Bundle up the kids, drop the dog off at the sitter, flush the goldfish, (you can always get a new one), load the car, remind the hubby there will be no backseat driving and hit the highway, it’s vacation time! Off to the national parks, Americas playgrounds. But what to do after the first night and the campfire embers have burned low, the visitor centers exhibits viewed and the interpretive signs read many times over. Tomorrow should be a fun day, take a few hints from our fathers and enjoy these time honored activities in the parks that seem to have gone out of style.
Rock Rolling. Keep a sharp eye out, it won’t take long to find the perfect opportunity to send a huge boulder crashing satisfactorily into valleys, chasms or even onto trails and roads below. Leverage may be needed, carry a stout walking stick to give that added boost. Often it doesn’t take much more than a gentle push to send the right rock scuttering downhill, sending motorists and casual hikers below into a real tizzy. If there aren’t enough sizable boulders perched over the trail there’s almost always a throwing rock nearby, aim close to hikers, they usually jump back with a ‘Where the heck did that come from.’ look.
Tourist Teasing. It’s inevitable, you’ll come across someone on the trail and they’ll ask, “How much farther is it?”. What a perfect chance for giggles. Tell them it isn’t far, or it’s a real long trek, or to make a left or is it a right at the creek. Warn them about rattlesnakes, or grizzlies or peccaries or the naked gathering of aged hippies holding a drum circle ahead. Whet their appetite for a long downhill stretch or bit of a slog through the mud. Tell them to be sure to take their own clothes off before they meet with the dancing hipsters, who are willing to accept the unclothed but go all Manson on the attired. There are a thousand variations on the theme, pick one suitable and stand back and watch the fun.
Road Sign Shooting. This has fallen out of favor but with doomsday now imminent it pays to stay in practice by plinking away at Rudolph as you fly by at 70mph. Purists only consider a road sign trophy bagged when the ammo is dispensed from a moving vehicle. All signs are fair game but the most highly prized trophies are those with a depiction of a leaping, scurrying animal be it ungulate, ursine, porcine, bovine, bipedal, reptilian or avian in nature. Placement is important with the most points generally awarded to shots that make the animal appear to have a bulbous snoot or prolific scat.
Graffito. The ancients left their mark, why shouldn’t modern man? At newspaper rock in the Canyonlands of Utah the Anasazi peppered a blackened rock surface with depictions of sheep and deer and lizards and weird symbols that have archaeologists scratching heads even today as to their meaning. While these petroglyphs are thousands of years old, as recently as 1902 a cowboy named Gonzales and in 1954 his son or grandson left his mark on this same rockface. Yet today the little traces of our passing are disappearing. What will future generations think of us today when they look for our markings and find that we left nothing in our wakes, that we were uninspired, couldn’t spell to write our own names. Let us again take up knives and scratch our initials in hearts on trees. Get a can of spray paint and make a stencil and smiley face the world with pride, why should only railroad boxcars be works of art? Chisel your sobriquet into a hundred stony surfaces before the only place it can be found is on the granite of your gravestone.
Public Art. Why should Christo have all the fun. What more stupendous setting could there possibly be than the natural world and our national parks breathtaking vistas. We know of two climbers, part of the kitchen crew we recently met at the Creek Pasture campground outside of Canyonlands National park whose mission is to climb and enlighten, who bring a little bright bit of rainbow to every place they go. From the boulders of Joshua Tree to the cracks of Courthouse Wash and among the lofty crags of Yosemite they have scrambled up, set small anchors and suspended glittering glass crystals, prisms and pendants in places where they catch the light and no mere mortal appears to have placed them. In a particularly inspired moment they flew a kite across the Dolores river canyon in Colorado to string strong fishing line across the chasm, suspended the merest one inch of faceted crystal ball several hundred feet above the roadway below from sheer red sandstone walls. The effect is to have the tiniest suspicion of a daylight rainbow star glimmering in the empty blue sky, something perhaps seen but more imagined. Watch for another inspired design, a tie dyed angelfish of sizable proportions to appear at a prominent and spectacular viewpoint this summer!
Trip Wires And Snares. Imagine the surprise of an unwary hiker strolling along when, KAPOOF! he triggers a confetti bomb that showers him in multicolored paper bits. How about the simple mud filled pothole covered with sticks an leaves? Glitter bombing can take on a whole new meaning outdoors, the trails could sparkle for decades with more than just mica an schist.
Feed The Animals. After years of warnings about how feeding the wildlife has made them dependent think of how they must be starving. Always bring along a loaf of stale bread, it’s lightweight and almost everything, from bitty birds to big ole bears will eat it. Your Grandpa has a home movie of him feeding Yogi, why should you be left out, get the gopro out and a can of tuna, be creative. Remember you don’t need to outrun the bear, just your buddy.
Decorate With Fire. Fifty years ago the park service built huge bonfires atop Half Dome at Yosemite and pushed the embers over the edge to the delight of all as the firefall lit the night. My uncle would liven things up by tossing a cupful of gasoline into the campfire at bedtime, oh what a glorious spectacle. Fire is your friend, experiment!
Well, these are just a few ideas to make your visit to the parks this summer more entertaining. If you have more send them to us and we’ll print them here so others can join in the fun.
Get on the Stick!
The University of Washington has responded to it’s recent scandal involving the objectification of women by instead permitting its student body to select its cheerleading staff. The decision is widely hailed as a positive step by the students, who promise to make more responsible decisions than the elderly gentlemen formerly in charge of the process. The student government has already drawn up a list of criteria in the form of a multiple choice selection chart that will be used to elect the eight member squad, (six active and two reserve). Various parameters will be available in an effort to ensure equality in the selection process such as; male / female, natural / altered, hot / not, large / small, light / dark, thin / pleasingly plump, vivacious / lackluster, doable / pew. An initial motion by some members of the governing body to limit the selection process to the male members, as the only ones with a true appreciation of the activity was tabled.
Prince, the recently passed artist, has apparently left no instructions as to the distribution of his estate. His music and properties, valued in the hundreds of millions will no be subject to probate, that is that a court will decide upon where they go. A sister, Tyka Nelson, has filed papers with the court asking for the appointment of a mediator to determine the outcome.
For many years, initially on the ferry runs to the San Juan Islands in Washington state, but now on several of the ferry routes, jigsaw puzzles have been left, uncompleted, for subsequent travellers to finish. Generally they are put together, than disassembled and left for others to begin again. It’s a quaint local tradition that usually brings a bit of happiness to what can be a mundane bit of commuting. But now and then a rider with a mischievous turn will claim a piece of the puzzle as their own, pocket it and leave the puzzle unable to finish.
The haggling over the puzzle left behind by Prince, legally Prince Rogers Nelson, will now begin and each person with an interest in its outcome will struggle to complete the process. Some will strive for an equitable resolution that makes sense to all, but there may be one in the mix that pockets a piece and leaves the legacy less enjoyable for the rest. For an example consider the disposition of Martin Luther King Jr. The power of his words and thoughts are not freely usable by the public due to the greed of his heirs. Let’s hope Prince’s music isn’t treated the same way.
Now would be a good time to consider our own mortality as well and the puzzles we may leave behind. The writing of a will isn’t tough, just claim to be of sound mind, ask for your debts to be settled and declare what assets should go to whom. It’s not iron-clad, once you are dead the enforcement of your wishes is no longer in your purview. See a attorney for a will or trust if your estate is complex or problematic but bear in mind this axim, which Prince’s heirs should consider as well, “There is a short moment in time when two people exchange something when it belongs to neither one. In that moment a lawyer manages to grab most of it.”
Camas blossoms and buttercups on Orcas Island
It was all uphill and for nothing. The legs burned all the way up and grew shaky and wobbly on the way back down. The goal was the top and nothing short of it would do. A sweat worked its way into the clothes, layer after layer came off until even the the hat was carried by hand. But goals are goals and must be met. Past the magnificent Garry oaks and their vistas of the over 400 islands below, clouds shrouding the peak, the goal. past the rocky outcrops covered in lush green moss, past the luxurious spring meadows spread with thousands of bright purple camas blossoms like a hundred thousand aubergine stars. Past the white and yellow blooms of wild strawberry and buttercup and past the hundreds of shades of new green, dark or pale, bright, shiny, dull, smooth, fuzzy, prickly, variegated and veined, all the greens that make the Pacific northwest the penultimate gardener’s paradise. On past it all, the goal Turtleback peak on Orcas island still obscured by clouds. The trail went from broad to narrow and back again, sometimes a gravel main wide enough for a pickup, then two parallel dirt paths where friends could walk side by side, then a single foot trail and onto soft green hummocks that had most of the fall and winter to develop while there was little traffic. At each turn there was a hillside above where trees informed that the top had not been achieved until finally a bit of sky shone through them and it was seen the clouds had moved on. But no vista, a pleasant meadow at the top, more flowers and rocky outcrops with moss but the trees surrounded all and obscured the view. Forget Turtleback and just drive to the top of Constitution and catch the astounding view from the stone tower at the highest point in the San Juan Islands. Mount Rainier can be seen on a clear day as can Vancouver Island, the Canadian Cascade range, the refineries of Birch Bay and Anacortes, Mount Baker and Glacier peak, Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands, eagles soaring thousands of feet above the straights, cargo ships that are mere linear dots that leave white trails in the blue water. Forget the hike to the top, and the pastoral views of Crow Valley, the wonderful friendly pace of Orcas island and the bouquet of bright flowers on the outdoor table at the organic market in Eastsound and the beautiful young woman who arranged them and left them than for no other reason than to make a lovely day even more lovely. Forget that hike, if you can.
As the population increases and our human endeavors expand in scope and scale it is only logical that the waste we generate becomes more of a pertinent issue. What to do with it? Piling it all in the back yard helps the rats and mosquitoes multiply. Burning it exacerbates the ozone problem. Hauling it off to the dump costs money and our neighbors aren’t happy when we fill up their cans.
There really isn’t a problem existing that creative thinking can’t turn completely around into a net gain. The cup you see pictured above is but one example. Well, not the cup but its contents.
Chocolate, that sweet energizing treat that enjoys world wide popularity, as an industry, has its own set of unique challenges. Along with the growing, harvesting and production of cocoa and its many derivatives comes a mountain of husks. The plant itself is prolific and only so much of the husk material cost could be repurposed into mulch. What to do, well as turns out the stuff makes a great tea!
The taste is similar but distinct from that of cocoa, sort of a smooth, strong aromatic memory of chocolate itself and it has a tiny little caffeine kick. Not bad for a waste product.
It’s now marketed in boutique tea shops and worth a try if one is in the mood for something pleasantly different.
North Korea is behind the Zika virus outbreak in Columbia in the hopes it will decimate the general population of the world and leave Kim Jong Un it’s undisputed leader, a source from within the renegade nation has stated. The Zika virus, as well as other biological agents were reportedly smuggled into Columbia months ago, well ahead of the upcoming Summer Olympic games. Only the virus was released into the wild in an effort to fully establish the resultant disease in the country’s abundant Aedes Aegipti prior to the games, knowing that the large diverse population of visitors and athletes would then further spread the illness over the globe.
North Korea will also send a contingent of participants to the Games but it’s members have not been informed of the risks they face upon arrival. Kim Jong Un, or little fat man number three as he is known to neighboring China, has closely controlled the reclusive nation’s borders as well as the information its citizens have access to and considers this small group of his nations athletes expendable in any case. His overarching desire is to rule the world and dissemination of the virus is only part of what he has planned for the games. Several other biological agents will be released in the days before the games begin, most of them viruses which take a shorter time to develop but whose symptoms are undetectable for weeks or months before affecting their victims.
All the dire warnings about global warming may not be so bad after all. What if a climate change means things get better. “For as long as mankind has populated the earth most of the habitable landmasses with climates favorable to our species have been situated in a narrow belt centered around the equator.” anthropologist Gus Fring, (no relation to the character in the Breaking Bad tv show) says. “We inhabit and prosper in what are known as the temperate zones. Too close to the equator it becomes hot and dry, bad conditions for a species whose makeup is 90% water. Too far north or south and it’s too cold for our species for about the same reason, we freeze.” Fring adds. “It is likely that all the gloom and doom forecasts have got it wrong. Yes, the areas we inhabit will become more intolerable to us, low lying areas will flood, dry areas will become drier, weather patterns will change but some areas will benefit from these global alterations.” He continues. “Think of the Russian steppes, Siberia for example. Located in the high northern latitudes its landscape and resources would be similar to America’s Montana and North Dakota if situated a few degrees more south. Or, at the extreme, Antaritica, which is so cold it had no resident population of humans until scientists and researchers braved the conditions in state-of-the-art dwellings. With the changes that are currently predicted, areas of the Antarctic could become as livable as New Zealand, which isn’t that far away.”
Fring, an anthropologist specializing in human adaptation at the University of Washington in Seattle, notes that as the earths most adaptable species it may be wrong to look at climate change as a bad thing, better to think of it as just another challenge to mankind. “People are either optimists or pessimists in about equal numbers.” He says. “Maybe we should stop fighting it and just go with the flow.”
A Fort Meyers Beach, Florida woman has released some photographs of what she calls grey aliens. “I began hearing a couple voices in 2015,” she said. “They started as murmurs and finally full blown communication,” The Floridian has told numerous sources that since the “communications began,” objects have started to come up missing from her house. “Currently, over 400 items (that I can list and have proof of owning most, picture, receipt) have vanished. When it first started, I hadn’t seen anything, and would call the cops for stuff like an entire shopping bag from Target of brand new items vanishing. They never believed me.” The 3 pictures, taken with an iPhone, are outdoor images with a humanoid figure hiding behind different places. “The last year I have taken so many pictures of these grey aliens,” explains the woman. “It is literally unreal.”
Is there an alien here?
An ominous figure hides behind the thick vegetation in this photograph from 2015.
A “grey alien” with big black eyes and thin nostrils shows its face through a screen door in this 2015 photograph.
She says the greys have been nothing but trouble. “The police never believed me. I was constantly put in the hospital and am still looked at as semi-crazy by the social networking world. I eventually got an investigator on the case, but the calls never went through, and he eventually sent a certified letter saying he had dropped the case because of no communication,” she says. The woman claims that they have taken total control of her surroundings and strange things are happening with her pets. “My dogs failure to mature. I endure a daily torture, there is constant communication.” She says the aliens “can appear as almost anything” and orbs are sometimes seen “flying toward” the creatures. “They have large heads and big dark eyes. Once I thought I saw myself, but I was passing through a closed door. I have a picture of a figure that looks human and like me,” she explains. And it looks she is not the first one in her family to have reportedly experienced this. “My entire life, my mom was talking to something… she was eventually killed after starting menopause at 52. She would hide things in the craziest places, behind clocks…”
Fort Myers Beach is a town located in Estero Island and has a population of 6,300. Police are looking into why some of the womans missing items have turned up in a pawn shop owned by the man pictured below.
A couple claim they saw an ape-like creature in a wooded area in northern Ireland.
63-year-old Caroline Breen said she and her husband were walking their dogs in Ballyboley Forest when they spotted it.
“We approached a small patch of dead trees one day when we caught sight of something crouched behind the bushes,” she explains. “We thought at first it was a human, but as it raised its head in the air, we saw it.”
Breen said her husband walked towards the creature and it growled at him.
The creature reportedly was carrying a stick and it “smashed the stick against the tree” before taking off at high speed.
She described it as having a chimpanzee-like face but with a “broader nose” and it was covered in “dark brown black fur”. The animal was approximately 8 feet tall.
When she reported the sighting to the local constable he scoffed, saying “That was probably MacGuffy, he’s a nudist what lives up there.”
A grade school field trip to a large food processing plant should be enough to have given anyone the heebie jeebies about industrially processed foods. Vats of yellowish glop as big as railcars moving slowly by, led by grizzled old men in hair nets who flick their cigarette ashes on the floor, huge complicated machines that spin and knead and portion and bake the items that are later wrapped in cellophane by equally Rube Goldberg – like contraptions operated by scrawny, meth addicted toothless women of an indeterminate age who obliviously pick at their hair. It should be enough to put anyone out in the garden to grow their own fruits and veggies. Even a visit to the kitchen of a local restaurant, where the big bellied chef alternates between flipping the steaks and scratching his yarbels would have a person cooking at home. But wait, don’t be so quick to condemn, without mass produced, institutionally produced food we’d all starve.
Patrick Wainright is more than just a scientist and lobbyist for Con Agra, he’s a certified nut, (his own words) about spreading the word about how important the advances of modern farming and food production are. “Without industry’s involvement in foodstuffs, the worlds population would be less than one fifth of what it is today.” he said, swiveling his gray lab-stool around from the tray of pipettes he had been using for samples of a dye he’s testing that could replace the current, carcinogenic tincture used to give maraschino cherries their distinct, bright red hue. “Think back a hundred years ago. Only the rich were fat, the average person was thin, and hungry. Just look at the photos of groups of enlisted men from World War II. Out of thirty or forty men, most of them appear malnourished. And remember that the population of the earth was very much smaller then and there still wasn’t enough food to go around.” he added as he returned to his work.
The data backs him up. In 1920 the an average adult weighed 93 lbs. That’s the global average, taking into account all sexes, statures and races. In the US, which had only begun to track such statistics, the average male weighed in at 122 lbs and the average female at 103lbs. Today’s figures put the global average at 126 lbs for males, 114 lbs for women. and US men average about 188 lbs and women about 137 lbs, (Persons in the southern US skew the average by tipping the scales at 417 for men and 392 for women.).
And his remarks about the global population benefiting from advances in food science are borne out as well. The world’s population was less than 200 million in 1900 and is almost 800 million today and climbing fast, driven largely by increased food production and advances in technology. So feel free to putz around in your garden this spring and harvest a few lettuce leaves and scallions for a salad but remember when you flip a chicken breast on the grill and garnish it with rosemary that it was all made possible because the chicken is less than six weeks old, raised in a cage that never saw daylight and was fed ground up everything nothing else would eat, including the remnants of it’s own brethren along with loads of growth hormones even Lyle Alzado would have condemned.