It’s been a fairly dry and warm winter thus far, here in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s practically ungodly. Yet a few days ago I rose early, and I actually felt a little cold, even seeing a frost covered soccer field.
It may not be looking a lot like Christmas, at least for me, someone from northern Midwest states, but I’ll take the nice hiking weather.
It was my senior year of high school. Our school was small, or perhaps dinky is a better word for it, but even so we managed to put together a formidable basketball team that year, and we were undefeated going into the Christian school state tournament. Even though we were a school of less than a hundred people (junior high through high school) we had a miracle year, even beating several public schools, in a state renowned for their obsession with hoops.
It was the championship game of the state tourney, and it was everything you dream of as a kid: with seconds left on the clock, we were down by one point. Dan Miller, my bff and our point guard, received the inbound pass, put his head down, and dribbled the length of the court. I was open on the wing, but Dan had tunnel vision — he didn’t look up, he just charged in for the layup.
Dan missed badly but was fouled, and so he stood at the line, in position to take two shots. He held the ball and the state championship in his hands.
From yesterday’s hike. I get to experience an August/September fall in Alaska. In a typical year, the leaves have all fallen and winter is ready to move in, by the time I leave AK in late September, early October. So I post my fall pics from AK then I return to California, where it’s still summer. Finally, on the cusps of Thanksgiving, we’re getting some good fall leaves.
I made it out for a hike on Wednesday, and it was beautiful, clear skies, but by Thursday it was pouring rain, like God forgot to turn the faucet off. It’s the rainy season here in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where the area is classified as a rain forest — so it’s hit-and-miss from here on out, in terms of getting nice hiking weather.
I do like the rain, though. It dampens the spirits, it shades my writing a bit more, giving it sort of a different hue. I always feel a bit more melancholic, but that’s good for the soul (for my soul anyway). It fortifies the spirit, and it’s as good an excuse as any to binge on Radiohead.
I’m definitely a tree hugger, although I don’t know if I’ve ever actually hugged a tree. In fact, I’m fairly certain that I have not. Maybe it’s the stigma that’s held me back, or maybe it’s something else. In any case, I do share with tree huggers a belief that trees are, in some sense sentient. Walking among the coastal redwoods, it’s not hard to believe that these tall, wise old trees are sentient.
I was hiking among the redwoods few days ago, and I couldn’t help but ask a simple question of the trees: what’s it’s like to be around for so long? These are trees with a life span of over a thousand years, sometimes two thousand years. In fact, there are trees within the redwood family that are older than Jesus. Read more
The guy at the Santa Cruz bus stop introduced himself to me, twice, and each time he made the same joke (about me looking like the historical/colonial John Smith) and laughed as though it were the first time he’d ever heard such hilarity — so it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he had taken the bus to Santa Cruz (as opposed to driving) so that he “could get real fucked up.”
The first time he told the joke, the guy next to him started rattling off the top of his head all of the facts surrounding the historical Captain John Smith and Pocahontas. The guy really knew a lot, and he was still going, later, when we re-introduced ourselves, me saying my name was “Jon,” and he finishing by telling me that my last name was Smith, like the guy the English guy. Read more
I probably shouldn’t have blogged about losing my chill factor, or about being attacked by acorns, even though it was largely in jest. The Universe apparently didn’t get the joke, and it jinxed me: the very next day I had a confrontation. Yes, things got tense beneath the branches of the wise old redwood trees.
I was exiting the serenity of the redwoods, my chill factor on maximum, when a German Shepherd bounded toward me, barking. It freaked me the fuck out, and not just a little freak out. For me, dogs have always triggered something deeper, especially when they appear hostile. Read more
I’m back in California for the winter. I seem to have fallen into a fairly satisfying nomadic lifestyle of working the summers in Alaska and then spending the winters in California.
California is a good place to write in the winter, especially where I’m at, here in the Santa Cruz Mountains, only a half hour bus ride to the beach. Generally speaking, it’s not too hard to find places to chill in Cali, and since I live in the middle of a Redwood forest, I can walk daily among the wise, tall old trees. You would think that such walks would exponentially help one’s odds of increasing one’s chill factor, but the other day while I was on a hike, I was attacked by acorns.
The word “attack” is really no exaggeration. They were dropping all around me with such ferocity that I spent most of the hike with my hands over my head. The acorns hurdled down and pounded the ground with enough force to leave divots in the dirt.
Here’s a pic of “Big Ben,” a Redwood at about the middle point in my hike.
McCarthy Alaska is the kind of place where pretty much no matter where you are at a given time, you can find a bush or tree to duck behind and take a leak. I generally don’t piss in town during the summer tourist season, simply for sake of preserving some small shred of professional dignity, what with my role as accountant and all. Even so, after Labor Day we start winding down, eventually bathrooms get closed down (pipes winterized), and I find myself enjoying the simple pleasure of peeing in the wild, even when I’m in town.
I’m not certain if it’s the pleasure of peeing outside or the joy in knowing that I’m remote enough to be able to do so, but either way it strikes me that this ability to pee outdoors may be something of a litmus test, some sort of (strange) criteria for me, in terms of picking a place to live. In short, the best places to be seem to be places where you can pee.
This bad ass truck has a hellacool license plate: MXY AK. I’m not sure who’s truck this is (though I should probably know) but I’m wondering if I might be able to steal that plate number and put it on a California plate. I can almost guarantee that if I’m driving around Cali with an MXY AK plate, there will be someone, somewhere who will know at least a little something about McCarthy. At the very least a McCarthy license plate would help me deal with Alaska nostalgia.
Geez. That’s invasive. Yo, I thought the Republicans were the party of small government! Of individual rights! Let a man own a basement full of guns, but he can’t have a gram of weed? I think Jefferson is not so much rolling over in his grave as thinking, “the fuck, man?!”
But I jest.
Let’s put Republican hypocrisy aside for a moment, because there’s something even more ridiculous to what the debunked Trump administration is doing. This is what the 70-year-old Jeff Sessions (Trump’s Attorney General) says about the marijuana crackdown he’s so anxious to initiate:
“Task Force subcommittees will also undertake a review of existing policies in the areas of charging, sentencing, and marijuana to ensure consistency with the Department’s overall strategy on reducing violent crime and with Administration goals and priorities…”
“Reducing violent crime”? If you want to reduce violent crime, dude, like, don’t take weed off the market. Alcohol, for example, leads to far more violence than weed, which from my experience only gives you the munchies, a good night’s sleep, and makes you feel slow and stoney…and may more or may not be the solution to writer’s block. 😉
Dear Jeff Sessions,
Dude, like, chill. Try smoking a bowl and watching the Big Lebowski. Then let’s talk about the link between marijuana and violent crime. Maybe we can save a few government bucks and/or use it for something that matters.