Tuesday, August 31, 2010


TAKE A LESSON FROM THE ARTFUL CODGER DODGER! I'm settled by the mighty Columbia river at Umatilla, Or.---feeling high---been that way for a month or more--In love with life--on top of my game--a bit more daring than usual.---THINK I'LL STIR THE POT A LITTLE.

You may remember that my metaphysics of choice is:
2. Thus: LIFE IS DRAMA (If you're not being dramatic in some form--you're not living--you're wasting the creator's time--probably pissing him/her/it off.)
4. ACCEPTING THE FLOW OF LIFE---so frequently recommended--(by Lao Tzu and others) strikes me as passive bullshit--and I think the millions of monks and wannabees that practice this approach are drones in the beehive of humanity----there!--been wanting to say that for awhile.
5. CREATIVELY STIRRING THE POT OF LIFE---is a far more exciting strategy. Nietzsche and I agree.

SO TODAY I SHALL STIR THE POT---in a tiny way--just to create some drama--and to test my theory of dealing with cops. I'm going to deliberately violate the law---till a cop comes so I can practice my technique. What I'm aiming at is to 1. avoid any punishment 2. enjoy the experience 3 make a friend 4. have him enjoy the experience.
Here's the plan: After whiling the day away right here---I will move up to the visitor center--200 yds to the right--where they've posted big signs saying NO OVERNIGHT PARKING. I will park overnight and stay right there till I draw a cop. I did so! Stayed all night and until noon the next day. Finally one showed up---terrific! I'm all set! He comes to my door--
I'm all prepared---look closely at this set up--jack in place--carpet in place to kneel on--and a "broken" and dragging leveling jack. (the human equivalent of the sandpiper "broken wing" trick the bird uses to lure predators away fron its eggs)
HERE'S THE FUN PART: The cop approaches with seriousness and just a bit of trepidation. (it's a tricky thing to enter another's space) (Pay attention newbies---I'm going to give you the magic words)
I OPEN DOOR BEFORE HE KNOCKS---SMILE BROADLY AND SAY: " THANK GOD--YOU'RE HERE----I HAVE A PROBLEM AND NEED SOME ADVICE. ( don't say help--that scares people almost everyone loves to give advice however) "what's the trouble" he says. I show him.---He kneels to inspect. I dared to snap this fuzzy pict for verification. (it's an easy problem--I can fix it in 30 seconds--and so can he.) He goes to his car and gets a strap for tying the jack up out of harms way. Takes pride in his solution and I am effusively thankful. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
Now a word to my cop suspicious friends.--This guy is down on his knees to help me. Properly approached---they are almost all good guys--doing their best to solve problems. Without them, society will collapse into anarchy. Have I made my point? Certainly enjoyed the game.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: The bad guy in this drama was invisible. He is the RV campground owner about a hundred yards to the west. He and all like him really think that boondocking should be illegal. They want all campers to be securely corralled in their busineses--at about $20 per night.
I have little doubt that he pushed for the prohibition in the first place. It's no big deal or expense to let vagabonds and adventurers park overnight somewhere. It's an irrational hatefulness that I will fight against. One of the darker sides of capitalism is that business persuades government to enact laws that require the public to buy their services. Cops are required to enforce these laws--not their fault.
Thought I'd show you where I spent the next night---hunkered behind that hedge at this closed up business--at The Dalles, Or.
Note to my readers: Tomorrow I will show you something that will make your heart glad.

Friday, August 27, 2010


HERE'S HOW TO ENJOY YOURSELF----ANYWHERE! I'm driving across Eastern Washington---Ho Hum--I'm ready to be amused--up ahead is a town--Ritzville---I'll go there and find a story--here's how it's done:
Wild flowers and quilt shop?---not that much of a stretch--BUT LIQUOR STORE?? That is a stretch. I notice unlikely parings like this. The most bizarre I've ever seen was a gas station that specialized in toilet seats.
This warms my heart---super rich guy, Andrew Carnegie--steel magnate--the Bill Gates of his day--gave away all his money--building libraries like this in hundreds of towns across America. He understood what no right winger in America understands---WEALTH IS EARNED IN A CONTEXT-AND THE CONTEXT IS OWED SOMETHING--giving back is the right thing to do.
This catches my eye---I go in and begin asking questions----Interesting questions--so interesting that recipients cannot resist expressing themselves. That's how "the good stuff" is elicited.
Meet L.R. Keith---one of 1500 people in the world who still practice telegraphy. The thing around his neck is a dust mask. He knows a lot of good stuff and willingly shared it.
He wears his affection for telegraphy proudly--not on his sleeve but on his belt--see the Western Union initials?
So how do these 1500 old timers communicate? Telegraph wires are long gone. They do it by phone---but with an interesting twist---this special phone number when dialed--cannot carry the spoken word---only the click clack of a telegraph morse code. He showed me--dialed the number--
Then sat down and contacted his buddies--George in Edmonton and Bill in Saskatoon Canada--giving them a question from me with an amazingly rapid clickity clack. The answer came in a flash--Mr. Keith can decipher incoming messages almost at speaking speed.
Note taking has an interesting effect on folks--they begin to take me and themselves more seriously.
Almost everyone wants to share what they know--especially if you take it seriously enough to write it down. I usually tell them about this blog and that has its effect also.
Knowing that hundreds of American cities have Ritz theatres--I wondered if this most elgible city for that name had one----and bingo--it did.
I left before dark, driving about 20 miles and settling in this remote spot on a side road--with every intention of staying the night. Someone in a car settled uncomfortably close to me and I immediately moved to the city of Pasco---
Settling into this vacant lot. In more than 7000 nights of boondocking I've never been threatened by invasion--but I trust my instincts and move occasionally when I get uncomfortable. (but I digress)
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: Pick any town-- give it a chance to amuse or inform with the power of your notice and interesting questions---and you will reap surprising rewards.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


MY FRIEND FLIES AWAY----but endings are beginnings and the highways of America are waiting. She dips her wings goodbye and instantly I'm rechallenged to generate meaning for myself. How will I spend my day? Come---I'll show you how I do it!
I look at the map till it speaks to me--drawing me to the West Coast via the scenic route through Sandpoint Idaho. But here, I'm still in Montana and this is still the valley the humongus flood passed through.
Stopped at the Trout Creek Huckleberry festival--love to walk around these things.
Never seen this before--bowls made of rope.
Took delight at this---smokers huddled together in shame--outcast--sinners--disreputable--fit only for each others company. They turned away when they saw me readying my camera. Oh sweet people we have these addicted--foul smelling holdouts on the run. I'm moved to poetry:
The world discovered some time ago
that smoking would make your lungs black,
so a law was passed requiring a label
of warning be stamped on each pack------(the number of smokers barely declined)
And when we discovered that second-hand smoke
takes others along for the ride,
a law was passed protecting the workplace;
smokers must smoke outside.-------(but smokers just took it in stride)
You must have seen them shivering and wet
in the snow or sweating in the heat,
puffing on their cigarette
outside in the alley or street.----(but the number of smokers held firm)
So the government raised the price,
imposing a hefty tax,
hit em in their pocketbooks
made 'em pay to the max.--(but the number of smokers stayed the same)
Soon all smokers will be required
to stand on one foot as they smoke;
hop up and down and whistle a tune
before and after each toke.---(but the number of smokers will stay steady)
The price will be raised to ten bucks a pack.
The smokers will keep on smoking.
Then they'll brand them with an "S" on their forehead.
But the tokers will keep on toking.---(and the number of smokers may grow)
Then the government will get drastic;
forbidding all smokers to marry;
they won't be allowed to vote or have kids;
or serve in the military.---(but still they'll continue to smoke)
In the end we'll discover that addicted smokers
will pay any price obsene;
life and love, body and soul,
they'll trade for nicotine.---(and keep right on smoking)
Didn't know this organization was still alive--putting bibles everywhere--gave me one. They are a tempting and easy target but somehow I resisted the urge--almost---I decided to ask them just one of the seven deadly questions --working it carefully into the conversation--I asked if they wished that all those false religions would stop indoctrinating their children? (makes it so darn hard to sell them the TRUE religion) Doesn't it? They sheepishly said yes--I left them to ponder the implications.
Then I went on to Idaho--for the 4th or 5th time this summer.
And settled for the night at the Sandpoint, Id. Wal-mart. I love staying at Wal-Marts. Soon I had company--campers are drawn to others.
A high point of my day was getting this lady to peel for this shot. I admired the art and asked to photograph it--works every time. Do you see the panther stretching down the shapely model?
So ended the day! Noticed that my site has picked up hits from 4 new places: Panama, Brazil, Monte Carlo and Kenya. Welcome all--let us hear from you.

Tomorrow I will take you on another single day's travel and answer the question: Does a town named Ritzville have a Ritz Theatre?

Thursday, August 19, 2010


ALMOST ON A WHIM SHE SAYS: IM IN THE MOOD FOR HUCKLEBERRY PANCAKES! She lifts us into the air and I look down on my tiny dot of a rig--- beginning to appreciate the grander vision granted to pilots. Flying is an invitation to put aside pettiness.
I have no notion where we are going---only that its the opposite of yesterdays direction--and downstream. I learned that down this valley once rolled the greatest flood the world has ever seen. ( yes greater than THAT ONE--its a myth anyway--when will the bible thumpers of the world ever google the Gilgamesh flood myth and learn where that story really came from--but I digress) To get the story of this whopper flood--google lake Missoula.
She lets me fly the plane--not keen on letting me land it.
Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced pond er ray) 148 sq miles of splendor--and it harbors a terrific secret--which I will reveal--In its depths there moves about--man sized creatures with intelligence like ours--air breathing--yet they can stay under for hours or even days while they do mysterious things. Somewhere near its center, these creatures have built a kind of lodge, not unlike the beavers do. Amazing---yet I swear it's the truth--google it and read the story for yourself.
Beyond Lake Pend Oreille---this! My pilot says it's a long running forestry experiment.
Priest Lake---somewhere out there is a gathering of eagles--which my pilot says we can join--if we can locate them--we fly all around looking--
for that strip of green
Can you tell that its a rare and challenging landing zone--BECAUSE IT'S RATHER STEEPLY UPHILL!
But a piece of cake to my pilot who's landed here many times. I found the moment thrilling and managed to capture this shot just before we sat down.
Here are the Eagles of which I spoke---(if a group of geese is a gaggle---I shall declare this a PILE of pilots) Seems this is a favorite haunt for weekend get-away-ers with wings. I expected a cluster of rich sob's conspicuously consuming and impressing----BUT NOT SO---these are folks of moderate means who saved their money--bought an old plane that they lovingly care for. My biggest surprise was that most of these planes are about 50 years old. Did you know that planes have a longer useful life than sailboats---or often--- houses. These folks are frugal--most camp in tents--and are very friendly. You want quality friends--people with wit, wisdom and gumption--look among the pilots with old planes. I'm delighted with my friend.
So I purchased exactly what she was hungry for. Those are huckleberries atop the pancakes---delicious---in a leisurely hour we ate the whole thing. If you wonder how pilots get around when they land at small airports--I will tell you---they borrow the courtesy car--usually provided by the local government--for a small fee.
After a full afternoon of assorted activities (and a nap for me) we take off---downhill. Counterintuitive to me--uphill seemed smarter. But my pilot chose the factor of wind over gravity--(note the windsock)and here we are at about 80 mph--bouncing downhill toward that slot--still on the ground, I think. I was very very brave to focus my mind to get this shot for you. (I was "puckering"--she was amused) When we reached our starting point she had another whim--to go home--And away she flew--called bout 2 hours later to report a safe landing---and a day or so later to update me on Tor's progress.
RANDY RUMINATES: Don't know what I've done to deserve my set of friends--can only report that they enrich me mightily. Thank you Joyce for sharing your world with me.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


RESUMING THE STORY ---- Tor's first moment of freedom---managed to catch this pict---she escaped from her cage--Joyce worried---it cannot survive here---wrong environment for a scrub jay. It flew excitedly about from tree to tree for 2 hours or so---refusing our calls---and then got hungry--returned--begging for food. A visitor, not knowing the situation, was stunned to see a "wild" bird land on Joyce's arm. Wished I had caught his surprised look on camera.
A terrific, all night, rain deluged us and we woke to this scene. We mobilized our survival skills to make a fire--even with wet wood. The low clouds meant we could not safely take off. Who knows when they will clear.
And then the sun came out--Joyce performed the sun dance--familiar I guess to all pilots.
This strange man emerged from the woods---carrying soft drinks and charming Joyce into a hug. Is that not a classic cowboy face and body. His belt buckle also worthy of note--made of elk antler horn base.
Holes opened up in the sky ---we pack and prepare to leave.
Is it superstition or nostalgia that motivates her to turn the prop by hand a few times? The battery works just fine.
And we're off ---confident all is well.
That's hungry horse reservoir---one of many in Montana. This state is certainly on top of its water situation.
Back over the Swan mountains, we decide to drop in on Kalispell, Mt.
Landed-took a walk--and bought some cold flathead cherries from a cheerful vendor.
Joyce opts to purchase fuel from another airport across the lake--Rohan--here we are landing. Landings are more "thrilling" to me than takeoffs. Pilots call scary moments "pucker moments."
Fuel cost $4.25 a gallon.
Back at Thompson Falls--she tilts right for this photo--showing the now-dammed-up fall site.
And back to our starting point. The mouth of that valley ahead is the site of numerous Indian wars--a choke point for tribal disputes and ambush.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: I'm struck by the speed up of life that airplanes make possible---by the extended range and richness they facilitate. In a single day we experienced weeks worth of change and sensation. I'm moved to poetry---redacting bits from two of my poems--I will call this rhythmic collage: AIRPLANE PEOPLE CONDENSING TIME
Their moments, like our moments will--
brush them by and over the hill.
they let them go without delay--
knowing millions more are on the way.
With relaxed intent, they glide through events
on wings like a fast-moving knife;
So these air pioneers live three hundred years
in the span of a single life.