Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Idiots In Charlottesville Don't Represent What Most Of Us Think Or Do…Do They?

The top story over the past few days is about the white nationalists and their brethren at odds with their over-zealous anti-fascist opposition in Virginia. They are so at odds that Virginia’s governor declared a state of emergency due to the violent clashes at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. The images coming from the scene are so provocative and full of savagery that they must mean the beginning of the end for our country.

Yet, what most Americans need to do right now isn’t to appeal to some sense of ‘national unity’ against hate or to “come together as one.” Fine sentiments—if you’re into that sort of thing, but excuse us for saying we don’t need this President, or any other talking head, to tell us and most of our fellow Americans that “this kind of violence” has no place in America (which makes us wonder, what other kinds of violence do have their place in the USA?)

Most Americans, most people, already know this sort of stupidity and violence on the march in Charlottesville is unacceptable and a waste of time. The people assembled in Virginia do not represent what most Americans think or wish to do with their precious little free time on a Saturday. The hysteria from the political media surrounding this event is at best overblown by good intentions and at worst being purposely stoked for website hits, TV ratings, fund raising, and political agendas.

Rather than heeding the hollow calls for peace and unity from “our dear” political leaders or the foolish pleas from left/right activists on the ground in Virginia, what most Americans need to do right now is keep right on doing what they’re already doing…enjoying what little freedom they still have in ways too numerous to list completely.

We spent the last few days at a series of local picnic/parties where we celebrated the lives of recently deceased elders, roasted whole pigs, listened to friends play “classic” rock, watched the next generations play in the swimming holes and with the dogs, and enjoyed the local food and drink you can only find in our little part of the world. It’s easy to wonder if this is the last of the good life before everything implodes. Or are we just living life the way most of the people in this country are still doing (and will continue to do).

Time for a pig roast!

Jake always makes new friends....

Keep in mind, while a few hundred deluded racists and hysterical “anti-fascists” clash in Virginia, thousands of Americans are attending baseball, football, rugby, and soccer games while millions watch from home.

Do not forget, while the despairing political boobs clash in Charlottesville, millions of Americans are attending concerts, cheerleading competitions, marching band practice, neighborhood BBQ’s, jazz and blues festivals, movie showings, yoga classes, college classes, dog-training seminars, baby-showers, weddings, funerals, and pool parties.
Just remember, while political incompetence reveals its ugly face in one tiny place on the map, millions of Americans are relaxing at home, reading books, drinking fine wines and fresh, cold beer, sharing high school memories with old friends, smoking whatever they got, texting the sexy boy or girl they met last night, or emailing a lost love they haven’t seen in 20 years.

Americans are shopping. Americans are putting on fundraisers in fun ways. Americans are eating junk food and health food, homemade brownies and patty pan squash. Americans are lying in the white sands of the beaches along the Gulf of Mexico and the Michigan UP, and kayaking along little rivers and lakes across this rich and plentiful land. Americans are driving their sports cars, riding their bikes, and hiking through the diverse forests from sea to shining sea.

The point is that hopefully most Americans don’t give a damn about what’s happening in Charlottesville, VA, and they especially aren’t stupid enough to participate in such a festival of idiocy and blood.

We’re happy if they don’t give a damn, and can only wonder why people with political motives want everyone to pay attention to these petty losers in Virginia. Maybe most Americans already realize enjoying their freedom doesn’t require being a sheep ready to follow the latest, edgy shepherd who says there is something terribly wrong with us and the world.   
Call it apathy if you like, but if more Americans acted like most Americans who simply enjoy their free time and hard-earned money, politics would seem very stupid and small indeed... an utter waste of time and energy on something already very stupid and small as it stands.

But just in case times are changing for the worse, it's time for us to go out now and enjoy our liberty while we still have it.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Visiting Season Is Here

We spend the first few months back in Idaho taking care of the forest, orchard and garden. After months of planting, weed control, brush clearing, tree thinning, road work, and playing in the dirt, it was nice to take a break and show our first visitors of the year around the area.

One of the things we like best about our big view is the ability to see big weather patterns move through. Being in the rain shadow of the tallest peak in Selkirks generally keeps us fairly dry while the rest of the Valley is getting wet. We had a really rare sunset/lightning storm/rain/rainbow event the day before our friends arrived where we were surrounded by four different types of weather and views.

In the West, the sun was setting through a rain storm

In the South, it was trying it's best to clear up.

In the East the storm was still working and we caught a little lightning in the colored reflection of the sunset.

 In the North it was just pretty.

It was 10 days of fine dining (mostly prepared by the four of us since you can't beat the local meats/fish and our garden), rare wines, visits with neighbors, hikes to remote areas, playing in and on the water, international travel to Canada, ferry rides and hot springs, lounging in hammocks, dog antics, and general all around good fun.

A hike to Hidden Lake. A jewel of the Selkirks.

One of the oldest cedar groves in the country is deep in a remote spot in the Selkirks. Only a few locals know about it.

Near the cedars are six old Western White Pines, the Idaho state tree. They're only a few hundred years old, but are extremely rare. Almost all the white pine died in the early 1900's after the introduction of European blister rust in the U.S. (an accident of international trade). There are a lot of young blister rust resistant white pine in Idaho, but no legacy trees the size of the six in this grove.

A roughed grouse with her chicks. They're cute, but as dumb as the rock the little one is standing by.

Thanks to a wet Winter/Fall, Smith Creek Falls was pumping like few have ever seen it in the past. The spawning red Kokanee will fill it in the Fall.

There's always a lot of bear grass in this part of Idaho. It's certainly not rare, but this year's bloom is unusually prolific. It's literally everywhere within the elevation band. The scent of this many blossoms is incredible.

Looking South down the Kootenay Valley over our family forest homestead.

 Another day, another hike. This time looking North through the Kootenay Valley into British Columbia.

Lake Pend Oreille and Lady Liberty on July 4th weekend.

An old fashioned pot luck lunch on July 4th at our volunteer fire department.

At four months old, Wesson was ready to learn how to swim. She may figure it out yet.

Enjoying one of the local lakes on a kayak built for two.

Wesson seems as if she likes being on top of the water better than being in it.

After all of our travels, we unexpectedly found the best place in the country for us four years ago. But we haven't given up the hope that there may always be an even better place out there somewhere. Everyone who visits here has standing orders to go out, find someplace better, and let us know. So far, no one has found anything that checks off all the boxes like Far North Idaho. Neither have we.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

First Grizzly of the Season

We like to put out a small food block, a salt lick, and a water trough for the deer and elk to enjoy. In the mornings and evenings we enjoy watching them browsing through.

This evening we were taking the dogs out for a quick bathroom break, and saw this little guy down by the deer station demolishing the food block.

This is about 150 feet from our RV. The flags are marking the site of a future pond.

We got him to interrupt his meal and look at us by shouting "Hey Bear!" a few times.

A healthy belch and it's time to be on my way.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tail from the Back Seat: Days of Walks and Greenies

The days of walks and Greenies
Smile and run away like a child at play
Through a meadow land toward a closing door
A door marked 'Nevermore' that wasn't there before

The lonely night discloses
Just a passing breeze filled with memories

Of the golden smile that introduced me to 

The days of walks and Greenies...and you
                           (Adapted from "Days of Wine and Roses" by Johnny Mercer)

Let me start by stating the obvious--in case you didn't notice--there is only one tail from the backseat...for now.
Karly--beautiful, bold, brave (and yes, sometimes bitchy)--my best buddy, backseat and otherwise, has died.

One day we were walking together...
The next day she was hobbling around, dragging her back foot...
The next day she "stayed home" all day relaxing in the warm sunshine...
And then there were no more days with Karly...
Now it's Just Jake.

    She died peacefully and on her terms.                                During her final days she ate only Greenies and barely drank water...her terms, of course.

Karly had a fun-filled glorious life of  nearly 13 years, quite a lifespan for a gal of her breed, size, and temperament--a bit "always on edge" compared to me.

Instagram's "thedogist" summarized us the best:


                                                                                         She was smart and sassy and enjoyed a bi-coastal life--from sea to shining sea--and for all of my 10 years I joined her on this adventure....

...and what a trip it was!

Fittingly (for a dog), Karly's life ended in the Chihuahuan Desert.
It makes me smile to think of her everlasting spirit--holding court over and chasing those little mutts around in Chihuahuan Desert Heaven--and those who knew and loved her best, know exactly what I mean!

P.S.  The backseat is just not the same anymore....

But don't worry, I'm just keeping a spot warm....

....for Wesson
(Born March 6, 2017...to become part of the Vowell family on May 1, 2017)

EPILOGUE (by Susan)
One of my favorite authors is Edward Abbey. Traveling as much as we do in the Southwest, I feel as if I am "living" Abbey's writings.  My most favorite book is Desert Solitaire, given to me by a very dear friend/fellow traveler  who introduced me to Abbey's work and which I incorporated into the last "Tails from the Backseat" post, which ironically was the last to include Karly.  I foolishly loaned out my copy a couple years ago and it was never returned. I've been searching for a replacement, preferably a used paperback copy reminiscent of my friend's, but Abbey's books are rarely found for sale, they are keepers for personal libraries.

Karly died on our way to Big Bend National Park, in the heart of the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas. We had several towels, sheets, and blankets from her final days of basking in the sunshine that were ready to be washed, as much for an emotional cleanse as a laundering requirement.  There was a small "laundromat" (one washer, two dryers) at Big Bend National Park--surprising since visitor services at the Park were very limited--and since it was also one of two places to get internet access, we decided to take a break from hiking and do our laundry.

As I was transferring laundry from the washer to the dryer, a tour bus pulled up to the adjacent snack bar/gift shop, and the "Roads Scholars", an educational tour group, disembarked for a restroom and snack break...they also enjoyed petting Jake...and Jake enjoyed being petted!!  Upon their departure, I went to gather my dried laundry and noticed a pile of paperback books and magazines on the folding table that were not there before.  I assume they had been left behind by the tour group since I have discovered  that laundromats have an admirable policy of "leave a book, take a book".  

But "what to my wondering eyes did appear"...in dizzying disbelief??  
A pristine, paperback copy of Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire!!!
With all the giddiness of winning the Publisher's Clearinghouse Jackpot Sweepstakes, I grabbed the book and ran out to show John.
The universe works in mysterious ways, especially if you are open to it... Karly, I know this one's on you!!!