It’s during times like these that those of us who are End-of-The-Worlders can hold our heads up high and walk with a little dignity, for once, instead of sulking in the corners of cafes, hiding out in the gloom and glum of darkened basement rooms, except of course for the briefest of appearances which typically take the form of alarmist Jeremiads or wild-eyed apocalyptic rants. While we share wildly diverse backgrounds we all recognize the inherent fragility of the system.
For me, 2019 brought a big shift. In the fall of 2018 I knew that I needed to make a change. I had resigned my management position at McCarthy Lodge, at the end of the summer season, but it wasn’t quite clear what I should do next. Should I look for another seasonal summer Alaskan gig? Or should I look to do something else entirely? Was I going to continue to live my nomadic lifestyle, spending summers in Alaska and winters in California? To complicate matters, my health had suddenly taken a bad turn, back in the fall of 2018, and problems in my gut had led to me losing a great deal of weight (which was alarming because I’m already a skinny dude). I was feeling extremely low energy, to the point where a simple, short walk just about did me in for the day. At that point, all options were on the table.
My photographer friend Paul (that I’ve been doing some hiking trips with this summer) has a great post on McCarthy Mutts. The photos and the descriptive writing give you an idea of some of the reason why this little bush Alaskan town has such a strong center of gravity that keeps pulling us back, summer after summer.
Oh, to be a McCarthy dawg. The town’s mutts roam ‘free range’. Highly prized and rarely preened, they snipe for fries, hump, sniff and snooze without human meddling. The pace and population of this remote Alaskan town ensures freedom to wander and build bonds. Packs form and frolic, poised and playful. It’s a medley of mock snarls, curling snouts and ever-shifting dominance. A sign, half way down the main dirt road, urges motorists to heed the pack’s unfettered movements.
I watch them from the steps of the old hardware store. Alliances shift and ebb with each scuffle, until the next stick or bone is claimed and challenged. They duck, dive and dodge their playmates, with barks most usually worse then bites. Vicious outbursts give way to gentle tumbles. Through this tussle of teeth and tails, scores are…
My writing has been going pretty well so I had to drag myself away for a nice hike. I was helped in this by Paul, a photographer friend of mine, who is working on a photo book of abandoned places like the mines in this area.
Long day of hiking yesterday, then back home to the cabin, late, where I took a sponge bath. Not a stitch on my bare back and wouldn’t you know it? One of the locals came around for a visit, right up to the porch. I ducked down and peaked at her though the window, a mama bear with a cub, the cub playing in one of the (many) trees in my yard. I snapped a quick pic while she ambled away. Then I quickly put some pants on.
The other day I was on my walk back to the cabin, returning from town on the hour long commute. I saw a moose moving fast, parallel to me, just in the woods. He stopped to look at me and I snapped this quick pic with my phone. I should have perhaps thought more closely about why the moose was running fast but it was late and I was enjoying the walk.
The moose kept going, at a fast jog and it wasn’t long before I learned why the moose was running. It was a grizzly. The bear seemed annoyed by me and did a few false charges. I had my bear spray but he left before things got serious. I didn’t have the nerve to try to snap the grizzly bear’s pic.
So Ted Cruz and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) have been flirting on Twitter as regards the violation of a sacred, traditional taboo: the ban on Democrats working with Republicans. Will it get very far? Probably not. Or Democratic process of built to fail. A to party system limits cooperation among the parties and generates a psychology of enmity and distrust. It’s a frame of mind that most folks seen happy with, more or less, presumably because it gives them someone to blame and something to fight about.
I’m mostly on foot, out here, in terms of navigating myself to and from places like the mail shack or the Saloon or wherever the bonfire may be. Hence I’m always on the lookout for a ride. On Saturday I got a lift in the bed of my buddy’s pickup truck. He had taken out the passenger seat and besides that the dog looked comfortable, so I jumped in back
I wrote up a humorist piece (attempting to channel a bit of Melville) as a therapeutic way to bring myself some resolution after my rather harrowing three-thousand mile road trip when the malevolent tire that wrenched itself free from its axle and attacked my Fiat 500. I wrote this piece to be read/heard, and I read it at the Thursday Open Mic Night at the Golden Saloon here in McCarthy. It was well-received by some, but the venue wasn’t very suitable to read a long piece like this — but I had a good time. I thought that I would repost it here. It’s been written to be read/heard, but I think that it should fair fairly well on the page/screen. The greatest inconvenience will probably be that I italicized words or phrases that I wanted to emphasize, in the reading.
“We may have suspected it already, but now the science backs it up: unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population. And they are more likely to live longer than their married and child-rearing peers, according to a leading expert in happiness….the latest evidence showed that the traditional markers used to measure success did not correlate with happiness – particularly marriage and raising children.”