Journey of Change 2016

The smell of sage is pungent in the early Spring mornings before the Sun dehydrates everything to a crisp by 10 am. Our Hero is making his way North out of Elko, Nevada on old State Route 225. His destination:

Unknown Places within Wilderness of the American West.

Plastic bags tangled in old barbed wire fences along the roadside are a mockery of the tumbleweeds that once did the same not all that long ago.

As he enters Idaho. the terrain becomes more volcanic in nature, scars from a distant violent time. The Snake River Canyon being the deepest cut,. the Perrine bridge, like a Band-Aid connecting the two sides. A trust arch spanning 1500 feet in length and 486 feet above the Snake River. It is a Meca for those crazy BASE jumpers.

From Twin Falls he is lured East into the strange lunar like landscape of the Craters of the Moon National Monument. The vast ocean of lava flows with scattered islands of cinder cones and sagebrush represents one of the best preserved flood basalt areas in the continental United States. A stark blackened scorch of Earth that oozed from deep within the bowels of fire and brimstone. Rumored to have been the reason the Blackfeet Indian’s were named such as they were making their way to richer lands across this desolate waste ages ago. But there is Life here as the vibrant desert blooms splashing the vistas on an otherwise black canvas testify too.

 Universes before me….. Each Unto Their Own.

Although Craters of the Moon may appear lifeless and unchanging, the high desert ecosystem is continually in flux. Weather, climatic shifts and geologic processes, including volcanic eruptions, will continue to shape the landscape as they have for thousands of years. Sometimes when I am so high like a cloud with no constraints I drift throughout. Settlement of the Snake River Plain brought about rapid environmental change, and as a result native animals such as big horn sheep, bison and the grizzly bear have disappeared from the area. More recently, human-caused factors such as air pollutants and invasive introduced species, have had an increasing impact on natural resources within the remote lava fields of the Great Rift. Clean, dry air traditionally afforded clear views of Great Rift landforms and the high mountain ranges surrounding the Snake River Plain. Emissions of air pollutants from distant sources are now being carried to the Snake River Plain and are beginning to obscure these views. Invasive plants, including spotted knapweed and leafy spurge, have been introduced into North America from other continents. Lacking their normal complement of predators and disease, these plants have spread widely across the Intermountain West, displacing native plants and reducing food for wildlife. The remote and undeveloped landscape of the Great Rift still provides an ideal place to study how various environmental factors affect desert ecosystems, and to help people predict what changes might take place in the future.

I notice my temperature indicator is pegged on redline and I pull over to let it cool. I have no cell service and pray I didn’t crack a head. I know the entrance to the monument is within a few miles so I take a chance and limp towards it, pulling off from time to time when it gets too hot. Once I’m at the camp ground I let it cool and pull the thermostat out and don’t experience any more overheating. Mental note: make sure to replace before winter. This landscape is so crazy. Miles and miles of twisted formations that would make a great scenario for a spiritual journey.

The following day, I make my way Northwest where the famous author Ernest Hemmingway lived in Ketchum, Idaho where I am checking out the ski area Sun Valley.

Old Ernest was a war correspondent and seen many things. An avid outdoorsman who helped spur Hollywoodians to go to the new Sun Valley ski resort. He also loved his drink and would come back to this place and put a bullet in his head after the fall of Cuba to Communism. A act of political desperation perhaps although he was known to have suffered in later years from chronic pain that he experienced after two separate plane crash landings on a African Safari Lion hunt. He lived a full life and would use his outdoor experience to inspire a lot of his works, much like Jack London had done many years before. I keep some of their work in my van and drink a toast to both.

The Sawtooth Wilderness

The Wilderness is comprised of hundreds of jagged peaks, 50 over 10,000 feet in height, with nearly 400 high alpine lakes dotting the predominantly rocky terrain.  Also hidden within it’s boundaries are deep, secluded valleys covered with enormous stands of trees. These mountains hold the headwaters of the North Fork and Middle Fork of the Boise River, the South Fork of the Payette River and contributes significantly to the headwaters of the Salmon River. I drink deeply of these springs.

This is one range that has eluded the Mountain Freak for sometime, who cant rest until he taste the creeks and sleep within those secret places. Now on the backside of this range enjoying the rustic Sawtooth Lodge and it’s hot springs along the river.

Established in 1927, the Sawtooth Lodge offers a hard-to-equal vacation for lovers of the outdoors. Easily accessible on the South Fork of the Payette River. Situated on the edge of the Sawtooth Wilderness Area, it maintains all the serene beauty and rugged grandeur of the unspoiled American West.

 If you’ve never been to this mountain range, you are missing out on one of the most epic mountain ranges in the country.

Once, millions of Salmon would make it up to these high mountain streams to spawn.

You’re probably familiar with store bought Salmon, but the Sockeye Salmon referenced here are part of an endangered group which lives in the Snake River-Salmon River drainage. Due to dams, over-fishing, and other environmental impacts, we’ve seen the returning population dwindle over the last several decades. This culminated in 1996, when “Lonesome Larry” became the legendary, lone returning Salmon to Redfish Lake. They may have to rename the lake to, No Redfish Lake.

Salmon are anadromous – they start their lives in freshwater lakes, streams and rivers, then migrate to saltwater where they spend, according to species, from two to seven years at sea before returning to freshwater to spawn. Why go to sea? Freshwater lakes, streams and rivers are nutrient poor. To grow big, salmon need the abundance of food the sea provides.

When they return to spawn, salmon become a veritable conveyor belt for nutrients. For example, an adult chum salmon returning to spawn contains an average of 130 grams of nitrogen, 20 grams of phosphorus and more than 20,000 kilojoules of energy in the form of protein and fat; a 250-meter reach of salmon stream in southeast Alaska receives more than 80 kilograms of nitrogen and 11 kilograms of phosphorous in the form of chum salmon tissue in just over one month.

As the bodies of spawning salmon break down, nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients become available to streamside vegetation. According to Robert Naiman of the University of Washington, streamside vegetation gets just under 25 percent of its nitrogen from salmon. Other researchers report up to 70 percent of the nitrogen found in riparian zone foliage comes from salmon. One study concludes that trees on the banks of salmon-stocked rivers grow more than three times faster than their counterparts along salmon-free rivers

There is a valley I drove up to where the very old Dredge that decimated the drainages looking for gold, lies abandoned in neglect. Even after all these years there are only mounds of rocks with no topsoil for miles and miles what were once prime spawning grounds.

As the Pacific Northwest population has grown, its salmon have dwindled. In 1991, the federal government declared the first salmon in the Pacific Northwest, Snake River sockeye, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. In the next few years, 16 more species of salmon were listed as either threatened or endangered.

By 1999, wild salmon had disappeared from about 40 percent of their historic breeding ranges in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California.

In Washington, the numbers had dwindled so much that salmon and bull trout were listed as threatened or endangered in nearly three-fourths of the state.

There are many things that have contributed to the decline of salmon populations but they generally can be put in two major categories:

Human influences

  • Loss, fragmentation, and destruction of salmon habitat
  • Land uses that pollute waterways and degrade habitat
  • Dams
  • Over fishing
  • Hatcheries that produce fish that compete with wild salmon for limited resources

Changes to the natural environment

  • Fluctuating marine conditions
  • Climate change
  • Increases in predators

Reversing the Trend

The federal Endangered Species Act, and Washington State law, require development of recovery plans to recover salmon. Washington residents have been working for more than 10 years to reverse the fate of salmon, and those efforts are beginning to pay off. Learn more about Washington’s unique approach to salmon recovery planning. Learn more about how salmon are doing in Washington and in your community by visiting the State of Salmon in Watersheds Web site, which gives you detailed information and data about the numbers of fish, watershed health, and implementation of salmon recovery plans.

I take full advantage of:

Free Forest Service Maps/Disbursement Camping from Rangers even though they discourage disbursement campers since a lot of vagrants just fuck it all up with trash & abandoned cars, etc.

I make my way south east to where I used to live in Driggs, Idaho when I was operating

snowcats grooming ski runs up at Grand Targhee 15 years before. It was interesting driving through the old town that has seen some change since I was here in my old 1973 FJ40  Landcruiser known as the Ghjost, full of backcountry gear. Back then,  I came prepared for a Epic Season with all kinds of Nor-Cal Dank, which tripped all my co worker and roommates out that I had that much hash since it was a class A felony to possess in Idaho. So I calmly told them we had to smoke it all. I spent a lot of time up on Teton Pass backcountry splitboarding. I once picked up a guy hitchhiking who was wearing all the latest ski trends of the day when my heater hose blew and doused him with scalding anti-freeze. He didn’t seem all that happy so I booted him out & coasted back to a brewery I am now headed to.

I met an old friend from Alaska who works at that same micro brewery as the head chef and is doing well for himself with a beautiful dark haired woman who gave him a lovely daughter and is baking one in the oven as well. He cooked me up a great Pecan encrusted Rainbow Trout that was absolutely delicious. Afterwards we proceeded to drink as much of the micro brews as possible. We got lost on the way back to his place a few times and he would throw himself onto the road screaming he was just going to let someone run him over. I would stand him upright, brush him off & give him a pep talk where invigorated, we would proceed to get lost worse than before. We got separated somewhere in a condominium complex that was like trying to navigate out of Dungeons and Dragons.  I awoke in my van where I found a owl feather, horsehair and piece of rawhide with a picture of a mountain scene etched on it, along with a key to Vision quest, a gift from my buddy. I took off in the wee hours of a brand new day without waking him and his beautiful family.

Back when I was on the Extreme Couch Surfing/ Snowboard circuit, Jackson Hole ski resort used to be on my “Snowboarding to do” list. Known for it’s steep couloirs and chutes wuth no shortage of badass terrain. What I found was pretty much the same thing at Squaw Valley, Park City & Vail. Huge euro style villages that are way over priced and devoid of a sense of community. It reminded me more of a social club where people hung out to impress themselves. In building these amusement parks the price of a daily ticket exceeds over $100 which makes it unattainable for most your everyday people which in turn affects the demographics across the board of who lives here.

On this journey I am checking out different ski towns that are more about skiing/riding for just that, not what gear you have, clothes you wear or car you drive. Alyeska has had a few years of warming conditions forcing them with multiple closures and doesn’t even have the decency to reimburse pass holders with free mountain biking or something to offset the loss.  Once again the Corporate Ski Mountain model takes it to the small guy. Darkness, rain, freeze, melt, rain, freeze, melt, seem to be the new norm there. Not to mention that town has been going in a direction like many of the so called ski towns I have lived in. Many of the homes are vacation rentals or second homes for the wealthy and remain dark and lifeless most the time. This drives overpriced housing cost and a widening gap for those who can’t afford to even live there at all, once again which affects the demographics of the town itself. I cant tell you how many kids I know who have grown up in these places and could not afford to go and never learned how to ski or ride. A Travesty. I’m out bitches.

I am in search of a Mountain with consistent snow and a small town that has not been bought and sold yet, so if it exist- I will find it and if not, I will keep on searching overseas if I have too. So far, the small town of Liitle Glacier and ski area Mt. Baker is looking very good but I want to go check out some other places I have never been to as well.

Alas” all things shall pass.

Even worse than Jackson Hole is the legendary Yellowstone Club which requires would be members to be within millionaire status in order to join. I think I can safely say I wont be a part of this non sense.

I stare over the old western town of Jackson Hole reminiscing of simpler times when the town had a few ski bums and ranchers who drove mostly old pickup trucks, not so many high end SUV’s that now scramble out of the endless onslaught of condominiums where sage brush grew and the Buffalo once roamed.

The Grand Tetons. no doubt, named by some lonesome French fur trapper longing for a woman’s breast. Is by far one of the most incredible mountain ranges in North America. The first time I came here was in 1977 with my Dad. I think back decades before when we were fishing for the elusive Golden Trout somewhere in a river I can no longer recall the name of. He wasn’t having all that good of luck as his mood could attest to, so I scampered off with my little Ronco Folda-Rod. (As Seen On TV) As I was walking along the riverbank I found a depression where a bunch of these beautiful Golden Trout were hanging out. I put a worm online and commenced to pulling out a few which I brought back to my Dad who just stared at me in disbelief, then he took them from me. I think back fondly of this time and always thought of this fish as a native of the Rockies but it is in fact an introduced species from Northern California. I intend to find the true home of these fish someday.

The cute ranger talks me into purchasing a National Parks Annual Pass which will prove to be invaluable in the weeks to come.

What more can I say about Yellowstone that hasn’t been said before? It was here, as a young adolescent that I found a book on the early French Fur trappers and the Indians that inhabited that region. I was transfixed on this lifestyle and would later attain to learn all I could of their ways through rendezvous held in the mountains of the West:

Men like Jedidiah Smith, Grizzly Adams, Kit Carson, Jim Beckworth amongst many others lived in a time that was on the cusp of change. I envied that time and felt as if I was born to late.

John Colter (c.1774 – May 7, 1812 or November 22, 1813) was a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806). Though party to one of the more famous expeditions in history, Colter is best remembered for explorations he made during the winter of 1807–1808, when he became the first known person of European descent to enter the region which later became Yellowstone National Park and to see the Teton Mountain Range, Colter spent months alone in the wilderness and is widely considered to be the first known mountain man.

Those old Indian tales intrigued me and what they had to say:

“I have heard it told on the Cheyenne Reservation in Montana and the Seminole camps in the Florida Everglades, I have heard it from the Eskimos north of the Arctic Circle and the Indians south of the equator. The legend of the flood is the most universal of all legends. It is told in Asia, Africa, and Europe, in North America and the South Pacific.” Professor Hap Gilliland of Eastern Montana College was the first to record this legend of the great flood.

This is one of the fifteen legends of the flood that he himself recorded in various parts of the world:


He was an old Indian. his face was weather beaten, but his eyes were still bright. I never knew what tribe he was from, though I could guess. Yet others from the tribe whom I talked to later had never heard his story.

We had been talking of the visions of the young men. He sat for a long time, looking out across the Yellowstone Valley through the pouring rain, before he spoke. “They are beginning to come back,” he said.

“Who is coming back?” I asked.

“The animals,” he said. “It has happened before.”

“Tell me about it.’

He thought for a long while before he lifted his hands and his eyes. “The Great Spirit smiled on this land when he made it. There were mountains and plains, forests and grasslands. There were animals of many kinds–and men.”

The old man’s hands moved smoothly, telling the story more clearly than his voice.

The Great Spirit told the people, “These animals are your brothers. Share the land with them. They will give you food and clothing. Live with them and protect them.

“Protect especially the buffalo, for the buffalo will give you food and shelter. The hide of the buffalo will keep you from the cold, from the heat, and from the rain. As long as you have the buffalo, you will never need to suffer.”

For many winters the people lived at peace with the animals and with the land. When they killed a buffalo, they thanked the Great Spirit, and they used every part of the buffalo. It took care of every need.

Then other people came. They did not think of the animals as brothers. They killed, even when they did not need food. They burned and cut the forests, and the animals died. They shot the buffalo and called it sport. They killed the fish in the streams.

When the Great Spirit looked down, he was sad. He let the smoke of the fires lie in the valleys. The people coughed and choked. But still they burned and they killed.

So the Great Spirit sent rains to put out the fires and to destroy the people.

The rains feil, and the waters rose. The people moved from the flooded valleys to the higher land.

Spotted Bear, the medicine man, gathered together his people. He said to them, “The Great Spirit has told us that as long as we have the buffalo we will be safe from heat and cold and rain. But there are no longer any buffalo. Unless we can find buffalo and live at peace with nature, we will all die.”

Still the rains fell, and the waters rose. The people moved from the flooded plains to the hills.

The young men went out and hunted for the buffalo. As they went they put out the fires. They made friends with the animals once more. They cleaned out the streams.

Still the rains fell, and the waters rose. The people moved from the flooded hills to the mountains.

Two young men came to Spotted Bear. “We have found the buffalo,” they said. “There was a cow, a calf, and a great white bull. The cow and the calf climbed up to the safety of the mountains. They should be back when the rain stops. But the bank gave way, and the bull was swept away by the floodwaters. We followed and got him to shore, but he had drowned. We have brought you his hide.”

They unfolded a huge white buffalo skin.

Spotted Bear took the white buffalo hide. “Many people have been drowned,” he said. “Our food has been carried away. But our young people are no longer destroying the world that was created for them. They have found the white buffalo. It will save those who are left.”

Still the rains fell, and the waters rose. The people moved from the flooded mountains to the highest peaks.

Spotted Bear spread the white buffalo skin on the ground. He and the other medicine men scraped it and stretched it, and scraped it and stretched it.

Still the rains fell. Like all rawhide, the buffalo skin stretched when it was wet. Spotted Bear stretched it out over the village. All the people who were left crowded under it.

As the rains fell, the medicine men stretched the buffalo skin across the mountains. Each day they stretched it farther.

Then Spotted Bear tied one corner to the top of the Big Horn Mountains. That side, he fastened to the Pryors. The next corner he tied to the Bear Tooth Mountains. Crossing the Yellowstone Valley, he tied one corner to the Crazy Mountains, and the other to Signal Butte in the Bull Mountains.

The whole Yellowstone Valley was covered by the white buffalo skin. Though the rains still fell above, it did not fall in the Yellowstone Valley.

The waters sank away. Animals from the outside moved into the valley, under the white buffalo skin. The people shared the valley with them.

Still the rains fell above the buffalo skin. The skin stretched and began to sag.

Spotted Bear stood on the Bridger Mountains and raised the west end of the buffalo skin to catch the West Wind. The West Wind rushed in and was caught under the buffalo skin. The wind lifted the skin until it formed a great dome over the valley.

The Great Spirit saw that the people were living at peace with the earth. The rains stopped, and the sun shone. As the sun shone on the white buffalo skin, it gleamed with colours of red and yellow and blue.

As the sun shone on the rawhide, it began to shrink. The ends of the dome shrank away until all that was left was one great arch across the valley.

The old man’s voice faded away; but his hands said “Look,” and his arms moved toward the valley.

The rain had stopped and a rainbow arched across the Yellowstone Valley. A buffalo calf and its mother grazed beneath it.

Pretty potent fodder for the Soul no doubt.

I love driving early spring or late fall into places that would otherwise be bumper to bumper with tourist which allows me time to take my time and smell the flowers, as it were. After checking out all the sights and sounds of the park I was driving out and came through a section that was burnt back in 1988. I remember back then, people were freaking out calling for the Forest Service to extinguish the fires because we were losing a National Treasure. We now know that fires are a natural cycle of any healthy forest and I’m here to tell you that it may have yet to fully recover with large Lodge Pole Pine stands, but is doing just fine supporting a whole new cast of flora and fauna.

From there, I drove up to Big Sky ski resort just to check it out and found pretty much the same thing as Jackson Hole. The fake climbing walls, ziplines and other bullshit seemed a bit glitzy and fake to me. Although meet a nice lady at the chamber of commerce who told me some cool spots to disburse camp. She also told me of a cool Western Bar she hangs out at and likes to two-step, not particularly my forte’ but I’m sure I will figure it out.

The next day I drove into the college  town of Bozeman and up to Bridger Bowl ski area where I spent the night high up on a ridgeline overlooking the valley below. This is simply a mountain for skiing’s sake known for its backcountry accessible terrain and no frills amenities. Just what I’m looking for. I shall return when blanketed in snow.

Somewhere in the mountains I drink from the headwaters of the Missouri River, clear, clean and invigorating unlike the fluid downstream that has attained the title of the second most polluted waterway in the U.S. by the time it reaches the Mississippi River, which coincidently is the number one most polluted, 2300 miles to the East.

From there I made it down to Dillon Montana where I met up with a few Alaskan gals I knew back in Girdwood. We danced, sang, reveled at a old watering hole until closing. I was supposed to meet them back at one of their cabins for a night to remember. Somewhere along the way she lost me on these confounded dirt roads and I veer off into the soft.

I awoke in my van in the middle of a pasture, cows chewing their cud, looking at me like I don’t belong or something. So, with no memory what so ever of where the girls were, I drove off through old mining towns and railway depots of Montana until I found I could get back over into Idaho from south of Dillon Montana, through Lemhi Pass.

The pass gained importance in the 18th century, when the Lemhi Shoshone acquired horses and used the route to travel between the two main parts of their homeland. From the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 until the Oregon Treaty in 1846 the pass marked the western border of the United States. On August 12, 1805 Meriwether Lewis and three other members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition  crossed the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass with assistance from the Shoshone Indian Interpreter Sacajawea. Lewis found a “large and plain Indian road” over the pass. This was the first time that white men had seen present-day Idaho:

We proceeded to the top of the dividing ridge from which I discovered immense ranges of high mountains still to the West of us with their tops partially covered in snow

The next day Lewis met Cameahwait and his band of Shoshone, and returned with them across the pass to meet Clark. On August 26, 1805 the entire expedition crossed the pass.

In the early 19th century the pass was regularly used by the Blackfoot people.

I got two separate flats atop this pass, thank god not going down as I would have been SOL. I pulled out my doughnut spare and found that it only had a little bit of air in it so I coasted down the Western side until it peeled from the rim near the spot where Sacajawea gave birth to her baby while in route to the Pacific Ocean.. The next day I rode my bicycle into Salmon Idaho where I got a tow truck to help me out with a used tire. People just gawked at me on my lowrider beach cruiser in Good Old Town USA. I had to get into the Lochsa no matter what.

The Lochsa River ( pronounced ” lock saw”) is in the mountains of north central Idaho. It is one of two primary tributaries (with the Selway to the south) of the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River in the Clearwater National Forest. Lochsa is a Nez Perce word meaning rough water. The Salish name is Ep Smɫí, “It Has Salmon.” Although I am not sure how many if any return to their traditional spawning grounds without assistance nowadays. The Lochsa was included by the U.S. Congress in 1968 as part of the National Wild and ScenandRivers Act.The Lochsa and Selway rivers and their tributaries have no dams, and their flow is unregulated. In late spring, mid-May to mid-June, the Lochsa River is rated as one of the world’s best for continuous whitewater. I just missed the all to short spring runoff season in another drought year caused by thin snowpack but had a great time swimming and checking out the geology.

 Just southwest of Missoula, highway 12 runs through a grove of large and ancient Western Red cedars. Past this grove flows Crooked Fork Creek to join with White Sand Creek about two and a half miles downstream to form the Lochsa River. For many years this grove could be reached only by driving over a narrow gravel road that ran from Lolo, Montana over Lolo Pass and ended at Powell Ranger Station. During that time this grove was called the Big Cedars and the Forest Service maintained a public campground there for hunters, fishermen, and others who came to enjoy the forest. Scenery is beautiful through the corridor, ranging from dense forest to burned out steep sections. I was tempted to drive on the Lolo but have had enough adventure with the flats over Lemhi Pass. besides something is always nudging me onward with an inescapable sense of urgency.

On September 11, 1805, Lewis and Clark with the Corps of Discovery began one of the most difficult and demanding legs of their voyage to the Pacific Ocean – the 120-mile trek across the Bitterroot Mountains. They followed the Lolo Trail, an ancient travel route of the Nez Perce Indians. One of the responsibilities given to Lewis and Clark before their epic journey west was to study the flora and fauna of the United States’ newly acquired land. They collected hundreds of plant specimens with approximately 170 being new to science. As a tribute to their efforts, several species are named for them.

The Bitterroot Mountains form a rugged, glacier-carved border between Idaho and Montana. On both sides of this border is the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the third largest Wilderness in the Lower 48. Only the 600 foot wide Nez Perce Trail (the Magruder Corridor), an unimproved dirt road, separates the Selway-Bitterroot from the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Except for the high crest of the Bitterroot Mountains, the area is dominated by ridges broken with raw granite peaks. Below the ridges are deep canyons covered with thick coniferous forest. Hidden low valleys are rich with old-growth cedar, fir, and spruce, with Ponderosa Pine dominating open grassy slopes along the rivers. Few humans visit the huge trailless portions of this Wilderness, which makes it all the more appealing for the Selway elk herd, plus abundant deer, moose, black bears, mountain lions, and wolves. Approximately 1,800 miles of trails wind through the area providing access to both the Montana and Idaho sides of the mountains, but many trails in the area are unmaintained and rugged. Travel by foot and stock can be challenging, but rewarding, in the heart of this large wild area. Mostly within the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the Wild and Scenic Selway River rushes out of the mountains of Idaho and is joined by flows from the Moose Creek drainage and lower down the Lochsa River. The Selway is a premier whitewater river offering a wild, remote, and self-reliant river experience.

This is as close to Shangri-La I have bee n in some time and I feel no troubles on my brow. Since my river raft guiding days, I have always introduced myself when approaching rivers, for what reason I cant say, just a habit. I listen intently to the river and let the Sun caress me while concocting a plan to bring my new FJ40  on the Magruder Corridor scouting for whatever lies about and pretty much breaking it in. She has been waiting for me, this place….

Selway River at the Goat Creek rapid
CountryUnited States
StateIdaho
CountyIdaho
SourceSoutheast of Stripe Mountain
 – locationBitterroot National ForestSelway-Bitterroot WildernessBitterroot Mountains
 – elevation6,857 ft (2,090 m) [1]
 – coordinates45°29′49″N 114°44′37″W / 45.49694°N 114.74361°W [2]
MouthMeets Lochsa River to form Middle Fork Clearwater River
 – locationLowellNez Perce National Forest
 – elevation1,453 ft (443 m) [2]
 – coordinates46°08′25″N 115°35′58″W / 46.14028°N 115.59944°WCoordinates46°08′25″N 115°35′58″W / 46.14028°N 115.59944°W [2]
Length100 mi (161 km) [3]

Course of the river
Location of the mouth of the Selway River in Idaho
Wikimedia Commons: Selway River

The Selway River! a large tributary of the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River in the U.S. state of Idaho. It flows within the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the Bitterroot National Forest, and the Nez Perce National Forest of North Central Idaho.The entire length of the Selway was included by the United States Congress in 1968 as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

The main stem of the Selway is 100 mile in length from the headwaters in the Bitterroots to the confluence with the Lochsa near Lowell to form the Middle Fork of the Clearwater. The Selway River drains a 2,013-square-mile basin in Idaho County.

 Idaho County Road and Forest Road 223 follows the wild and scenic Selway River through rugged country known for its extraordinary scenery, exceptional water quality and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. A stop at historic Fenn Ranger Station, which is on the National Historic Register, is an easy five-mile drive from Lowell. The east end of the Selway River corridor provides access to three trailheads entering the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. A 42-mile sightseeing drive from Lowell to Selway Falls and back offers the traveler an opportunity to appreciate the pritine beauty of the Selway River, a Wild and Scenic River, as well as picturesque Selway Falls. I just missed the Morel mushrooms that bloomed in the old forest fire burn areas but was enticed to stay here for awhile. I roam through some really majestic stands. This is the last place I thought I would find ancient Cedar, Hemlock and Engelmann Spruce. A unique micro climate allows these trees to survive and thrive here. Absolutely Gorgeous Country.

 MOSCOW,  Idaho -I meet up with old hunting buddy from Oakland CA.. We talk of Fall Elk Hunt and bullshit about the good old days. This guy has more guns than most and loves to talk about them but more so, actually shoot them, not without a dissertation on the caliber, powder mixture, prevailing winds and uncertainty of the hunt itself. He just cant fathom how I don’t own any and distrust most who don’t. His family came to Idaho years ago, most likely from the French fur trade. How the fuck we ever made it out of Oakland is beyond me yet here we are up in Idaho 25 years later-what a trip. He gives me some Elk to nourish me on my journey.  Many years ago he introduced me to being a steward of the Earth. I must admit all was good to have friends along the way to acknowledge our time on this planet together along the way. Once again though, I leave when Venus whispers for me to arise, I hate goodbyes.

 Purchase two more tires w/ rims. I now have three spares on roof since I need to get the ones I bought mounted on old rims. Ridiculous.

The city of Coeur d’Alene is pretty cool yet has grown significantly in recent years, in part because of a substantial increase in tourism, encouraged by several resorts in the area. The Coeur d’Alene Resort takes up a prominent portion of the city’s downtown. It is also located near two major ski resorts: Silver Mountain Resort to the east in Kellogg, and Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort to the north in Sandpoint. I didn’t have time to stop here but I’m sure I will be back with the landcruiser this winter to ride. I kick it on the beach of this huge deep lake that was created by some pretty cool dynamics and take it all in.

I call some folks who relocated from Girdwood and kick it on their farm where we ate some Elk my buddy gave me and some catfish & duck my friends had. I was so wore out by this time, just road weary I guess. I have such a reputation to being a hell raiser, I think it surprises most when I’m retrospective and mellow. My buddy here is also a landcruiser nut and we can just talk about what makes them so badass. I left a flower head wreath not wanting to rouse her from deep slumber.

Blackfeet Country

I made my way North East once again towards Glacier N.P. Montana. I couldn’t wait to see what remains of the namesake in this changing world of ours.

In Glacier National Park (GNP), MT some effects of global climate change are strikingly clear. Glacier recession is underway, and many glaciers have already disappeared. The retreat of these small alpine glaciers reflects changes in recent climate as glaciers respond to altered temperature and precipitation. It has been estimated that there were approximately 150 glaciers present in 1850, and most glaciers were still present in 1910 when the park was established. In 2010, we consider there to be only 25 glaciers larger than 25 acres remaining in GNP. A computer-based climate model predicts that some of the park’s largest glaciers will vanish by 2030 (Hall and Fagre, 2003). This is only one model prediction but, if true, then the park’s glaciers could disappear in the next several decades. This could be argued as a natural process but you have to be plain stupid, ignorant or simply disregarding the facts that prove Man’s actions and addiction to Fossil Fuels are accelerating it.

I don’t know if I am tripping but some kind of pattern seems to be emerging no matter how far or fast I go. I stand out there gazing across that which cannot be seen, only felt. I cant seem to shake this forbidding sense overcoming me.

Going-to-the-Sun Road!! a scenic mountain road is the only path that traverses the park crossing the Continental Divide through Logan Pass at an elevation of 6,646 feet, which is the highest point on the road. Construction began in 1921 and was completed in 1932 with formal dedication in the following summer on July 15, 1933 by the CCC. The road is the first to have been registered in all of the following categories: National Historic Place. National Historic Landmark and Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

The road is one of the most difficult roads in North America to snowplow in the spring. Up to 80 feet of snow can lie on top of Logan Pass, and more just east of the pass where the deepest snowfield has long been referred to as the Big Drift. The road takes about ten weeks to plow, even with equipment that can move 4000 tons of snow in an hour. The snowplow crew can clear as little as 500 feet of the road per day. On the east side of the continental divide, there are few guardrails due to heavy snows and the resultant late winter avalanches that have repeatedly destroyed every protective barrier ever constructed. The road is generally open from early June to mid October.

The two lane Going-to-the-Sun Road is quite narrow and winding with hairpin turns, especially west of Logan Pass. Speed limits are 45 mph in the lower elevations and 25 mph in the steeper and winding alpine sections. So I usually punch it through these sections since there is hardly anyone up here, when the clouds close in all around to where you lose all sense of what’s up or down, forward or behind, I just laugh my ass off- near Death yet never more Alive.

I drive through another trendy town of Whitefish near Big Mountain Resort. You know they all have the same stupid T-Shirts and tourist shit as the ski town over the pass does, only with their respective logos. Cookie Cutter Cut & Paste. I had to get out of there and get up to the Mountain. It was so green up there and I have heard good things about this mountain although it doesn’t have double black diamond runs, it makes up for it with uninhabited acreage.

I got a call to go back to work so I have to get to Bellingham ASAP to fly out of. I really wanted to stay awhile longer and look up my old Swedish family who live up here but it will have to wait. On the way back, I am heading West to the Pacific over yet another awesome High Country place in the Mt. Baker National Forest of Washington.

North Cascades N.P. Washington

Some of our most amazing mountains and forests are in the North Cascades. While some of this amazing habitat is protected in North Cascades National Park, there are too many fragile places next to the park that are not protected from logging and mining.

That’s why we’re working to protect over 200,000 acres in the Cascades, including:

• The Baker Rainforest, a rare American temperate rainforest, where visitors can stand at the base of ancient trees 15 feet wide, and

• The incredible Skagit River and its headwaters, where hundreds of salmon, including the endangered Chinook salmon, come to spawn.

Right now, there’s virtually nothing to stop timber and mining companies from clear-cutting and otherwise spoiling these ecologically important areas of the forest.

Critical habitat for salmon, bears and elk

We have the opportunity to permanently protect irreplaceable habitat for salmon, bears, elk, and more. That’s why we’re working with recreation organizations, local conservation groups and elected officials to protect one of Washington’s wildest places. Now we need to build and show our leaders the public support we know it takes to win approval. We’re urging Congress to permanently protect 200,000 acres of critical land.

We know we can protect our forests because we’ve done it before. Thanks to our members and activists, we convinced our leaders to protect the Carbon River Valley Rainforest within Mount Rainier National Park, one of the last inland rainforests in North America. And this year, we won our campaign to protect 1,000 acres within the San Juan Islands when President Obama designated the area a National Monument.

I put on a few more thousand miles throughout some of those high places I dreamt of as a boy. Reading stories of mountain men and the Natives who dwelt amongst the Wapiti.

I wonder if they would recognize some of their homelands since the covered wagons came from the east.

Everywhere I go it seems that things seem to move faster towards a uncertain future.

The Mountains though, they remain true as Sentinels, unmoved by Mans device. Although I have found evidence of his presence through what he leaves behind in the form of plastics. Even in some of the most remote places I have been. Discarded food packaging, spent shotgun shells and a lot of water bottles & broken glass. Plastics have some well intended purposes but we have to get out of our disposable habits if we are to salvage what we can of a Natural World.

I am leaving my van in Bellingham to fly back to Alaska for a few weeks up on the Tanana River.

When I come back in the Fall I will continue through the volcanoes of the Cascades down to where the Redwoods dwell in the Sierra’s.

Tune in next time for more adventures:

Prophets of Rage

Mt. Rainier N.P.

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. Shasta

Redwoods

Yosemite N.P.

Golden Trout Wilderness

Sequoia & Kings Canyon N.P.

The Ship of Fools


Three months and over 10,000 miles starting from the San Francisco Bay area weaving in and out of every marina throughout the Western Sea Board on up to Bellingham, Washington is where we find the Wannabe in search of a vessel to carry him off to new found mishaps and adventures on the unknown Open Sea. Since becoming a law abiding citizen with no warrants to speak of, his life seems about as exciting as an old worn out Christmas album. Even the places he once haunted to raise hell was vacant of any revelry, full of the same old faces with the same stories talking the same old shit. No matter how he searched he could not shake that feeling of not being in the right place anymore. He has lived in every and any mountain town worth being in, wandered throughout the Sierra’s, Wasatch, Rockies, Teton’s, Tongass, Chugach and Olympic ranges respectively. He has traveled a bit Internationally but hated anything to do with tourism instead living out of a hammock or in a make shift RV van. He never could even contemplate having a mortgage for the next 30 years nor did he even want to own a piece of land, he believed it was not his to own. His curious nature needs something that would test his very existence and fortitude of Life, or it is just not worth living. He’s run with gangs, ran from cops and from himself at times, climber up mountains barely in control and down rivers totally out of control, involved with women that could drive a totally rational Man to do irrational things, sat on damn near every bar stool from Alaska to Mexico, so what could even thrill him anymore you might ask?

 He thought long and hard about what would challenge and scare him at the same time and it became apparent the answer was a deep rooted fear from childhood of drowning. He almost drowned once in a swimming pool as a small boy, once in the swollen American River and once in the riptides of Kauai.

Then he thought of his time with old friends aboard a small 19′ Flying Scott on Bear Lake which straddles the Utah/Idaho border, the first time he first felt the wind fill its sails and carry him off into the horizon, the memories of someone screaming in a high pitched voiced then realizing it was his own.

It became apparent the answer was a sailboat of course.

When attending the University of Alaska in Juneau Alaska, some years prior, he dated a bush pilot who owned a 30′ cabin cruiser and it was here that he first experienced the live aboard lifestyle so many have taken up in the coastal areas of Alaska. She was 4′ 7″ tall with long brown hair that hid her somewhat dwarvish features that went below her sturdy little ass he loved to bend over and “heave to” conveniently over the counter top when cooking breakfast, reading a book or watching the neighbors work on their boats from the confines of their cabin. In fact the other boat owners complained often of the rocking motion they had to endure since when a boat rocks to and fro it conveys that energy through waves towards boats in adjoining slips, that along with shrieks of “Do it for the Shire!” once in awhile gave them the name of Gandalf & Gimli.

She may have been small but sturdy like an old timber mast. Only problem was that she had these Man-Hands from working on engines all the time and she reeked of diesel. He made it a point to leave the lights on when they were doing the deed. It was a lovely time where he learned many things about living on the water where they would motor all throughout Southeast Alaska Islands and Waterways. Good times indeed.

 Unlike the yacht clubs of California where he grew up that he remembered years gone by, but it was a more gritty sense of the boating world. Independent people from all walks alike: be they Young, Old, Black or White, Male, Female, Hetero, Homo, Transbo, Not Sure, Republican, Democrat, Catholics, Jewish, Christians, Buddhist, you name it, they were all represented there on those old piers.

Not only would it provide a great venue for all he needed in his dismal life to be aboard a boat but a somewhat inexpensive option for housing. That is once he made the initial purchase, mooring fees can be surprisingly cheap compared to renting. He has been living in and out of a van, hammock and extreme couch surfing at friends places for far to long and needed to do something that would allow him the freedom to move about with his 2 week on/off rotation working up in the Arctic.

 Not to Mention: Rent was a four letter word not in his vocabulary.

So one Spring, he took a Beginning to Bareboat sailing course in Seward Alaska (A bareboat charter is an arrangement for the chartering or hiring of a ship or boat, whereby no crew or provisions are included as part of the agreement; instead, the people who rent the vessel from the owner are responsible for taking care of such things.) 

Aboard a 35′ Beneteau, they taught all the fundamentals of basic seamanship culminating with a 4 day live aboard experience on a 47′ Catalina Sloop out on the Resurrection Bay. 

In class, the students studied terms such as to “Stand On vs. Give way, windward, dead zone (in irons), close haul, close reach, beam reach, broad reach and down wind (leeward).

Types of sailboats such as a sloop, ketch, cutter, pilothouse etc. The parts of the boat and all systems included. Characteristics of different types of sails, Coast guard terms and the like. It was an intensive week long course highly recommended to anyone who is seriously contemplating going out on the water in any type of venture.

The time out on the water was exhilarating and full of minor mishaps, which is the whole point of learning, to learn from ones mistakes. Most of his fellow students were somewhat wary of getting the boat heeled over but he found that the more it did so on a far reaching beam the more his heart soared, his heart accelerating beyond anything he had done in years. He loved the looks of the others when the water was lapping at the deck and they all stared in disbelief as the instructor just grinned as She caught hold and got up to 8 knots. He was a natural striking that famous ” Captain Morgan” pose when she was heeled over such.

” Ready About, you Cur’s!” He snapped.

“Ready!” Those aboard replied.

“Helms Alee!”

A nautical term, used in sailing when tacking (also called “coming about”). The helmsman first signals the intent to tack by shouting, “Ready about!” When the crew responds, “Ready,” then the helmsman will signal that he or she is beginning to come about by shouting, “Helm’s alee!”

With the salt spraying him dead in the face he was lost in the moment- no yesterday or tomorrow only the now, a gorgeous dance between Man, Boat and the Wind. There was no sound of an engine only that of the lapping of the Sea and the screams of his classmates. And so this goes on, over and over in repetition with each student getting a chance to man the helm, although he did take the command and hardly relinquish controls with his favorite maneuver  and command being:

” Prepare to Jibe!”

“Ready! the crew replies in unison.

“Jibe Ho!”

jibe (US) or gybe (Britain) is a sailing maneuver whereby a sailing vessel reaching downwind turns its stern through the wind, such that the wind direction changes from one side of the boat to the other. For square-rigged ships, this maneuver is called wearing ship.

In this maneuver, the mainsail will cross the center of the boat while the jib is pulled to the other side of the boat. If the spinnaker is up, the pole will have to be manually moved to the other side, to remain opposite the mainsail. In a dinghy, raising the centerboard can increase the risk of capsizing during what can be a somewhat violent maneuver, although the opposite is true of a dinghy with a flat, planning hull profile: raising the centerboard reduces heeling moment during the maneuver and so reduces the risk of capsize.

The other way to change the side of the boat that faces the wind is turning the bow of the boat into, and then through, the direction of the wind. This operation is known as tacking or coming about. Tacking more than 180° to avoid a jibe is sometimes referred to as a ‘chicken jibe’.

This is always a exciting time as the main boom swings across the cockpit and your crew must be very attentive to not get clobbered and knocked unconscious or worse yet overboard and they have to be in synch when to release/take in the headsail sheets so the jib can travel to the opposite side all this, while the crew is scrambling to the high side of the deck.

Definition of Jibing

Jibing, one of the other turning maneuvers, is simply the opposite of a tack. Recall that during a tack, the bow of the boat passes through the wind. During a jibe, the stern of the boat passes through the wind.

Jibing

Hazards During a Jibe

We teach tacking before jibing because tacking is a safer turn. During a tack, the bow of the boat passes through the no-go zone. That causes the boat to lose some speed. Those two factors cause the mainsail to gently pass from one side to the other. When jibing, the bow does not pass through the no-go zone. This means that the boat will always have wind in its sails. The boat goes faster, and the wind quickly forces the mainsail and boom to slam across to the other side at high velocity unless you control it. Because of those concerns, the likelihood of a capsize and the risk of getting injured is greater during a jibe. However, by the time you jibe in this class, you will be fairly comfortable handling sailboats, and jibing shouldn’t be a big deal.

Jibing Procedure

The biggest procedural difference between a tack and a jibe is pulling in the mainsail prior to executing the jibe. Remember that during a tack, you leave the mainsail alone, at least until after the turn. With a jibe, if you leave the mainsail alone, the boom would slam to the other side of the boat as explained above. If you pull the mainsail all the way in to the center of the boat before you jibe, then the sail will only have a small distance to travel which reduces the force behind it. Other than that, the steps are very similar to tacking. Steps of a Jibing Maneuver

  1. Helmsman gives first command, “Ready to jibe?”
  2. Crew looks 360° around the boat, gets ready to jibe, and says, “Ready!”
  3. Helmsman pulls the mainsail all the way in.
  4. Immediately prior to jibing, helmsman says, “Jibe Ho!”
  5. Helmsman pulls the tiller away from the mainsail.
  6. As sail switches sides of the boat, the helmsman and crew switch sides of the boat.
  7. Helmsman lets the mainsail back out.
  8. Once on course, helmsman brings tiller back to the center of the boat.
  9. Trim sails and sail away.

Step 1: Helmsman gives first command, “Ready to jibe?”  

Just like with a tack, it is a good idea to inform everyone on the boat of your intent to jibe. The majority of the time, this is done using some standard commands. The first command tells your crew to get ready to jibe. You can use, “Ready to jibe,” or you can choose something else, but whatever you choose, it should be short and concise. Below are the two most common commands given at this stage.

  • “Ready to jibe?”
  • “Prepare to jibe!”

Again, you can use one of these, or you can make up your own command, but you should not stray too far from those phrases listed above. If you do, your crew might not understand what you mean.

Step 2: Crew looks 360° around the boat, gets ready to jibe, and says, “Ready!”

Just as with tacking, one of the crew’s most important jobs on a boat is to serve as a lookout since the helmsman often has difficulty seeing all the way around the boat. So, before a jibe, the crew needs to make sure that it’s clear. Then, they get ready to jibe. Finally, once they’re ready, the crew informs the helmsman by saying, “Ready!”

Step 3: Helmsman pulls the mainsail all the way in.

This step should be done immediately prior to the jibe. If you pull your mainsail in, and don’t turn, then your boat will heel (lean over) a lot, and in a high wind, it might capsize. The moment the sail is in all the way, execute the jibe. If you are trying to jibe around some point, you should time it so that you just finish pulling in your sail as you pass the point.

Step 4: Immediately prior to jibing, helmsman says, “Jibe Ho!”

Again, just like a tack, you are informing everyone on your boat that you are about to execute the turn. You can say whatever you want, but the following are the two most commonly used phrases. (The vast majority of sailors use, “Jibe Ho!”)

  • “Jibe Ho!”
  • “Jibing!” 

Step 5: Helmsman pulls the tiller away from the mainsail.

If tiller toward the sail causes the boat to tack, then tiller away from the sail should cause the boat to jibe. A jibe is a downwind turn, the mainsail is on the leeward side of the boat, and the tiller moves in the opposite direction that you want to turn. Moving the tiller away from the mainsail is equivalent to moving the tiller toward the wind which causes the boat to turn downwind.

Step 6: As sail switches sides of the boat, the helmsman and crew switch sides of the boat.  

Again, this step is the same as with a tack. The helmsman is always supposed to face the mainsail, so if the main switches, the helmsman needs to switch. When everyone switches sides at the exact same time as the mainsail, the weight in the boat stays more evenly distributed, and the boat will heel less, which reduces the risk of capsizing.

Step 7: Helmsman lets the mainsail back out.  

This is the second most important step in a jibe. As soon as the mainsail switches sides of the boat, the mainsail needs to be let back out. In a light wind, if the mainsail is left in tight after it switches sides, most likely, nothing will happen. In a strong wind, if the mainsail is kept in tight after it switches sides, it will fill and, at best, make the boat heel way over. It might also make the boat capsize. The only reason the sail was pulled in was to minimize the speed at which the sail switches sides; once the sail has switched, there is no reason to have the sail in tight, and a lot of reasons to have the sail loose.

Step 8: Once on course, helmsman brings tiller back to the center of the boat.  

This step is fairly self-explanatory. Once on the desired course, stop turning, by bringing the tiller back to the center of the boat.

Step 9: Trim sails and sail away.  

Once finished with the turn, trim the sails for the point of sail, and sail off into the sunset, or wherever you are heading.

In most ways, a jibe is very similar to a tack. There are a few differences. The commands are different, the tiller is moved in a different direction, and most importantly, you must pull the mainsail in before you jibe, or you will encounter problems. If you are ever in a situation in which a jibe might not be safe, you can always tack. Tacking is simpler and safer, it just takes longer.

After completion of the course he found himself frequenting the harbors and hanging around marinas just looking at all the different styles of boats, talking to those who not only sailed but lived aboard on a full time basis. He asked many questions and volunteered to get on any boat he could for any reason at any cost. Then one day one old Salty Dog said to him:

“So you wana be a sailor huh?”

” Let me save you a bunch of time and trouble, this is what you do……:”

So he leaned in with wide eyed expectations of the secrets of the Sea this old timer had acquired in his love affair with the Great Blue, in a raspy voice- this is what he said:

“The first thing you do, is fill a bathtub with ice and water,….. then you put the shower on full and cold.

Next, you crawl into the bathtub fully clothed,…. so Y’er on those knobby knees until it hurts and you  let that water hit you square in the face, don’t turn away from it cause you got to lean into it, you see?

 Now when Y’er good and cold and I mean shiverin’ to the bone, you take out your wallet and you grab all your money you have to Y’er name and you flush it down the toilet,….

Now that, Son………. is Sailing!”

He gawked out a snort and laughed at the perplexed look our wannabe sailor displayed.

He sat there perplexed for a moment looking at the old leather like skin that had deep furrowed lines and the sparkle in his eyes as he just sat there laughing, he knew then and there, that he wanted “in”. What the hell, he thought- he had been doing that shit for years but to the local bartenders in town. Waking up with no cash left to his name, out in the storming rain, too drunk to get up and walk 50′ to the fucking van he called home. At least this way he thought, he could pass out in the boat with Auto helm & would have something to show for it,……..Yeah, he had it all figured out or so he thought.

After a few weeks, the first boat he almost bought as soon as he seen it without asking too much about it- was a small 25′ Coronado that was the friend of a friend’s who had owned it for 16 years. Age was creeping up on the owner of the boat and he found it harder and harder to get out on it or to find someone to go out with him, besides his wife hated sailing. So taking a liking to the old timer he volunteered to help him clean it up a bit and learned a few things in the process but soon found that they never went out of the harbor much. They only sat on the boat while it was tied to the pier, drinking beers and bullshitting with the others who also seemed to do a lot of the same. It also seemed that they spent a lot of time just fixing things or cleaning others which consumed most their waking days. Ultimately when he was able to finally get the guy to come up with a price, he found that the Man was just to attached to the small boat his wife had no use for and so he would sit on it for hours tinkering away with trivial shit until the Sun set across the bay into a deep cobalt blue. He didn’t have the heart to tell him how he really felt about his little boat not being worth a fraction of what he wanted and so one day, he walked down the pier promising to come back and go sailing with him tomorrow as he had done so many times before- he walked away from that man and the little boat never to return.

He then set his sights on a few others that ranged from 27′ to 35′ in length from Catalinas, Pearsons, Cals, and the like. He sought boats in the San Francisco Bay and throughout the Sacramento Delta but found them all to over priced. He then spent a few weeks of soul searching within Redwood Coast of the King Range and the Siskiyou Mountains within the Great State of Jefferson to cleanse his body and soul through a Shamanic Ritual, ultimately finding himself drawn deep within the Columbia Gorge to the town of Hood River.

The Historic Columbia River Highway and I-84 cut parallel, winding paths through the gorge along the river. Trains run on both sides of the river, past kiteboarders, boaters, standup paddlers and logging tugs.

From Mount Hood’s summit at over 11,000 feet, the morning sun casts a perfect pyramid-shaped shadow over huge swaths of Oregon. The mountain has been a source of recreation and an inspiration to explorers for as long as people have marveled at her beauty. Winters bring endless opportunities to play and summers offer the chance to explore the reaches of this monumental peak by car, bike, and foot.

On the northern county border, the Columbia River marks the halfway point between two majestic volcanoes, Mount Hood and Mount Adams. The Columbia River Gorge was created eons ago as the river carved through the Cascades. In 1986 it became the country’s first National Scenic Area. Today, it remains the largest.

Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge are much more than monuments to the natural beauty of the Northwest. They are hubs of recreation, commerce, and culture. They shape the area’s weather and environment, and in so doing, they shape a large part of what makes Hood River County so special.and the scenic coast of Oregon and ultimately about the Puget Sound of Washington.

He loved the diversity of this place especially since it had no shortage of breweries. But he had to move on in search of that elusive boat of his dreams. He drove until every road became an extension of his desire to get out into the unknown. With the persistence of those who said he wouldn’t or couldn’t do it gave him fuel to actually do it. Was he concerned at all? yes. Was he scared of making the wrong decision? yes. Was he going to let that stop him? no.

After a few weeks on the road he figured he would just go have fun for a bit at a place where LA Times Travel writer Hugo Martin called an “adrenaline jolt” that’s a world class thrill.

Sandboarding is one the newest – and coolest – sports on the Oregon Coast.  The idea is similar to snowboarding:  you stand on a board and slide down a hill.  Only on the Oregon Coast the sport isn’t season dependent and the hill isn’t covered with powdered snow.  It’s a dune of dry, fine sand.  That’s a great difference.  You don’t have to deal with freezing weather and bone-jarring falls on iced-over slopes and it’s inexpensive because you don’t need a lift ticket or costly gear.

Sandboarding is an international sport, with enthusiasts in Australia, South America, Africa and Europe as well as the United States.  The Sandboarding World Championships are held annually in Germany.  According to Wikipedia, professional boarder Erik Johnson holds the Guinness World Record for speed on a sandboard at 51 mph and unofficial speeds of 60 mph have been clocked.

The first “sandboarding park” was founded in Oregon in 2000.  Sand Master Park, a few miles north of Reedsport on Highway 101 in Florence, is a 40-acre dune park with portable jumps, rails and board rentals.  It is said to have drawn 10,000 boarders in 2009.

The Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area provides plenty of free slopes where you can test your technique.  As long as the sand is dry, hike a dune, wax your board and make your run down a sand mountain. He found that spray on Lemon Pledge furniture wax worked the best for onsite application and also as a ok deodorant. 

After that he ventured to Winchester Bay where he thought he would return one day with his sailboat. He made his way throughout the many quaint hamlets of the Puget Sound home of the San Juan’ Islands,  De Fuca Straight and Olympic Mountains. The van he was living in was beginning to close around him even though he would pretend that was his boat and kept himself messing with little things he would imagine he would have on his boat.

Systems of every sort will be on a live aboard from electrical, plumbing, carpentry, standing and running rigging, mechanical along with an assortment of others, he actually thought he knew from the time he lived on a boat with that gal in his college days in Juneau, AK. They are a bit more in depth than a car and more like a RV. So he messed around with some 12v. wiring to keep him on point.

Onward he drove up and down the coast stopping in at the abundance of fresh oyster farms. Always in and out of marinas over and over whenever a new listing was posted on Craigslist.

At the same time during all of this, he was spending the money that was slated for the boat so ultimately the type of boat he was searching for became warranted by the asking price. He was already in the lower bracket of the price range needed to purchase a sound sea worthy vessel and found his wishes soon becoming all to apparent of what was going to happen if he didn’t make a purchase soon.

Some things he would have liked on the boat would be:

All lines ran aft to single hand

A full keel vs. Fin Keel

A furling jib so he could stay in the cockpit instead of having to use “hank on cleats”.

Reefing Main when things got dicey he could bring it down a notch.

Stack Pack or Flaking Main.

A pilothouse would be nice but a dodger would do for the rain of the PNW/ SE-AK Seas.

Windlass for the anchor (winch) otherwise you have to pull all the chain & rode up by hand.

Mast Windex to help sight the wind direction.

A gimbaled stove to cook while out on the waves.

Autohelm, depth finder, hull speed, etc.

A Head w/ holding tank is required by USCG.

Diesel cabin heater.

The list can and usually does go on and on but if you want to live aboard and be able to single hand- these are the minimums to make it easier to get out there. A boat with all the bells and whistles go well over $100,000, evidently not in his budget, not by a long shot. You have to keep in mind though what you want and what you need are two different things.

His Dad had a saying:

“Shit in one hand and wish in the other and see which one fills up first.”

Sure you can start saving for that one boat but for how long will you save before you actually get out there and sail? How are you to live day in and day out with expenses gobbling them up? Sometimes you just have to settle for what life hands you before you waste the opportunity to grab a fraction of a dream, if any of it at all.

On a foggy day aboard a ferry bound for Bainbridge Island outside of Seattle he was placing all bets that this next boat he was looking at would be the one, he just had to have it or he would have to go back to that bar stool and admit defeat not only to himself but to those same old faces with those same old stories that kept telling him he couldn’t do it.

The fog enveloped the island and like a dream that began to appear with the amber lights of the marina. He got onto the cell phone right away to call the person who was listing a sailboat that had just popped up on no other place than that of Bainbridge Island,

28′ Newport sloop with an inboard diesel, wheel steering , head and stove… what more did he need? He might of asked about the hull, sails and things of that Nature but he was a man transfixed on the course he had set.

An Australian accented voice answered the phone and spat out:

“Hello Mate, my name is Jack,…… would you like to see my boat?”

“Yes, …. right away.” he stammered.

Craigslist add:

1981 Newport 28

New mast wiring, electrical, breaker panel, cabin lites, water pump. New running rigging, sink faucet, new zincs, converted diesel stove, boat hauled out and inspected and painted w/ anti-foul paint, fully encapsulated lead keel, main and jib sails in good condition, new Thurston spinnaker, private head w/ tank, bronze sea cocks, lewmar/ barret winches, 3 cylinder diesel motor, wheel steering at an affordable price.

He Googled the type of boat and although not a true sea worthy contender it would be a great starter boat and it also suggested a few ‘minor’ things to look for including, the cored balsa deck, bulkhead cracks, hull to deck joints, delaminating on deck, integrity of chain plates, thru-hull valves, deck cleats and cockpit. Just a few minor details and not to mention it fell squarely within his price range.

The owner, Jack met him at a local coffee house named Pegasus, where they made pleasantries.

He was your typical blonde blue eyed surfer Aussie in his mid- 40’s looking to sell this boat since he needed to get back to his homeland and be with his teenage kids in time for Christmas. He said he bought it from the original owner 5 years prior and had done a lot of work to it. They walked down to the pier where he first laid eyes on the boat named ‘Kahlua’ and it all seemed well enough.  He asked permission to climb aboard as tradition holds, went about asking questions with a few things in mind he had learned to look for when inspecting a boat. The interior was well laid out although he did notice some water damage on the surface of the wood veneer beneath the starboard window, that Jack said had occurred from a leaky grab rail he had been working on but had been fixed.

It seemed pretty minor and considering the time frame he was in and all the money he had spent over the past three months looking for a boat he just wanted to get it done with and move aboard and start sailing. Jack was nice enough to show him all the work he had done to it with accompanying paper work and offered to throw in all kinds of goodies, books and spare parts.

He looked into the cost of a slip and insurance with a $300,000 policy and found it not at all out of the realm of things. So he called him back and asked if we could take her out even though the weather was shit and he agreed more likely just to motor around than any sailing but he was content with that. So they met and along with a neighbor from a boat down the way we went out. He loved having a wheel vs. a tiller and felt closer to sealing the deal after we went around a few islands then the weather started get rough and we went back in. They haggled on the price a bit and came to a deal once he found out from the harbor master that he could simply transfer the slip into his name so he would not have to worry about finding another slip or worse have to actually move it across the Puget Sound where huge transport ships and crazy tides abounded. Jack agreed to have his stuff moved off the boat within a day or two and said he could stay on it until he did so as he would stay with his girlfriend. So they made a cash transaction that total wiped out our hero’s bank account. Jack didn’t even want to count it as he said he trusted him.

It was an amazing feeling that first few moments on the boat alone. he had never bought anything like this before nor had he ever paid as much for anything in his life. He called some of his closest friends and even posted some pics on FB since he was simply over joyed. People were congratulating him on his new found life and he felt a sense of accomplishment he had not felt in a very long time.

He went directly down to the DMV where he would transfer the title into his name and that’s where the first red flag arose.

 Upon handing over the paperwork Jack had supplied him it became evident that it was not a title at all but only registration forms and they were out dated to boot. There were also some red flags popping up on the computer of the DMV agent which he only relayed in a series of grunts, huffs and exasperations.

The room seemed to close about our wannabe sailor and he had to grab tightly to the desk as to keep himself upright. That feeling like he was going to get sick crept up his throat and he began to get cold chills up his spine as if death were grasping at his soul. He kept hearing this voice over and over;

“You stupid son of a bitch, you gave him your whole life savings and you don’t even know where his girlfriend lives. How could you be so stupid?”

” YOU FUCKING IDIOT!!” What were you thinking? he thought aloud.

 It was all he could do in order to work his cell phone to call Jack with shaking unsteady fingers.

Who surprisingly answered after the first ring with a upbeat voice.

“G’ day mate!”

“Hey Jack, we got a problem down here registering the boat, can you come down here?”

“Sure, be down in bit.”

He came down and got into a very animated and flurried conversation with the DMV rep who had no emotions what so ever. He was like part Vulcan and had obviously been at the receiving end of many a lost registration predicaments before. The main point he did convey amidst Jack’s tirades was the fact concerning the boat being registered by the first owner through the Coast Guard as a documented vessel and it had never been registered through the State when Jack had bought it. Although they did allow him to get tags for it the first 2 years but then put a hold on any further paperwork until the first owner could release the documentation. Jack could not remember any of this in true drunken sailor fashion and cussed through trembling lips. But how in the hell was he to know where the previous owner was? That could be any body’s guess.

 Jack and our hero almost fell over in unison when the DMV rep suggested they just burn the boat as it was in perpetual registration Limbo. He was adamant there was nothing he nor they, could do, they had to find the original owner who could have been dead for all they knew. Everything seemed to come crashing down and they fell back admitting defeat much to the encouragement of the ever growing line of people that had congregated behind them during this time.

Jack was broken as he handed the envelope packed full of hundreds and our hero came out of a self induced coma like state when he got his money back. After a quick count to ensure Jack did not go spend any of it, there was an awkward stillness between the two of them. He really wanted that boat and Jack really wanted to return to Australia to see his kids in time for Christmas but neither could make it happen and so they shook hands and went their separate ways. Jack sulking back to his boat he did not own and Pan out on that ever winding highway………….

So he was deep within the Hoh Rainforest

of the Olympic Mountain’s when he somehow was able to get a text from Jack that said:

“Please call ASAP.”

He wondered why he was trying to get ahold of him and that maybe he had left something behind on the boat so he drove back out to where he could get phone reception and gave him a call.

” Hey Mate, I hired a boat brokerage firm to find handle this mess with the boat registration and they found the original owner named Joe who, once being informed of the situation they were in offered to not only provide the paperwork needed but to pay for any and all accruing cost involved.

Jack then asked if he was still interested in the boat and after some emails back and forth:

Salutations,

I am finally at a computer so I can communicate better than my broke phone texting.

I hope it will not be to much to ask but could you two take the time to jot down a few things on what you may think will help me w/ Kahlua. Especially when it comes to systems and rigging. I will add it to my paperwork/log.

Any tricks that you may have learned along the way, etc.

I thought I would ask a few questions here hopefully you can help me out with, hope you don’t mind because I’m sure you told me before.  Please feel free to elaborate.

What type paint should I use for topside? Both the epoxy & no skid areas.

Is there stain/finish for the wood work? Teak.

Is there a way to lock the hatch, if not what should I get?

What was that transducer for under the settee? (hull speed ?)

What is the website for the Co. you worked for Jack? Also any suggestions on what type of gear, PFD type, the flooring material, suggested upgrades, who to contact, etc. anything will help.

Before we seal the deal, I would like to get together and go through the sail inventory and take some time on rigging those up and going through any procedures, proper stowage, stuff you may think necessary etc..

Some of the things we talked about or I noticed need attention are as follows:

Mast rewire/lite

Woodwork on deck/cabin leak affecting veneer inside/portholes

Convert stove to diesel (?)

Stove pipe leaks from topside

Breaker Panel mounting

Companionway hatch rails mounting/lock

Lazzerette hinges replaced

tighten stanchions

If you can think of other things or help out with any of these that would be greatly appreciated Jack.

 I do appreciate your attention to detail in the work you have done and recognize it. You know what needs to be done better than anyone with things I should do or know and people I should talk to.

 I enjoyed staying there but feel awkward there as we are in ownership Limbo.

Hopefully this paperwork comes in since everyday I’m out in this van, cost me more money in fuel and surviving.

Your most likely scheduled to work the weekdays and I get up early and pass out early so it’s best if we can get together early on a nice day soon to go over things.

I’m sure there’s more but for now,

I’m going to go check out the Olympic Mountains: the place of the Grandfather Salmon.

Thank you.

So back and forth they went on with more haggling on a price to make up for the cost of going through all the bullshit of the past few weeks the wannabe found himself once again headed back to Bainbridge Island in order to get this boat as soon as possible.

Jack stated that it would take a week or two to get everything sorted out and had the proof of the paperwork that was filed on his behalf. It would seem that if one planned on going through borders or to sail Internationally, one would benefit having the vessel Documented through the USCG to ease getting through easier. Now when it came to getting the USCG to help out a civilian in any manner that was a different story all unto itself so it was going to help having the brokerage through an accredited firm.

In the meantime our hero made it back to the boat and found Jack requesting a $500 deposit to show good faith in order to take down his CL add which he obliged him with in fresh hundred dollar bills which he still had a surplus of in his van.

once again fell into the hull of the Kahlua and felt that it must have been meant to be.

Later in the night he was startled when he awoke to the boat rocking suddenly then as Jack came crashing through the companionway shit fuckin’ faced.

“Fuck them Bitches!” he roared, much to the astonishment of the Wannabe.

“I cant handle it anymore, I’m done with them, I AM DONE WITH WOMEN!”

Well what was our hero to do? He couldn’t kick him off his own boat since the final deed had yet to be finalized. So he crawled from out of the V-berth and listened to his rants and raves about how women: one and all has been the Bain to his life. Now during this time, Jack was as animated as an actual human being could be with flailing arms and wild eyed abandon during reenactments’ of his life with “She Devils”.

During a pause in between the many stories of sluts, bitches and whores he sat down awfully close to the Wannabe and puts a hand on his knee exclaiming;

“You understand what I’m talking about, don’t you mate? Well,…..don’t you?”

Then he starts to get these facial twitches and starts to dry heave violently on the verge of vomiting only to produce the biggest greenest lung oyster I had ever seen onto the floor. Jack shot upright exasperated, barely able to breath then slumped with his head between his knees connected to the slimy loogey with a long thin tether of saliva that arched like a inverted phlegmbow.

He then composed himself as best he could staggered into the head still connected to afore mentioned saliva cord where an assortment of bodily function sounds emitted, the Wannabe quickly and quietly let himself out and crawled back into his van for the evening where he knew he would be left alone.

The next morning he awoke to a torrential down pour that he cursed and made his way down to the boat to check on Jack whereas he was no where to be found. The boat had been cleaned up and a note was left below a bottle of Anchor Steam beer that read:

“Sorry about last night if I did anything to insult you.”

He thought it was rather bizarre but not out of the realm of things when it came to the history and behavior of drunken sailors, besides he has been known to do some outlandish things himself from time to time in his illustrious career as a drunkard and vagabond.

He then opened the hatch to see that the rain had infiltrated the cabin through the veneer walls that he had noticed when he first inspected the boat. There was at least a half of gallon of water on the setee which was soaked through to the frame. That was it, he was done. He found that the rain instead of being a curse was instead a blessing.

Emails ensued:

Wannabe:

Unfortunately I cannot wait for you to fix the leak I was under the impression that it would have been done by now.  I am going to have to meet you and get my $500 deposit back. I would have liked to have been on the boat during this time but you coming over wasted the other night made me extremely uncomfortable. I am truly sorry Jack. I am driving back there right now. I will call you from the Pegasus when I get there

Jack:

Hey Mate, I’ve just spent the last three days emptying, cleaning and transferring Kahlua to you. She was always available for you from the moment you shook on it and placed the deposit. I needed to move my gear out and I left you a lot of good stuff.  The title process is already under way and you have a wonderful boat. Besides that I have committed to my next chapter and cannot go back!

Wannabe:

 After 2 weeks of negotiating and then waiting for the title work to go through, not to mention your dealing with your bizarre behavior. I thought I was prepared to finally get on the boat. When I arrived, I seen that you duct taped not only the grab rail as a quick fix but the whole length of the cabin where the wall meets the topside which immediately suggested that you were not forthcoming when you said that only a small leak occurred where the screw holes were that held the trim board that needed replaced. Once inside I found not a drip but a steady stream coming from behind the veneer which was saturated beneath the starboard window. At least a quart of water was pooled on the setee soaked through to the framework. This is directly beneath your duct taped quick fix. If this is how it leaked in one afternoon during rain after your fix, I can only speculate how it leaked beforehand and for only God knows how long. I am certain there is significant structural damage  that you were aware of since you have owned it for some time. I also noticed that you did not finish 1/2 finished projects as mentioned in earlier discussions and emails ( circuit board mounting, companionway lock, lazzerette  hinges replaced, etc.) onboard as you promised you would before I came aboard. I was under the impression the $500 deposit would be used to purchase any of these items and/or your time and effort. I took pictures of all the things I have mentioned and then some for prosperity in case I am forced to prove my case.

 In lieu of these findings Jack, I cannot trust what you have told me to be true and will not purchase the boat for any price as you sought to purposely mislead me into buying this vessel under false pretenses.

Consider yourself notified of my intent to file this matter with the small claims court (Port Orchard) unless my $500 deposit is refunded immediately through either PayPal ( through my email address or my credit union acct # I will disclose as a last option) since I have wasted enough time and money on this matter and must move onwards.

 As any informal verbal agreement we may have had is now voided with your intent to sell this vessel under false pretenses. I have contacted my legal advisor ( actually a old friend who has no legal training) and received paperwork, am prepared to process if I must. A date will determined by the court to proceed which is usually a lengthy and trying process and wherein if you fail to appear you will forfeit your case and likely incur associated court fees. I would highly suggest returning the deposit without delay.

I wish you were honest with me Jack and did not seek to take advantage of my first boat purchase whereas we may have come to another agreement. I have spent enough time and money and have nothing to show for it but a real bad experience and for that I am done negotiating on this matter any further. I am only relieved that the red flags that occurred in attempting to register the boat ultimately delaying the title transfer was a blessing in disguise and I am out only hundreds and not thousands of dollars. Please do not contact me but for the sole purpose to notify me of your intent to pay or not.

-Good Luck,

Jack:

Send your details. I’ll do it for you today. Not sure what you expected from buying a boat at that price. But good luck also.

Wannabe:

At the very least, one that that floats and does not leak.

So on a lonely stretch of highway our hero so intent on being a sailor, contemplated his next move with half the money he started out with. It’s funny how things go when you want something so bad your willing to overlook those tell-tell signs that would otherwise be so obvious.

 Yet he yearned so bad to be on any boat he almost spent every last dime on a old leaky boat that would have probably been more headaches than it was worth. What surprised him the most is what he learned along the way not only of boats but more about himself and his ability to jump in blind in such matters. He thought of the Shamanic Ritual where he looked down at himself and seen his true vessel within this Grand Journey we call Life and where it has taken him and where it will continue to do so. He also wondered where that dwarvish gal was and if she would let him rock her boat again.

So he pointed the van North to Bellingham Washington Marina where he found another worthy contender to purchase and not to mention it was near to the San Juan Islands where he could really get out and sail.

The Pacific Northwest scarcely gets more peaceful than unspoiled Bellingham, 

a bustling city nestled in the Bellingham Bay. Nature abounds in all directions surrounding this coastal paradise. The waters of the Pacific offer opportunities for whale watching, cruising to Friday Harbor or visiting the Canadian city of Victoria. To the east, Mt. Baker beckons skiers and snowboarders to its slopes. The city itself is alive with vibrant theater, historical museums, gourmet restaurants and fine arts. Vancouver and Whistler are a few hours to the North in Canada, a country that once shunned him but since Marijuana has become legal they welcome him with open arms and legs he hopes.

What more could he ask for? He may have not found her yet but he knows she’s out there waiting. So he will just keep on looking for that right one only this time he might want to get a survey done.

As for Jack, ultimately the deposit money was returned within a day and our Wannabe abandoned that cursed island where the Captain was left to lick his wounds and move back onto the ‘Kahlua’ or perhaps back in the waiting arms of that She-Devil who ultimately returned the $500 deposit for him that he owed, since he had spent it all, the night before-ringing the bell for the same old faces with the same old stories talking the same old shit, at a bar called “The Ship of Fools.”

Arctic Tales from Top of the World

The Alaska North Slope is the region of the U.S. state of Alaska located on the northern slope of the Brooks Range along the coast of two marginal seas of the Arctic Ocean, the Chukchi Sea being on the western side of Point Barrow, and the Beaufort Sea on the eastern. The region contains the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska, with the bulk of Alaska’s known petroleum until the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field was discovered in 1968, followed by the Kuparuk River oil field in 1969. The region also includes the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which itself has been the subject of controversy surrounding the possibility of petroleum drilling within its boundaries. The petroleum extracted from the region is transferred south by means of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System to Valdez on the Pacific Ocean. Under the North Slope is an ancient seabed – the source of the oil. Within the North Slope, there is geological feature called the Barrow Arch – a belt of the kind of rock known to be able to serve as a trap for oil. It runs from the city of Barrow to a point just west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Arctic Alaska Petroleum Province, encompassing all the lands and adjacent Continental Shelf areas north of the Brooks Range-Herald arch were estimated by the USGS in 2005 to hold more than 50 billion bbl. of oil and natural-gas liquids and 227 trillion cubic feet of gas.

The Brooks Range (Athabascan, Gwazhał) is a mountain range in far northern North America stretching some 1100 km (700 mi) from west to east across northern Alaska  into Canada’s Yukon Territory. Reaching an elevation exceeding 2,700 m (9,000 ft.), the range is believed to be approximately 126 million years old.

In the United States, these mountains are considered an extension of the Rocky Mountains, whereas in Canada they are considered separate, the northern border of the Rocky Mountains regarded as the Liard River far to the south in the province of British Columbia.

While the range is mostly uninhabited, the Dalton Highway and Trans-Alaska Pipeline System run through the Atigun Pass (1,415 m, 4,643 ft) on their way to the oil fields at Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope.

Deadhorse is an unincorporated community in North Slope Borough, Alaska, United States, along the North Slope near the Arctic Ocean. The town consists mainly of facilities for the workers and companies that operate at the nearby Prudhoe Bay oil fields. Deadhorse is accessible via the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks, 495 mi (797 km) south, or Deadhorse Airport. Limited accommodations are also available for tourists.

The permanent population is variously listed as being between 25 and 50 residents. Temporary residents (employed by various firms with local interests) can range as high as 3,000.

Companies with facilities in Deadhorse service Prudhoe Bay, nearby oil fields, and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), which brings oil from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez on the south-central Alaska coast. Facilities in Deadhorse are built entirely on man-made gravel pads and usually consist of pre-fabricated modules shipped to Deadhorse via barge or air cargo.

The night before I was to head up to the Northslope I thought I would go to the strip club known as the Alaskan Bush Co. since I didn’t want to have to drive in at 4 am. After a night of reveling there, spending all my money and smelling of cheap perfume I walked to the Ted Stevens International Airport where I fell asleep on one of those uncomfortable bench seats, only to awake with Security personnel hovering over me yelling to get up: only it wasn’t me they were yelling at, but some whino who was sleeping under me like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I sat up looking just as perplexed as the “Snatcher” and was like….. ” WTF?!  When he (whino) went on w/ the Security about not being able to remember his birthdate or SS# I thought I would suggest that it was inevitable that they we’re going to find out who he was through fingerprinting and retinal scans since I knew this from past experiences. The Cops and the Whino both stared at me as I gathered my gear and told him to just “Man Up” and take care of his shit so they won’t have a reason to fuck with him next time. He rummaged about this for a moment then came clean as I walked towards the Security checkpoint to get on board. At least it wasn’t me getting jammed up’d, this time and I’m not missing my plane to Deadhorse!

Most people know of this of this place based on the movie called “The Grey”, which is about a oil company employed wolf killer,(no need in real world) whose plane goes down in the Arctic, whereas the remaining survivors are one by one picked off and devoured by these huge werewolf looking creatures. Before they all meet their demise they lay over in a fictional place based on Deadhorse but nothing could be further from the truth since in the movie it has a scene at a local bar, where knife fights break out, men break beer bottles over each others head & pummel to a pulp as half naked women are dancing on the table tops soon to be having cocaine snorted off their tits. In reality there is no alcohol allowed in the Borough and no bars exist, and probably for good reasons. Maybe back in the 70’s from the stories I heard, there might have been a murder or two, rampant drug and alcohol abuse with an occasional overdose and Yes, a lot of Men made money up there, but a lot more women took it home. Besides, it would be hard to find some hot ass chick to indulge in these activities if you could find one at all that even looked remotely like the ones in the movie. Most of them are sort of Butch- type, if you get my drift and they don’t take no shit, especially from some pig face man. Makes for a good movie though. It is a stark place of the Industrial nature, a scar belching pollution for miles around and a blight upon the North Slope which oozes oil like syrup and money like water.  If one positive thing can be said about it, it is that with all the pollution it adds to the already breathtaking Sunsets. Another curious note here is that it touts itself as a Great employer of Alaskan’s, yet hardly any Native Alaskans can be found at all except for those who live in somewhat nearby villages and need help from time to time. The contractors will happily give them some gas and snacks and send them on their way feeling all the better for it and boasting of their contributions to the locals in their business quarterly.

 I have just stepped off a Dash 8-100  twin turbo propped airplane.

 I am uncertain if this is my final destination, since having enlisted in the Special Ed Forces of the Northslope I am to know nothing of my place of work or what I will be doing. I have been briefed as to not say a single word of this mission to anyone due to the delicate nature. In fact they have given me a card to keep in my wallet as what to tell the media if I we’re to be approached. The great thing about a charter plane is that we don’t have to go through security checks as one would on a commercial flight so some things that would be discouraged on those flights can be brought in, as long as it’s not a fully automatic weapon, Semi’ are fine. As you walk from the runway onto the plane the baggage handlers remind you to stay away from the still moving propeller as the stewardess hands you a pair of earplugs rather than ear buds for entertainment, as that will be included in just the take off itself. The Dash-8 is a sturdy work horse much larger that a Twin Otter, with a shit load more horsepower, it weaves in and out of the larger planes pathway like a nimble skater. Once it has clearing for take off it escapes the Talons of Gravity at what seems at least a 45 degree angle. It is 624 air miles to Deadhorse from Anchorage, we have to stop off in Fairbanks to pick up a few more bewildered workers, then continue North. The stewardess informs the fat guys up from that  they have to go to the rear of the plane so we can get off and with a few grumblings they go to the back whereas she thanks them for “Manning Up” then sooth’s their wounds with home baked cookies and coffee. When we land in Deadhorse where I change aircraft and get de-briefed on my final destination and expectations.  I am going to be on the Northslopes newest oil production project near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge thus all the secrecy, that’s all I can say at this point as it is still a very hush job. But I can tell you even though I may be employed by the Devil, I will do my very best to keep him in check with Environmental Policies set forth by not only by local agencies but State and Federal as well. I do struggle with it though at times but at least I get comfort knowing I’m trying to do the right thing up here.

I transfer to a EC-145 helicopter which slowly lifted from above the frozen tundra within a crystalized cloud, pitching leeward above the expanse. The HELO runs above an extension of the Alaskan Pipeline alongside the Beaufort Sea to the North, as a guide of sorts since the clouds lay low and ominous. The weather has calmed down enough to allow the one and only passenger on board to be transported to the remote camp he would be calling home for the next seven month’s. The Sun was setting low in the horizon with the contours of the Tusek and frozen rivers braiding their way to the Beaufort Sea. There is no sign of Life as far as the eye can see except for the long expanse of the Pipeline and occasional Drill Rig’s silhouette, standing like a lone chess piece among the frozen playing field of black and white. Typically the bird would be laden with cargo yet on this day it only had the Environmental Spill Technician along with four cases of Sariachua, Tapitio and Sweet and Sour hot sauces, that he would need in order to endure the camp’s cooking. To the South the silhouette of  the Brooks Range stands out against the fiery backdrop of the Sun that has yet to break over the horizon until mid January.

The word Northslope, is no exaggeration as it is truly where the land mass beyond the furthest Northern mountain range: The Brooks, which gently erodes into the Great Expanse of the Beaufort Sea meshing into the Arctic Ocean. One cannot tell the difference between where the land ends and the Ocean begins since the world at this latitude is now encased within ice as far as one can see.

The camp I now reside in has 22 people. one cook, one housekeeper, one camp manager, one safety guy and myself: the despised environmentalist. The rest are all made up of people who run heavy equipment or drive haul trucks out on the Ice Road. Today is rather mild @ -45 below zero Fahrenheit. This is Men’s town where morning conversations consist of Manly jargon such as who fucked the hottest gal the hardest or how many times, (in a small period albeit). Then it usually goes into  who killed what and of course it being the biggest of it’s Species, which can go on & on with no end in sight. That is until someone mentions what latest Harley they have because- JAP bikes are irrelevant here in Men’s Town, U.S. Fuckin’ A. Everyone seems content swinging their dicks around with bravado with newcomers tripping all over them in wide eye astonishment. This is nothing new to me, even though their Cocks apparently, folded over and zip tied to their ankles. Here,… Manly Men have been known to punch holes through urinals with only the pressure of their piss stream.

 For all intended purposes I am on the frigon Moon. I believe I can be a candidate for the first exploration to Mars since it has many similarities like remoteness and severe weather/climate, not to mention: something lurking around outside that can devour a human being. Recent FLIR( FORWARD LOOKING INFRA-RED) readings have shown numerous dens around this camp so one must stay alert.

Man Camp is like working in a minimum security prison so I feel right @ home here, like I was a trustee. The bear guard doors are unlocked so if you want to leave you can, but there’s no where to go with only ice and snow for miles on end. The meals are @ a set time and this is the epicenter of the camp. There are two phones available to use for everyone in camp since cell phones don’t work out there. This usually ends up in a verbal confrontation on who’s turn it is. there is no Interweb here as well, so I am happy.

When working on the Northslope everything is Top Secret. If anyone actually knew what was going on up here they would have to commit Hari-Kari with a blunt petrified Walrus tusk since doing it with a fresh one would violate State and Federal Laws and I wouldn’t want to do the paperwork anyhow. Cold is irrelevant up here and does not affect the typical “Sloper” who has snot-cycles hanging from his nose like frozen waterfalls. There you will hear rumor of people who have experienced permafrost in -65 below zero weather whereas they simply snap off body parts to make jewelry. So the powers that be have come up with different Phase Conditions to help inform people of dangerous conditions. Example:

Phase I: Visibility 500′ or less, foot traffic between camps use extreme caution. Drifting snow.

Phase II: Visibility of 250′, foot traffic must use “Buddy System” Heavy drifting, ice blows. Vehicle traffic must convoy.

Phase III: Visibility 100′ No foot traffic, report location once in safe haven, Snowdrifts are impassable, road closures and vehicle escort w/ heavy equipment.

Then there is the temperature variations as well to contend with. The equation is:

Wind Chill (F) = 35.74 + 0.6215T – 35.75(V 0.16) + 0.4275T (V 0.16)

Example:

If the Ambient temperature is -24. 8 degrees and the wind is moving at 16.2 mph. the Wind Chill Factor will be – 52.1

The Frostbite time is well within 5 minutes. No Joke.

As stated it’s a small camp so some people started bitching about the lack of amenities such as a work out room and a smoke shack. The first week they got a smoke shack so people would quit throwing their cigarette butts all over the Tundra for birds to gather and nest with, then the smokers all complained that it was to far away from the camp, so they had to move it a few times. Then when work out trailer came no one used it until this hot ass little equipment operator came along and started working out in her little tank top and booty shorts, then it was standing room only. She was so fucking hot with dark skin and green eyes with more curves than the Autobahn that would just melt a human male between to ages of six and sixty. Guys and a few Butch’s were coming in there trying to get the best seat behind the stationary bicycle or sweating out their sexual frustrations in a flurry of repetitions only matched by males all tweaked out on E at a Rave show. They would wreck themselves on the weights or treadmill in order to try and prove to her (or themselves) they were worthy of her love/lust, only to wake up so sore the next day that they could barely get out of bed. Having women in camp is two fold, one it can make for a very relaxing atmosphere when its an older lady that’s like a camp Mom or extremely uncomfortable when its a hotass chick that’s using her sexuality in order to get things she wants and makes the guys all want to be Alpha male. Case in Point: We had a nice baker gal who was great to look at but crazy as a loon and soon found her head bouncing off a few of the guys bunk walls. Soon they we’re all flexing and puffing up around her, confronting one another like a Bull Sea lion’s on a Beach. That is until she realized she was baking a bun of her own, as far as the Dad is concerned- it has been determined that five guys had the pleasure of doing her and none willing to admit their the father. Our camp Manager is going around now with a picture of the baby trying to find out who is the father by holding it up to all males coming into the chow line.

There is no shortage of drama so I like to get the hell out of camp. I stay in shape by chipping ice, chasing oil drip/drops, wrestling rabid wolverines or by putting out the occasional Narwhals that are on fire as the media would believe. I never use the “B” word (Bear) after the fiasco we had last year when a new “Bear Guard” spotted one that had washed up on shore with a cub and a gunshot. I had been there for a few month’s and had only spotted one in that whole time. He, apparently being trained to look for one had spotted five in one night. I think he was just so bored and anxious to actually see one, along with not blinking for a few minutes while staring into the white expanse of the Arctic that his mind was playing tricks on him. but it stirred up a hornets nest as the EPA found out and damn near shut the project down. Some said that there were some Government Contractors dismantling a Cold War Era Radar tower that shot the Sow. That would periodically wash up from shore to shore, coincidently seen by the one in the same Bear guard. just for shit and giggles they put out a cardboard cutout of a bear to see how long it would take for anyone to notice and shut down the project, from what I understand it got snowed in and were unable to locate it. I will be going on R&R here soon as I’m on a 2 & 2 rotation, I cant wait to go somewhere warm: Anything above Zero would be nice.

It would seem that our Camp Cook has gone MIA in Mexico during his time off. He did mention to me when we last spoke that the Cartel was looking for him and if he should ever return to his small village, Exterminito. Our other camp cook got fired for throwing a piece of cheese on one of the Big Wigs plate from across the kitchen when he requested a cheeseburger. We now have this crazy fucker who recently got his culinary degree in the Alaskan State Penitentiary and has been known to pass out during meal prep due to all the Meds he’s on. Our tried & trusty housekeeper though has to usually finish cooking which would be nice but she burns stuff a lot. I’m beginning to feel like the Northslope Maytag man up here since their hasn’t been a spill yet but I stay busy picking up these Godamned cigarette butts and scraping frozen chewing tobacco off ice road. In fact I cant get these fucking truckers out of their trucks to throw down their duck ponds but they can sure piss near their trucks which they are not supposed to do on the Tundra since it attracts all kinds of wildlife. There are frozen piss stalagmites everywhere on the camp pad even though there are toilets on premise. They will sit there (in their trucks) and argue with me about it being the Fox or Bears but I know it’s them due to the fact I doubt if any of these creatures can spell their name in the snow. I’m always getting on their ass, so they bitch and moan about me, calling me the “Fuckin’ New Guy”. So I wrote in big black letters “FNG” on my hardhat. It seems I’m the new sheriff in town since there wasn’t anybody out here enforcing the Standard Operating Procedures until I got here and they are not happy. I seen this pickup truck parked on the Ice Road without a duck pond under it to catch any drip/drops so I went to go and put one under it and found the Supervisor with his 1st mate all reclined back together, Don’t Ask! It was a very uncomfortable place to be in. Ever since then they both got it out for me but I could give a fuck and make it a point to jam them up on a regular basis.

I got a new 2015 GMC pickup truck to inspect the Ice Road and on it’s first maiden voyage, the fuel pump froze solid. I was stuck out in -35 below weather for a few hours until help arrived. That’s why you always carry your Arctic gear. Let me explain a little of what that entails. The whole idea is to layer up which I learned from hitchhiking across the Nation back in my snowboarding days. First there are your Polypropylene underwear, wool socks, long sleeve sweater, work cloth’s, wool knit cap, hoodie, glove liners, thick refriderwear work gloves and over the top, thick Arctic gear bib overalls and a Arctic overcoat. The hardhat usually has a warm headliner and your wearing a baklava with a defog face shield so you don’t freeze your goggles as it’s too cold to breath in the air. try working in all of this. I have come up with a term called ” froasting” it’s where you are freezing and roasting at the same time. God forbid that you have waited to long to have to piss, since by the time that you get through all of this gear to reach your Penis, as soon as it feels the temperature, goes into defensive “turtle” mode, which usually makes for a interesting situation.

Anyhow I was broke down on top of a knoll where the ice road truckers could not see me and one big old belly tanker came rippin’ up the road with a full load of water to throw down on the ice when she came over the brink there I was stranded, she locked em’ up and laid on her horn, I thought I was dead, but she was able to go around. About a week later I was doing the rounds out on some remote pads when this little firecracker of a Latin woman started tearin’ into my ass about that situation. I told her that it wasn’t my fault but she paid no never mind and made it a point to let the whole project know about it. I was sort of pissed at first until I realized she was simply attracted to me and it was a love/hate thing from then on out. I just let it ride as I figured she would make her move anytime soon. About a month later she was fired for maintaining a personal relationship with her immediate Supervisor in some extracurricular roadside chats,….. I don’t see the problem and miss her ass chewing’s dearly.

We got a Native representative attached to our Environmental team to encourage the relationship between Big Oil and Little Natives. She has it out for anybody that is Non-Native and here’s the kicker: She’s half white and looks like Rosie O’Donnell. We were having a health speech at camp about proper diet and right below the big screen explain the four food groups, there She sat stuffing bacon, biscuits and gravy and a healthy dose load of Dr. Pepper to top it off. She was hard to deal with since being the Native representative for the State she couldn’t be fired or reprimanded in any was so she routinely violated people verbally and physically. We were out working chipping up some oil drip drops on the ice road when she came driving up and I was waving her down to help out. She rolled down her window barely coming to a halt when this hockey puck looking thing shot passed us all and went on down the ice road seemingly without end into the horizon.

 I was like:

 ” WTF? was that?….”

She was like:

“My Ice Cream Sandwich”.

 And tore off after it never to be seen again that week. In fact we never seen her again since going on R&R she caught herself on fire in a what I can only imagine as a 5 pound bacon cooking ceremony gone bad.

We had a guy who recently set the shortest employment record at 1.5 day. I knew within the first five minutes of meeting him that he wouldn’t last long. As soon as he arrived at camp he was complaining about the lack of information or training from the Anchorage office. He latched onto me throughout the first part of the day, bitching the whole while until I threw him on the D-1 (shovel) and commenced to show him how to operate it since he obviously had never used one. We dug into snow berms and drifts at a blistering pace and it wasn’t long before he realized that you should start out cold and then work into warmth since he had every bit of Arctic gear on available.  He was soon sweating his ass off and couldn’t see shit since his safety glasses would keep fogging up on him which I kept reminding him he had to keep on due to safety reasons, yeah I know. After digging into some hard pack I could see that he had reached the end of his work load as the shovel was now just ricocheting off the snow, so I pawned him off onto one of my leads who overwhelmed him with insignificant bullshit he wouldn’t need but kept him quiet. That night when he returned to his room, totally spent where he called the Anchorage office to request a transfer as he was under the impression that he would be doing office work with some manual labor. He came into the compound the next day where I stripped him of every bit of Arctic gear  he owned and sent him packing.

I seen a band of Musk Ox today just standing out in the middle of a frigon storm with their young. They will stand in a circle, their shaggy coats blowing in the onset, seemingly content with the weather. The black silhouette of the Brooks Range holds back the Sun. I got back to camp during what I could only call a vendetta against the corporation for it would seem someone used the old flood em’ technique of San Quinton. Whereas a heavy terry cloth towel was stuffed down the toilet and then repeatedly flushed to cause a flood of catastrophic proportions. The camp manager was furious as were the night people who were trying to sleep during this time. Speaking of shitter mishaps:

In a remote camp all the water has to be brought in by Rollagon which is a huge piece of heavy equipment that would be right at home in Star Wars since it has articulating arms that hold these enormous inflatable tires that can stay afloat the snow covered terrain. Usually they are laden with 1500 gallon tanks of water with another that has an empty tank to unload human waste. During this time there was a new operator who was known to make a mess of things by simply not doing things right. There was always supposed to be at least one person to assist/observe the hookup/discharge/offload, but he always seemed to come in the wee hours of the night when the camp manager was sleeping. That was such the case when the afore mentioned mngr. was aroused by the rumbling of something from the water waste trailer and when he went to inspect found that the 1,000 gallon tank of human waste was bubbling into a frenzy because the operator started offloading into the tank instead of sucking it out. If not for the quick thinking action of the camp manager it would have been a shitty situation. Needless to say, the operator only got a small ass chewing and the following week he blew of the stainless steel walls of a vat holding all the shit for the truckers on the ice road at Mile 0. I’m glad I was off on R&R for that one.

Blowing snow moves across the ice road like a thousand ice sidewinders, weaving to & fro in and out of my dreams of this time up on the top of the world when I’m back home. It gets into your subconscious and pulls you deeper into some unknown realm. There are two Ravens at camp I call Heckle and Jekyll, I suggested putting them on the payroll since they pick up a lot of plastic to weave into the nest they have been building, sad but true. An Arctic Owl almost hit my truck trying to grab a rodent and disappeared into the whiteness. They are a hardy species for sure and the only birds that stick it out during winter. The Huge Moon drips lazily with a deep orange color just West of camp at 10:20 pm then rises within a few hours at 1:30 am just East, in a display of hot fuchsia pinks, a blooming rose unfolding yellow tangerine gracefully, slowly into the chase after the Sun. Sometimes when it is in the horizon it distorts it’s shape like an egg and one time like a skull with a beam of light beneath it. So strange…….

I’m out on the road when I spot a lone Caribou making its way down the road all by itself. it looked young and alone and I wondered how this came to be, as I was thinking this- I seen some movement off in the distance with a rather peculiar gate, somewhat of a lope. I couldn’t believe when I realized it was the tenacious Wolverine tracking the caribou down. they are known for their ferocity and unwavering desire to take down animals much larger than themselves and my heart went out to that lone ungulate which already showed signs of stress being stalked into the never-ending loneliness.

One month after Winter Solstice where the Earth begins to tilt back towards the Sun, the days are noticeably longer with each one a radiant gift. The colors seem so much more vibrant and nothing in between to block the view as only the limitations of ones vision to do so. Whiteness of snow is only disrupted with a thin Magenta line into Bright Blue and deep Purple of Space. Probally one of the strangest celestial phenomenon I seen was a Sun Halo that cris- crossed itself like a atom in the sky, with each intersection of light there was a small rainbow that could only be seen if you looked away from it, like a spectral prism. I felt so damn small like Horton hears a Who. It was a very poignant moment I really cannot explain but felt blessed to be there and another to recognize it as everyone else on the Ice Road was driving to and fro with no concern. When I’m out here all alone and the cold is unbearable, time stands still. I hear whispers reverberate through the landscape that I swear I can stare of to infinity at times and I see things out there in the distance that look like some type of Ancient crystal city from an Age gone by- SUREAL.

It is starting to warm up now with the white sparrow like Snow Buntings flirting around which are one of the first indicators Spring is finally on it’s way. I have had some pretty exciting experiences getting to and fro to work but this time I came out on a landing craft via the Beafort Sea since it broke up last month. It was a sight to behold looking back towards the project falling further away into the distance then coming up to a remote outcropping where the boat barely could stay in one spot due to the rough Sea. With a clang front door slams down whereas I then run out into the tundra with my gear like the frigon Marines, only I was the only person around for miles as the boat pulled away and I was left there alone. Once again there is no way to explain the feeling you get when you have no idea what to expect. It was so damn quiet it hurt. It is always something new and adventurous coming up here and I cant wait to see what is next except for maybe a hungry bear coming up over that knoll ahead of me. I could hear a vehicle coming towards me and there in the distance as it came lumbering to retrieve me and take me back to camp.

Once there, I noticed one of the Arctic Foxes had her litter of kits under my equipment Conx but I didn’t mind as they were so adorable and very entertaining. We had to put out a huge laydown area for a containment and when the kits found they had no traction on the surface chasing each other, it was a riot watching them go head over heels headlong into one another. I laughed my ass off so hard, a dear memory to this day. This is where I learned that Red Fox kits are red from birth but Arctic Fox kits are cream colored with dark stripes down their back. The Mother fox spent every waking hour hunting Parkers Squirrels for them and they grew fast but one in particular stood out. It was only a matter of time why we found out why he was growing so much faster than the rest. As the few remaining siblings he would be playing with one moment then devour it the next. Head, feet, fur and all, brutal. We named him Snax and he ultimately ate three of his siblings, in the end his own Mother would not approach him. Is it evil, I wondered? I don’t think so, that’s Life up in the Arctic, only the strong survive,… plain and simple.

A trucker brought in a Caribou Antler and wanted to give it to our Native camp housekeeper, you would have thought he had a frigon weapon of mass destruction with all the BS it stirred up with the EPA. I ultimately had to take it back out on the Tundra. The housekeeper told me she cried for that Caribou. One of my leads nearly sunk a airboat when he punched it full throttle off land and continued to go into

“Dive” mode when it hit the water, he came up sputtering screaming for help, I just laughed at his dumbass wondering how long before he just let off the throttle.

I needed a bear guard to keep post as I was out working alone in known bear habitat. I was about a mile out when something white off in the distance caught my eye and even though I romanticize about getting eaten by a bear vs. dying of boredom or old age. (Besides. I didn’t want to go at this time as I still need to write this damn book). I couldn’t focus on its distance but I knew I couldn’t out run it, so I called over the radio to the bear gaurd who was most likely watching a movie on his laptop.

“Yo! WTF is that white thing N-W,..over.” I stressed.

 He came back:

“Something White,…over”.

“Thanks Asshole,……….over”

I picked up the pace then to realize once I got a better view that it was two Sand hill Cranes doing their mating dance. I didn’t realize how big they were and it was a blessing to witness this beautiful courtship, jumping around and entwining each other necks, it was just fuckin’ awesome.

We have all kinds of weird ass vehicles up here that seems like a Sci-Fi movie at times. They are of many sizes and makes with everything in between.  I like to get out on these since I know one of the Supervisor’s pretty good and have been known to do some Moonlight work on the ice road for them. Why not? Once you’ve operated one type of tracked vehicle their pretty much all the same. I was able to get out into some hairball shit, just what the Dr. ordered.

I am what you call “expendable” on this project so I might as well have a good time doing it. Most people are up here just for the money, I can honestly say that’s nice,… but I do it for the experience.

I believe I have rubbed some worthless ass kissing back stabbing brown noser’s the wrong way and my days are limited here, but I could really care less as I was beginning to wonder what’s on the other side of the world, Down Under.

One thing I know for sure is that Life is to short to chase the dollar because you will chase it forever and NEVER have enough. And I really Wannabe on a Sailboat…………

Bingham Canyon Mine UT. / Pebble Mine AK. a compare and contrast story……..

The Bingham Canyon mine is a copper mine in Utah that is often compared to the planned mine in the Bristol Bay area by the Pebble Partnership, Pebble mine. When it existed, the town of Bingham was located in a narrow canyon that scarcely permitted space for a single row of houses and a road wide enough to turn around in. Eventually, the town would give up life itself when the mine grew so large that it consumed the entire town altogether. As of today the mine has been in production since 1906, and has resulted in the creation of a pit over 0.6 miles deep, 2.5 miles wide and covering 1,900 acres. In comparison, the proposed Pebble mine would be much larger with tailing dams over 700 feet high. (Far bigger than the Grand Coulee Dam).

“In its May/June 2011 Pebble Partnership Newsletter, the Pebble Partnership touted recent tours with “stakeholders” of the Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah and the Cortez Hills mine of Nevada as examples of how mines operating under modern regulations are protecting themselves and the environment.”

  On April 10th 2013, one of the world’s largest landslides tumbled 150 million tons of rock and dirt down the northeastern pit wall of Kennecott Utah’s Bingham Canyon copper-gold-molybdenum mine, likely becoming one the more expensive landslides in modern history.The U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the landslide unleashed 128 million cubic yards of rock and dirt into a pit nearly a mile deep, equal to about two-thirds of the material removed for the construction of the Panama Canal. Put another way, however, the largest landslide in modern history, the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, loosened 3.7 billion cubic yards.

Ted Himbaugh, General Manager of Operational Readiness was quoted as saying:

“It’s the largest slide we’ve ever had at the Bingham Canyon mine, and I don’t know if it’s the largest in Utah, but it’s a big slide. Where it ended at the bottom, it went a little further than we planned on. We we’re not expecting that it would cover that much area in the bottom. We didn’t know from our modeling that all that material would flow to the bottom.”

In fact, two-thirds of the bottom of the pit is now covered. Some cited that the mine rest on an ancient fault but this has yet to be verified. One thing is known and that is that the engineers who designed this pit did not include this in their plans. Neither did the latest computer modeling foresee the disaster nor the extent of damage that ensued.

Kyle Bennet, Kennecot Spokesman reported:

The Copper Mine was aware of the impending slide, engineers having detecting ground movement as far back as February 2013. This is something we had anticipated.”
Bennet said of the slide,


“We knew the slide was imminent. We had relocated machinery, we had rerouted roads, we had rerouted utilities, (and) we had relocated buildings.” (SOURCE: RENO MINEWEB) 

Even with all of these efforts, the slide covered 13 large haul trucks an undisclosed number of large containers holding 83,000 gallons of diesel, 13,000 gallons of various oils, and 5,000 gallons of coolant and various greases. Also, there was a steel container full of thousands of pounds of explosives. This in itself would have proven disastrous if it were to happen at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed as Salmon are highly sensitive to pollution. Exposure to even miniscule increases in copper in freshwater (ppm), for example, interferes with their sense of smell, impairing their ability to locate spawning grounds and identify predators.

In a story for the periodical Mudflats, Carl Johnson wrote:

The Pebble Mine will have an earthen containment dam that is ten square miles wide at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed that will need to last for eternity. If this is what happens at a mine that is currently operated and that has supposedly an ‘excellent track record’ for safety, (Unlike the Pebble Partnership companies) what will be done to prevent such a thing from happening at Pebble?- which, unlike Bingham is an active earthquake zone. 
The landslide itself registered on the seismic record station at Granite Mountain Vault in Salt Lake City. Scientist at the University of Utah seismology center said that if the slide were an earthquake, it would have measured as a 2.4 on the Richter scale. It is the largest non-volcanic slide in modern history that triggered 16 small earthquakes ranging from 4.9 to 5.1.

I would like to mention here since it seems to have been overlooked by the developers of Pebble mine that it will sit on an active seismic fault just north of where the Pacific Plate and North American Plate come into contact. This is a dynamic and constantly changing region and why the Aleutian Chain is there along with a few volcanoes which are the epicenter of many of the earthquakes produced when these two plates slide past one another.

The most powerful earthquake in modern history occurred on Good Friday, March 27, 1964. It registered an 8.6 on the Richter scale and a 9.2 on the Moment Magnitude scale. Within the first week, 9,000 aftershocks occurred. Within the first month, 19 of those were registered a 6.0 or larger.

Even though it‘s epicenter was located in the Prince William Sound area, whole towns and villages throughout South Central Alaska were destroyed by violent tidal waves and had to be moved, including our community of Girdwood.

Alaska comprises only 3 percent of the surface of the planet yet 25 percent of earthquakes originate within its boundaries. Since 1904, Alaska has averaged an earthquake of magnitude 7.2 or more every 2.3 years, most along the Aleutian Chain. Geologically speaking this is a very active area and will continue to be so.

The Pebble Limited Partnership would have us all believe that they will provide more than enough precautions and mitigation measures in the event of an earthquake or “unforeseen event” but it’s interesting to note, that by forming numerous affiliated companies to hold and pursue mining claims and interests in Bristol Bay, investors Anglo-American and Northern Dynasty are trying to conceal the extent of their mining plans from the public and governmental regulatory agencies and to limit their liability if an environmental disaster occurs.

According to Trout Unlimited ” The Pebble mine dam and ten square mile containment pond are intended to hold between 2.5 billion and ten billion tons of mine waste that the mine would produce over its lifetime- nearly enough to bury the city of Seattle. For the same reason, five of the largest dams ever created on earth have been detailed in Northern Dynasty plans to hold – in perpetuity – the 10 billion tons of mine waste that Pebble’s recoverable ore would generate.  That equates to 3000 lbs of mine waste for every person alive on the planet today – to be contained forever in a major seismic environment on top of the two major salmon spawning river systems that feed the largest fishery left on earth.

Let’s just pretend for a moment that there will never be another earthquake in Alaska that could compromise the proposed dams. The salmon will still be at risk due to the sulfides in the ore, the rock at the proposed Pebble Mine is considered “reactive” rock, at high risk for acid and metals pollution. Sulfide mining has a near-perfect track record of creating pollution.  Despite its protests that it can be done safely, mining companies are unable to point to a sulfide mine that has ever been developed, operated and closed without producing polluted drainage from its operations.

Not only do these mines consistently pollute, but studies show the companies and state agencies reviewing mine plans predict no pollution will occur, when in fact, it always does.  Analysis of environmental impact statements for hardrock mines showed that 100 percent of mines predicted compliance with water quality standards before operations began.
When researchers examined the track record of these mines after operations began, they found that 76 percent of them were actually discharging pollutants in excess of water quality standards.  In addition, “mitigation measures,” those efforts taken to remedy the discovered pollution problems, failed to do the job 64 percent of the time (source PDF).

On Jan. 15 2014, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a long awaited scientific study of the proposed Pebble mine which concluded that the mine could destroy up to 94 miles of streams where salmon spawn and migrate and up to 5,350 acres of wetlands ponds and lakes. This would have devastating effects for subsistence and commercial fisherman alike. For this reason, Tribes, Native groups and environmental organizations are pushing the EPA to use the Clean Water Act to block the mine even before developers submit their plan to seek permits. Under the Clean Water Act, the agency has the authority to prohibit, limit or restrict the disposal, discharge or long term storage of mining waste into waters within the United States.

 John Shively, chief executive of Pebble Limited Partnership, which is developing the mine, views the EPA’s study as a purely “political document,” which ignores the kind of modern engineering and mitigation measures that would have to be instituted to get the necessary permits. According to the Pebble Ltd. Partnership the mine developer says it has spent $150 million on environmental issues alone compared to the $2.4 million the EPA has spent since March of 2013. (The figures have yet to be updated). Yet they come to two very different conclusions, the reason being is most likely due to who’s signing the paychecks.

 In the days since the EPA released the study, the political response has been mixed. Although it seems with all the billions of dollars at stake here some are more than willing to take risk usually at the expense of the Land, Creatures and the People that live on it.

In doing the research for this piece I wanted to interview somebody who was in the industry to give a broader view. I contacted one of my old college instructors who is a graduate of the Colorado School of Mines, worked in the industry for over 35 years and has taught for 28 years and is certified both as an OSHA and MSHA Instructor.  In addition, his industrial background is in mining and safety, and he is a specialist for underground mine rescue.

Joe wrote me this:

Yes, I’m pro industry and pro mining. I know that Alaskans can use the work and one thing is for sure—when you have a producing mine in your back yard, everybody makes money. There’s a tremendous amount of $$$ that gets thrown into the local economy and tax base. Schools, borough infrastructure, and local merchants and shop owners, along with just about everyone in the area will reap some $$$ benefits. Environmental in all areas where mining is being proposed is of great necessity—and especially where Alaska fisheries, wildlife, and tourism are concerned. Given these delicate issues, it must be of the utmost importance that all tailings impoundments, chemical processes, mining, and reclamation be held to the highest standard possible with frequent inspections and oversight by governing agencies. Great attention must be given to the overall design, process and eventual reclamation. Constant vigilance is a good deterrent against poor design and bad or poor mining practices. Reclamation bonds must be set aside and in large enough sums of money to cover future reclamation regardless of the company’s success or failure in the venture. Companies who do not embrace these ideals and responsibilities from the outset need to get the hell out of mining. It can be done and done well, but given the sensitive environmental, seismic, volcanic, and near coastal issues, it will be a definite challenge to the mining company to “do it and do it well”.

Great Alaskan Misadventures

It is almost Autumn dammit, summer was awesome,…. I think. I am in a dark room speaking to apparitions, after three days of self imposed exile from the outside world, for my sanity and for that of the general publics safety as well. I have three pairs of sunglasses with all kinds of gaudy costume jewelry designs , none of which even look vaguely familiar, a book of matches from “Good Time Charlies” w/ a phone number scribbled on it, two bottles of Spaten Optimators in their own brown bags, two cup o’ noodles apparently smashed over and over yet still in plastic, one Whamo! day glow frisbee w/ fair food still clinging to sides, one can of jalapenos unopened, one mini stick of unused toothpaste, deodorant and body powder respectively, three totally compressed trail mix bars, a flask of something, one blue button of mushroom’s  and I’m wearing what looks like a shirt from the Salmonstock Festival and remnants of a backstage pass hanging from my neck w/ Caution Tape. The back of the shirt has some kind of weird ass quasi runes that I cannot decipher and looks like a Time Portal of sorts from Stargate, it’s sort of freaking me out and seems to pulse from time to time, I have since thrown it in the corner under a pile of funky ass clothes I need to wash or burn.Upon summoning the strength and courage to venture into the outside world to purge these Demons from my bowels I am greeted by a blinding power source I believe to be Sunlight and a flurry of questions from my roommates.

” Dude! What the hell happened to you”?

Reply: ” huh”?

“Why are your clothes inside out?”

Reply: “what”?

” Where have you been?”

Reply: “where”?

As I attempt to urinate in what I perceive as the toilet I look into the mirror and what I see terrifies me. as I have somehow morphed into Shrek. I close my eyes and concentrate on peeing but can only expel what seems to be bright orange juice w/ pulp since I’m so fucking dehydrated and slink back into the comfort and safety of stank ass a fore mentioned room of darkness where I am now typing in order to make sense of it all. With a candle light, I must refer to my journal which is a spiral bound notebook that’s in the condition  of the Dead Sea Scrolls, all tattered. I must try and decipher all the entries which look like they have been written by many different hands and from a different time. It could be days or weeks or months I don’t know but this must be done for fear of losing the tether that holds my Spirit Self to this Earthly Bound Vessel within Suspended Animation of a Astral Projection gone terribly array…..So lets go on a magical journey of sorts…. and try and figure out just what in the hell happened.

April 4th :

I returned to Girdwood, Alaska in order to help the owners of Casa del Sol shut their doors forever, to the delight of only one person I will not utter his name. In response to this. half the town came out to throw down every bit of alcohol on this side of Anchorage until we simply ran out, then went and got more, it lasted for a total of one week. After that they started selling everything in order to buy more including the kitchen sink much to the dismay of the buildings owner. Since then I am sitting here across the street staring at the now curbed sidewalks which even though were only recently put in have been all but obliterated by snowplows from last winter and paved roads that only encourage people to speed through town like the fucking Dakar Rally. It is now the loneliest deck in the world sitting devoid of revelry and joy. The once forested town square where we once frolicked with wild abandon has been razed for asphalted handy-lanes access loops, picnic tables and simply a concrete square, I am heartbroken. This side of town is now the lonely side of town and sterile.

June 4th

I couldn’t tell you if its the beginning or the end of a dream or a nightmare having returned to Alaska but one thing I can tell you is that I have not woke up on fire or arrested in the time I have been here as in days past. I believe I have reached the Statute of Limitations on any pending warrants issued by the State so all of my portraits have been taken off of Post Office walls though I may still be on the back of milk cartons. To say Life has lost some of its zest is an understatement. I got pulled over the other day and was let go “with out” a warning. WTF? This is unacceptable. 

I have since removed the Lezbian Pimp Mobile from the confines of the property known as “the compound” with much discouragement and sailor swearing. The fuel tank is full of rust from sitting through the winter so the engine in defiance sputters and backfires flame from the carburetor into the interior where I almost catch on fire. And so smoke billowing from the windows that coincidentally don’t roll down it hobbles approximately 1/3 of a mile to the sanctuary known as the Park & Live. I have lost all my tools and am seeking someone to tune it up after I get all of this rust out of the line and have ingested no less than a pint siphoning it out. I now burp 87% octane which makes for miny fire breathing demonstrations to the delight of  my Hawaiian flame dancer bro.

The glacier which formed on top of the rig over winter slid off sometime in early May and took out the awning, kitchen vent and windshield wipers. From under the dash an assortment of colored wires hang from everywhere and the transmission leaks fluid as if a dragon slayed. The brakes when first applied simply went to the floor with no resistance as I shot through the one and only intersection in town, much to the revelry of onlookers. I have remnants of a screen door held over my one and only functioning exit/entry point held on with magnets to keep the hordes of blood thirsty mosquito’s at bay. It also promotes air flow which is most welcome since it borderlines triple digits inside once the Sun hits it. I made a for sale sign which reads as follows:

FOR SALE

1976 Dodge Xplorer 224

Conversion Van

THE GOOD

1 ton B-300 Full size fully contained factory built conversion van.

2 barrel Holly 360 cid Mopar engine

Heavy Duty 727 Torqueflight transmission

Recent ignition wiring & hi-output alternator

Upgraded propane tank

Power steering/brakes

THE BAD

Carburetor needs tune up or replacement 

Gauge cluster/defroster/wipers dont work or missing

Interior door latches and windows do not work

Furnace needs replaced

Brakes need everything

12v. system is shot.

Muffler is somewhere between Talkeetna and Seward.

THE UGLY

Interior has deep shag mustard poop looking carpet

Crushed velvet leopard print walls/furnishings

Exterior rocker panel rust issues

This is a great rig for someone who is an adventurer, fisherman, vagabond, hippy or fugitive who wants to travel without luxory and needs more fucking shit in their lives. A soul that requires constant adversity on lonely Alaskan highways where no one is around to help.  Needs some TLC or a high caliber assault rifle for venting purposes. The keys are in the ignition as well as a fire extinguisher behind the seat which is holding it up. DO NOT try and start until you fix the fuel line as I snapped it trying to get carb off.

PS Good Luck and Good Riddance.

With that being said, I am though attempting to remedy some of these plagues albeit on a limited budget, fuck who am I kidding? There is no budget. But I will do my best with what I have, one roll of duct tape, one spool of rusty wire and a cheap ass multi tool.

On a lighter note, I went up to Denali for some much needed R&R (whiskey) on the Nenana River where I used to guide. Along the way I found a town that I think I could call another home as I feel as if my days in Girdwood are numbered.

Talkeetna is along the Big Susitna river north of Wasiila and south of Cantwell and was the inspiration of that TV show ” Northern Exposure” I found it to be a breath of fresh air in my otherwise law abiding dismal existance here in Alaska. It has the quaint charm of a old mining/railroad town with a few road houses a guy could  get into a few brawls without worry of getting shot or stabbed over it for once your done beating the shit out of eachother you’ll usually sit and have  a beer and talk about it, Any good mountain town should have brewery, river rafting, plethora of off road trails, airstrip for climbers wishing to test their mettle on Denali and my favorite: a town square with Live @ 5 music every Friday. The only thing it’s missing is a ski resort but there are some great areas just south of town in Hatcher’s Pass. I thought it would be a great place to make a new start and reinvent myself away from all the myths and persecution of my other haunts

Thats when some bald chick came running up to me yelling at the top of her lungs,

,

” PANDOOOOOOO!!!!!!”

At first I didn’t recognise her without blood on her face or hair on her head but as we got to talking I remembered helping her a few years back when she was obviously drunk and missed the first four stairs while walking out of the Mercantile and proceeded to face plant into the parking lotand then in attempting to right herself simply plowed more gravel into her once beautiful face. I sprang into action and picked her up as everyone else who witnessed it were just standing there gaping. As I took her in my arms I had to avert my eyes and swallow my dry heaves as she had all kinds of rocks lodged in her face and was bleeding profusely. I sat her down outside on the deck and ran inside to get a 1st aid kit (for her) and a pint of whiskey (for me) whereas I then proceeded to clean her up a bit. It was a weird scene as she was so thankful I was helping her and in her dumbfounded state felt attracted to me and wanted to start making out for my reward, like that one love scene with the fleshless chick in Hellraiser , now don’t get me wrong I would usually jump on opportunities like this when they arise especially considering she’s built like a brick shit house and strangely enough, I do feel attracted to her, first and foremost duty calls . In any case she remembers this and wants to take me around town and introduce me to all her girlfriends and bla bla bla you know the rest. I REALLY LIKE this town! I will return someday soon.

June 21st SUMMER SOLSTICE!!

I am so stoked as to have met up with a couple of my friends I met @ Kalalau University where I studied Brail Anatomy and worked as a Sherpa and Pleasure Tour guide on the island of “KAUAI”! We rallied on down to the Russian river where the Sockeye’s (Red Salmon) were running and proceeded to out “Sockeye Sling”( a technique of tossing out flies in a overhand manner) even the best of them, with the only take that being of a 12 pack of Sockeye IPA’s. After a couple hours of that we soon were headed out of there since there were a million other sob’s out there Combat Fishing. We drove down south to Lowerlake outside of Moose Pass where the guy who had the one and only kick ass spot next to the lake let us take it over. He said the Rainbows were hitting on eggs so we bought the rest of his plus his Costco size handle of rum. He even let us use his chainsaw in order to get some firewood to keep the mosquitos at bay. It started out pretty good but soon it became apparent that we were about as good of Trout fisherman as we were Salmon fishermen but we ultimately ended up catching one hell of a buzz. The next morning it became apparent why the guy gave us the spot so readily as we awoke to the sounds of heavy equipment all around us, we we’re seemingly in the center of a highway project we did not notice the night before.

July 1st

This past weekend was the Friends of the Forest Fair volunteer weekend proceeding the revelry next week where people from all over Alaska will converge on our small mountain hamlet. Its great to those of us who take time out of our busy schedules to set up for the fair, actually it’s mostly with those who have nothing else better to do and are in here, in fact for the free beer and burgers. Softball Sundays oh lord,…… what else need I write and will leave it at that. I plan on working w/ Vibe Patrol as to make enough money to fly back down to Cali for harvest season. I am reduced down to a few shirts and 2 pair of pants as I have free’d everything up. (lost). I’m sure I will have no problem fitting everything I own into one backpack.

If there is one thing here that has remained a positive influence on the community as well as myself it is the Vibe Tribe of the Forest Fair. I have had the pleasure to be a part of this yearly event off and on for eight years now. It’s probably no secret that back in the “Who-Jammy” days when people would camp out on the island within the Glacier Creek it was pretty crazy and I not being for one observing from the sidelines was usually a main player in all of its debaucheries. Since then some things have changed some would argue for the better and some otherwise as there are a few things that are different from years past. Since the inception of the no camping rules in and around park it has discouraged somewhat the craziness of the past. I would be lying to you if I told you that I don’t miss some the madness, nakedness and off the chart partying but we live in a different time now. I don’t want to try and argue that we were more responsible back then but it sure seems that the younger generation swing a lot harder than we used to. It wasn’t all that long ago when I was cornered snarling, ravaged with dilated eyes by the Vibe Tribe to bring it down a notch and become a part of the story and not apart from it. This year we only had a few incidents one being a drunken reveler who apparently watched to much “Breaking Bad” and “Son’s of Anarchy” which after parking his Hardly Ableson in the Handicap Zone went on to get tanked in the Beer Garden, insult and threaten a bunch of people and after being escorted no less than three times out of the park, the Alaskan State Troopers gladly responded to the call and even though he had a medical card for his marijuana it was found that he had a glass pipe and Meth which coincidentally the State of Alaska does NOT give out medical cards for. Besides that there was a naked guy we simply let the mosquitoes take care of and of course there were a few ” Lost Parents’ we had to reunite with their concerned children.

My buddy  from Kauai came back the following week in order to redeem ourselves with the Coho (Silver Salmon) run up Bird Creek. We got our gear all together and headed out and soon were tossing in Pixies and Vibraxes with great enthusiasm but were told we missed the tide so we found ourselves in the Brown Bear Saloon which is somewhat close to the creek. I then brought him back to Girdwood where I took him to the Silvertip Bar & Grill to get some lunch {we never ordered} and some beers. I guess we were there until closing where we then ended up at the Dive aka Chair 5……oh lord. I don’t remember leaving or really going there for that matter. All I know is sometime around 5 am. my roommate bust in my room screaming,

“Where’s your friend?! His girlfriend has been calling all morning & is worried to death!”

I barely moved. She found him later sleeping in the Lezbo. He woke up with a huge shiner he didn’t know how he got and had to return home in that fashion much to his dismay and I believe I have lost another fishing buddy. The next day it was reported that he was seen leaving the bar totally wasted and when people were trying to warn him about a Black Bear in the middle of the grid he just waved at them and told them how much he loved it in Girdie, much to their amazement he nearly stepped on the bear which had to move out of the way in order to let him pass. I guess it was a case of showing no fear as my buddy thought it was a dog and casually strolled on by patting it’s head thus confusing the bear, which most likely swatted him in self defence. Things like that always happen up here in the Lost Frontier. In order to keep from getting his ass kicked any further at home he told his girl that we were jumped by a gang of Tongans which took all of our fish, thus the dual purpose blackeye/no fish explanation. It was either that or tell her about getting bitchslapped by a Black Bear,… I mean who the hell’s going to believe that?

Speaking of Black Bears, I had the most interesting conversation about one with this new kid in town who just happens to be a dread locked dude from down south. So I’m telling him about this Black Bear that keeps getting into our garbage since my dumbass landlord refuses to get a bear proof garbage can and keeps leaving trash out on the porch. Anyways as Im telling the story he interrupts..

“So how do you know it’s Black?! he sais to me.

“Huh” I say back.

“I said, how do you know it’s Black”?!

“Well I ain’t seen a Brown Bear this year so I’m just guessing///”  sort of perplexed.

” Ahh I see how it is” he sais.

“See what?” I say.

“Oh I see how it’s ALWAYS got to be the Black Mother Fucker.” he snaps.

” Yo hold on Bro, I didn’t mean anything by that, I’m just saying..” I plead.

” No, let me tell you something about a Black Bear, the Black Bear is one of the most intelligent creatures in the forest and is always persecuted for maybe what other animals do. I mean who’s to say it ain’t one of those Brown or White Mother Fuckers? he ask.

“You mean a Grizzly or a Polar Bear”? I ask.

“No, I said one of those Brown or White Mother Fuckers!” he shouts.

” I don’t think we got those White Mother Fuckers around here.” I reply.

He ruminates on this and we just sort of sit there for a moment in this awkward silence neither one of us knowing where we we’re going with this, so I fired up some dank, you know that Green Mother Fuckin’ Shit?,…. which we both knew then exactly what we we’re talking about.

It was soon after this time that sadly enough the Lezbo was finally towed away, I have mixed feelings about it with all the memories and there lack of that happened in and out of that hunk of steel. I was like a Trap Door Spider at festivals, as soon as some hot ass hippy chick walked by,… BAM! All I had to do was get her in it and the Deep Shag Leopardprint wall to wall up on the ceiling potchuli smelling décor did the rest baby. You know what I’m saying? There were some I couldn’t get rid of though, some happy some mad, it was good for the time.  I didnt have a licence and Girdwood didnt have any paved roads or as many cops back then, Hell. when I first got here there was a dude who had this old Volkswagon Bus he drove around town, thing was it only had one gear; REVERSE. So he just cruised around with his head out the door doing like 35 mph all day long. Things have sadly changed. It had a Soul you know. It was weird because I was driving through Anchorage and from out of the corner of my eye I seen it in a impound lot I had no idea it was there and it seemed to beckon me with lonely dim headlamps, man I got to lay off this shit,… it’s getting weird man, but also the end of a era. I  raise a toast to you Lezbo my home and companion for over five years. I hope they don’t ever take a blacklight to that or their in for some serious psyco-delic shit!

August 23rd

I got a call from Great Alaska {Mis}Adventure lodge to come and finish the season out for no money and much fun. At least that’s how they sold me on it. I ended up catching a shuttle down to the lodge on the confluence of the Moose and Kenai rivers where the Sockeye were spawning making the water look as if it was boiling. During the interview I was told I would be hired on as a Safari Guide taking people out Sea Kayaking Kenai Fjords, Hiking the Resurrection trail,  Mountain Biking around Skilak lake, Flying out via Bush Plane to a Bear Camp, River Kayaking Moose River and on occasion shuttling for the Salmon and Halibut charters they provided. I pulled into the lodge in Sterling where the Camp Manager greeted me with much enthusiasm. I was given a wall tent of my own and furnished with a bed I had to assemble in a remarkable example of over engineering from the country of Taiwan. I was introduced to a few of the fishing guides who looked down at me with disinterest as they were obviously the top of the food chain here. I took it in stride for I remember being a the top guide in Denali and we all had the same mind set about other workers beneath us Demi Gods. I believe I have come full circle in working in every type of guide setting imaginable, such as: a Horse Wrangler in the Rockies,  River Rat Guide in Denali, Student Outdoor Activities Coordinator at the University of Alaska,  “At Risk Youth” Counselor in the Sierra’s,  Naturalist Guide in the Wood River Range, Botanist in the Emerald Triangle,  Snowcat Operator in the Wasatch and Tetons and of course as a Sherpa in Kauai, just to name a few. It’s really funny because I really cant stand people but I have to do this type of work in order to do the things in the mountains I love.

After I settled in a bit I was also introduced to a few of my fellow Safari Guides and the eight Chinese migrant workers, I would later come to call the “Red Dragon Mafia”. These lovely people were always the first in line to eat out of the back door of the camp like some kind of homeless soup kitchen which in fact gave me worse abdominal pains than my trip down to Nicaragua. They would converge at the door speaking in a high pitched menagerie of tones I couldn’t understand. I seen one of them eat a grilled cheese sand which and soup w/ chop sticks, I was amazed. There were thought to have been five males and three females but after closer inspection one of the males was found to be a flat chested female that wore baggy clothes. I was told that when they first got here they were going to put her in with the men until they all started chattering up a storm and we’re finally able to relay with hand gestures that she was indeed a girl and should not under any circumstances be put in the men’s bunkhouse. Then there is another one with the biggest breastesses I have ever seen on a Asian woman but she has a mustache with really bad acne. I have to avert my eyes when were all eating at the picnic table, but God damn those tits. They all made up English names because no one could remotely pronounce their Chinese names and all the girls took on stripper names like Cherry, Felina, Lola and Madonna, and the guys had simple names like Mike, Tom, Bill and Pete. Don’t ask me.

I had the opportunity to take the girls out on a motorised boat on the glacier fed Kenai River for a pleasure tour,.. a three hour tour, the weather started getting rough and if not for the courage of the fearless crew,… wait a minute wrong story. Anyhow I have two gals behind me and two in front facing me, one being the afore mentioned big tiity’d gal. I couldn’t help but notice that every time we hit choppy water those girls just started giggling and those honkers would flail about like gaffed salmon, they were heaving and hoeing so damn hard I had to back up off the throttle in fear of capsizing the vessel. True story.

One of my fellow workers is about to walk after only three weeks of employment here and has gone on to tell me the atrocities he’s had to endure since being here. He goes on to say about the so called Camp manager who micro manages to the point of telling you where and how to shit which I believe is the reason someone left a mystery turd on the bathroom floor. It would seem that one of the “Red Dragons” wanted to go out on the Kenai Fjords Whale watching trip which was instead given to the lodge owners nephew who is the janitor and who would be responsible for picking up mystery turd. In retaliation they gave the Chinese dude a few days off so he could go hiking on some of the more grueling mountain summiting hikes in the mid day heat. Upon return he has become so desponadant he does not want to work and I am in fear of him killing us all in our sleep. When news of his condition hit his boss on a balmy afternoon he was dragged into the office where he was to be fired and sent back to China, they say he fell on his knees and shrieked:

” I can not go back to China in shame, It will dishonor my family’s name”.

What were they to do? I mean he was going on crying how it would shame his whole family and it was a spectacule to witness, so they folded like a couple of lawn chairs and let him keep his job. But his boss said he is going to give him every shitty job that comes to mind in order to make him quit. I have only been here three days and I can see disention amongst the ranks.

We sat down and tried to figure out our pay scale since its all in a contract stating that $1,000 a month will be made plus tips. After doing some math factoring in six day work days at eight hours a day we were making $2.80 an hour, well below the minimum wage standard. Even if you added the tips we never received, were still totally fucked after they charge us for rent and food plus you have to do you own laundry at the laundramat even though there is a full on one at the lodge for guest only. Then to boot I am burning up my cell phone minutes because the Micro-mamager has to call me no less than five times a day even though were on the grounds together. It would seem after further investigations that we are not only getting totally fucked in the ass but with no reach around to boot, Fuck Almighty.

Thank God I get to drive off the property from time to time.

One of my duties is to take the salmon, halibut and rockfish to the fish place where they freeze, package and send them out. So when I get there, I have to back the van into this area where these people are waiting to unload and tag the fish, well there’s this hot ass gal that is wearing these Daisey Dukes so far up her Yin/ Yang, I punched the throttle instead of the brake and damn near sent the van through the building. I make it a point to show up early and vollunteer for this position on a daily basis.

Which reminds me of Good Time Charlie’s. It is an esablishment here on the outskirts of Seldotna that from what the boys here on premises say has some of the most beautiful show girls this side of the great Alaskan Bush Co. in Anchorage. So I being a titty bar coneseur took the opportunity to check it out while on my way back from doing something or another I wasn’t supposed to be doing. It was a much needed break from all the BS at camp and so I walked into the dark and dismal joint in the mid day heat where the Sun seemed as if it was only a mile or two away. Some Honky Tonk music blares out of some ratty ass speakers and this old weather beaten bartender w/ fake tits looks up at me like Im interupting something extremely pressing, like her “Press On” nails. She has a cigarette firmly welded between her Botoxed inflamed lips and a tatoo of something that resembles a smashed butterfly that was applied in 1985 on her neck.

” Whada have”? She sais.

” IPA” I reply.

“Nope” She parries.

” How about a porter?”

The look on her not all to recent “lifted face” sais’ that she is not happy with where this conversation is going, so I order a Budwiper since there’s posters of it everywhere. There is a awkward silence as she slaps the non-frosted mug of flat shwill down. I notice that the dance floor is well weathered and the pole in the center buffed to a brassy sheen yet there seems to be a shortage of girls to show. Im just happy to be away from the camp, so I don’t complain.

This hitchiker dude comes in with an enormous backpack on with a fire extinguisher size can of bear spray and a Bowie knife that gives him the Aura of Bilbo. The bartender ask what he’ll have and he replies,

“Rest”.

My heart goes out to him because I have been in this guys shoes many times before, a stranger in a strange land with way to much shit on his back and hardly any money or friends, so I buy him a beer which he quafs in two gulps and then buy him another.

I finally get him to talk not much but its more than the bartender had going on so were just BS’n about being a tramp. We were talking of all the places we hitchhiked or hopped a freight train in order to get too. I miss the simplicity of those days before I was employed, seems so long ago. (five days to be exact)

It was here that the bartendress actually sparked up a conversation in a raspy ass voice:

” So I guess you want to see some titties huh”?

I’m thinking maybe she’s going to call on some Hot Ass Babes in the back to wake up or something and before I know it, she’s dragging her old tired ass up on the stage after putting in Bob Segar’s

 ” I love they way they Strut”

“Oh Lord” I think to myself,……

 next thing I know she’s trying to wrestle out of her beer stained apron which apparantly has waken the hitchiker out of his heat stress.

” Fuck Yeah!” he screams.

And from out of nowhere some guy pops up from behind the bar that looks strangely enough like Ron Jeromy and sets down two more beers and a bowl of pretzels which the hitchiker slams his face into like a ravaged dog. I’m planning my escape route before she can figure out how to get her top off but see that its already gone along with her skirt in one fell swoop. And there she is: for all to see,

 the hitchiker eyes are fully dialted and searching, he is now standing dry humping his stool, which encourages this cougar into some out dated dance moves I am embarrassed to witness, I look nervously about for the nearest exit.

“My god, nothing can come good of this” I think aloud.

She’s down to her saggy ass thong, I’m reeling and stagger to my feet whereas the hitchiker slams his vice like grip on my shoulder and slathers,

“Two more beers!!”

I’m in panic mode as he screams like a banshee

“She’s Fuckin’ Hot Man!!”

I look at him like: WTF!? Then gaze back to her to make sure were seeing the same thing here,

” Oh fuck, she’s made eye contact”.. I realize

She’s now contorted backwards like the fucking Exorcist and moving towards us on all fours, Snatch up front and center like a contorted crab. I see speed bumps on her belly from what I assume were circumcision scars and an ass hanging like a old wet & worn down saddle bag on a rat of a Harley, I start to hyper ventilate.

Next thing I know she levitates back up like a Sucubus coming in for the kill and grabs the back of my head in what seems to be an attempt to get me to go down on her, oh, …for the love of God. I place both hands firmly on the edge of the stage and lock out my elbows and prepare myself for the long haul. Were now interlocked like a EPIC struggle between Good and Evil, She then pulls nothing short of a cage fighting maneveur and now has got her spindly ass legs wrapped around my waist pulling me in ever closer to what I perceive as the End of Time. But definitely not Space……

“OH Lord” I cry out and with one mighty heave I gather the strength to reach into my pocket where I have a wad of crumpled up dollar bills and throw them in front of the hitchhiker. Which he quickly starts flattening out and puts in his teeth, for a split second there we are: the three of us in this death defying tragedy of humanity and just when I thought I was doomed she released her talons from me and pounced on the hitchiker’s face like that creature from Aliens, I bolted for the door and fell out into the blinding Sun and couldn’t get the damn keys in fast enough and burned rubber all the way back to camp.

 I now refer to that place as “Bad Time Chucks” and look away every time I have to drive by.

After that I tended to stay in camp most the time except when out on a guiding venture never wandering to far from base on my free time. I was able to take people out on some really cool stuff like Humpback Whale watching in the Kenai Fjords National Park where they were breaching and slapping their fins and tails all around us. I also made it out to the Fly-In Bear Camp @ the base of the volcano Mt. Illiama where I got to meet a honey colored sow bear named Shaniqua who would wander into camp from time to time and take peoples lunch as well as a big mean looking boar we called McNasty. I must admit it was so cool seeing all these bears out there clamming or swiping fish out of the creek but got boring after a day or two of seeing bears walk, bears shit, bears sleep etc.

In any event the last straw working at the lodge came after a full day of Halibut fishing in Deep Creek where a fellow guide and myself caught ten chickens (small Halibut) and upon returning to camp they were confiscated and fed to the paying customers. That was an eye opener. I mean I didn’t mind working for nothing while out and about in some of the most gorgeous places on Earth nor did I mind working like a slave digging stairs into a cliff or pounding nails for that matter but when they took our fish that showed me what they thought of us and so when it was my turn to take customers back to Anchorage in the brand new company van, when that cock sucker micro manager called me up and started chewing me out for some bullshit I calmly replied:

” Fuck off you piece of shit mother fucker, you better find a way to come get your van”.

He obviously didn’t realize who he was fucking with.

August 3rd

My Dear friend Mamacita actually entrusted me to be on my best behavior and vollunteer to work Salmonstock Festival, and when I got here I thought she said:

“Pando, we have Gay Jumpers, so keep your eyes peeled”.

“What the fuck? Why are they beating up gay people?” I replied.

” No you dumbass, GATE JUMPERS, let me see your eyes”.

It was all good and I was able to hang out with some dear old friends backstage and make a buttload of new ones, I am blessed. The musical guest were outstanding which cumulated with Trampled by Turtles and Brandy Carlile tearing it up much to the pleasure of the crowd, I was now a part of. For the most part I was just hanging out with the musicians and besides there was Little Girdwood in the Backstage Area where we all are Family. Most of us set our tents up in the fair ground animal paddocks so we wouldn’t get rained on, I imagined animals coming by looking at us instead of visa-versa.

On a more serious note this one of Alaska’s premiere festival’s that helps bring awareness to the plight of our Brother Salmon and the trials and tribulations that are associaited with them. The worlds largest open pit mine (Pebble) is being proposed here at the headwaters of Bristol Bay; the world’s largest Sockeye Salmon fishery. We just cannot allow this to happen and for this reason this festival is put on to bring education and awareness to their plight. We have to be their voice since they don’t have one that Humans can readily understand, so I want to share a story with you all that was told to me by a Tlingit Elder from the Auke Kwan Raven Clan when I was in S.E. Alaska. Its a much bastardised version but I think you’ll get the point, so here it goes:

In the beggining there were only Animals on the Earth. One day the Great Creator made something a little bit diiferant and he called it Man but it was a baby and defenceless and so the great Creator called forth all the animals, each and every one to come meet the new creature and they were to bestow a gift to the babe in order to help it survive through its time here on Earth. So the Brother Eagle fell from the sky with a shriek and gave him Eye Sight, and the Brother Bear came down and swatted the babe and gave him Strength, in turn, ALL the Animals came down and did this until that baby stood Erect as a Man and could go out into the World and Survive.

 It was here that the OLD GRANDFATHER SALMON came up the river, the last to come up to Man and he was Spawned Out and half dead and told Man that he had nothing to give, but he made him a promise that all of his OFFSPRING would be there for all of Mans decendents until the End of Time. So now when the Salmon Spawn every year returning to the rivers and streams this is a FULLFILMENT of that promise. It is in Our best interest if we do everything we can to Honor and Protect this Covenant. When I think about this I have come to the realization that this is True and if we allow the Rivers and Ocean to continue to be the dumping ground for the likes of corporate greed and industry you bet your ass that when these collapse, it will likely be the End of Time. I know for a fact the loss of Salmon wont be due to me and my buddy from Kauai. This is my Testimony and I’m sticking to it.

Peace Out Bitches.

For more information on the Pebble Mine Project Please Visit;

www.stoppebblemine.com

I would like to iterate for the record that this is a sexist piece of shit writing and is no way a reflection of how I feel about women…….. for the most part, sort of.

Dear Glacier City

It is so good to be within the Chugach mountains again after a year long sabbatical studying botanical’s in northern California. Within my absence the small hamlet of Girdwood has gone through some growing pains, noticeably the paved streets which encourage people to drive as if competing in the Indy 500, sidewalks less than a year old that are already cracked and curbs having been obliterated by heavy equipment pushing snow in the winter time which coincidentally is also responsible for the death of many newly planted trees that were plowed over. I don’t know how or why curbs were approved instead of the valley style gutters popular of many ski areas that receive huge quantities of snow but I’m sure it was done so by the same folks who put in those huge highway style street lamps a few years back that were eventually replaced with more modest ones after public outcry. Regardless, it is what it is. On a more positive note, I have noticed also though that since the sidewalks have been put in,  there are more Mothers pushing strollers and skateboarders in town making use of the curbs which in my opinion is the best usage for them so far. Its probably only a matter of time though before we see ” No skateboarding and/or loitering” signs in and around the “town square” and sidewalks.

Speaking of the ‘town square”, after the clearing of the old Cottonwood forest that once stood there, it has become just that: a concrete square which some locals have now begun to call ” The Grid” Albeit, now planted with many different types of trees and shrubs that will turn brilliant hues in Autumn, are not indigenous to this region and will most likely need constant attention instead of something more on the lines of a permaculture design which is self sustaining (like the original forest?). I must admit that I like the colored chalk drawings all over the place which makes me smile, but I do miss those trees. I wish a public restroom was put in because it now cost 50 cents to use the Laundramall for such an emergency, which I can understand because it shouldn’t be that buildings owner or any of the still remaining business’ to be the public/tourist restroom. Which reminds me, since I have been gone we have lost a few local business’ one being the dining establishment known as Maxines which was a great spot to eat and enjoy some good beers and a awesome venue for musical talents local and from afar. Sadly, the World Cup and the small coffee shack down by the bike shop are also gone and since the former restaurant known as Casa del Sol has closed it doors that side of town up until recently was sort of the other side of the tracks, lonely and desolate, I get depressed every time a go past that empty deck. Recently though if not for the Thriftwood business which took over the Grrd Pets and Greenery site.it would truley be a dismal site yet I am pleased to see though that it has become a epicenter for people that like to play music and enjoy each others company giving that part of town a much needed shot in the arm.

I don’t want to bum anybody out here but speaking of “shot in the arm” I have noticed the popularity and  usage of  some very old and somewhat newer substances within the younger community here in Glacier City. Drugs are in as much demand as they ever were if not more so and has locked it’s talons around some of our most gifted and beautiful young people within our community. It may be a sign of the times that even though the town has had a new facelift,  it is essentially the same ugly and very real underworld beneath it all. Anyone in their right mind or has eyes to see, there is a plague within this small town and not limited to the Big City to our north. It is very much alive and well and going nowhere but up in popularity here amongst our youth. I’m here to tell you that it is not prejudice within whom it ensnares; be they Black, White, Brown, Yellow, Native, Male, Female, Young, Old, Rich or Poor, it will use your body and mind up until it finds another host and only then will it move on, if at all. There are the tried and true  things out there for people to play with from our friendly neighborhood drug dealer like Heroin, Methamphetamine and Cocaine but nowadays there are also a plethora of pharmaceutical and designer drugs that are prevalent as well easily to attain over the counter. It’s hard to believe but for some young people who cant afford the now astronomical price of a ski pass or who don’t have a mountain bike, packraft or a car may find living in this valley to be quite a bore, so what else to do besides party? I’m not saying it’s right, it’s just the way it is and by the encouragement of some, moving away is not the answer as some would speculate, for it will follow you wherever you go. I couldn’t tell you the things I have seen in this town due to bad decisions made when under the influence of drugs and alcohol but I can tell you that it has it’s affects on the community as a whole. Believe it or not there is an alarming amount of young people who are struggling and cant even get into rehab for whatever reasons and desperately need help. I can also tell you that I cant count how many people I have known, lost due to overdoses, jail or mental instability due to over exposure of these chemicals.

 I don’t know what the answer is but its not turning a blind eye to it as being “those people’s” problem because it is OUR problem as a community.  I can also tell you that there a very few families that have, if not been directly affected by this plague then in some other manner, be it the loss of someone you knew, domestic violence, theft, vandalism or perhaps your own kids being exposed.They may be called “recreational drugs” only to be used responsibly but therein lies the problem. There just seems to be something in some people that is like a internal regulator that doesn’t function properly even though they know its a bad decision. BELIEVE THIS. Its time we open our minds and hearts to this all consuming condition called addiction that may be a disease and not just a matter of choice and if approached in such a manner we may be able to tackle it head on. Locally, I don’t have the answers we need to do something positive but maybe a Boys and Girls Club, a local AA/NA (that isn’t so frigging depressing that it makes you want to drink or use when you leave), more local involvement/volunteerism or simply more cost effective (FREE) options for young people to bide their time with. I have worked with “at risk” inner city groups in the past that have been able to make a difference and should be used as a model even though we are not a huge suburbia. There are successful programs like Rez Riders, Shred Love, Ski Duck, Ski Jammin, Snowdays Foundation and the Serviceboard that help teach our youth life lessons and values through snowboarding and a outdoor oriented lifestyle. It would be nice if anyone has any information on some things available to people like that around here, please feel free to share! I will be the first to admit as well, that maybe it’s time for people like myself to try and conduct themselves in a more positive manner and be better examples, to act like a Uncle who really cares about the youth as I really don’t want to see others have go through some of the BS and mistakes I have made and known in my time. I really don’t know the answer. I do know that by just getting older does not make you an Elder, that’s something that must be earned. There is one other thing I do know and that is if we choose to do nothing at all then we as a community have still made a choice.

If there is one thing here that has remained a positive influence on the community as well as myself it is the Vibe Tribe of the Forest Fair. I have had the pleasure to be a part of this yearly event off and on for eight years now. It’s probably no secret that back in the “Who-Jammy” days when people would camp out on the island within the California Creek it was pretty crazy and I not being for one observing from the sidelines was usually a main player in all of its debaucheries. Since then some things have changed some would argue for the better and some otherwise as there are a few things that are different from years past. Since the inception of the no camping rules in and around park it has discouraged somewhat the craziness of the past. I would be lying to you if I told you that I don’t miss some the madness, nakedness and off the chart partying but we live in a different time now. I don’t want to try and argue that we were more responsible back then but it sure seems that the younger generation swing a lot harder than we used to. It wasn’t all that long ago when I was cornered snarling, ravaged with dilated eyes by the Vibe Tribe to bring it down a notch and become a part of the story in a more positive manner. Since then I have been keeping the Vibe alive in a variety of roles be it volunteering as a Friend of the Forest setting up the venue to helping out around the skate park, and believe it or not working on Security which for me is pretty much just hanging out with my friends, eating good food and listening to good tunes. For the most part people pretty much check themselves and just enjoy each other. This year we only had a few incidents one being a drunken reveler who apparently watched to much “Breaking Bad” and “Son’s of Anarchy” which after parking his Hardly Ableson in the Handicap Zone went on to get tanked in the Beer Garden, insult and threaten a bunch of people and after being escorted no less than three times out of the park, the Alaskan State Troopers gladly responded to the call and even though he had a medical card for his marijuana it was found that he had a glass pipe and Meth which coincidentally the State of Alaska does NOT give out medical cards for. Besides that there was a naked guy we simply let the mosquitoes take care of and of course there were a few ” Lost Parents’ we had to reunite with their concerned children. Hey I’ll be the first to tell you that I think it’s healthy to let your hair down once in awhile and get your groove on and even though I am guilty of not making the best decisions myself while in party mode one thing I have learned on my own or with the assistance of a local magistrate is that we are all ultimately responsible for our own actions! Of course it doesn’t hurt when we can help a person out when we see that they may be in a a compromised situation and cant drive, need a shoulder to cry on or lean on for in the proverbial saying “Are we not our brothers keeper”?

It is now mid- July and I have had the opportunity to hang out with a bunch of people I have been away from far to long. I have also noticed how some of the folks I’ve known for years are getting a bit more grey hairs and perhaps a bit wider of girth and more earthlike in their appearance with deeper lines, there’s contemplation and reflection in their demeanor, not the wild abandon ways of youth. The kids I knew of years ago are now becoming young adults with the whole world ahead of them. It is an exciting time for another group of  people that are becoming a part of our community and its in our best interest to instill on them the importance of being a part of this story and not apart from it. Allow me to suggest to simply take a few minutes in your everyday life to lend a few encouraging words to these up & comers for they are our future. In pushing people to the fringes of society for whatever reasons it only creates resentment and hatred. The venerable Yoda had a few words on that…….

I have heard that someday soon within the new township there may be a free music day modeled after the Live at 5 Talkeetna shows, where the whole community comes out to listen to music, dance, bar-b-Que and just hang out with each other, wouldnt that be nice? The closest thing we have to that is the infamous Softball Sundays and Volleyball Tuesday games we have in the park, more adult oriented though but still a get together all the same. You know not all that long ago on Good Friday 1964 a enormous earthquake devastated the original town site of Glacier City in where the land literally dropped from under it’s inhabitants and subsided into the Turnagain Arm putting much of the town below high tide. During the aftermath the people had a decision to make and that was either abandon or rebuild whereas they chose the later and moved up to our present day new township. We have seen struggles and hardships in the past yet have overcome, not by looking out for ourselves but only by coming together to overcome adversity. I know that will be the case in the future for one of my favorite places on Earth.

Glacier City, Alaska!

Mountain Marathon Madness

After the midnight dash to Cooper’s Landing for a show at a

bar that doesnt close until 5 am ( out of city limits) we awoke hungover in

our Sun scorched tents and headed on down to the port town of Seward to

witness the debaucle of the Mountain Marathon where a bunch of crazies run

up a mountain then down, wether they are trying to keep it together on the

steep loose talus or simply disregarding all respect for life & limb and

choose to cartwheel on down to the party down below where the roads have all

been closed off …………….what can I write of this place conjures up

images of the Yukon Bar where a Red-headed tight fitting wrangler wearing

gal from Texas named Gigi Love plays her guitar to a horde of bull dikes,

commercial fisherman, roughnecks, wana-be’s, players, gamblers & hustlers,

now usually they would have had scowles as testimony of their tattered lives

but alas’ music once again sooths the savage beast and we all stood or

slumped, engaged with the tap of her cowboy boots and slight shift of her

hips, her voice like pure sweet mountain water. Where is the girl I came

with?> I ponder only to spy her amongst a group of Outlaw Bikers that are

offering her every white powder substance known, which she obliges them.

Fuck! once again I have to put my life in peril over a whirlwind of a woman,

who for all her ASSets and promises seems to forget about me after a couple

of shots and large glassed Mimosa’s, Ah I’m used to it I suppose. Somewhat

brashlike slapping leather vest on the backs like an old skooter tramp I get

within the roundabout as she is being manhandled and passed from ass grabber

to titty pinchers and the like. “Awwwwww boys, you ouhtna mess with the

Sherriffs daughter like that with him having a loose trigger & all” They

stare at me in either disbelief or dumbfounded that I would actually have

gotten so close in the ranks, time stands still, Gigi quits playing and you

could hear a mosquito fart within the tension. I am starting to doubt this

plan as well as my shifting eyes can attest to and expecting a blunt object

over my already scarred up head or to be shanked, when all of a sudden I

realize the prize has eluded us all and is now dancing up on the bar and by

all accounts is very hot since she is disrobing with an onslaught of

encouragement. A couple of other gals jump on up and do there best “Coyote

Fugly” ( that’s fuckin’ ugly) Again there I am, a knight in rusted armor

attempting to save my damsel in disterss wether she wants it or not much to

the dismay of paying customers. Just as she has thrown the bra in the

overhead fan and trying to unbutton her already lo riding hip huggers I

throw her over my shoulder and dash out the door, of course she’s screaming

that she still has a drink at the bar and calling me every name in the book,

gonna leave me and for some reason dosent seem to really know who I am

anyhow so it doesnt bother me anyway. Now its about closing time anyhow so

there is an unruley mob forming since the old town of Seward is a couple of

miles from the new town and no taxi service is available. Curses and fights

break out all over as a kid on a longboard ollies over a no parking sign in

front of the only and all to young and concerned deputy. People dont even

seem to mind the half naked gal over my shoulder with the brazen fushia pink

thong exposed as her pants ride on down to her knees not to mention the

handle of cheap vodka in my hoodie. One taxi made it through but has a group

of guys trying to flip it over barely escaping by driving up on the

sidewalks narrowly missing drunks and onlookers of the 20 or so people

knocking the piss out of eachother. After walking a couple of miles a taxi

with a person who recognises her ass pulls over for us and takes us to the

bar on the outskirts of town known as “The Pit” Somewhat sobering up the gal

closes one eye to get double vision and yells out in the middle of the dance

floor that there are alot of fine looking Black Men here, which of course

she is now within a roundabout of booty slappin’ groin grinding orgy of

soul. Thats it, 1st the bikers now the gangsta’s, who’s next the Mafia? I

would like to tell ya how things went but I havent seen her since, and I can

honestly say I miss………….parts of her ya know? Hard bodies with soft

minds what a dichonomy.