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Friday, December 19, 2014

Winter Solstice (Have a Cro-Magnon Christmas)

What is the most enduring symbol of the Holiday Season? 

  1. A Christmas Tree? 
  2. A Menorah? 
  3. A Yule log? 
  4. A Nativity? 
  5. A big Visa bill come January?

None of the above. The oldest and most widespread symbol of Winters festivities is the candle. The lighting of a small fire on the night of your holiday goes back beyond any of these holidays.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Hiking in the Colorado National Monument

I often feel lonely in crowds, but I never feel alone in Nature.

The Colorado National Monument is a suburban National Park. The small city of Grand Junction is right at the bottom of the canyons - my Mother even lives off of "Monument Drive".

It's a great 23 mile drive. Rimrock Drive itself, blasted out by pickaxe and dynamite during the depression, is one of the main draws of the Monument. So, its a car park, like Zion and Bryce Canyon (Arches and Yellowstone require some walking). 

You drive the loop, get out at the turnouts, take some photos of your friends or relatives with the Nature in the background, buy a dinosaur book for the kids at the Visitors Center, and you are quickly back on the Interstate. Barely any dirt to kick off of your shoes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Climbing Mt. Garfield, Grand Junction, Colorado

Why? Because it's there. That's why.

The Grand Valley is formed on three sides by three geologically unique formations: The Colorado National Monument to the West, the Grand Mesa (Largest flat top mountain in the world) to the North, and the Bookcliffs to the East.

Between the Bookcliffs and the Grand mesa flows the Colorado River, and between the Grand Mesa and the Monument flows the Gunnison River. The two rivers meet in the valley, and that is the Grand Junction from which the small city takes its name.

The feature that dominates the Grand Valley though is the big bookend at the end of the Bookcliffs: Mt. Garfield. Its pretty much omnipresent all over the city and the roadways therein. Pictures of almost anything facing East are going to contain the moderate gray knob of the peak. Garfield photobombs Grand Junction in a way that the Mesa and the Monument never can: Their wonders lie within - the Bookcliffs are all upfront.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Grand Junction, Colorado (part 3)

A Surprise Christmas on the Uncompahgre Plateau

Saturday, August 9th

(Be a good Time Lord and travel back to PART 1 and/or PART 2.)

My morning appointment was on the other end of the Grand Valley at a lake, where I was to meet some friends of my Mothers. Sounded good.

I was early off the mountain, but my search for a decent diner in 'Junction had been pretty fruitless so far, so I pushed on, sweaty and dirty, all the way to Fruita, where my phone directed me to a coffee shop downtown.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Grand Junction, Colorado (part 2)

A sparkly vampire hiding out in the Catholic Dorm rooms.

(You'll probably benefit from perusing PART 1)

Wednesday, August 6th

The day after Mom's big operation I was in her ICU room by 7am. I was finally able to drop off her duffel bag, after dragging it around with me through all of the 14 waiting rooms yesterday.

It looked like she wouldn't rummaging through her luggage anytime soon though. She had lots of tubes and wires coming out of her now, and she couldn't have cared less about any of them.

Carolyn was nestled deep in the tender arms of Morpheus, and a small smile played on her lips as she enjoyed one hell of a party out on the astral plane. Sleep well, little Mother. Enjoy the Class A happy juice. Say hello to the 3-headed, Shakespeare-quoting giant ground sloth in the sailor suit for me, K?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Grand Junction, Colorado (part 1)

Part 1: Feeling at home in the land of smoking corn syrup-laced styrofoam 

Sometimes you get to go on vacation. Sometimes you have to take a trip. There’s a difference.

Seeing your elderly Mother through a life-threatening operation is definitely a reason to drop everything and “take a trip.”

What was wrong with Carolyn? Oh, nothing much. Her intestines decided they needed more ‘lebensraum’ and so pushed her stomach up through her diaphragm, to a point where it was nestled, noodle-like, between her lungs. The medical term for this is ‘hiatal hernia’, which is pronounced “hoe-lee / shee-ie-t”.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bicycling through Glenwood Canyon

I grew up in the 1970’s, the time of NIXON, Ford and carter. It was a time of polyester, smoking, wide ties and shame at our perceived strategic reassignment of our objectives in Vietnam. 

“International” was on the back burner for America, and when my stupid older brother wanted to quit the Air Force after 18 months, they shrugged and said: “Sure. Okay. Thanks for stopping by.”

Domestic Acheivements were the order of the day, and the crown
First road thru the canyon, 1903
jewel of our vast nation was our Interstate Highway System. We had been diligently linking up all of our nations regions since 1956 and it was all done by the late 70’s! Yay!

Well, almost done. There was one teeny, tiny 16 mile stretch of road that stubbornly defied all attempts at fourlanedom. 16 lousy miles out of 47,714. And that’s where my family vacationed every year.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Amtrak: Aboard The California Zephyr

My Mother lives on the Easter Island of the North American Continent. 

Grand Junction, Colorado, just over the Eastern border with Utah, is a city of 60,000 situated in a region of about 60,000 square miles of inhabitation. I’m not kidding: As you enter I-70 the direction signs tell you “East to Denver” or “West to……..um, ‘Utah’, I guess”.*

Isolation is all fine and dandy, especially if you already live there and are retired. But for those of us wishing to travel there, Grand Junction offers a variety of unappealing choices:

Taking a plane is a four-dimensional thrill ride of frustration, wherein you fly over your destination, all the way to Denver, and then take a prop plane back across the state to the Western border. ‘Prop’, for you readers under 80 means that the plane is equipped with propellers, instead of jets. Propellers, like when aeroplanes landed in fields instead of on runways. And up until a few years ago the local airport was indeed called “Walker Field” - watch out for that tractor, and don’t hit the scarecrow!

Prop planes have a cruising ceiling of 10,000 feet, and this run goes all the way through the Rocky Mountains when they are at their tippy-toppy pointiest, which means your plane will be slaloming around various peaks and ranges on your way back through ground that you just flow over a couple of hours before.

A sleek, small metal tube that is loud and buzzy and takes you to various peaks? Its like traveling inside a vibrator.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wharf to Wharf Race

Those of you who have hiked in Colorado may know the sensation of standing in a grove of Aspen trees. The Aspen is a white-barked tree of such astounding skinniness that even a fully mature specimen can be ringed by holding your thumbs and index fingers together. Aspens like to be in large groups and they have an consummately efficient vascular system that allows them to flourish at extreme altitudes. (The tree in the phrase 'treeline' is most often the Aspen.) Their leaves are small and numerous and they catch the light wonderfully. In a breeze they make a lovely, musical sound, not unlike a Cottonwood.

Standing in an Aspen grove is a sublime pleasure, but if you can't get to the Rockies easily, try standing in the crowd of runners before the Wharf to Wharf race. Its largely the same effect: You're surrounded by thousands of light skinned individuals of astounding skinniness with excellent cardiovascular systems about to function under extreme conditions. Instead of leaves catching the light it is the runners outfit. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

The 2014 Silicon Valley Triathlon: Quest for the RED bag

Triathlons = Adventure.
But the Silicon Valley Super Sprint Tri was grand-double-super-secret-squared ADVENTURE.

And Adventure, as always, is defined as:
  • 90% Boredom
  • 5% Terror
  • 5% Laundry
In retrospect I should have known that things would go wrong on this race.
Due to the drought in California the venue had been changed from a reservoir in Santa Clara County to Half Moon Bay - the thinking being that the ocean is not going to dry up anytime soon. All fine and well - my FIRST TRIATHLON was held in a depleted Lake Mead that was so low the swimmers were cutting their feet on the sharp rocks on the bottom. But changing a race venue is pretty much a guarantee that some important details are going to be missed - like stranding 700 racers 6 miles from their gear and their cars.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Magic 8 ball: Tool of the Gods!


I worked at a Wicca store for a few years, and almost every customer I met ended up playing with the Magic 8-Ball by the cash register. It brings back warm fuzzy memories from childhood. 
I saw people asking it questions all day long and laughing at the answers it gave. A toy? Yes. Explainable? Yes. Then why is everyone nodding as they laugh at it? Why are they laughing with something that has no inherent magick in it?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Play Ball!


The Vernal Equionox has passed, but its not REALLY Spring until Opening Day. 

And so today there’s a singing bluebird on one shoulder, a Louisville Slugger on the other and the world is once again running in greased grooves.


Baseball is here again. We can relax.
Because baseball is all about relaxation. An Englishman once remarked that to endure the top of a 7th inning is to understand all eternity – this from a country that worships Cricket, where a game can easily last for three days.
On the field after running a Giant Race 5K.
But you know what? Let ‘em whine. Today I am in love with all the world. My teams are resplendent, untarnished, invincible. By the All-Star break they’ll be broken down, indicted, and able to strike out at will – but here, poised on the cusp of the season, they are immaculate, inviolate.