ski suit obviously provided for by the ski resort. Free Advertising in Z flesh!
Little did this guy realize that 35 years later he would be operating a snowcat at that same ski area known as Squaw Valley. Mountain Climbing and Backcountry Splitboarding some of the best terrain in the lower 48 States and Alaska. He came into old ski areas with names like Crested Butte, Donner Pass, Leadville, Wolf Creek, Brighton and Driggs where he would usually find himself inexplicably involved in some type of altercation, debauchery, or overindulgence that all ski towns provided with Drugs, Alcohol and no shortage of hot ass International J-1 workers from some Slavic country. He loved Hunting for Snow Bunnies.
Regardless of circumstances he always seemed to come out on top of it all somehow, albeit sort of battered and perplexed.
Herein lies some of the those tales in a place somewhere East of Nowhere, West of Somewhere, North of Sometime, South of Some place………a place called Pandomonium.
HARMLESS- CRESTED BUTTE OR BUST
Since getting into snowboarding he never missed out on a Snowboarding magazine he could research the very primitive equipment of the day and to find out the best ski towns to live in for cheap. This was his priority. He was constantly on the hunt for discount tickets and would harass people at any and all ski resorts, throughout the Sierra’s, Wasatch, Teton and Rocky Mountain Ranges. He would spy those who were leaving early and request “or trade some weed for clipping” their lift tickets to use for the remainder of the day. Back then, a ski lift pass was a wire you looped through your coat zipper with a mountain pass sticker applied, which they clipped off and tied onto new owner. Great way to ride on the cheap while surviving on P and B tortilla rolls or anything given to him by the food bank. Way before all that high tech crap they got now. Cheap and Easy since most people usually only rode half the day anyhow. Ski Patrolers Hated fuckers like him and he loved fucking Corporate over anyhow.
Win-win situation right? Although a somewhat parasitic relationship.
In one such rag he found a story about a Ski for Free deal that was held early or late season in Crested Butte, Colorado. It was also going to host the first ever Big Mountain Competition.
Anatomy: Crested Butte’s North Face
Don’t be fooled by the T-bar that accesses this terrain: This is no bunny slope. The North Face, a massive back bowl that slants as much as 50 degrees, is the site of big-mountain competitions and gladed, fluff-filled stashes. If it’s a powder day, get here quickly.
1) Honey Pie: For a perfect warmup run, ride the North Face T-bar and follow the signs to Rachel’s, a mellow slope that gets trampled quickly. Halfway down, drop over the ridge to your right to reach Honey Pie, a 32- degree open slope. If that’s tracked out, traverse skier’s right through the trees to find softer snow in the well-spaced woods of Stevie’s or Paradise Glade.
2) North Face Cliffs: From the T-bar, follow the signs to the North Face. You’ll go down a short groomer, then cut right on a traverse through the trees. From there, pick your line. North Face Cliffs can be unskiable in lowsnow years, but when it’s filled in, you can huck 50-footers if you’re so inclined. High Notch and Hard Slab offer smaller 10-footers or 300 vertical feet of soft, cliff-free skiing.
3) Hawk’s Nest: Ski High Notch or Hard Slab, then head straight down through the thinned-out trees to Hawk’s Nest, a wide-open slab of wind-buffed cream. On a powder day, you can slash three big turns down this 400-vertical-foot face. If it hasn’t snowed in a couple weeks, watch out for car-size bumps. Veer right toward the bottom to reach Rosy Lane, a knoll that often hides powder.
4) Last Steep: If you’re itching for more vertical, head down from Rosy Lane moving left to reach Last Steep, a smooth 40-degree pitch. If your legs are killing you, head far left about three quarters of the way down Last Steep to catch Bucks Traverse, an unmarked singletrack through
the trees back to the Paradise quad. If you’re feeling ballsy, go skier’s right of Last Steep, for Cesspool, Sock it to Me, and Little Hour Glass, venues in Crested Butte’s notoriously steep big-mountain comp. Each is riddled with 15-foot mandatory airs and narrow 50-degree chutes. You’ll need a big dump for much of the rowdy terrain here to be skiable.
In 1992, Crested Butte hosted the Lower 48’s first extreme-skiing competition, with the qualifier on Hawk’s Nest. Four years later, the venue was moved to Sock it to Me, where Seth Morrison first spun a helicopter off a rock.
The North Face terrain is, well, north-facing. Which means it stays shaded longer. Translation: no sun crust to deal with. Powder stays dry and cold almost all day long and well into March and April.
Summit elevation: 12,162 feet
Base elevation: 9,375 feet
Total vertical drop: 3,062 feet
Skiable acres: 1,167
He heard of Colorado from old Mountain Man yarns and John Denver songs. All he knew about Crested Butte was it was a old Victorian Mining town that had a badass mountain on the out it’s back door. There, someone came up with the idea for the ski resort to offer a free pass early or late season. How they came up with this ploy was nothing short of “Supergenious”. Typically in the early or late transition season, early November or late April the crowds are not at the resorts because the snowpack may be too thin. It was no easy task in order to get to Crested Butte as well compared to Aspen or Breckenridge. So in order to draw people to the town of Crested Butte the business owners would pay for the operating cost of a few lifts to open and in return they would reap all the cash flow from the hundreds of ski bums from across the country and beyond that came to ski for free. The mountain pass had a calendar on it for those free days and they would simply punch out the days you rode. He gave offerings to the Snow God Ullr and soon was planning to hitchhike out to Colorado, some 1700 miles away from Oakland.
He just couldn’t wait to get all the gear he thought he would need from the local Army Navy Surplus store. Now one thing you have to understand was everything was sought after not by the quality of gear mind you but how cheap if not for free he could get it. Even a bunch of old gear that he wouldn’t ever use was given to him from bro’s who had useless shit they wanted to get rid of. It consisted of a old military steel frame backpack made from heavy canvas along with a gas stove that rarely stayed alight. A bunch of knives, one huge Thermos, the kind of flashlight you could fight Sasquatch off with, miscellaneous twine gum and wire like MacGyver, one cheap emergency blanket, a 10×10 blue tarp for shelter and a slingshot just in case he had to eat a rabbit or something. Most of his clothes were made of cotton which does not hold insulating properties well when wet. His younger sister told him nylons kept her warm so that along with some 100% cotton long underwear was the extent of any base layers. He soon was able to get a ride to Salt Lake City, Utah where he had old friends and some family. There he went to Kmart and bought some of those slip on snow booties that you would hardly empty the garbage in without a blowout. He tightened them down with a heel harness made of duct tape. A banana yellow rubber rain suit and some old steel snow shoes were found at a used outdoor gear shop to complete ensemble of Ghettoness.
But more importantly, he found a old plastic snowboard at a yard sale with these hideous steel exposed screw edges and only very primitive slip in bindings. They couldn’t even go that far as to call them bindings, something most likely probably found at Toys “R” Us. Didn’t matter much since there was a ton of heel slop in those cheap ass Kmart booties anyhow.
in his mind it wasn’t about the latest gear/trends. It was more about the journey ahead.
He then got a ride from Salt Lake City to Pueblo, Colorado and ended up going to the True Value store getting a bunch of screws, washers, heavy duty rubber bands and bungee cords in order to hold his feet on the board, did some much needed P-Tex work with some JB Weld on core and reset popped off edges which he also tuned up with a small bastard file. He took one look at it and proclaimed it “The Frankenboard.”
Somewhere outside of Pueblo, Colorado a big Norwegian Skier pulls over to pick him up before Sunset as the snow gets deeper and the temperatures plummet. The driver couldn’t believe this dude was hitchin’ across the West to Snowboard and he was more than happy to give him a ride into the Old Victorian town of Crested Butte.
Ski Town: Crested Butte, Colo.
This southern Colorado burg charms visitors with all of the beauty and none of the attitude.
The renegade of ski towns, Crested Butte sits in the center of the state and is noticeably less chic than its northern neighbor, Aspen. Yes, it’s a little hard to get to, and a little rough around the edges, but Crested Butte boasts as much town pride as it does eccentric characters and locally controlled real estate. Intriguingly, this mining town was never successful enough to establish brick or stone buildings, so colorful, wooden Victorian-era structures dot the downtown, where people ride their fat bikes year-round. While it was a shock to locals when Crested Butte Mountain Resort decided to go Epic, many people feel confident this could mean much-needed improvements to the ski resort without impacting the core and genuine funkiness of this town.
When he got dropped off in the old town it was after midnight, no one was on the streets where the snow was at least eight feet deep on the sidewalks! He was in awe and felt like he was in a Charles Dickenson’s fable. The snow was falling with the street lamps casting shadows of the falling flakes, it was surreal. The first night he stayed inside a old bus stop that was at least warm enough to sleep and soon fell into a deep slumber where the aches and pains of our road weary traveler would not phase him. He awoke the next morning in search of someplace to call home for a few days or weeks. With the old backpack straining under the weight of the not needed gear, he set off to explore this charming town. Settling into a coffee shop where he ordered the most divine white hot chocolate, he was able to pick the minds of the locals on his best bet for shelter. Some eyed him suspiciously and suggested checking out the post on community boards or dig a snow cave, which he seriously contemplated. While wandering through town he made mental notes of all the best “watering holes” and public restrooms.
As night settled in he found himself going down some old ally ways and found a old miners log cabin. He approached the door and let himself in and then he heard,
“Dude close the door! Find a spot to crash, we ride early.”
As his eyes adjusted to the darkness he could see forms in sleeping bags on the floor, work benches and loft. He could hear snoring and lovers giggle, he knew he was home.
The next day he awoke alone. He was so tired he slept through everyone getting ready. He got his gear together and threw his backpack into a corner along with a pile of other peoples shit. He caught a local free ride bus dressed in that rubber rain suit he paid $12 for. The bus had all the local dogs in town painted on it.
When he arrived at the Mountain’s ski lift ticket office he was just amazed how they gave you a pass with no exchange of money, it seemed so foreign to him. He was stumbling in a rush to get his cheap ass shit together as he got in line for the chairlift. When he got to the loading zone the “lifty” stopped him looking suspiciously at his Frankenboard. The pock marked teenager spurted,
“Uh dude, I don’t think I can let you on with that binding setup man…..”
He about came unglued on this poor unsuspecting lad and was then assaulted with a barrage of the trials and tribulations it took for him to get there at all. People behind him in line chimed in chanting let him on let him on! So the kid nervously lets him load on a chair to avoid a mass uprising of these vagrant cheap ass mother fuckers who came to ride for free.
He had a smile so big as the chair whisked him up over the left side of the Northface. He had visions of “hucking” off the cliffs and taking away the Big Mountain competition which was being held later in the season.
As he offloaded and could see the Maroon Bell Mountain Range that inspired our Purple Mountain Majesty line in our National Anthem. The Aspen trees were all naked and he shot directly for a mature stand to test his board. Soon he found himself in a open glade where he ollied up over a small knoll, that’s when he heard the loud snap as he landed, the board shot down the mountain without him. He stood there all alone in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains and watched as his board fly down the gully in perfect unity with the fall, line never to be seen again. He looked down and seen the so called bindings were still strapped to his feet. Apparently the rubber bands held but the old screws holding the bindings on the deck stripped out.
There he sat contemplating jumping off the nose of the Northface where they wouldn’t find him until Spring thaw. Then he busted out his trusty wooden pipe and smoked a bowl of the strain of the day which was most likely some horrible cheap Mexican weed full of stems and seeds. He didn’t care as he laid back and made a snow angel and was still in pretty good spirits considering the situation. Approximately one and a half hours later he finally made it down to the mid mountain lodge/bar. It was just opening and empty except for a young beautiful blonde dreadlocked bartender. He sat down in front of her sweating his ass off as he stripped down to his skivvies. She looked at this odd jumble of knock off gear and the long 1/2 ass attempt at dreads matted to his neck from sweat and a nose ring.
“Hi, why ain’t you riding?”
She said softly wherein he went on about his journey and ultimate demise he just experienced while ordering two beers and a shot of Jägermeister.
She looked at him with empathy in her heart and said:
“Your in luck dude! I got a old 163 Barfoot I will sell you for $20, right now.”
He held back tears and pulled out his thin wallet and handed her over a Jackson, most likely his last. He was back in the game and gave her a nice overly long hug for her generosity, she pulled away and looked at him for a minute then said:
” You should go get some turns in and drew him a map of some powder stashes on the mountain.
It would seem there was a God and his name was ULLR. The next few weeks were like being at the child of a Grateful Dead concert and the World Cup ski races. People with the passion to slide down the mountains in pure wild undeterred abandon, where only those with you heard your war whoops and cries of ecstasy. Intimate friends these once strangers would become family in a moment off a cornice. There dug deep into the mountainside near Irwin Lodge was a snow cave dug of immense proportions. No less than 6 separate caves like a giant Ant farm for knuckle draggers, three pinners and those downhill guys too. It was out fitted with the back seat of cars for sofas and small nooks glowing with candles, a Monastery for those who dared to brave the epic call for shredders in that winter of 1992.
One night the reggae band known as Eek a Mouse was playing at the Brewery in town. This was such a energetic show with people getting out on the dance floor just having a great time as a snow afghan knitted flake by flake blankets the town. He made his way up front with a pipe full of weed w/ some hash sprinkled on top. He took a deep hit in between sets and blew it in the singers face then handed it to him who then handed it off to the remaining members. Then everybody just started passing around joints as the Reggae Vibe played into the sumptuous night. The temperatures were literally rising inside and everyone is stripping down to their skin sweating and grinding in unison. As the wee hours of the night trudged ever onward he found himself dancing with damn near every woman in the bar then staggering back to the wood shed he had called home for 2 weeks, alone. His hair was frozen like ice latte dreadlocks and one clump even snapped off right side of head. He had no shirt and steam was coming off his body as he drifted down those alley ways where Doc Holliday once stabbed a Man behind Kochevars Bar. After damn near freezing to death walking back he found his spot in the loft he commandeered once the lovers left. He snuggled into his old army down bag that weighed at 15 pounds and fell into a deep slumber. Sometime the next morning he is awakened because he cant seem to move his arms or legs for that matter. Oh man could it be he took some unknown substance from that hottie the night before and is now feeling the paralyzing effects? Not out of the question been known to happen before. The more he struggled the more it became apparent after trying to gnaw his way out of the sleeping bag with his teeth that it was frozen to his body. It was like a ice python suffocating him. Struggling for an eternity rolling back and forth across the floor like Harry Houdini, he was able to free one arm and make his way out ever so slowly like a beautiful Snowdragon coming from its nymph stage. As he stood there trying to figure out just what in the fuck happened he smelled urine as he thawed out. Then picking up the frozen bag realized that in his drunken stupor he pissed on himself and then froze solid in his sleeping bag. Well it looked like it was going to be a laundry day down at the frozen over creek next to Kochevars Bar where $2 beers and Free Popcorn would keep him content and the ever constant hunger at bay. His clothes were once again hanging out over that old potbelly stove in the corner where he was playing on the Old Shuffleboard deck, his ass flap half unbuttoned. The afore mentioned sleeping bag is steaming of the remnants of White Buffalo Peace Ale. Tune in next time kids for more misadventures of Pan Same Pan Time same Pan channel……….. FUTURE POST YET TO COME:
Powderhorn / Grand Mesa
Ski Bum Lifestyle- Northern Exposure
Snowbird Utah 1995
Temp services cave dwelling hitchiking back to GJ w/ Cujo handy wipes hippy bath
Flagstff Mtn. Granola 3 pinners
Feather River College Nor-Cal 1996
Pack Station/ Stable Ops/ Equine Science
Colorado Mtn. College Leadville CO. 1997
Ski Area Operations, Glenwood Springs/ Breckenridge
Copper Mountain, CO. / B Lift Pub/ Poma
Brandywine / Jail
Death comes in threes
Aztec & Inca
Lake Tahoe/Royal Gorge / Donner PassGrey Ghjost FJ40 Grand Targhee IdahoI brought way to much HASH to Idaho Fugitive
No I ain’t fuckin’ gay,…. besides it wouldn’t matter if I was anyhow when it comes to this evil bitch. She has no prejudice in who she kills.
So for the few that haven’t heard or figured it out.
I have been Battling Colon Cancer for 6 months now.
Before you all “freak the fuck out”- start blowing up my phone, fb page, running up to me telling me how Sorry you are, crying, never-ending hugs, please chill.
I got this.
I don’t respond well to that type of energy albeit with good intentions besides I don’t like being touched. No worries if you feel the need too & are of the female persuasion. I guess I will have to deal with it, but let it be known I don’t have time to cry about it nor think for a minute I am going to do anything but squash this shit
Just read it like a Epic Novel full of Metaphors and Analogies, preferably high as fuck.
BATTLE OF THE HYDRA
(Alcohol, Diabetes and Cancer)
I chose the Greek mythological serpent to represent the diseases I now face. Seems befitting with numerous heads that when cut off, two or more heads regenerate in its place immediately. The middle and dominant Hydra head was immortal and breathes fire. The giant serpent’s other heads possessed poisonous breath in addition to poisonous and acidic blood.
Journal Entry 7/22/18
I started experiencing bad stomach/intestinal cramps last month w/ accompanying digestive issues that would come on in waves & it fucking hurt like a had been stabbed with a piece of old rusty rebar in my lower abdomen. At first, I thought I was having a appendicitis but it was on wrong side. I would literally fall over in pain and curl into a ball on the cold concrete floor until it would pass, I would come to fear these onsets. I went to a Dr. and we both thought it was due to me getting back on my medicine for Diabetes that was known to cause discomfort sometimes. Wait, huh? Yeah… I was told the year prior I was pre-diabetic and if I didn’t change my lifestyle I would be diabetic without a doubt. So what did I do you ask? Well like most humans I thought
“No big deal” and I had time later to do something about it,……. you know, when I’m ready. I continued to party my self into a dangerous glucose level. Usual glucose levels should be between 70-110mg/dL. I’m sure mine was up in the 3 or 4 hundreds if not higher. I don’t really know because I wasn’t checking my blood back then like I was told to. You see I had been on a bender for awhile in case no one noticed. One hell of a ride, not without it’s consequences. I had in recent months started experiencing these hellacious hangovers with sweats much more intense than your common variety and weird shit I cant explain except only as being highly TOXIC.
“A” is for ALCOHOL (First Head)
For most adults, moderate alcohol use is probably not harmful. However, about 18 million adult Americans have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). This means that their drinking causes distress and harm. It includes alcoholism and alcohol abuse.
Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, is a disease that causes
Craving – a strong need to drink
Loss of control – not being able to stop drinking once you’ve started
Physical dependence – withdrawal symptoms
Tolerance – the need to drink more alcohol to feel the same effect
With alcohol abuse, you are not physically dependent, but you still have a serious problem. The drinking may cause problems at home, work, or school. It may cause you to put yourself in dangerous situations, or lead to legal or social problems.
Another common problem is binge drinking. It is drinking about five or more drinks in two hours for men. For women, it is about four or more drinks in two hours.
Too much alcohol is dangerous. Heavy drinking can increase the risk of certain cancers. It can cause damage to the liver, brain, and other organs. Drinking during pregnancy can harm your baby. Alcohol also increases the risk of death from car crashes, injuries, homicide, and suicide.
“D” is for DIABETES (Second Head)
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes your body doesn’t make enough—or any—insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells.
Sometimes people call diabetes “a touch of sugar” or “borderline diabetes.” These terms suggest that someone doesn’t really have diabetes or has a less serious case, but every case of diabetes is serious.
“C” is for CANCER (Third Head)
Every day within our bodies, a massive process of destruction and repair occurs. The human body is comprised of about 15 trillion cells, and every day billions of cells wear out or are destroyed. In most cases, each time a cell is destroyed the body makes a new cell to replace it, trying to make a cell that is a perfect copy of the cell that was destroyed because the replacement cell must be capable of performing the same function as the destroyed cell. During the complex process of replacing cells, many errors occur. Despite remarkably elegant systems in place to prevent errors, the body still makes tens of thousands of mistakes daily while replacing cells either because of random errors or because there are outside pressures placed on the replacement process that promote errors. Most of these mistakes are corrected by additional elegant systems or the mistake leads to the death of the newly made cell, and another normal new cell is produced. Sometimes a mistake is made, however, and is not corrected. Many of the uncorrected mistakes have little effect on health, but if the mistake allows the newly made cell to divide independent of the checks and balances that control normal cell growth, that cell can begin to multiply in an uncontrolled manner. When this happens, a tumor (essentially a mass of abnormal cells) can develop.
Tumors fall into two categories: there are benign (noncancerous) tumors and malignant (cancerous) tumors. So what is the difference? The answer is that a benign tumor grows only in the tissue from which it arises. Benign tumors sometimes can grow quite large or rapidly and cause severe symptoms, even death, although most do not. For example, a fibroid tumor in a woman’s uterus is a type of benign tumor. It can cause bleeding or pain, but it will never travel outside the uterus and grow as a new tumor elsewhere. Fibroids, like all benign tumors, lack the capacity to shed cells into the blood and lymphatic system, so they are unable to travel to other places in the body and grow. A cancer, on the other hand, can shed cells that can travel through the blood or lymphatic system, landing in tissues distant from the primary tumor and growing into new tumors in these distant tissues. This process of spreading to distant tissues, called metastasis, is the defining characteristic of a cancerous or malignant tumor.
So here’s how it all went down:
I’m working on a Winter Exploratory Drill Rig on one of the remotest projects on the North Slope of Alaska’s oil fields last summer. I started experiencing all kinds of fucked up digestive issues, I will spare you all the details for now. I thought initially that it was bad camp food or an intestinal bug. I haven’t felt pain like that ever. I just didn’t know because for a guy who drinks damn near anybody under the table with an inability to throw up I was pretty damn healthy. Yet, there deep inside of me was a nest of my own making. In hindsight I now believe that my high Glucose levels were making a wonderful incubation spot somewhere in my Sigmoid for her to sprout, if you will.
CANCER LOVES SUGAR.
There she lurked and came to lie deep within my bowels, festering. At the time my newly acquired diabetic diet consisted of a lot of fiber and I was slamming shots of Apple Cider Vinegar to supplement my hard liquor rituals I had become accustomed to and missed. Not to mention, to also get some good bugs in my gut but it was twisting me up sideways. I was making life changes you know, but seemingly to much for my body to handle all at once. I even considered buying a bag of powdered Turmeric and snorting a couple rails then pound it all down with some Ginger beer, just for old time sake. You know I’m playing……..
I tried to deal with it the best I could but it was causing me great discomfort (yeah go ahead and laugh fuckers) and so it persisted to the point where I contacted my Dr. which I never have done before.
He asked me if I had done a Colonoscopy as he suggested 2 years prior.
I told him “No.”
He replies ” Wrong Answer” and proceeded to make me an appointment.
Yeah better tune it up man, this ain’t no joke.
The Dr. suggested I quit taking the Metformin I had been previously prescribed to help get my sugars get under control, the thought being that it was the culprit causing all my issues as it can sometimes cause cramps/nausea. Now, I have never been sick for anything besides a common cold or flu and occasional STD. So the idea of taking pills was foreign to me and I just hated the idea of having to take any kind of meds for “Anyfucking” thing if it wasn’t getting me high . So I sort of took them and sometimes just spaced them out. I was trying to make some changes w/ my drinking and eating habits as well but found it challenging and expensive. It’s funny how I never bitched about the price of a drink in a bar but would moan when I was pricing healthy diet choices.
No wonder Fatass America loves McDonalds, its cheap.
Lets talk about the psychology of someone when they are told they are diagnosed with a impending disability or deadly disease. It usually starts out with feeling somehow broken and embarrassed that you have become some kind of half ass person. I hated even thinking about it. So you usually keep it to yourself, at least I did.
I’m Pando don’t you know and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let this fuck with me type attitude………
Ring the Bell!
Pst- here’s the thing I learned about diseases I want to share with you:
IT DONT GIVE A FUCK WHAT YOU THINK OR DO
ITS GOING TO DO WHAT IT INTENDS – REGARDLES
You have to do something though right?
I thought I had better start doing some family medical research but found that difficult since both my parents have been dead for over 20 years now. I hit up my Eldest Sister without trying to raise any red flags because I wasn’t telling any body shit at the time. I found no history of Cancer on my Mothers side, just the usual drug and alcohol bullshit. I come from a long line partyer’s, Its just what my family did.
As far as my Dad’s side, he died of complications from Diabetes mixed with a good sprinkling of Hepatitis- another story of how ones lifestyle caught up with them ultimately in the end. Its strange how I never seen the signs.
Somewhat like the shooting cracks in snow that try and warn you before an impending Avalanche, I trudged onward into the storm oblivious to the dangers that lie ahead.
I did not know to many of my Elders that were still alive although I have one living Aunt who is 92 years old on the Pando side I could ask questions. She is the Last remaining true blood Pando I know of. I had to be careful how I went about asking her because I didn’t want her to worry about me, but she always has and did so anyway, which tore me apart. She is constantly calling me and gets angry when I dont want to talk, call me an ass but I just cant do it over and over to everyone who wants constant updates which is bringing me down. I have to do what I got to do. She is though another perfect example of lifestyle choices, she never drank and is very healthy for her age. Throughout my childhood she would take me in when my Mom was in jail or just gone and Dad was in prison. The Old-timers Guard their family secrets from everyone including other family members, its like pulling teeth to get any info from them at all. Later after getting nothing for answers, her daughter told me Diabetes ran in the family and they didn’t use the word “Cancer” in their house because they had lost loved ones to the disease. My Grandmother, two Uncles and a Aunt of mine all died from Cancer.
Oh FUCK! so there it is………The Smoking Gun!
That might have been nice to know before but I have to tell you, I doubt if it would have changed my course back then.
I was the Captain of the Ship of Fools without a doubt and sailing the Highest Seas.
“Just Great! Now I know I have it in my Genetics- isn’t that awesome?”
As I drank another shot to toast this new found information.
I know what your thinking,
“Does this train wreck stop soon? I want to get off please.”
As it heads full speed……….. into a dark tunnel.
Lets talk about Lifestyle for a minute since the Segway presents itself. A lot of you know me as that Crazy Mother Fucker always doing some outlandish shit obviously on a Vision Quest, dressed like a “Stuporhero” usually with a drink or two in his hand. Yep, I started drinking early from what I was told. I loved taking beers off tables and chugging them when I was 4 or 4 1/2. So it can be argued that “First Head” took root early on and it was going to be a bitch to destroy. I specifically remember choking on a Lifesaver candy (of all things) when my family was at the Circus, my step dad handed me a Coors and I slammed it then let out a great big belch, the first of many to come. Beer saved my life, literally.
I really didn’t start drinking regularly until I was 16. Mostly anything I could get my hands on weekends. We would boost beer trucks as they made deliveries or siphon the hard stuff from unsuspecting friends parents home bar if we had to. Keggers and Pussy were my priority then. So I have been drinking steady for 35 years give or take a few, only stopping when I was in jail… which was in often in my 20’s. Even then, we made “Pruno” out of Bread (yeast) from our sandwiches, Sugar from our coffee packets and Fruit. Tasted like Ass but it got you tore the fuck up. Those nights usually ended with an escape attempt or two but usually the would be fugitive got chewed on by some dogs or all fucked up in the barb wire.
Like the Wapiti (Elk) in Rut, I used to love chasing Skirts and getting into Bar fights.
Great Past Time!
It’s simple really, I loved fast cars, faster women and partying. Easy recipe you cant fuck up really but believe me when I say it will most likely fuck you up at one point or another.
Tommy Lee got his hairstyle from me.
We used to have keggers out at the old airport runway and race cars and then outrun cops when they came to bust it up. EVERYONE in my neighborhood had DUI’s. They wouldn’t impound your car back then. They would just throw you in the drunk tank over night w/ a $200 fine in the morning and give you back your keys.
” See you next Friday Pan?”
” You know it.”
No classes, no serious jailtime so no big deal. Right? I had racked up 4 dui’s before I was 30. Wrecked a 68′ Camaro racing & my Sisters 72′ Laguna all fucked up on Jack Daniels on the way to 1984 Van Halen Concert. I also rolled my first Land cruiser aka. The Grey Ghjost.
Hell, what’s the big deal? I was in my own lane doing the speed limit,….upside down.
Nothing I’m proud of, thank God I never hurt or killed anybody or myself for that matter. This pattern would repeat itself over and over throughout the years. I have pissed off or insulted damn near all of my close friends & relatives and made some bad decisions in my life with serious repercussions but through it all I loved partying man. Come to think of it I never had anybody ask me what I was going to be when I grew up and all my role models were junkies or boozers.
I never had a problem drinking, it was usually other people had a problem with me drinking.
Cest la vie.
I guess it could be argued that the things you do in your 20’s (in my case 30’s and 40’s as well) will catch up with you in your 50’s.
I could write a book on it,…… Oh wait I am.
Insert pitch for upcoming book here:
EVOLUTION of a WANA BE
coming to a shelf near you 2020.
“C” is for COLONOSCOPY
A colonoscopy (koe-lun-OS-kuh-pee) is an exam used to detect changes or abnormalities in the large intestine (colon) and rectum.
During a colonoscopy, a long, flexible tube (colonoscope) is inserted into the rectum. A tiny video camera at the tip of the tube allows the doctor to view the inside of the entire colon.
If necessary, polyps or other types of abnormal tissue can be removed through the scope during a colonoscopy. Tissue samples (biopsies) can be taken during a colonoscopy as well.
Now isn’t that Special? So, we’ve all heard the horror stories and believe me I have heard all the shit and asshole jokes. So I wasn’t looking forward to this ordeal. I had images in my head of a Spanish Inquisition-like setting with rustic torture devices. The “doc” prescribed me no less than 4 different things to cleanse my system which does a hell of a job mind you.
I think I finally passed that gum I swallowed when I was 6.
I should have known when the pharmacy handed me a box of shit that could hold a basketball.
Now mind you, I’m staying at my friends Air B&B and couldn’t do the cleanse there since the poor neighbors (that just moved in) bedroom is directly below my toilet, I might be an asshole but I couldn’t shellshock them like that, so I got a cheap motel in Anchorage. Yeah the cheapest one I could find in Spenard, notorious for Pimps and Prostitutes. My kind of People. Now mind you I haven’t eaten in 2 days since they want you to fast the day before and my stomach is so fucked up I didn’t want to eat anyhow. Needless to say when the drugs took affect I was pissing out my ass for 8 hours. The shit they give you taste fucking horrible to boot. Not Fun, that along with having to listen to debauchery of rooms next door, above and below proved somewhat amusing.
The following day I asked a friend of mine to drop me off and pick me up from the colonoscopy since they had to sedate me.
The one thing I was looking forward to in all of this,
“Always look at the sunny side of things.” Aunt Cora would say.
So the nurse hands me one of those dinosaur print smocks where your ass hangs out for one and all to see and remark on. I have an ass like a godamn Baboon now from sitting on rocks in jungles. I’m contemplating implants.
She ask some personal info from me then hooks me into some electrolytes. I was trying to remain positive as they rolled me down the fluorescent white hallway where I was gurnied into the room where it all goes down. In a nervous rant resembling Acute Toxosis from Methaphetimine I’m busting out every shit and ass joke I knew and had all the personnel in the room laughing their “asses” off.
“Yeah, now whos in charge fuckers?” I thought
I then told them that I had not better wake up with a permanent marker arrow scrawled “Enter Here” pointing at my asshole or I would come back and put LSD and Ex Lax in their drinking water.
I must admit I was pleasantly surprised when I seen the 78″ Big Screen that was going to show my insides. I always wanted to be in the Movies “butt” not quite what I was thinking. Mom would be proud.
I was then introduced to no less than 6 different people that were going to take part in this endeavor. I was expecting a One on One deal when it comes to something of this “delicate nature” but what the hell, the more the merrier, as two “butt” young interns roll me on my side……
“Careful, I’m a Virgin” was all I could muster.
They put a mask over my face even though I have not finished my routine, …tough crowd.
Then I remember seeing a strikingly gorgeous red head which I must admit I have a weakness for and just intrigued me in the far corner of the room. She’s just amused by all of this. So, as I was laying on my side looking into her green eyes I just sorta winged a good way to ask for her number when in a situation like this. She just giggled as the Anesthesiologist cranks on a valve, I then asked for her to not let them play tic tac toe on my body as she reached out to me, sprouting iridescent wings like a Dragonfly, we flew away to La La Land.
I awoke in another room and as I came to, and was looking for that Redhead’s phone number scrolled on my stomach with an arrow pointing at my dick but I couldn’t find anything of the sort.
I realized my friend who had dropped me off sitting quietly next to me with a face like death.
I then looked groggily at the Dr.
“Mr. Pando, we had to stop the procedure.”
I stared at him in disbelief when he continued:
“Mr. Pando I’m sorry to inform you that we found a tumor in your sigmoid region, (Wait, simnoid what?…) although we don’t know yet, its most likely Cancerous. (Cancerwhat?) We took a biopsy and sent it in for further studies, in any case you need to go in for surgery.
I looked at my friend……….she hung her head….didn’t want me to see her crying I guess.
“Fuck!….. I need a shot” I thought aloud.
Then took a long deep breath and contemplated my future or there lack of…….
Battle w/ the the 1st Head:
On that quiet drive home I looked out across the Turnagain Arm to the Mountain Range over Hope, Alaska.
The Sun was high in the Sky, trees were many hues of green. I could smell the Alder and I knew somewhere up there was a Brown Bear digging out a den for her young with berries just starting to ripen under the Midnight Sun.
The tide was going out taking all the macerated remains of the Mountains Above.
Over eons those Glaciers pulverized granite like I was going to destroy this Bitch.
This I had to believe.
You see, Cancer loves Sugar and Alcohol is nothing more than fermented sugar so in order to attack that last and final head on my Journey of Labours-
I must first go to the root of the problem.
I pulled into the Brown Bear Saloon a favorite roadhouse of mine along the Seward Highway. I walked in, there she was… my beloved bartendress.
She knew what I wanted, what I needed and with a SPARKLE in her eye poured me a stiff shot of Patron tequila.
I looked longingly into the shot glass before me caressing it so tenderly, like a magical mirror the many memories stirred within. How many times before within a plethora of liquid spirits have I toasted to Women, the Downtrodden and Total Fabrications of my Imagination?
I thought of our many amazing moments together. We had some times. Far to many to recollect or rememberfor that matter.
You see the beauty of Alcohol is she can change her appearance and moods for any occasion. So you want it soft and easy or hard and rough? It’s like changing wigs for her. She can be anything you want. I like that a lot.
Its quite amazing really all the different forms she can take, Sweet like a liqueur, Bubbly like Champagne, Aged like Whiskey, Dark like Jaeger, Light like Chardonnay.
She can even be like one of your buddies in the form of a Hoppy IPA.
Amazingly, she can lure you into places you never thought you would be over and over again…… always down you know,… for a party.
I pursed my lips and tantalizing my tongue ever so bittersweet, let the elixir burn down my throat.
Slamming down that shot glass was like beheading the first of Her many heads.
I walked away ignoring her pleads and then her vindictiveness.
She is haunting my dreams whispering into my very being but that’s ok I love leaving them hanging, makes them want you more.
And this I have no doubt, She Wants Me to Return as She Serves only One Master.
That other Bitch I was headed for next.
As of this writing 1/18 it has been 6 months without a drop or desire. Just a drop in the bucket so to speak.
Wait, wanna call Bullshit? I know you do, I find it hard to believe myself.
Let me tell you another little secret……. its easy to quit drinking when your about to take on the more dangerous Twins known as Diabetes and Cancer.
I have to go about this right with full commitment in my Heart and can’t Bullshit Myself Anymore.
I’ve “quit” drinking before as all of us seem to do at one point or another. Get on that wagon of sobriety only to fall off and run your self over again and again. I’ve been in every court ordered alcohol program known to man and once or twice even drank on Antabuse. My face would be hues of red and purple and felt like a locomotive in my head but all was fine, just dandy.
In fact I once taught incoming jail inmates about alcoholism as a Trustee inmate myself.I literally let myself in and out of my unlocked cell since I was there so long.
I have lost everything dear to me because of alcohol and at the same time it has brought me much joy. What a dichotomy huh?
She is a Cunning Bitch.
One thing I learned about those who dance w/ drugs and alcohol:
A person will not stop using until something Drastic happens that makes them stop whether its poor decisions, lifestyle, health, jail and in some cases even death.
My sister was another perfect example of how ones lifestyle and poor decisions ultimately took her life all to young.
She was a normal kid but took quickly to the party lifestyle when she was in her teens and built like a Brick Shithouse.
A no nonsense set your shit straight kind of gal. Loved running around with the biker crowd.
Within 20 years she was Utterly Devoured toothless closer to Death than Life.
Crawling into a cardboard box beneath a freeway overpass in Downtown Oakland.
Not a very pretty place.
When that Evil Fucker got done with her she was weathered and Used Up by all those Succubuses that Desired Her until no one wanted or cared for her.
She taught me how to fight when I was 7 or 8. Kick them in the kneecap, knee them in the nuts and bite nose off type shit.
She died the same year as my Mom and Dad.
All of them though miles apart and had no contact with each other for quite some time all had one thing in common when Hydra took them.
Each one of them had complications with fighting infections ie. Hepatitis which is usually transferred by the use of hyper-dermic needles.
Remember this was the 70’s and 80’s.
When that Bitch slithered up their veins so many years before she had already Won.
It was a easy kill like the Lion Devouring a Lamb,
She took them by their veins and Devoured them ever so Slowly.
I have to be brutally honest w/ myself that theres a good chance that I was born hooked on dope andhad alcohol in my system when I was born.
She has been with me since the beggining. In the end when one of those Heads grabbed them, it was poor lifestyle choices so many years before that made it easy to slay them all.
I miss them all dearly and curse the day they got “hooked”
Their thermostat’s were broke.
I fell back into her arms,…. the very bitch that killed them all and there she whispered her intentions and longing for me.
I was Intoxicated by her…….. litterally.
I have been in a lot of fights in my time on this rock barreling through space and time. I fought black kids in Oakland who hated me because I was white (I’m not even white, who are the “White” people anyhow? Sweeds, Russians, or all Europeans, I’m confused.) Then, I fought white kids in Salt Lake who hated me because I was dark. Never seemed to fit in. I’ve fought anybody who didn’t need a reason not to like me.
I fought my way out of East Oakland’s Shithole Ghetto and there was always a line of fuckers who wanted to fight me because they didn’t like me because my hair was to long or I fucked their girl- for whatever reason they had.
I didnt give a fuck. I was more than happy to oblige them. I had a lot of Anger in my Heart back then due to a FUCKED UP Childhood I will spare you all the details, you know, run of the mill shit.
The Dominant Head I would have to Ultimately Conquer before my Death.
I had to do this for myself and those who were Taken From Me.
Fighting was my Medicine and gave me much Joy when I beatdown my opponent and heard the Lamentation of the Women.
I would usually endup on top but once in a great while found a adversary that got me re-thinking my future in the UFC.
I’ve only been knocked out once in my life and when I awoke wiped the blood off and dealt with it. No big deal, cant win them all. I have never been afraid of anything really but this sort of had me rattled.
I have stared into the face of death before, almost drowned twice river rafting, broke through the frozen Arctic ocean and almost got swept under the ice to feed sand fleas out by Barrow, Alaska.
I got got shot at a few times,……. hasn’t everyone?
(My Matrix like dance moves saved my ass those time)
Yeah, a different story but Death always has the same face.
According to most I was supposed to die years ago but keep above ground somehow.
I remember I seen my Dad waste away on his death bed for over 2 years, I made a promise I wont grow old and die like that.
He told me once:
“Son, be happy if you have your health.”
I never forgot that.
I’ve had a great life full of adventure and beautiful women. I’m good.
This Beast- the 3 headed Hydra metaphor I was battling: Alcohol, Diabetes and Cancer had me scared, her along with the other heads that arise when I behead one made me more resolved to Defeat Her Altogether.
I didn’t realize how scared I really was until one night I just started crying, Hell, I thought I was born without tear ducts all these years.
I just couldn’t stop wailing waterfalls of tears into this Deep Abyss, it was a long hard night to say the least.
Visions of this Foul Beast eating me from the Inside Out just fucked me up.
There, somewhere in the Void I found a
Sword called LOVE.
I couldn’t Battle this Bitch Alone
SHE IS EVIL INCARNATE.
There was only one person I could talk to about any of this.
A “Kindred Soul”
Although younger than myself, she is a HEALER I have known since I first arrived in Girdwood and has been there for me through all my trials and tribulations of,
She never judged me.
You see I’ve been judged and I know what it feels like to be looked down on. I have been judged by Court Magistrates throughout the Western United States and Alaska. I have been judged by Poets, Lovers, Bartenders and the Self Proclaimed Elite.
Usually because I was totally shit faced doing things that no one could imagine or wish they had the balls to do. The whispers and pointing or just the way people treat you. Its all part of the game when you dance with her…. and Dance with Her I did, into a Never Ending Waltz.
What else you gonna say when while you’re back on your stay
Maybe something, maybe nothing, we’ll see
It’s just too bad, you’re beautiful I guess
I wasn’t for you and you weren’t for me
Baby, Baby, Baby Bitch
Please slip back into yourself
Baby, Baby, Baby Bitch
Go conquer someone else
People say, “How beautiful, how sweet, how kind”
You’re perfect, you’ve got nothing to hide
But I, for one, have seen the sun
And the bitch that you’ve locked up inside
Got fat, got angry, started hating myself
Wrote “Birthday Boy” for you babe
Now I’m skinny and sick and paranoid
Without a cent to my name
Baby, Baby, Baby Bitch
Fuck you, you stinkin’ ass ho
Most beauty I’ve seen
you come from a dream
But I can’t close my eyes anymore
No, I can’t close my eyes anymore
Sometimes she lets you lead then next thing you know your slam dancing at a wedding. Yep that’s how She does you. She will leave you Broke Down and Destitute and Run off with your Buddy. She will Always come back though and somehow through all the Bullshit- you Always take her back in.
Weakness (4th Sprouting Head)
Must first be determined before it can be Destroyed.
I looked Hard Into That Mirror I walked past my Whole Adult Life and I seen someone staring back that looked really fucking scared.
Mamacita was always there for me.
I had to look no further to ask those tough questions that only few know the answers to. She knew the Secrets of this Bitch I had to Defeat because you see Mama ( As I lovingly refer her as) has gone toe to toe with this adversary herself. A Warrioress who Slew that Bitch in her Own Garden some years prior.
You see this Conniving Entity will find another host anywhere she desires and She Desires Me.
I sought for her Council atop Crow Creek beneath the Raven Glacier ( My Spirit Animal)
I confided in her that I was Fearful to get the surgery that would expose this Bitch’s Dominant Head. I contemplated not doing it at all and maybe trying some homeopathic remedies instead. I was fleeing……. Her Claws were in Deep.
When I looked into her many Heads above me, ready to Strike…
I seen the Twisted Faces of all my Friends and Family who have Succumbed to her.
It drove such a Fear into My Core and Anger that Smoldered………..
Mama, grabbed me forcefully- which she had never done before in all the time I have known her and all the bullshit I put her through and yelled into my face:
” Pando!! Get this BITCH out of you ….then you can do that hippy shit later!
LOVE IS MY SWORD
I knew then what I had to do……. but I couldn’t do it alone or in Alaska.
Besides, my Dr. suggested I get the surgery done out of State as Alaska is not known as the best place to get this procedure done. So now I know what I have to do but there’s one thing that has me worried. How the fuck am I going to pay for this shit? I had just been laid off and knew I was going to lose my insurance soon, so I was scrambling. Now like I said I have never been sick and never really used insurance before. I didn’t even know what a fucking co-pay or deductible was,……… but I soon found out.
“C” is for CRASH COURSE
“Dammit, a Smart Ass wife would come in handy now.” I thought.
So I started coming to terms with things like the possibility of having to shit into a colonoscopy bag.
I’m dealing with insurance people I cant fucking stand. All the while mind you, I haven’t told my boss about my condition in fear of losing my job because I now have this fucking shit inside me growing like a godamn Alien.
I mean Who the fuck wants a “SICK” person working for them?
I have not told hardly anybody yet. Not my Family, Not my Friends and possibly not myself to a certain extent.
I didn’t want to know more about it to tell you the truth, I was afraid to know more about this disease and more importantly I didn’t want to make people sad. Especially my Family who have always looked at me as a Hero who is there for them Whenever or Whatever. I just don’t want to make people sad, I have always made them laugh before.
That’s what I do,
ROADMAN who uses laughter to heal.
Although I was sick myself, I had to do this in a way that used Positive Energy or I knew I wouldn’t make it.
THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR ( 5th Head)
When somebody is diagnosed with Any Kind of Disease the last thing they should have to worry about is money- but its the first thing you need when you want to get quality treatment.
America has the most expensive health care and there lack of in the world. My surgery was going to be $30,000+. Chemotherapy depending how long I would have to do that could be triple that or more.
Its pretty disgraceful really how they can hold people hostage with their very lives.
When my eldest brother got sick and couldn’t afford treatment they told him to go home and make arrangements.
“For what?” he asked.
“To Die” they told him.
He was dead in 2 month’s from complications associated with Hepatitis, another great example of how ones lifestyle will catch up with you if you don’t confront it Head On!.
That’s Capitalism at its finest folks and if you don’t know by now, its……
“ALL ABOUT THAT DOLLAR YO!”.
During our last Presidential election I heard people freaking out about Socialism and Obamacare bla bla bla. The only people I heard bitching about it was people who already had insurance and had nothing to worry about. Let me ask you this: When your loved ones are on their Deathbed and they could get treatment that would save their lives but you cant afford it and they wither away and die in front of you, then what? Yeah lifes a bitch but dying with dignity is a MOTHERFUCKER in the great US of A.
When my Grandfather a WWII Veteran was on his deathbed with a iron lung pushing air down his gullet, they kept him alive until they damn near wiped out his entire savings then when he couldn’t pay anymore sent him to die at home. Fuckin Awesome huh? Don’t believe for a minute they really give a fuck about your health, Doctors just want to get PAID like the rest of us. That’s why they went into debt in school. Not entirely true but damn near.
ok I’m moving on this is pissing me off.
Journal Entry 7/23/18
Labwork @ Lab Corps w/ 3 separate CT Scan Request so I had to do the cleansing over again. Joy. WTF!? I think I shit out my spleen. Request to release health Info between Pioneer Gi Clinic, Providence, Hillside medical all start sharing info on my case.
“Sally Forth!” I’m off to Slay This Bitch! Get diabetes under control because they cant do surgery until I get my sugars down. AIC Diagnosis not good, 13! I’m fucked. Shit, I thought that was my lucky number too. Got to get it below 7. Billing codes to give to insurance, Credit Card Authorization, Tax ID, Procedure Code, etc. Letter attesting to medical necessity. I may send them a 8×10 of my Colonoscopy results. High Gloss. AK 133% FPL/ HI 138% FPL Utah 55-133% FPL. This is like trying to read Mayan Hieroglyphics, good thing I have been known to travel through time & space. Fill shitload of prescriptions. Diabetes Center needs more blood /Metabolic Panel. I’m running out blood, feel like a pin cushion. Looking at U of U or St. Marks in SLC. Providence needs date of insurance termination.Might have to pull my 401k. but it will come w/ a 20% early withdrawal penalty. Open IRA account & transfer 401k. into and then it will only be a 10% penalty. MY STOMACH IS KILLING ME!!!!!! Pull savings out of account before they take it all. Sell Everything I own. I have made to much this year to get Medicare and the Marketplace is a FUCKING JOKE. 26 health plans to choose from and none of them come close to what I need. COBRA extension is $1,000 a month- fuckin expensive, compared to the cost of my prescription it ain’t shit. I missed open enrollment for Marketplace and they want all kinds of records and shit I don’t have time to get. I am considering knocking off a bank for $1 then turn myself in to jail so the State will have to pay for it.
I had to fill out a LIVING WILL-
If that doesn’t get your attention I don’t know what will. All your shits on the table waiting to get divvied up, which will be easy since I don’t have shit anyhow.
Oregon has right to die with Dignity laws. I am going to Relocate.
Don’t worry, I think I can drink in Hell.
Heavens Cool but Hells a lot Hotter baby…….
So I found out that Huntsman Cancer Institute in Utah is a World Class treatment center that is in my insurance network, leading the way in robotic assisted surgery which is less Invasive.
I have decided that I will go after this Bitch in her Lair within my own body.
I have to act fast because I lose my insurance in 2 months. All these different Heads just keep popping up out of Nowhere.
Its hard to keep them all at bay while I try and focus on ambushing her as She Hibernates within my Bowels.
Wait for the right moment.
Within a month I have packed and stored what little I own and flew to Utah where I will be staying w/ old friends as I convalesce. I sold my Trusty Steed (1978 FJ40 Toyota Landcruiser) Old Snagletooth). I built up this rig over the past couple of years. I have always had a Old Land Cruiser in many adventures so I had to do One Last Drive out to Antelope Island within the Great Salt Lake. There I contemplated my next move as the Sun set in the West across a Inland Sea of Salt, the remnants of the Bonneville Sea.
A sacrifice I had to make when the Bill Collectors (6th Head) come knocking at a door I don’t have. My Utah peeps couldn’t believe it, since I poured my blood, sweat and tears into it over the past couple years. I can always build another.
I need to rebuild myself now.
I am going to the Huntsman Cancer Institute where Dr. Pikron teaches laparoscopic surgery at the University of Utah.
Laparoscopic Colorectal Surgery: What It Is and Why It’s So Effective
A patient undergoing surgery for colorectal cancer has three options–conventional open surgery, laparoscopic-assisted surgery or laparoscopic surgery. Conventional open surgery requires a large incision in your abdomen to remove cancerous tumors and any nearby lymph nodes. One of the downsides of this option is, in most cases, the development of significant scar tissue inside the abdomen over time. Two other known disadvantages are that the incision may cause a hernia and infection can occur where the incision was made in the skin. Laparoscopic-assisted surgery involves the use of a slender viewing tube (laparoscope) and a tiny camera, which are inserted through the navel to examine the abdominal organs and perform surgery. With laparoscopic–assisted surgery, the incision in the abdomen is smaller than the one used in open surgery, but large enough that the colon can be lifted through it, so the surgery can be performed outside the body. Laparoscopic surgery, also known as minimally invasive surgery, is performed entirely inside the body (hence, the term “intracorporeal”). It is an advanced procedure that is a safe and effective alternative to both conventional open surgery and laparoscopic-assisted surgery.
What are the benefits of intracorporeal laparoscopic colorectal surgery?
Greater vision, control and accuracy for surgeons: An important point to consider is that with laparoscopic–assisted surgery, the surgeon’s line of vision inside the body is limited. This is because the incision that is made is minimal for the laparoscope to remove the colon from the body to perform the surgery. As a result, the surrounding area inside the body cavity is not readily visible to the surgeon, which limits the number of lymph nodes that can be removed. However, in intracorporeal laparoscopic surgery, the incision, while small, is large enough to enable the laparoscope to travel further into the body cavity and view the area surrounding the colon at two times the magnification level.This helps ensure that all the lymph nodes are removed during colorectal cancer surgery.
Fewer post-operative risks:
Though both conventional open surgery and laparoscopic-assisted surgery are safe and common procedures, there is less bleeding, less risk of infection, less pain and less scarring for the patient who undergoes the intracorporeal laparoscopic procedure. To avoid the risk of adhesions, which can lead to small bowel obstruction years or decades after surgery is performed, intracorporeal laparoscopic surgery is recommended.
What role does robotics play?
Robotic technology virtually extends the surgeon’s eyes and hands into the narrowest confines of the colon or rectum. It’s a high-tech 3D endoscopic system with state–of–the–art robotic technology that is positioned above the operating table and controlled by the surgeon from a special station in the operating room. Using the flexible “wrists” of the robot, the surgeon is able to delicately pass a two-lens camera for 3D viewing laparoscopically through one of the ports in the skin. Wristed instruments that bend up and down and allow freedom of movement can also be passed through one of the tiny incisions in the skin.
FUCKING AWESOME! This is turning into a Sci-Fi movie now and I thought it was sort of Fantasy themed, always was a Dungeons and Dragons geek as a kid. All the same we live in a good age!
Before this was available they would cut you open like a butchered hog. Flies all hovering above ya’ just to puke on your inards.
So when I came to terms with getting surgery the first image I had was of the ending scene in that Mel Gibson movie Braveheart. You know when they disembowel him and throw his guts to the dogs. I saw myself in his position with some hot ass nurse scrolling her number on my liver as I scream:
I’m visual like that.
I got to get my sugars down or they cant do the surgery due to fear of infection (7th Head).
Great, now I have to wait.
I’m fighting TIME here as well (8th Head)
I’m about to lose my insurance.
I quit drinking and I’m eating god awful hippy fodder and riding my bike as much as I can.
The first time I had to poke my finger and check my blood sugar level sucked, (9th Head)
I aint gonna lie.
I was so pissed to be in this position I just wanted it to all fucking go away and get this shit taken out of me but they wont do it unless I get my sugars under control. These heads just keep coming at me.
I have to cut off one head (Quit Drinking) before I can cut off the other head (Diabetes) to cut off the Main head (Cancer) and not to mention they might grow back no matter how many times I cut them off.
I cant let her mindfuck me like this……..
I have to keep hacking on this Bitch.
I’m about to lose my fucking insurance I don’t have time for this shit. Remember what I said?
She doesn’t give a fuck- in fact, it wants nothing more than for you to do nothing, makes her job easier.
I remember years ago my Dad was afraid of losing his feet or vision. WTF?! does that have to do with Diabetes huh? Well in advanced stages it attacks your small capillaries in the extremities ie. hands and feet and those in your eyes.
“My God” I thought. “How the fuck will I see and climb Mountains.
If it was one thing that helped me dealing with Alcohol all these years it was always the Mountains.
It has always been my Cathedral. Not in the traditional way most pray but in the very actions I was involved in whether it was hiking, Mtn. Biking, Snowboarding, River Rafting, Harvesting, Whatever.
I knew my long dead Elders approved and I felt them walking with me when in the Deep Canyons.
It’s where I hear their whispers telling me her weaknesses.”
My Afore mentioned Aunty took me to Yosemite when I was 3 or 4. She said I was running to a Black Bear and after she chased me down and grabbed me I told her simply:
“It was my friend.”
I remember that, from down the halls of Memories old and faded….
I learned many things since then about her Seasons and Secrets.
I have Volunteered as a Sherpa and Pleasure Tour Guide, Marijuana Mule out of Kalalau Valley, Wrangler/Guide in The Sierra Nevada’s, Mountain Guide in the Alaska Range, River Raft Guide throughout the West, Splitboard and Operate Snowcats at many ski areas in the Wasatch, Rockies, Tetons Ranges & Alaska. Not for long mind you, my partying always fucked that up. Yeah….. always could depend on her for that.
As a teen I was engrossed with the Mountain Men of the 19th Century. Names like Jedidiah Smith, Jim Beckworth, Kit Carson, Jim Bridger and Hugh Glass. These men just fascinated me with their Lifestyle. Although I’m not much of a hunter, more of a OPPORTUNAVORE.
I idolized them and strove to be Embrace Life like them.
Dance, fight and fuck like they did, and most importantly drink like they did.
Somewhere along the line though I spent more times in a bar looking at the Mountains instead of Being in Them.
There She Whispered………..
I had to get back in the Mountains where I could Heal.
Let Mother Nature do your pickling and preserving, for all she is trying to do is Heal You.
IMAGINE WHAT LOVE CAN DO.
HUMOR IS MY SHIELD
I will be damned though if I’m going to wear Spandex while mountain biking, what in the Almighty are these Godamn grape smugglers w/ their little clip on pedals trying to do? Make me want to puke? Get the fuck out of my way as I come barreling down in Carharts, flipping them off on my old beach cruiser with half flat tires full of Goat heads, Bozo horn and a Joker card in the spokes. I seriously contemplated throwing myself and my $50 bike in a futile “Harakiri” maneuver into their $3500 mtn. bikes.
It used to be COCAINE and WHISKEY now its KOMBUCHA and QUINOA- WTF?!
I used to avoid those health food stores or even those isles that sold oats and nuts in bulk. If I even smelled Patchouli or Sandalwood the isle over I would dry heave. Strange since I’m attracted to dready gals…….
But now here I am drinking Kale for Gods sake. Cant even pour in a shot of shitty vodka into it to make it go down smoother.
No wonder them hippies are so frail, this cant keep a rabbit alive.
I’m even reading the back of food labels now. Yeah the end must be near.
Thank God I have friends and family with Salmon, Trout, Caribou, Abalone, Deer & Elk or I would surely die of starvation.
I have lost 40 pounds so far. I feel good though. Was I that fat? Apparently, since none of my clothes stay on me anymore. I look like Prince Valliant in my Old Hoodie, pants needs a belt to stay on.
Surgery Day (The Quest into Her Lair)
The Huntsman Cancer Institute sits above the University of Utah campus. It borders where the Great Inland Sea of Bonneville waves once lapped at the base of the Wasatch Mountains. A sprawling huge glass entry way with harp players greet you. It has beautiful works of art like a museum.
“Is this the fabled “Pearly Gates?” I thought and wondered if they serve Virgin Mary’s here. Make it a Double.
I imagined it would be full of Sick Old People but I now seen the Bitch does not care about your age, ethnicity, religion or desires. She is not discriminatory in any way.
There they all were in different stages of the disease. Some were walking with their wheeled medication stand while some others were in chairs. In and out of many offices and recovery rooms and the Pharmacy line where there are always people waiting……..
If it’s one thing I learned about getting help: it’s Patience, you always will have to wait on someone.
I was nervous and just wanted to Run the Fuck into the Mountains where I used to Grow Weed all those years ago….. and find my Old Cave.
I had Good Friends with me along the way comforting me and cracking more shit jokes of course. Hey man, if your willing to dish it out you got to be able to take it right? I don’t hang around People who ain’t real very long.
I was nervous as fuck and couldn’t smoke enough Herb to calm me down.
My heart was racing and I felt as if I was going down that rabbit hole.
The Gift of COURAGE
Then I seen her, a little girl wearing a Rainbow head scarf. I stared at her the way I hate when people stare at me. She was laughing seemingly oblivious to her condition or perhaps all to aware of it. I had such a overwhelming desire to cry. I felt guilty for feeling so down low as I seen this brave child. I wish I could hug her and take all of her Cancer away and go die somewhere in the Wasatch Mountains amongst my Flowers. She had a full life ahead of her and here I was 3/4 of the way through mine feeling as if the world was against me. If I had the ability I would have taken it all away from her.
I will never forget her face.
This gave me such strength in a time of deep despair.
I hope she grows into a beautiful woman with long hair someday.
“C” is for CHANGE
I cant tell you much about what happened in the surgery room but I awoke in a recovery room with friendly familiar faces. I was sort of “Out of it” as different people came in and out. Cant really recollect who but it was all good and I Felt the Love. I was hooked up to all kinds of monitors, things in my arm and a catheter in my dick (no arrow with a phone number as I envisioned). Truthfully, I didn’t want to know about the incision they made but when the surgical team came in to take a look I dropped the sheet for all to see, dick included free of charge. A young intern blushed and covered up my penis. I laughed and it hurt so god damn bad. A good kind of hurt.
All I knew was that there was an incision that was about 4-6 inches across my lower abdomen. Much like a woman’s Cesarean Scar. Great. I don’t think to many guys have one of these to show off at the Bar I wont be at anyfuckinghow!
I call it my “MANSERIAN SCAR”.
I also have two small incision off to the right of my naval from where the Robotic Arms went into my Abdomen. I was reclaiming my body and Hacking this Vile Beast from my very Core.
I was fumbling with my bellybutton one day, half stoned on the stuff I would push a little button for that made me happy. It felt like something was in there like old lint. So I kept trying to pull it out which I did, then realized it was a scab from where they had initially went in with a camera. I licked it and put it back. I should have stashed a hit of LSD back there for later when I’m on a Mountain looking down from high above the Land of Many Fires.
I wanted to get out of the hospital as soon as possible so when they told me I should walk around to get some exercise, I was gone!
I was hitting on every nurse on every floor no matter what her age.
This is the Second Coming ladies so watch out.
If you really feel the need to help me how about busting me off some of that Kit Kat bar, hmmm?
One cool nurse told me I could hit my THC Vape pen if I blew it into the vent above my bed.
I was on the elevator hitting my vape wheeling’ my Electrolyte and Catheter bags around jamming to Bob Marley’s
A lady got on the 3rd floor. She was crying on the phone
“They removed Dad’s Rectum.”
Whoa fuck,…….. She Could Still Dig Her Claws In.
I guess I’m pretty fortunate.
On a Sunny Summer morning I went out to the outdoor atrium where no one was and peeled off my smock to let the Sun caress my body. I gazed across those Wasatch Mountains I knew so well.
There it was before me, Mt. Olympus. The trees were just starting to turn Colors. Jesus, was it Fall already?
I made a promise I was going explore there soon.
The Sun felt so good on my incisions and I soon fell asleep and awoke naked surrounded by people. My penis was in full retreat turtle mode as it had the catheter inside still. I wasn’t tripping, as I took a long hit off my vape pen and turn on some Blind Melon.
All I can say is that my life is pretty plain
You don’t like my point of view, you think that I’m insane
It’s not sane, it’s not sane
I just want someone to say to me, oh
I’ll always be there when you wake, yeah
You know I’d like to keep my cheeks dry today
So stay with me and I’ll have it made, I’ll have it made, I’ll have it made
Oh, no, no, you know, I really wanna, really gonna have it made
You know, I’ll have it made
I don’t care what anybody tells you. If I didn’t have Marijuana to help me through this time I probably would have died of Anxiety. This shit will work you over physically, psychologically, physiologically, emotionally and spiritually wether your religious or not.
No one knows what goes through your mind when your alone dealing with this shit known as Cancer. It relieved my stress so much- the only girl I needed. I am very grateful to have had this available to me.
Pst- I just like getting high.
“C” is for CANNABIS (The Medicine)
Cannabis and Cancer: How “Marijuana” Helps the Body Heal
The cannabis plant (also known as the hemp plant) has been used in just about every culture for centuries. In fact, cannabis is included in the 50 fundamental herbs within the cornucopia of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It has been cited in ancient texts as having a healing effect on over 100 ailments. In recent years in the United States, the collective mood is changing in regards to cannabis/hemp (aka “marijuana”).
Personally, I prefer to use the term “hemp” or “cannabis” since those are proper names for the plant, and the truth is that the term “marijuana” (derived from the Mexican slang “marihuana”) was popularized in the early 1930s by the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (which later became the DEA) in order to make this amazing plant sound sinister and to elude the public’s existing familiarity and comfort level with the plant and the medical application of cannabis/hemp tinctures. “Marijuana” was not a commonly smoked recreational drug at the time.
Currently there are 25 states where it is legal for patients to use “marijuana” for medical purposes. Pending federal legislation may open up opportunities for federally-funded medical research, including human clinical trials. This will further prove cannabis’ track-record when it comes to healing a number of disease conditions − including cancer.
Prior research in the 1980s led Mechaoulam and others to pinpoint two main receptors for cannabinoids − cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2). Researchers at the time also defined the natural substances called endocannabinoids, which our body produces on its own in a similar way it produces endorphins. Phytocannabinoids (namely THC, CBD, and their variants), on the other hand, come directly from the cannabis plant.
Cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 are designed by the body to be specific targets for THC, while our natural endocannabinoids help to synthesize it. The process of THC-cannabinoid receptor binding and what this does for the body is what researchers have been studying for over two decades. They are doing this in order to find out exactly how cannabis works in healing cancer.
Microbiologist Dr. Christine Sanchez of Compultense Univeristy in Madrid, Spain has been studying cannabinoids and cancer since the early 2000s.
Cannabis and Cancer Tumor Growth
“We observed that when we treated [astrocytoma, a type of brain tumor] cells with cannabinoids, the THC…was killing the cells in our Petri dishes,” Dr. Sanchez says. “We…decided to analyze these components in animal models of breast and brain tumors. The results we are obtaining are telling us that cannabinoids may be useful for the treatment of Breast Cancer.”
Sanchez and other researchers have confirmed that the most potent effects against tumor growth occur when THC and CBD are combined.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, which does not have a psychoactive effect, has long been known as a potent anti-cancer agent. This is because of its ability to interfere with cellular communication in tumors as well as in its ability to instigate apoptosis, or programmed cancer cell death. Some research studies, including in vitro and animal-based trials conducted by San Francisco-based researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center, have also shown that CBD may affect genes involved in aggressive metastasis. It does this by helping to shut down cellular growth receptors.
Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (i.e. THC), the psychoactive counterpart to CBD, has been shown to reduce tumor growth as well. It has also shown to have an effect on the rate of metastasis, including for non-small cell lung cancer − the leading cause of cancer deaths globally. A 2007 study on THC and highly-aggressive epidermal growth factor receptor-overexpressing (EGF-expressing) lung cancer conducted by Harvard Medical School found that certain EGF lung cancer cells express CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. They found that the presence of THC effected metastasis of these cells by reducing the “focal adhesion complex,” which plays a vital role in cancer migration.
Studies have also been conducted on the combined effect of CBD and THC on lung, prostate, colon, pancreatic, liver, bladder, cervical, blood-based, brain, and other forms of cancer. These studies lend increasing evidence to the fact that cannabinoids are not only antioxidant phytonutrients but powerful “herbal chemo”
If “marijuana” is rightfully removed from a Schedule I drug, this would open the door for more targeted, federally-funded research as well as increased patient access to this amazing healing plant.
In the meantime, if you are on a cancer-healing path and are considering using cannabinoids, here are some general guidelines that experts agree are worth considering:
Do your own research. The best way to learn about the power of cannabis in healing cancer is to start digging. There are approximately 500 articles on Pubmed alone relating to cannabis and cancer. Learn about strains, qualified targeted research studies, what method of administration may be right for you, and the importance of balancing the Endocannabinoid System.
Know your source. Unfortunately, because the medical cannabis industry is largely unregulated, charlatans selling bogus products definitely exist. You should not have to pay exorbitant amounts of money for any cannabis product that you buy from regulated pharmacies or online. Also, make quality a priority for you. Be sure that your product comes from an organic source and that you know that the plant has not been grown or processed using pesticides.
Stick with natural cannabis products. Synthetically-produced cannabinoids such as Marinol are commercially available. However, anecdotal evidence has found that these do not work as efficiently as natural substances do.
Work with a professional healthcare provider trained in cannabinoid therapy. These professionals are out there in increasing numbers, especially in states where the medical cannabis industry is well established or growing, such as California and Colorado. Reach out to a patient advocate group online if no qualified professionals are in your area.
Make cannabis therapy an important part of your overall cancer-healing toolbox. A well-rounded naturally-based cancer healing protocol involves working with the body’s own healing mechanisms through a variety of means. For you, this may mean changes to your diet and lifestyle, reducing stress, getting quality sleep, moving your body, intense detoxing protocols, and using other supplements and proven natural methods in addition to the powerful healing power of cannabis.
This information is being suppressed from you by the mainstream media and the medical establishment. Be notified each week when cutting-edge
So here’s the deal. Cannabis is still considered a schedule 1 drug like Meth and Heroin. The feds being the money hungry wolves they are dragging their feet on this until they can figure out if it will offset the Money they are Making from the War on Drugs. Thank God States like Alaska are passing their own laws to make this available to people. I have personally never had any problem getting it but I feel for those who don’t have connections like me and are suffering needlessly. So I’m putting it out there for anybody with Cancer.
Hit me up Anytime, No Questions No Worries.
I know what your going through. Stress will fuck you up and prolong your healing process, this I have no doubt.
The War on Drugs started under Nixon and it has done nothing to stop people using drugs. Its funny because I have always looked at it a different way. Why do people do Drugs & Alcohol? Its because they just want to feel good. Plain and Simple. No Big Secret folks. Everbody does it right? Why do some people just seem to “let” it destroy their lives though?
Imagine if you will, a Old Fj40 Toyota Landcruiser. It has, like all vehicles, what is called a thermostat. It controls a flap that allows the radiator to stay in closed position as it first starts until it warmd up then opens as heat build up in the engine. Sometimes these get stuck and even though the engine is about to blow it wont open to relieve pressure and heat.
Some people don’t have that thermostat if you will to control their intake and so the pressure just builds.
I could lose my job taking THC/CBD for my Cancer which helps me eat better and just stay positive. They would rather I paid BIG PHARMA to get pills and get hooked on Opiates so they can have me on a leash. That ain’t going to happen.
Both my parents were Junkies so that is not an option. Even after they got off heroin they were hooked on Methadone which is a Federally Regulated Opiate they can make money off of.
My Mom didn’t have to go down to local dope dealer because all she had to do is go to the State run clinic to get her fix.
Slave’s until the very end. That is what you will become if you choose to ride that White Horse.
Shedding this old skin like a spider molts.
Journal Entry mid Sept.
So my Old Friend stopped by and gave me some Rick Simpson Oil which was the first produced CBD that’s been around for years. Developed by a Dr. it has many beneficial proprieties that Cancer Patients may find beneficial. I had a few pens that had a gram of this very potent oil in it. I was advised to do it in tenth of a gram increments in my hot tea. I found that it stuck to the spoon and sides of my cup so I decided I would just put it in my mouth and squeeze some of the oil into it. Needless to say the plunger was sticking due to the oil and then it released all of the pen contents in my mouth. It stuck to my teeth and I was choking it down like a dog eating peanut butter. No big deal.
Approximately a half an hour or so later I found myself totally incapacitated.
I could barely get outside and was unable to communicate. There they found me. I was dry heaving and saliva was coming out the corners of my mouth. All I could do to communicate was attempt rudimentary sign language which I failed at miserably. They brought me into the house and lay me down on a bed where I mumbled incoherently. I thought for sure I had overdosed and would remain in this catatonic status for the remainder of my life. I was hyperventilating and sweating profusely in what seemed as a bad trip of immense proportions.
My Utah Peeps were trying to comfort me but I wish they would just quit touching me and rubbing on me to make me feel better.
I am unable to defend myself from this onslaught of Love to only succumb to and fall asleep.
The next day when I could finally but somewhat wobbly, stand “upright” I managed to form sentences and told all who would listen of my Life Altering Experience.
“Oh God, he’s having some kind of reaction to the surgery medication!” my Bro’s wife blurted out. Go find his meds call the Ambulance.
But upon further inquiry it was determined by their witty and somewhat sarcastic daughter that I had simply “Greenied Out”
I tried to Wikipedia this shit but its so new it aint there yet but it is a term meaning that you just got to fucking high.
That’s it? I have a Godamn Epiphany and think I just got to high? WTF MAN?!
They moved me out of my Man Cave outside and inside their house on a inflatable Matress in their Living Room. I felt like Uncle Charlie in Willy Wonka. AND! they confiscated all my drugs. Where’s my Golden Ticket?
Yeah tough love hurts sometimes.
Healing up here was difficult as I felt as if I was disrupting their lives with all the bullshit it entails. They had over seven cats inside the house two of which were kittens who loved running across me at night where I would then in a involuntary defense mechanism SIT RIGHT THE FUCK UP, which hurt like a Motherfucker! They would claw their way across my inflatable mattress all night, needless to say I couldn’t get out of when I was about to shit myself. My incision hurt pretty bad and it was a bitch to get out of bed lying prone let alone one that’s half flat. I couldn’t even catch the fucking things. I was waiting to ambush them with my blankets like a Venus Flytrap. I had to get out of there besides I hated depending on others and sometimes I just didn’t want to be around anybody. I healed up well enuf’ and was riding my mountain bike within a few weeks. My one saving grace was I loved riding along the bike path on the Jordan River watching the Geese I knew had flown from somewhere up North. Within a week though my bike I just bought got stolen off my Landcruiser. Who FUCKING steals from a Cancer survivor yo? I jumped in my Landcruiser and punched it down the street even though every bump hurt my incision I was going to find that son of a bitch and run him over,…. a few times. I seen this guy on a Mtn. Bike and flipped a bitch to confront him, pulling up slavering and about to fuck him up then I realized it wasn’t my bike. I had to get out of this place and return to the Emerald Triangle.
Six weeks after surgery I went back to start the process of Chemotherapy.
All the nurses were congratulating me.
I’m like ok- what do I have to be happy about besides being on a bunch of pain killers from surgery?
They said that they didn’t get people with my specific condition so early on.
I was like WTF? are you talking about?….. early on.
They went on to say that the way my cancer formed within my colon it had blocked my ability to digest properly (which is why I was experiencing the pain).
It sucked when I was starving and wanting to eat some Mexican food and all I could eat was broth, and if I did eat something like a cheeseburger I was doomed to a torturous night.
I would feel it coming on and knew I was fucked. Nothing like sitting on the toilet grunting using Lamaze breathing techniques, twisting w/ what I called “sitting jacks” for a half an hour just to turn around and look at your work and see nothing but dark blood and a small cat turd.
Don’t get me started YOU CANT HANDLE THE TRUTH!
I had to endure this night after night. I wouldn’t wish this on my worse enemy and I mean that.
They went on to tell me that most don’t experience the pain associated with my tumor, you see most peoples tumor grow from the inside out and infect surrounding organs or tissue. Mine was growing within the Large Intestine. So after trying to understand just what the fuck they were saying. They congratulated me because they had found no indication that my tumor had infected anything outside of what they took out during surgery.
They continued that my blood test results show that it has not spread to my BLOOD or LYMPTH NODES!
So they decreased my initial Stage III Cancer rating down to a really bad STAGE II.
There are only 4 Stages of Cancer before Death.
I didnt want to hear about the survival rates because I’m gonna Slay this Dragon!
For some reason I didn’t feel much like celebrating but remember my dear sweet friend? She was whispering in my ear, wanted to meet at the Cotton Bottom for a drink and party. I seriously contemplated it but I stood her up.
I went back to Cali to help my family with Harvest Season. It was nice to have a never ending supply of the best strains in Mendocino County to assist in my healing.
It has been a long journey compressed into a small clip in time. There is so much I could go on about….
I feel as if so much has happened and I have a new insight to what’s really Important.
I’m not going to lie, there have been days that were really rough and I may have lashed out at those I hold dear to me. That’s the beauty of Family.
They take your anger and pain and convert it into Love.
For all the bad and good news I cant help but feel this fight is for the rest of my life and I may have to go a few extra rounds. I could be told I’m good to go out into the World with a clean bill of health.
Sure go ring the bell and party it up.
I must remain Vigilant and Mindful She will Always seek me out.
I Rammed that Ship of Fools into where She DWELT and Confronted her, She never expected that.
Never Look Back.
As if it wasn’t hard enough I found out from People’s actions and words that most are incapable of keeping a secret of this magnitude. Apparently some told two friends who told two friends and so on down the line until everyone knew but tried not to let me know they knew.
Your all terrible actors but you will always have a Leading Role in My Movie.
I find it difficult to write now and struggle with this piece a lot, since I now also experience Chemo Brain.
Three syllable’s or less from here on out, I promise.
What Is Chemo Brain?
Chemotherapy can help you beat cancer, but side effects are almost certain. It’s common for you to have a cloudy mind, called “chemo brain,” during and after treatment. Maybe you have a hard time remembering names or can’t multitask as well as you used to.
As many as 3 out of 4 people with cancer say they’re not as mentally sharp. It’s often caused by your chemotherapy medicines, but it can also come from the cancer itself or other problems like infection, low blood counts, fatigue, sleep problems, or stress.
Chemo brain can cause thinking and memory problems. Symptoms include trouble with:
Concentrating and paying attention
Remembering names, dates, and everyday things
Finding the right word or doing simple math (like balancing your checkbook)
Doing more than one thing at a time
I quit doing a lot of things when I was on that Ship of Fools.
So I got a laptop and am writing again. This is my first piece. I hope you all like it. Excuse the errors I had to recheck it over and over and I’m writing straight from the Heart.
I don’t want anybody else to have to go through this shit. Yeah it was a little difficult “coming out” but for the better. I have to get up early and do all these things before the Chemo Brain sets in. Don’t worry its sorta like being Really High.
The term chemotherapy has come to connote non-specific usage of intracellular poisons to inhibit mitosis, cell division. The connotation excludes more selective agents that block extracellular signals (signal transduction). The development of therapies with specific molecular or genetic targets, which inhibit growth-promoting signals from classic endocrine hormones (primarily estrogens for breast cancer and androgens for prostate cancer) are now called hormonal therapies. By contrast, other inhibitions of growth-signals like those associated with receptor tyrosine kinases are referred to as targeted therapy.
Importantly, the use of drugs (whether chemotherapy, hormonal therapy or targeted therapy) constitutes systemic therapy for cancer in that they are introduced into the blood stream and are therefore in principle able to address cancer at any anatomic location in the body. Systemic therapy is often used in conjunction with other modalities that constitute local therapy (i.e. treatments whose efficacy is confined to the anatomic area where they are applied) for cancer such as radiation therapy, surgery or hyperthermia therapy.
Traditional chemotherapeutic agents are cytotoxic by means of interfering with cell division (mitosis) but cancer cells vary widely in their susceptibility to these agents. To a large extent, chemotherapy can be thought of as a way to damage or stress cells, which may then lead to cell death if apoptosis is initiated. Many of the side effects of chemotherapy can be traced to damage to normal cells that divide rapidly and are thus sensitive to anti-mitotic drugs: cells in the bone marrow, digestive tract and hair follicles. This results in the most common side-effects of chemotherapy: myelosuppression (decreased production of blood cells, hence also immunosuppression), mucositis (inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract), and alopecia (hair loss). Because of the effect on immune cells (especially lymphocytes), chemotherapy drugs often find use in a host of diseases that result from harmful overactivity of the immune system against self (so-called autoimmunity). These include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, vasculitis and many others.
2 weeks after surgery I lost my insurance and was trying to get on Medicare and looking for options on Marketplace all of which wouldn’t enact before I started Chemotherapy. I had one option and that was COBRA. Its an expensive way to keep your former employers insurance plan. It cost me $1,000 a month which I wasn’t all to happy about but compared to how much Chemo meds cost it was a drop in the hat.This is why I sold my Land Cruiser.
I was told I had 2 options for Chemo one being a port put in my chest which I would have to sit in a chair to get injected with Chemo which by the way would cost me every time I sat down.
Or I could opt for some pills I could take. Each prescription for these is $5,000 ($40 a pill)
I need at least 2 prescriptions a month sometimes 3.
Remember what I said about the Almighty Dollar?
That on top of the pills I have to take for diabetes, cholesterol and what ther fuck ever else they tell me too. I’m taking damn near twenty a day.
So like I said, Cancer and Diabetes don’t give a fuck what you want, but its all I can do.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice- Neil Peart
Although it may take longer to kill all the Cancer, it would allow me to move about and visit family who I had just “come clean” with. That was the hardest.
Even harder than making a “Living Will”
There would also be side effects no doubt with Chemo-
One that got my attention.
I would lose my fingerprints with something called hand-foot syndrome.
Also called hand-foot syndrome or hand-to-foot syndrome, Palmar-Plantar Erythrodysesthesia is a side effect, which can occur with several types of chemotherapy or biologic therapy drugs used to treat cancer. For example, Capecitabine (Xeloda®), 5-Flurouracil (5FU), continuous-infusion doxorubicin, doxorubicin liposomal (Doxil®), and high-dose Interleukin-2 can cause this skin reaction for some patients. Following administration of chemotherapy, small amounts of drug leak out of very small blood vessels called capillaries in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Exposure of your hands and feet to heat as well as friction on your palms and soles increases the amount of drug in the capillaries and increases the amount of drug leakage. This leakage of drug results in redness, tenderness, and possibly peeling of the palms and soles. The redness, also known as palmar-plantar erythema, looks like sunburn. The areas affected can become dry and peel, with numbness or tingling developing. Hand-foot syndrome can be uncomfortable and can interfere with your ability to carry out normal activities
Are you fucking kidding me?, I could have used that 20 years ago when I came to Alaska as a fugitive from the long arm of the Law! Another side effect is small bruises on the soles of my feet that’s like walking on gravel.
Maybe I can do a jewel heist to pay my fucking bills that are mounting up, even AFTER insurance I’m knee deep.
People suggested a “Go Fund” me page and although it sounds nice and all, I really don’t want or need it now as I’m able to work and I will sell my kidney if I have to.
(Albeit, Somewhat Used)
I found myself on the Amtrak train looking out the window where I could see my reflection, looked sorta skinny but not scared anymore.
I got to thinking of all the possibilities I have now. I mean there is a space in me now where a part of my Large Intestine was so maybe I can smuggle shit from somewhere and pay all my bills.
El Burro- The Mule
I am EXTREMELY FORTUNATE to be here at all and come out of it a better human being.
I’m wary to Celebrate though and know I got to keep cauterizing these Head Wounds, She will always seek a way back into my very Being.
I guess you can buy me a Kombucha or Root Beer at the Brewery, make it a double.
It’s been one hell of a ride.
“L” is for LOVE
For loners like myself Love can be a dual edged sword.
At times you can take it in and at others times it hard to let its healing properties flow.
Sadly, sometimes you carry around so much guilt or anger that you feel as if you don’t deserve that Love.
I try and stay positive and keep laughing at my daily struggles.
Other times I am exhausted by it all and can get in a funk where I wish I could just go and sit and have a beer with my buddies down at the Dive.
Yeah, that bitch keeps fucking calling me but you know what?
I blocked her ass.
You don’t become a Elder by just getting Old. You have to work on it.
12/14/18 11:52 pm
My A1C ( 3 month indicator of my blood sugar level) dropped from 13 to 6.8
Pretty Godamn Remarkable I must admit.
All my levels are within parameters that indicate I am on my way to remission myself.
I just got off the phone with my Chemotherapy Dr.
He went over all my recent bloodwork findings and we spoke at length of my Grand Plans into the future. After all I have been through I have come to realize what is truly important in Life. Its not about money and material gain, its about your place in this World and those you affect along the way. Those will be the ones who remember who you were and what you did when your gone. So I am quitting my job up in the Oil Fields of Alaska Northslope. Cashing in my 401k. buying a sailboat so I can sail into the Sunset when this Book comes to an end. There I can write of all my trials and tribulations of Pandomonium
After that We came to the conclusion that after one more round:
CHEMOTHERAPY WILL BE OVER.
I gave it everything I had.
Just want to go cut a nice Christmas tree down,…. nice and straight.
Seems like such a waste though so I think I will let it grow.
Sometimes you have to have the Courage to Grow.
Weird shit, I know.
“C” is for CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF!
Heed my words for they are a Gift
Anybody over 40 should go get a Colonoscopy now because getting 2 feet of camera snaked up it, is better than having no ass at all. Who knows, some of you might find it quite pleasurable.
I don’t Judge.
Oh yeah and for the record:
MY ASS is fully in TACT!
Don’t look for me down in the bars anymore I’ll be Where the Wild Things Roam.
see my catheter?
I’m getting a Tattoo over my Manserian Scar in Old World Ruins that Simply Reads:
EDITORS NOTE 12/21/2018
Today is Winters Solstice. I just flew down from the Great White North. I flew atop Denali Mountain, the GREAT ONE. The Atmosphere from 33,000 was Dark Blue down to a Vibrant Indigo a Stark Contrast to the Snow & Ice on the Surface of the Earth. Seems so fragile……
So Beautifaul Place to Call Home, this Earth.
As the shortest day of the year She now Returns Her Gaze to Our Father the Sun
I awoke and my toe hurt. I took off my sock and my Big Toe was swollen and hurt really bad. I touched it and hard white puss came out from underneath my toenail. I ran a hot bath and MEDITATED…………. soaking with a candle.
mY fUNKY bUHDA KEEPSAKE oVERSAW THE rITUAL
I am PURGING the last of that Bitches Venom from my Being.
In my wanderings of the Big Island, I hopped on the all to slow public transportation bus and got off in Hilo where the one and only place on the island to buy camping gear was located ie. the Army Surplus store. I purchased a machete, mess kit, sleeping mat, water purifier and a very small fuel stove that would alter the things of yet to come. I was told by the store owner to watch out for Rat Lung Disease which has become more abundant in past years on Hawaii especially where I planned on going.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Cases of eosinophilic meningitis caused by the rat lungworm parasite have risen sharply in Hawaii over the past 5 years. The parasite, a nematode (Angiostrongylus cantenosis), was carried from SE Asia to Hawaii by rats, which are the host. There is a possibility that there may be two species of the parasite in Hawaii.
The parasite can be transferred to slugs, and snails in the 3rd larval stage; it has also been found in flatworms. Humans pick up the parasite by ingesting slugs/slug slime contaminated fruits /vegetables/water or raw or undercooked slugs, snails, mollusks, prawns and monitor lizards. Humans are a dead end host, the parasite will not develop to sexual maturity and may live for up to a year in the human body but will eventually die. While the parasite has been in Hawaii a long time, cases of illness have risen with the introduction and increase in the population of an invasive semi-slug (Parmarion martensi), which is native to SE Asia.
extremely sensitive to touch.
There are reports of people who years after having had rat lung cannot wear shirts or long pants because their skin is still so sensitive. There are victims who take daily doses of morphine to help them endure the nerve pain they still experience 2 and 3 years later. The inability to urinate, called Elsberg Syndrome, has been reported in other cases of rat lungworm. Rat lung victims may also experience hallucinations, disorientation, vision problems and visual impairment. Complete paralysis may set in. Short-term memory loss seems to be common in serious cases.
Hawai’i and US mainland medical centers have very little or no experience with rat lungworm, and scientific and medical research is sorely lacking. Medical treatment in Hawaii is currently based on that used in China, Thailand and Taiwan for rat lungworm victims.
As the rainy season begins, slugs will begin to emerge and the potential for infection will become greater. Personal diligence is key to prevention until science can provide us with more knowledgeable information.
Rat lungworm affects everyone living in Hawaii, whether you buy your vegetables in Costco or at the local market. The problem is not with home gardens or locally grown food, it lies with invasive species finding their way to Hawai’i, such as rats, the primary carrier, snails and slugs that carry high loads of the parasite and whose populations are increasing and spreading on the islands. It would be wise for scientists to determine if mongooses also carry the parasite, as they are quite similar to rats.
It just so happened that another set of Kolea’s came on the island and were able to give me a ride to the trailhead just north of Hawi, in their car rental. I had some nuts, jerky, dehydrated fruit and a jar of Goobers PB&J and a half loaf of shitty white bread. I would have purchased more hiker friendly food but was unable to before I got dropped off so I just looked at it as a survival exercise and wasn’t all that concerned since I could always resort to eating wild foods indigenous or otherwise. I set off down the trailhead in the afternoon when most folks were coming up & out. I felt good and was glad to leave all the stupid shit in Puna behind.
As I walked down into the valley I could see the Pololu Valley and beach below. I was ecstatic.
It is a gorgeous black stone beach with old Ironwood forest to give one shelter from the Sun and I set up my tarp on a small knoll viewing the beach worshippers down below which just happened to be three gorgeous naked women sunbathing, I know your thinking “creeper” but I just happened to be there first and there was a whole beach for them to go to for more privacy but they saw me just “hanging out” and stripped down to what God gave them right in front of me so I just enjoyed the view. There were remnants of people making make-shift dwellings that primitive man may have found downright shoddy but kids found them intriguing. I was just relaxing and preparing for my hike out the following morning.
My plan was to search for the Awini Trail- a 22.4 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail that is only recommended for very experienced adventurers that should never go alone. Advance trek for the full hardy outdoorsman which I considered myself- Thank you Very Much! For those prepared to be challenged by the elements, and to use navigational skills with topo and compass, which I didn’t have. Enjoy the Native Hawaiian jungle with expansive views of the coast, valleys and waterfalls. This trail is part of an old government road that led to the housing for staff that used to maintained the old North Kohala Ditch that supplied water to the Old Sugarcane plantations of yesteryears. There used to be settlements along the trail, which are now all abandoned and no longer active. The only users are now DLNR staff or Natural Reserve employees and researchers, who primarily come in via helicopter or via 4WD roads from Waimea/Kamuela. This track starts from Pololu Valley,
traverses Honokane Nui, Honokane Iki, Honoke’a, Honopu’e, and Waimanu Valleys; to finally reach Waipio Valley. The trek is fairly open up to Honokane Iki, but expect to bushwhack the rest of the way; with a few open areas where the natural reserve personnel are conducting studies and maintaining rain gauges. There are about 3 shelters along the way, but expect to be camping in the rain. This area is a watershed and it receives a good amount of rain year round. Overall, this trail is a tough and challenging route that will sorely test your outdoor skills.
The valley had a few campers down below but nothing like the assholes who camp for months/years in the Kalalau Valley on Kauai, all the while shitting on sacred temples and bringing in tons of garbage in their quest for enlightenment. Don’t even get me started……
I did notice a bunch of plastic washed up on the black rock beach which has become all to common here on the islands due to the worlds appetite for all things made of plastic. You name it- if it’s made of plastic it washes up everywhere around the globe. I have seen it in the middle of the Pacific, up on the Northslope of Alaska & in Central America just to name a few. Deodorant, toothbrushes, tampon applicators, baby dolls, buckets, pails, chap stick, polypropylene, sandals, fishing nets, Styrofoam packaging, sunglasses, etc.. the list goes on and on with no end in sight. In fact it has come to the point where no one even gives a fuck anymore seemingly oblivious as they step over it. Only a very few ever try and pack any of it out, the mindset being:
“Its not my garbage.”
“More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year.”
The proliferation of plastic products in the last 70 years or so has been extraordinary; quite simply we cannot now live without them. We are now producing nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year, half of which is for single use. More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year.
Plastic is cheap and incredibly versatile with properties that make it ideal for many applications. However, these qualities have also resulted in it becoming an environmental issue. We have developed a “disposable” lifestyle and estimates are that around 50% of plastic is used just once and thrown away.
Plastic is a valuable resource and plastic pollution is an unnecessary and unsustainable waste of that resource.
“No water, no life. No blue, no green.”
Dr. Sylvia Earle
Packaging is the largest end use market segment accounting for just over 40% of total plastic usage.
Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.
A plastic bag has an average “working life” of 15 minutes.
Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
Beverage Bottles Alone
According to the Container Recycling Institute, 100.7 billion plastic beverage bottles were sold in the U.S. in 2014, or 315 bottles per person.
57% of those units were plastic water bottles: 57.3 billion sold in 2014. This is up from 3.8 billion plastic water bottles sold in 1996, the earliest year for available data.
The process of producing bottled water requires around 6 times as much water per bottle as there is in the container.
14% of all litter comes from beverage containers. When caps and labels are considered, the number is higher.
So drink up fuckers nothing to worry about…………
sorry that wasn’t directed at you since I know you do all you can to prevent this, otherwise I will simply unfriend you.
I set up my hammock in between to large Ironwood trees, an invasive species from Australia. In fact a lot of what we perceive to be Hawaiian is in fact a invasive species including the very inhabitants. Before the Polynesians came there were no Coconut trees the poster child of Hawaii.
Most of the species within Hawaii cannot truly be classified as native species since Hawaii is a group of islands; therefore, all, or most, of the species had to migrate there or be brought over to the islands by humans. However, there are a majority of species which were introduced for specific reasons yet they have disrupted Hawaiian biodiversity. The mongoose was introduced to Hawaii in the mid-19th century in an attempt to control the large rat population in the sugar cane fields. However, since then, the mongoose population has grown to large numbers without controlling the nocturnal rat population and has greatly diminished the population of ground nesting birds. Another example of an invasive species introduced in the 19th century is the fire tree, which is a small shrub that was brought from the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands as an ornamental plant or for firewood. However, now it poses a serious threat to native plants on young volcanic sites, lowland forests, and shrublands, where it forms dense monocultural stands. Another plant, the strawberry guava, was introduced in the early 19th century as an edible fruit. However, it now poses a major threat to Hawaii’s rare endemic flora and fauna by forming shade-casting thickets with dense mats of surface feeder roots.
I set out early the next morning weaving in and out, up and down the lush valleys until I came to what looked like the end of the trail, if not for my keen eye I would have missed what looked like a small tunnel used by pigs in the thicket. Now remember I have on this huge backpack that kept hanging up on all the branches and it seemed as if every root was reaching out tripping me up. I soon found my back aching and Im sweating my ass off as the Sun was reaching its zenith. I cursed the dark tunnels that reminded me of huge spider tunnels and found my machete useless in the tightness of it all where I felt somewhat caustraphobic. Finally I came out of the tunnels to what could only be called the side of a cliff with no trail. I slowly made my way down towards the valley below I could only assume was HanoIt was with great relief that I came onto a huge rope that was tied up to a tree and fell out of sight down a steep cliff. At least I knew I was headed in the right direction since I had been told about it by some old local who befriended me in Hawi.
I soon found myself in what can only be called the side of a cliff making my way down to the valley below which I assumed was Hanokane Nui. There I stood breathing hard without a trail before me and just delved into the thicket where I had to take off my backpack and drag, push or throw it along the steep jungle. In fact after about an hour and only traverissing maybe 1/10th of a mile I got so frustrated I threw my backpack ahead to crawl over a tree and could only sit and watch as it tumbled down below out of site. So there I was trying to find my backpack on the side of a mountain getting bit by all kinds of bugs and ripped by razor sharp serrated plants that seem to only have malicious intentions towards me. I was damn near ready to abandon my burdon when I could see that it had hung up on a root that had a huge rope tied to it that dissapered over the cliffs below. I knew I had found the way since some old local who befriended me in Hawi had told me about the cliff rope. Thank God it was there because it was a muddy steep mess going down and I was covered in blood and mud when I finally made it down. Im sure everything in my pack was broken as I had to let it tumble most the way down as I was concerned for my own safety during the decent.
I found a trailmarker before me into a very dense Bamboo Forest that blocked out the Sun almost completely and where hordes of mosquitos dwelt and fed off what little blood I had left in my body, most of which was now mixed with the cliff behind and above.
I was very relieved when after some trials and tribulations I came to a creek where the Bamboo did not grow. I thought it would be time to make some walking sticks to ease my sufferings out of the abundant material and chose a perfect diameter stalk of Bamboo to cut down with my machete I was just dying to use for something besides swatting at bugs. So I took it out of its scabbard and swung at the stalk which simply rebounded my stroke with all its stored energy which then twisted the machete in my left hand and I still couldn’t tell you how it happened but I just stared at my right hand which was now bleeding profusously from a flap of skin I damn near cut my thumb from. FUCK. The water of the creek looked sort of stagnant so I didn’t want to wash it there and held onto my wrist to constrict what little blood I had left. Just stay calm its only a thumb, its not like a leg or penis I thought. It happened so fast I stared in disbelief and did some field dressing with what little first aid stuff I had.
Now I know your thinking:
What a dumbass, why doesn’t he have first aid stuff and the answer is that in the past wether in the mountains of north America, Jungles of Central America or Streets of Oakland, I rarely get injured to the point where I need to carry one. I know- LAME.
But this is where you are truly tested of ones tenacity and perserverance and ability to survive with whats available I mused and set out looking for some plants to ease my sufferings I had learned about while on the island of Kauai.
After about a mile or two I came to where the river once spilled into the Ocean but now seeped into the Earth before a huge wall of boulders I could only assume something of hurricane force had deposited. In face the whole valley was full of these huge boulders which made walking a logistical nightmare and soon my ankles were sending shock waves to my brain. The Sun was now inching its way into the horizon and I had to find a place to set up my hammock with screen mesh to protect me from the onslaught of blood thirsty insect I knew would devour me. I found such a spot in a shady alcove below the cliffs I thought would suffice and set out to making it home for the evening. After a P&B sandwich I laid in the hammock playing with the flap of skin that was not encrusted shut and swollen, my trusty machete beside me with first blood drawn coagulated on its sheath. I awoke sometime in the night freezing from the thick sea mist that was eerily surrounding me blocking out the view of the waves crashing into the stones, it felt as if the Ocean wanted to swallow me whole, slowly I shook my self to sleep.
Looking Back West Across Pololu Beach From the Start of the Honokane Nui Valley Trail: Photo by Donnie MacGowan
Along the Honokane Nui Trail, Climbing East Out Of Pololu Valley: Photo by Donnie MacGowan
Going on farther east into Honokane Iki Valley from Honokane Nui is very rewarding and easier than the hop from Pololu to Honokane Nui, climbing just 400 muddy feet over the ridge. There are numerous ruins from previous eras of population, ancient to recent, to explore in both these valleys. It is possible to wander the intersecting, disappearing, maddening trails all the way into Waipi’o Valley, 14 canyons and about 15 bushwhacking, stream-fording, slope-slipping, rain-slogging, breathtaking, aggravating, wonderful miles away. This is definitely a trip for more than a single day and permission must be gained to cross the private land.
The next morning I woke up early replenished my water from a small spring and set up the next ridge line that was mostly wallowed out from years of runoff. After a few miles I found myself on a narrow ridgeline overlooking both Hanokane Nui and Hanokane Iki as well as a grand view of the Kohala Coastline.
It reminded me of the fluted ridges of the Na Pali Coast on Kauai. I took off my clothes & set up my hammock on this site and spent the night watching the Sun dip into the distance and Whales breaching along with their young. The following day I went to make a P&B sandwich and my food bag fell over the cliff never to be seen. I now had a small bag of nuts and some beef jerky. I still had some of my winter fat and knew although I would be hungry that I had more than enough reserves to make it to my destination which only seemed to get further as I got closer and deeper into the jungle.
The Hanokane Iki beach was much smaller but has a lot more in the way of ancient sites that are still intact. The trees were all red leaves and I felt as if I was going into some Elvish domain that was abandoned many years before. Their were terraces that went far up the valley walls that were now all grown in with jungle folage almost to the point where one would not even know thousands of people once called this place home. I just stood in awe marveling at these places and thought of what it must have been like all those years ago. How many people and years it must have took to build such a place just baffled me and I couldn’t but help of think of the possibility of some Ancient Aliens being involved somehow. The beach here is very small in a narrow space where one would have to be crazy in order to get in the Ocean as it was frothing with flotsam and jetsam in a perpetual state of turbulence. Between the Ancient Ruins within the magical forest and the sheer sense of isolation I found myself contemplating living here forever. The next few days I hiked all through that gorgeous place without a care but I never could find the trail that would take me on further. No matter how much I tried the jungle cliffs always spat me back out utterly spent ripped and torn. My thumb had now become a constant nuisance and although I had much in the way of coconut I was unable to snare a pig or catch one single fish for much needed protein. With a heavy heart I made the decision to go back out and replenish my provisions and hitchhike over to Waimanu and try to link them up from that side.
Waimanu Valley1500+ Foot Waterfalls in Waimanu Valley
Round Trip Mileage: 16.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 7300 feet
Gear: If you choose to travel past Waipi’o Valley, you’ll be far from help. You need to bring enough gear to keep yourself and a partner alive in the rainforest, at least overnight. The hike is hot so shorts are a good idea that help with river crossings as well. I’d wear sturdy high-top boots for the entire hike because the trail is very steep and rocky. Bring extra water and food; you’ll underestimate the amount of effort this one takes. Treat all sources of water because there are agricultural pollutants entering the water from upstream.
Overview: If you’re like me and you find Waipi’o Valley to be too developed and overused, and don’t like dealing with private property issues, Waimanu is for you. Literally translated, wai manu means “bird water” or “river of birds.” Located west of Waipi’o Valley along the windward side of Kohala mountain, this is one of the most difficult places to reach by foot on the Big Island. Indeed, many more people have viewed Waimanu Valley from a helicopter than on foot. Getting to Waimanu requires excellent fitness and above average routefinding. Most visitors camp at one of the permitted campsites in the valley, but it is possible to day hike out to Waimanu, despite what other sources tell you.
This is an extremely difficult day hike and should only be attempted the most fit and experienced outdoorspeople with a penchant for suffering and a self-masochistic streak. Take a look at the stats in the headline for this one: it’s more than sixteen miles and a vertical mile and a half. Those sixteen miles are mosquito-bitten, wet, steep, rocky, and unforgiving. You’ll need to cross one river where it meets the ocean and at least 13 other streams, all of which carry high flash flood danger and can become impassable at any time, stranding you. The trail has high rockfall danger and a fall in some spots could send you up to five hundred feet. Even splitting this hike up on a backpack is a very serious endeavor, requiring you to set a primitive camp in Waimanu valley.
Note that even doing a portion of this hike would be very rewarding. A challenging day is to start at Waipi’o and hike up and over the other side to view waterfalls and a part of the rainforest along the Muliwai Trail. If you choose to attempt any or all of this trail, especially if you try to go to Waimanu in a day, use these tips: start at dawn; choose a good day for high and low tide at Waipi’o river crossing; carry much more water than you think you need; set specific turn-around criteria and time; watch the weather and flash flood danger.
Waimanu Valley Beach
Getting to the Trailhead: From Honoka’a in the northern part of the island, take Hwy. 240 west to Kukuihaele. The road comes to a dead end at the Waipi’o Lookout. Parking can be difficult at the small parking area, and take care to park in an appropriate place if you park up the road. This is the trailhead for two-wheel drive vehicles, and is the place most tourists stop. There is a good overlook worth a stop near the parking area, although you can’t see much of the back of the valley. With a sturdy four-wheel drive vehicle and above average driving skill and nerve, you can drive down to the black sand beach. The road is narrow, impossibly steep (25% average grade), and rough. If you make it to the bottom in one piece, find an appropriate place to park and do not drive on the beach. A number of guiding services, shuttles, and horseback tours operate in Waipi’o and take visitors down to the valley floor.
The Muliwai TrailThe hike: The beginning of this hike takes you from the parking area for Waipi’o Valley and down the road for 0.7 mile into the valley. Follow the road toward the beach for a half mile, and proceed immediately to cross the stream. Cross the stream where it meets the ocean in the best place given current conditions. You can usually keep yourself pretty dry, but it’s deeper than it seems. After crossing the river, watch out for some yellow jackets that can burrow into the black sand. (I know it sounds crazy, but trust me). Look up at the cliffs in front of you and spot the big Z-like trail you’ll be on shortly. Continue to the opposite side of the black sand beach and look sharp for a faint trail that travels back from the beach into deep foliage. You’ll know you’re on the right trail if it shortly passes official state signs for the Muliwai trail. Check out any current warnings and persevere up 1300’ as the steep trail switches back several times in the sticky morning sun. This is probably the toughest part of the entire hike. One of these switchbacks has the best view of Hi’ilawe Falls, back across Waipi’o Valley (It’s marked on the map above). After cresting the cliff into a cool Pacific pine rainforest, you’ll now need to cross about 13 different streams where you stay mostly 800’ – 1000’ above the ocean below, which you can rarely see. The Muliwai Trail gets less and less prominent as you continue toward Waimanu Valley, as it gains and loses elevation across the streams. Most stream crossings should be easy rock-hops, but always consider flash flood danger. A slip in many of these minor stream systems can produce a nasty fall. Eventually, you’ll reach your first vantage of Waimanu Valley. Be sure to take in every break in the rainforest as you descend into the magical valley: your best views of the waterfalls are actually from up here for perspective. The trail ends near the Waimanu Valley beach, where you’ll need to cross the Waimanu River to access the campsites and the other side of the valley. It‘s possible to explore further back into the valley off-trail, but the terrain is very overgrown.
I was able to get a ride into the steep valley from some friends of mine on the Big Island and soon found myself 18 miles deep in the jungle trying to link up Waimanu Valley to Polulu early one beautiful day. I was harvesting coconut and fell back into a rythym dictated by the pulse of the Sea. I kept myself busy by making things out of what I could find in the jungle. I felt good and was in my element without the distractions of alcohol I usually found myself reeling from out in Babylon. I had set up on a ancient heiua which in hindsight I maybe should not have done. I’m not much of a superstitious man but one has to be careful when dealing with ancient temples of a ancient culture known as the Menhune.
This little fellow was a promotional giveaway to encourage island children to save their pennies.
In Hawaiian mythology, the Menehune are said to be a people, sometimes described as dwarfs in size, who live in the deep forests and hidden valleys of the Hawaiian Islands, far from the eyes of normal humans. Their favorite food is the maiʻa (banana), and they also like fish.
The Menehune were said to be superb craftspeople. Legends say that the Menehune built temples (heiau), fishponds, roads, canoes, and houses. Some of these structures that Hawaiian folklore attributed to the Menehune still exist. They are said to have lived in Hawaiʻi before settlers arrived from Polynesia many centuries ago.
In Beckwith’s Hawaiian Mythology, there are references to several other forest dwelling races: the Nawao, who were large-sized wild hunters descended from Lua-nuʻu, the mu people, and the wa people.
Some early scholars theorized that there was a first settlement of Hawaiʻi, by settlers from the Marquesas Islands, and a second, from Tahiti. The Tahitian settlers oppressed the “commoners”, the manahune in the Tahitian language, who fled to the mountains and were called Menahune. Proponents of this theory point to an 1820 census of Kauaʻi by Kaumualiʻi, the ruling Aliʻi Aimoku of the island, which listed 65 people as menehune.
Folklorist Katharine Luomala believes that the legends of the Menehune are a post-European contact mythology created by adaptation of the term manahune (which by the time of the colonizing of the Hawaiian Islands by Europeans had acquired a meaning of “lowly people” or “low social status” and not diminutive in stature) to European legends of brownies. ‘”It is claimed that “Menehune are not mentioned in pre-contact mythology, although this is unproven since it was clearly an oral mythology; the legendary “overnight” creation of the Alekoko fishpond, for example, finds its equivalent in the legend about the creation of a corresponding structure on Oʻahu, which was supposedly indeed completed in a single day — not by menehune but, as a show of power, by a localaliʻiwho demanded every one of his subjects to appear at the construction site and assist in building.
No physical evidence for the existence of a historical people that fits the description of the Menehune has been discovered but I never have doubted their existence.
Wai manu literally means “bird water” or “river of birds” in the Hawaiian language. During the time of Ancient Hawaii it was an ahupuaʻa, or ancient land division with a small village. Most of the area is state forest land, with a few campsites available with reservations. It is located in the Hāmākua district of Hawaiʻi island. The Waimanu Stream watershed includes many smaller flows from Kohala Mountain to the Pacific Ocean at sea level. A system of dikes of hard lava rock force large amounts of ground water dropped from the tradewinds into this valley, making it very different from the smaller shallow valleys directly to the west. This ridge is administered as the Puʻu O ʻUmi Natural State Area Reserve.
Tributary Waihīlau Stream starts at about 3,500 feet (1,100 m) elevation at
to about 400 feet (120 m) elevation. The name comes from wai hī lau which means “many trickling waters” since during heavy rains the stream splits into many smaller streams overflowing the cliff. Waimanu Stream empties into Waimanu Bay at sea level at
The valley is not accessible by automobile. A foot trail called Waimanu or Muliwai Trail leads down a steep path from the Waipiʻo Valley. At the south end of the valley, Waimanu Gap at 2,089 feet (637 m) elevation leads to the upper end of Waipiʻo Valley.
I had a small cook stove, the kind that screw onto small fuel bottles boiling a pot of water ( in fact it was the one I bought in Hilo at the Army store even though I would not have normally done so depending mostly on wood in the forest but for some reason I thought it would be easier to do with a small stove instead of trying to find dry wood in a rain forest) I was crouched next to the stove and the rock it was on shifted and spilled the whole boiling pot down my hip ass leg & ankles. I though No No NO!! oh shit Oh Shit OH SHIT!! Ran straight to a mtn. Spring as blisters were hanging off me like Xmas ornaments. I was concerned about staff infection and couldn’t hike out due to blisters around ankles. I beat myself up mentally- how could this happen to me, I’m a seasoned backcountry maniac this kind of shit only happens to dumbasses -not me. I had very little in way of burn cream and gauze. I used the Noni fruit & leaves- couldn’t see what was going on back of ass/ leg but I could feel…. it was bad, very bad. I laid in a huge tree in a hammock for days, feverish delusional scared, nibbling on what food I had and smoking myself calm. Two angels found me there alone. They were from New Zealand and were lost, I was ashamed to ask for help so when I showed them my burn- they gasped and immediately started nursing me with some stuff called Paw Paw ( fermented Papaya) I allowed myself to fall into despair and broke down….. A few days of their love I was able to hike back out and hitchike to hospital where 4 nurses immediately tended to me & hit me up with anti biotic. The next 2 months was hell. A accident is something unplanned or unintentional that happens that may result in injury. Its what you do afterwards that makes the difference.
I’m plan on going back to that same place soon to find that trail that was wiped out by a hurricane and spat me out injured, that is if there is a way at all. I just have to get back in there and find it.
When I first heard that I was not going to be working on the Northslope of Alaska for winter drilling, instead of getting bummed out on all that lost income- I bought the cheapest ticket to the Big Island of Hawaii. Madame Pele had been whispering in my dreams and waking thought. She has manifested herself once again in lava form off the SW flank of Mauna Loa- the World’s largest mountain. Something primordial transfixed me when I seen solid rock heated to liquid consistency- the Birth of the Earth.
There are several traditional legends associated with Pele in Hawaiian mythology. In addition to being recognized as the goddess of volcanoes, Pele is also known for her power, passion, jealousy, and capriciousness. She has numerous siblings, including Kāne Milohai, Kamohoaliʻi, Nāmaka and numerous sisters named Hiʻiaka, the most famous being Hiʻiakaikapoliopele (Hiʻiaka in the bosom of Pele). They are usually considered to be the offspring of Haumea. Pele’s siblings include deities of various types of wind, rain, fire, ocean wave forms, and cloud forms. Her home is believed to be the fire pit called Halemaʻumaʻu crater, at the summit caldera of Kīlauea, one of the Earth’s most active volcanoes; but her domain encompasses all volcanic activity on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi.
In one version of the story, Pele is the daughter of Kanehoalani and Haumea in the mystical land of Kuaihelani, a floating free land like Fata Morgana. Kuaihelani was in the region of Kahiki (Kukulu o Kahiki). She stays so close to her mother’s fireplace with the fire-keeper Lono-makua. Her older sister Nā-maka-o-Kahaʻi, a sea goddess, fears that Pele’s ambition would smother the home-land and drives Pele away. Kamohoali’i drives Pele south in a canoe called Honua-i-a-kea with her younger sister Hiʻiaka and with her brothers Kamohoaliʻi, Kanemilohai, Kaneapua, and arrives at the islets above Hawaii. There Kane-milo-hai is left on Mokupapapa, just a reef, to build it up in fitness for human residence. On Nihoa, 800 feet above the ocean she leaves Kane-apua after her visit to Lehua and crowning a wreath of kau-no’a. Pele feels sorry for her younger brother and picks him up again. Pele used the divining rod, Pa‘oa to pick a new home. A group of chants tells of a pursuit by Namakaokaha’i and Pele is torn apart. Her bones, KaiwioPele form a hill on Kahikinui, while her spirit escaped to the island of Hawaiʻi.:157 (Pele & Hi’iaka A myth from Hawaii by Nathaniel B. Emerson)
In another version, Pele comes from a land said to be “close to the clouds,” with parents Kane-hoa-lani and Ka-hina-liʻi, and brothers Ka-moho-aliʻi and Kahuila-o-ka-lani. From her husband Wahieloa (also called Wahialoa) she has a daughter Laka and a son Menehune. Pele-kumu-honua entices her husband and Pele travels in search of him. The sea pours from her head over the land of Kanaloa (perhaps the island now known as Kahoʻolawe) and her brothers say:
O the sea, the great sea!
Forth bursts the sea:
Behold, it bursts on Kanaloa!
The sea floods the land, then recedes; this flooding is called Kai a Kahinalii (“The sea of Ka-hina-liʻi”), as Pele’s connection to the sea was passed down from her mother Kahinalii.:158
Pele and Poliʻahu
Pele was considered to be a rival of the Hawaiian goddess of snow, Poliʻahu, and her sisters Lilinoe (a goddess of fine rain), Waiau (goddess of Lake Waiau), and Kahoupokane (a kapa maker whose kapa making activities create thunder, rain, and lightning). All except Kahoupokane reside on Mauna Kea. The kapa maker lives on Hualalai.
One myth tells that Poliʻahu had come from Mauna Kea with her friends to attend sled races down the grassy hills south of Hamakua. Pele came disguised as a beautiful stranger and was greeted by Poliʻahu. However, Pele became jealously enraged at the goddess of Mauna Kea. She opened the subterranean caverns of Mauna Kea and threw fire from them towards Poliʻahu, with the snow goddess fleeing towards the summit. Poliʻahu was finally able to grab her now-burning snow mantle and throw it over the mountain. Earthquakes shook the island as the snow mantle unfolded until it reached the fire fountains, chilling and hardening the lava. The rivers of lava were driven back to Mauna Loa and Kīlauea. Later battles also led to the defeat of Pele and confirmed the supremacy of the snow goddesses in the northern portion of the island and of Pele in the southern portion.
Pele belief continued after the old religion was officially abolished in 1819. In the summer of 1823 English missionary William Ellis toured the island to determine locations for mission stations.:236 After a long journey to the volcano Kīlauea with little food, Ellis eagerly ate the wild berries he found growing there.:128 The berries of the ʻōhelo (Vaccinium reticulatum) plant were considered sacred to Pele. Traditionally prayers and offerings to Pele were always made before eating the berries. The volcano crater was an active lava lake, which the natives feared was a sign that Pele was not pleased with the violation.:143 Although wood carvings and thatched temples were easily destroyed, the volcano was a natural monument to the goddess.
In December 1824 the High Chiefess Kapiʻolani descended into the Halemaʻumaʻu crater after reciting a Christian prayer instead of the traditional one to Pele. She was not killed as predicted, and this story was often told by missionaries to show the superiority of their faith.
I am an Aries ruled by Mars with Fire as our element, I had no choice in the matter I had to make a pilgrimage to the place where She dwells.
Luckily there are a few gals from Alaska here on the island I know so I have a hook up on the goings on here. I spent my first week here on island house sitting for one I had once gave my Arycterrex Climbing jacket to when she was camping in the rain up in Girdwood. It didn’t fit me anymore since I passed out next to a bonfire at the Brown Bear Saloon White Trash Party and it melted to my backside since no one had the decency to roll me over when I was passed out. No good deed goes undone my Aunty would say. I spent that time acclimating to the heat of the Kona side and working on my suntan, butt ass naked- all day -everyday. My old leatherlike skin absorbs the Coconut Kona Coffee infused darkening oil. I wasn’t going out in public this white. The Kona side is the dry side of the Big Island and the Sunsets simply stunning each day better than the last.
I am also reading the famous guide: “Hawaii Big Island Revealed” which is a great book to have on the islands. They have a book for every one & it is full of maps that I can stare at like Ms. March Playboy 1997. I read in this book, that where I was at- roughly 120,000 years ago, a huge chunk of the Coast from about mile marker 109 to just north of the old fishing village of Miloili”i, broke off and slid into the depths of the Pacific Ocean, creating Kealakekua Bay and the ensuing steep hills south of Honounau. The resulting Tsunami was so huge that it washed completely over the 1,427-foot-high island of Kawo”olawe, continued on and washed almost completely over the 3,370-foothigh island of Lana”i where it deposited huge chunks of coral over a thousand feet up the mountain. Holy Shit. Sounds like Pele and her Sister Nā-maka-o-Kahaʻi were still going at it.
Now that I have the color of old cardboard I am more confident in my ability to blend in with da’ locals. My buudy gave me a ride to the bustop where I was told i missed the one that goes over the saddle in between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. So I started walking south towards where I came from then started hitchiking in front of a old store front in Honounau. My backpack has some polypro underwear, raincoat, 2 pairs of socks, 1 tank top, 1 nice tshirt- sort of,
1 pr. breathable shorts, 1 pr, Camo cargo’s, my trusty hammock with bug net/rainfly so I don’t have to carry heavy ass tent with poles. Assortment of water bottles, hygiene and stupid shit.
In old Hawai’i, if you had broken a law, the penalty was death. Perhaps you had entered into an area that was reserved for only the chiefs, or had eaten forbidden foods. Laws, or kapu, governed every aspect of Hawaiian society. The penalty for breaking these laws was certain death. Your only option for survival is to elude your pursuers and reach the nearest pu’uhonua, or place of refuge.As you enter, the great wall rises up before you marking the boundaries between the royal grounds and the sanctuary. Many ki’i (carved wooden images) surround the Hale o Keawe temple, housing the bones of the chiefs that infuse the area with their power or mana. If you reached this sacred place, you would be saved. Death of Keōua KuahuulaKamehameha moved against the district of Puna in 1790 deposing Chief Keawemaʻuhili. Keōua Kūʻahuʻula, exiled to his home in Kaʻū, took advantage of Kamehameha’s absence and led an uprising. When Kamehameha returned with his army to put down the rebellion, Keōua fled past the Kīlauea volcano, which erupted and killed nearly a third of his warriors with its poisonous gas.When the Puʻukoholā Heiau was completed in 1791, Kamehameha invited Keōua to meet with him. Keōua may have been dispirited by his recent losses. He may have mutilated himself before landing so as to render himself an inappropriate sacrificial victim. As he stepped on shore, one of Kamehameha’s chiefs threw a spear at him. By some accounts he dodged it, but was then cut down by musket fire. Caught by surprise, Keōua’s bodyguards were killed. With Keōua dead, and his supporters captured or slain, Kamehameha became King of Hawaiʻi island.
ok, so I get picked up from this Jerry Garcia looking dude, has gnarled old hands with skin like old saddle leather, he is driving an old Datsun small pickup from the early 80’s and its full of Coconuts.
“How faw you go?!’ He spat.
“Ho! I go Volcano, yeah?” I tried my best pidgen spoke by locals. he eyed me suspiciously but my tan fooled him and I was like a Chameleon when he let me in his ride. he then took me way down da” road and at first did not want to talk much but then he talk story of the times when the lava flowed. he knew the decades which they took place and taught me many things before he dropped me off to turn off of Miloli”i. I sat there at dat’ place of joining which for me was like Robert Johnson at the Crossroads. I smoked some herb i had and proceeded to get my next hitch.
Now usually when I see the all to recognizable rental cars such as a convertible mustang or Jeep, I don’t even waste my time trying to stick my thumb out as the inhabitants scared looks of afore mentioned vehicle,
sais it all, “DONT you dare stop Wilber,…he’s a menace”,
I can read the fear in their eyes & wonder how it would be to live in such a state of mind- prisoner of their ignorance. So i have to admit that i was a bit surprised when that white Mustang pulled off up ahead. I grabbed my backpack and ran up to two Old Dudes who said jump in over the doors like Dukes of Hazard. I was stoked and they were daring enough to take a vagabond like me into their mobile sanctuary, so I threw in my backpack & jumped in as they burned out. So their story was that they had four hours to leave the wives behind on the cruise ship while they rented out the Pony car in wild youthful abandon to visit South Point. The furthest southern point in all of the United States of America.
“Well, Hell” I thought,…… I wanna go- like a true wanna-be..
So it was like Jack Nicholson and Robert Duval were my own personal guides down to that windy alcove. The driver Bob had no problem putting the hammer down on that lil” stallion. I had to catch William’s hairpiece with my cat like reflexes when it flew off his chrome dome. Made me think of the horrors my fellow country men have to endure with Chancellor Trump in office now. I stuffed it back to William like an old pigskin deep and tight and he slapped it back on his head backwards, I think on purpose because he felt young, alive and exuberant and didn’t give a fuck.
Well we got down to within 8 miles of the very furthest southern tip of the whole United States of America only to find out that since we didn’t have four wheel drive we would have to jump in da’ back of dis’ local bruhdas truck who take us down with 50 odder fuckas at $25 a Pop. Ho! WTF? We skidded out of there like dem’ good old Duke boys and they dropped me off- once again at a crossroads in between South Point and BumFucking Egypt. It started to rain lightly and I picked the best Tangelo I ever tasted not really caring about where, what or why. I could feel the warmth of the tropical presence the light sprinkle of rain and a sense of freedom I can only get on the road with no direction or home. So this young blonde couple and huge German Shepard stop and I crawl in with big doofis who I immediately share a bond with. The dog owners thought he was going to wig out but he just didn’t know what to think when I hugged him like Valcor. i trust animals more than people, always have. Well them and kids, because they don’t Bullshit you, they let you know what their feeling.
Ended up these two were from Wasiila Alaska! Holy Shit do we all just go to Hawaii in the winter I thought? I told them I am he who walks the Wood of Gird and they broke out some weed and a nice bottle of PBR- I could feel something pulling me, Ebb & Flow,……. and of course, She knew I was near.
The couple dropped me off near Sea Mountain where I got picked up by a local who thought I was a local due to my chameleon like skills. But as soon as I got in and started talking my ruse was up and he eyed me with suspicion.
” You have wife? He asked.
“No.” I reply.
” You no have kiki’s?
Then he asked why- and it took me a minute to come up with a answer,
” I guess I never settled down”.
Then I asked the same of him and he also had no family.
He answered because he was gay, then there was this awkward silence until I said
“Don’t let that stop you, I’m sure some kid needs an uncle or aunty…….”
He looked at me quizzically and laughed, then he talked story about his family who have lived here for a very long time.
As we drove up in elevation towards what is now known as the Volcanoes National Park, the topography becomes predominated with successive lava flows. Some are somewhat newer and devoid of most life while some older flows have been covered with different plants. Always it will be the Ohia Tree to take a foothold on this desolate landscape.
The Lehua Blossom on the Ohia Tree
When you are in Hawaii, you may notice a unique tree with twisted looking branches and a bright red bloom. That’s the ohia tree. It’s native to Hawaii and can be found on all the islands.
I like to think of this tree as being the little train that could of the tree family. The reason being is it is one of the first trees to grow in lava. What determination! In fact when you visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, you’ll probably notice ohia bushes and ferns providing the first dots of vegetation in a field of lava.
There’s an interesting Hawaiian legend tied to the ohia tree and its flower, the lehua blossom. As you might expect, the legend is tied to the volcano goddess, Pele. The legend says that one day Pele met a handsome warrior named Ohia and she asked him to marry her. The problem was Ohia had already pledged his love to Lehua. Pele was furious when Ohia turned down her marriage proposal, so she turned Ohia into a twisted tree. Lehua was heartbroken, of course. The gods took pity on Lehua and decided it was an injustice to have Ohia and Lehua separated. So, they turned Lehua into a flower on the Ohia tree so that the two lovers would be forever joined together. Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned.
Unfortunately a tree fungus has killed hundreds of thousands of Hawaii’s iconic and native ohia lehua trees. Researchers say these trees are critical not only to the island’s water supply, but also to endangered native birds and cultural traditions like hula.
This disease — rapid ohia death (ROD) — was first detected in 2014 in the forests of Puna. Since last year alone, the fungus has affected 50 percent of the ohia trees across 6,000 acres of forest, and continues to rapidly spread. Although it has only been documented in Big Island forests, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has warned ROD could potentially spread across the state.
“ROD is caused by a fungus called Ceratocystis fimbriata. This disease is new to Hawaii and the strain of fungus infecting ohia, has never been described before,” Dr. J.B. Friday, of the University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service, said in a news release. “While apparently only impacting Big Island forests currently, this has the potential of spreading statewide, so it’s critically important we do everything to stop it.”
Once infected with this fungal disease, a mature tree can die within two weeks, experts say. To help minimize the spread of the fungus, state and federal agencies have partnered to create potential treatments.
“Ohia trees cover more than one million acres statewide and ohia is widely considered the most important forest tree in Hawaii,” Chair Suzanne Case of the states DLNR added in the release. “They are so important for protecting our forest watersheds that it’s necessary our approach to combating this disease involves the highest levels of government and includes non-government agencies and private partners that can provide additional resources and expertise.”
Ohia trees are vital to local ecosystems because they replenish the earth’s water supply and act as a food source for endangered birds. Furthermore, the Hawaiian culture relies heavily on the trees, using their wood to make weapons, hula instruments, homes and (in the past) temples in ancient Hawaii.
The light rain had turned into torrential downpour when I was dropped off at the park entrance. I was not deterred and went in using mu National Parks pass I bought last year, this being my 10th National Park visit in a 9 month period. My plan was to hike around the Halemaʻumaʻu craterKīlauea for a few days and leave a offering to the fiery Goddess of my dreams. I was informed though by a very pretty young park ranger with white hair that the trails were all closed to the public do to recent activity which can emit Sulphor Dioxide into the atmosphere causing a certain health risk. I could not even see her in fiery form as the lava lake was bubbling up but was blanketed in a dense cloud cover. I went to the Lava house and contemplated walking 3 miles to the campground but it was not letting up anytime soon and seemed to be building wind strength. I remember a gal I knew from Alaska told me to call if I was around that area and She would love to see me again. so I left her a text and she responded immediately.
Seems befitting that I would call on a gal I knew from a place called Crow Creek, Alaska, the valley of King Boulette mushrooms I forage for in Autumn.. She had relocated some 10 years earlier to the Big Island to take up the laid back lifestyle only a few have been fortunate enough to enjoy. I had helped her on the cabin she built back up in Alaska so she always extended her hospitality towards me.
I had my heart set on hiking around the volcano and camping up to 10 days maximum for FREE at Namakani Paio Campground- yet was not looking forward to sleeping in sideways rain in a hammock. So I broke down and called her. She said she would be able to pick me up within a hour, so I went to the Volcano House lodge that was built in 1847 out of the abundant material.
COCONUT HIWA PORTER
A robust dark ale with hand-toasted coconut & hints of mocha that I cannot say enough about. I pulled up a bamboo chair sporting a frothy mustache and stared off from the Kilauea Crater lookout on the empty atrium with a dense fog before me. I knew She was out there, Drifting off in a mist of legends and lore- imagining Her in the bubbling molten lava lake below unharmed without the care of Mortals.
My rescuer came into the parking lot in a beat up SUV and we were soon driving through the lunar like landscape towards Pahoa- bullshitting like we had just seen each other yesterday. It would be safe to say I was somewhat relieved not to be walking to the campground in what had become a downpour. I spent the next few weeks helping her out at what she called the Kolea farm, named after a familiar friend of mine from over 3,500 miles to the tundra landscape of the Northslope, Alaska.
The Kolea (Pacific Golden Plover) leads a double life. From May to August it nests and raises its young on Alaska’s chilly subarctic tundra. Come winter, just as its plumage turns from black and white to gold and brown
A kolea displays full breeding plumage, in preparation for its return to Alaska.
In 1773, Captain James Cook sailed the waters off Tahiti during his second expedition. His mission: to find the “Great Southern Continent” purported to lie somewhere between Australia and New Zealand. Near Matavai Bay, naturalists aboard the H.M.S. Resolution noticed a five-ounce, spindly legged shorebird and dutifully recorded what seemed, at first, a simple species of plover. But this was no ordinary bird. The Englishmen took a special interest after the Tahitians told them that the birds did not nest in the islands but migrated away each spring. Might these birds, the Englishmen wondered, be breeding on the elusive continent they sought?
Five years later, having understandably failed to find the non-existent Great Southern Continent, Cook was on his third expedition, now seeking the equally elusive Northwest Passage. In the North Pacific and Bering Sea, his crew spotted a very similar bird, which this time seemed to be migrating south. Again, Cook wondered if the birds knew something about geography that he didn’t: “Does this not indicate,” he wrote, “that there must be land to the north where these birds retired in the proper season to breed?” Indeed so, but Cook might have been astonished to learn that the birds he’d observed in Tahiti and those he saw in the North Pacific half a decade later were not just, as he correctly deduced, the same species. They may well have been the very same birds. Indeed, these creatures—known in Hawaii as the kolea—knew exactly where the land was. And to find it, they flew all the way from the Arctic to the South Pacific—and back—every year.
The tiny kolea, known to the world outside Hawaii as the Pacific golden plover, are among the world’s mightiest long-distance flyers. They arrive in Hawaii in the early fall and stay through the end of April, during which time you can find them hanging around almost any large open space: stalking the lawn at Kapiolani Park; stabbing for beetles at Punchbowl; crouching in Kailua-Kona’s a’a lava fields; and, perhaps most frustratingly, fixed immovably on the green directly between you and your birdie putt. Though classified as shorebirds, the hardy and adaptable kolea have been found far from the sea, even in the crater of Haleakalä on Maui, where temperatures frequently drop into the teens at night. The bird’s Hawaiian name, kolea, a phonetic imitation of its keening flight call, has come to mean “one who takes and leaves.” Ai no ke kolea a momona hoi i Kahiki! goes one Hawaiian proverb: The kolea eats until he is fat, and then returns to the land from which he came.
Kolea spend each summer on the treeless tundra of western Alaska; in late August, they head south. Migrating kolea are believed to cruise at altitudes of up to 20,000 feet and may average fifty miles per hour. But unlike many birds capable of trans-oceanic migrations, kolea can neither soar nor glide. And in what seems an unfortunate quality for a shorebird, kolea also can’t swim. When birds flying from western Alaska to Hawaii finally reach our shores, they will have continuously beat their wings twice per second for about fifty hours over some 2,500 miles of open ocean—one of the most grueling non-stop migrations in the avian world.
During my time at the Kolea Farm I planted Coconut, Tea Leave, Pineapple and an assortment of air plants throughout her property. She would usually start the day with a drink of the Tropical Nature, tend to the garden then load up her water bottles for the plants. Then we would go to
Ahalanui Beach with its miles of sugar-fine white sand and surf lapping at your feet. This is a man-made thermal lagoon that was constructed with federal funds after lava flows from Kilauea, destroyed the famous Kalapana black sand beaches on this part of the coast in the 1990s.
It is right on the ocean but separated from the ocean waves by a low wall made from lava rock. The cooling waves do wash over the wall, which is what keeps the water, fed by natural springs that are thermally heated by the volcano, at a balmy temperature of about 90 degrees.
An assortment of Pavillionaires were always here. Those who hang out near the pavilions to hustle money from tourist like weaved palm fronds into some kind of basket or hat, offer Coconuts for purchase and the ever present market for illicit drugs which I never took part in……… it was here though where I met a very beautiful woman. While soaking it up in the lagoon I seen a gal walking down the pathway that had an Amazonian physique. She had obviously been in some kind of body building competition at one point and even though somewhat more muscular than I usually like them….., lets just say “She definitely had it going on”. It just so happened that my Kolea Sista knew her friend and soon we were all standing in the soothing chest deep waters.
“May I see your tattoo on your chest?” She asked
I then displayed the Tribal Sun design I have on my
‘pumped up’ left pectoral from playing squirt ducky with my hands. She then went on to say that she had a very similar one on her ass which I then inquired to inspect. She turned around in the water tilting up on one leg as I donned my snorkel for optimum clarity, and there it was on that gorgeous example of a full bodied Ass the very representation of Sola. It was like a Matrix moment.
We hang out and made plans to meet up later at a Uncle Roberts Night Market since it was Wednesday.
A legend in these parts, Uncle Robert Keli’iho‘omalu is the patriarch of a large family who live on a four-acre compound literally at the end of the road: You simply follow the Kapoho-Kalapana Road, locally referred to as the Red Road for the original red cinder pavement (now asphalt) until you can go no further. From the hundreds of cars parked along the road, you’ll know when you get close. As Uncle Robert says, “Where the road ends, the aloha begins.”
Uncle Robert’s credo
Robert, now in his mid 70s, grew up here in a family raising pigs and growing taro. He and his wife raised 11 children here, many of whom stayed and had children of their own. I don’t know how many houses are in the compound, but quite a few. In 1990, the lava flow from Kīlauea that ended up destroying the village of Kalapana and permanently altering the shoreline somehow spared his family’s property. To give thanks, the family began to open up its property to the community.
What started out as Uncle Robert and his family playing music for the community slowly expanded into the spectacle we experienced: dozens of vendors, food booths, lively entertainment from a fantastic band, and a crowd of many hundreds from all races and walks of life, including a large number of kamaʻaina (Hawaiian residents).
Before we started to get loose on the dance floor we decided to rent out some bicycles and go watch the Sunset near the recent lava tube that was the only place in the world where molten lava was was spewing directly into the Ocean.
As the Sun went down the red and orange glow of the Lava seemed to intertwine with the steam colors and the deep currents of the Ocean, it would seem that Pele and her Sister were still at odds.
Punatic in Pahoa
Flow Festival is Puna, Hawaii’s premiere music, cultural and sustainability festival.
The festival was originally inspired in 2014 when the Big Island’s active lava flow changed directions and threatened to cut off lower Puna from the rest of the island.
The intention remains to enhance the sustainability and unity of our community and warmly welcomes all ages, shapes, sizes, creeds, colors…
We focus on conscious music, progressive thinking speakers, sustainable & holistic life practices and equality among the human race.
We honor Hawaii for its richness in culture and geography. We dedicate the festival to the Hawaiian Lava Goddess, Pele.
So being limited on funds I decided to volunteer to work Security there which was being held not to far from the Kolea Farm. It was a musical affair leaning towards all that hippy shit, a perfect venue to try and get rid of a bunch of herbal candies we had made earlier in the week. When I got there early in the day I met up with a hot ass gal I met at a Kawa Bar in Pahoa & a bunch of hippies who were also on this journey with me. We were told to go enjoy the music and come back to work later, which I did 3 days……. later, Me without my shirt or sandals utterly dehydrated and the girls without their tops. Apparently I had met up with two other fellow Kolea brethren. A gal I knew from Girdwood and an old college buddy from Juneau. I guess we were dancing like some Pagans which had a gyratating tendency on anything near, real or imagined ie. conjured……. I smelled of god damn patchouli & essence of Myr just noticing the sarong, draped over my head & shoulders like the Lost Messiah, I had to reach the Ocean and cleanse myself of this godforsaken reek.
For the next few days were of tending to plants, snorkeling, swimming, sunbathing & relaxing. We would barbeque one night that would alter everything. It would seem that after a night of partying at the beach the person with the keys did not want to
let anyone else drive, we soon found ourselves flying off the highway and into a dark field. We tried to get her to leave the scene but she was so fucked up thinking she could get out of the swamp and soon the Police showed up and it was obvious she was impaired.
As cops drove away with her in the back, I found myself once again on a dark lonely road where I feel most at ease regardless of the situation. I needed to get into the wild places and headed North.
I planned on hitchhiking to remote valleys where King Kamehameha was hidden as a child to one day become the Chief of all the Hawaiian Islands.
I once read in the journals I scoured about this island that there was a old trail that connected Pololu to Waimanu but had since been destroyed by hurricane landslides & neglect. I knew this was going to be an epic safari and hitchhiked to the surplus store in Hilo.
Overview: Pololū means long spear, and carves a long cleave on the northern side of Kohala Mountain. This magnificent wild valley is at the head of the Kohala Coast, apparently the oldest part of the island with deeply in-cut valleys towering over picturesque beaches. Most people only drive to the end of Hwy. 270 and gawk at the beauty of the rugged northern Kohala coastline from the Pololū Overlook. It’s a shame that they don’t realize that hiking one or two switch-backs down toward Pololū Beach provides a much better photo vantage. And of course, hiking down to the valley floor and over to the next valley provides a sublime adventure in this special place.
Tune in next time, same Pan channel-same Pan time-