Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Saturday, August 31, 2013

I'm Sorry, Can You Speak A Little Slower? I Only Understand English

Discussion as a means of resolving conflict as opposed to resorting to violence is so important to Scandinavians that the ancient Norse even had a god, Glitnir, that symbolized that very ideal. 

Which is pretty damn cool. Can you imagine if every single country on the planet had made conflict resolution via discussion a priority?  How much better would things be for everyone? Instead of resorting to war, countries would resort to words, and armies would consist of troops trained to debate. The best debaters would be exalted in the history books for their skills at settling issues using nothing but their wits and words.

That, of course, would require that the world as a whole spoke a common language, which will happen eventually. It will most likely be the American version of English, too, as that is the language of the world's economy.

That's how Capitalism is saving the world, BTW, by forcing people from countries as diverse as China and Nigeria to learn English in order to conduct business (There are more English speakers in China than there are in North America. Not just the U.S., the whole of the North American continent).

Want to know how pervasive the use of English is? Go to Paris, walk into a McDonalds (Yep, there are McD's in Paris), and place your order in English. Your order will be taken and you will get exactly what you ordered. Then drive through France to Portugal and go to a McDonalds in Lisbon. Place the same order in English, you'll get the same result. Then drive to Moscow (take your time, don't break any traffic laws). Do the same thing - yep, you get the same results.

That's pretty damn impressive when you think about it. Despite the best effort of bigoted nationalists in sundry countries all over the world, English is a common denominator for those who conduct business just about... everywhere.

Want to be an airline pilot or air traffic controller? Better learn fluent English, because that is the international language of the aviation industry. 

It's apparently also the international language of protesters. Ever notice how many signs protesters in non-English speaking countries are holding that are written in English? Watch any news program that is covering a protest anywhere on the face of the planet, there will be signs written in English. It's uncanny.

But it's also good. The better we as a race (the human race) can understand one another, the more likely it is we will be able to reach understandings on issues that lead to violent conflict - before they reach the violent conflict stage.

The most common word spoken in nearly every country is OK, sometimes spelled okay. That word is relatively young, first used in Boston about 200 years ago. As American English as a word can get. 

It means everything is alright.

Which is a great word for the world to have in common.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Does Art Matter?

             CRB at the Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow Scotland

Art, in the long run, doesn't actually exert much of an influence on anyone outside of the very small circle of the artistically inclined. For the most part, it's the Scientists, the Engineers, the Biologists, the Doctors, who not only get things done, but get things done that benefit the human race in the long run, that have a lasting influence on the human race.

Artists create distractions, that's it. Very, very few artists have done much else. Da Vinci, that universal mind who thought of so many wonderful things, left but 15 or so paintings (though quite a few sketchbooks) as an artistic legacy. His genius is widely acclaimed and recognized, however, he had very little effect on the course of history or on the human race as a whole, primarily because he kept a lot of the revolutionary scientific ideas he had come up with to himself, and also because his art, while great to look at, was simply not much more than that - great art to look at.

Artists, no matter how innovative, prolific, or original, have not really provided anything that has helped the human race evolve as a species. A case could be made, a strong case, that the artistic community has actually held the human race back at times with it's tendency for maudlin nostalgia.

There are of course artists who have been forward thinking, but most of those have been commercial artists, and as such get the short end of the stick from the artistic community.

Artist such as Ralph McQuarrie, Kafi Benz, Mike Hinge, and myriad others all had visions of the future, and many of them produced works that sparked the imaginations of many, many others - but as far as recognition from the art community...sorry, those artists actually choose to earn a living. No soup for you!

Which is an odd hypocrisy from the modern-day art world, as it's full of ego's that demand self-reliance, self-determination, and self-realization...but only so long as they are able to do so at public expense.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The People We Banish

                       Sunset, Colorado, August 2013

We exile people from our lives
To emotionally distant Siberia's
Parents banishing children
Children banishing parents
Brothers and sisters
Trying hard not to hate each other
Former best friends
Trying not to kill each other
Lovers that married one another
Only to have the union torn asunder
Hoping to never see each other 
Ever again 
Because we don't want them 
To hurt us anymore
Either by what they do to us
Or what they do to themselves

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Self-Reliance Only Gets One So Far

Somehow he had managed to fall in with a group of Transcendentalists
Devoted to the power and purpose of the individual
He espoused that everything that mattered
Was readily available in every person's soul
And emphasized
That every person
Had a good soul

His purpose, he claimed, was to learn to feel
Feel everything and anything
Feel the earth, feel the sky
And to let his imagination run his life

He shunned structure and organization 
At all costs
The dictates that held sway in his life
Were those of nature
Nature was, he repeated time and again
All he or anyone ever needed
As far as physical comfort
Was concerned

The masses devoting their lives
To desiring and acquiring 
The latest and the greatest
Had lost sight of what was truly meaningful

He said mankind was not meant to be enslaved 
By time
Animals never looked at clocks
Those people who lived in the plastic reality
Of the artificial world
Punching time cards, collecting paychecks
He wanted nothing to do with them
Except, of course

When he had his hand out for some spare change

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Trying To Write A Michael Crichton Type Thing

Six and a half months before Renato Paulo Pape was born, his mother, Ana, was met at her Ob/Gyn's by a cadre of government officials and a number of scientists. She was one of over 350,000 women worldwide who had been or were being met by similar groups of government officials and scientists. 

Within two weeks of Renato's conception a very peculiar phenomena had been noticed. It was a Doctor in New Dehli who first noticed it, and initially, he thought it was just an odd fluke in the birth rate in the area in which he practiced. Curiosity compelled him to contact his brother, also an Ob/Gyn, who worked in a hospital 54 miles north of his practice.

To the astonishment of the brothers, they had encountered the exact same incredible singularity. A quick check with all hospitals as well as Doctors in private practice throughout the New Dehli metropolitan area confirmed their mutual discovery. Not one woman in one of the largest urban centers of the world had been diagnosed as being pregnant in the last two weeks.

Within days the earth-shaking realization that the phenomena was not limited to the New Dehli area of India was made. It had not even been limited to India. It was worldwide. The last known day any child had been conceived anywhere on the planet earth was determined to be July 16th of 2034 on the Gregorian calendar.

An emergency session of the UN was called, and it was agreed that every single woman who had conceived on that day, a day that had quickly been labeled The Day of the Last Conception by the world press, should be contacted and given the best medical care possible, as those women were carrying, as far as everyone knew, mankind's last progeny.

And so it was, when Renato Paulo Pape was born in Brasilia, 6 seconds after a baby girl was born in Moscow, he was determined to be the single last human being born on the planet earth.

That was 11 years and seventeen days ago. In the intervening years Renato had been poked, prodded, probed and studied, just like the other 342,267 babies that had been born on April 18th, 2035. They had all also been cared for like no other babies ever born before - housed, clothed, and fed not too unlike the children of 16th century royalty, but with far better medical care.

The population of the earth had fallen below five billion people for the first time in nearly fifty years, and was falling faster still. Several countries in Sub-Saharan Africa had lost over 75% of their populations, and the median age of a human being on the planet had jumped from 36.5 to 47.2.

Early on it had been determined that the cause of the problem was two-fold: All males were found to have become inexplicably sterile, and all women had become infertile.

To date, no cause of the two conditions had been found. The best working hypothesis was that an interstellar wave of undetectable radiation had washed over the earth and effected the termination of sexual reproduction in the entire human race.  

No species of plant or animal life had been found that was similarly affected. The condition was unique to humans.

Four years after the Day of the Last Conception, the first suicide spike was observed. Over 700,000 women, nearly all of them between the ages of 29 and 36, had taken their own lives. A much smaller but similar spike among males in the same age range occurred in the following 10 months.

The suicide spikes had been repeated every two years since. the next spike was due near the date of Renato's 12th birthday.

Many had turned to the various old religions, and many had turned away from them. Several fertility cults had been revived, with archaic rituals being practiced on an almost daily basis by formerly level-headed, rational people all over the planet.

The majority of the world's GDP that had previously been earmarked for defense was now being spent on medical research. Several large institutions had been created for the sole purpose of finding the cause, and hopefully a cure, for the condition.

As the population declined, the value of property did as well. While the western world still thrived, the economies of countries that had lost staggering numbers of people had dried up to the point where production was now almost non-existent except on small farms or in small craft shops. 

All of this was known to nearly every person living on earth. Renato's education, like the education of each and every one of the Last Children Born, was accelerated and amazingly thorough. At 11 years and 17 days old, he was as educated as any High School senior had been prior to his birth.

Today, May 4th 2046 on the Gregorian calendar, Renato once again found himself in the large office of his personal Doctor, Ivone Mendes. Dr. Mendes had been monitoring Renato's health since just after his second birthday.

Three weeks ago, just before his 11th birthday, Dr. Mendes had performed the thorough physical examination that she performed on Renato every six months. Blood was drawn, urine and stool samples were taken, an electrocardiogram and even a CAT scan was performed. Nothing was overlooked.

Today May 4th 2046, Renato was back in the office of his personal Doctor because one of those tests had discovered something that had not been seen before, not in Renato nor in any of the other Last Children Born.

Renato, in appeared, was no longer sterile.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Even Hipsters Are Looking For The Thrill

He turned that phrase as if
He was driving into Dead Man's curve
She crossed her legs as if
She was working up the nerve
They both looked sideways as if
They both had aces in reserve

Calls placed from the car
Excuses made while driving to the bar
Putting on make up and an act 
Just like an over-the-hill movie star

It was a few days before he called of course
It was a caution born of experience
They both spoke in clich├ęs and were too hip of course
They both knew better than to get too serious
Their friends were amazed when they went public of course
Their friends thought they were both delirious

Buying cards from the Hallmark store
Rarely one seen without the other anymore
Not one person who knew them could believe it
Two not searching found what everybody was looking for

Smudges In The Matrix

         Smudges In The Matrix, 4 & 1/2" by 10 & 3/4" Sharpie Accent highlighter on paper, August 2013

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Oil In The Water

Most people, they tell you they forgive
But few of them actually ever drain the ugly away

Every little transgression
Every little step across the line
Becomes something

Akin to a treasured bedtime story
Replayed and repeated
Over and over and over again

These same people 
Are the ones 
Who wonder why other people
Can't get beyond their little missteps
It's a peculiar hypocrisy, I know

All of the sins committed
Every single foul deed perpetrated

Not yours
No shame

Friday, August 23, 2013

Uncovered Tracks

                       Berry, berry interesting. Colorado, August 2013

   All of his friends asked him when he was going to stop putting up with all of her crap; the week-long drinking binges, loud, violent fights, constantly passing out In public, the arrests, picking the kids up wearing ridiculously low cut blouses and short-ass skirts...and of course the drug use.

   He would answer with deeply philosophical replies concerning freedom of choice and expression and how it was exactly what John Locke would have wanted his own wife to do. 

   Then he would change his seat at the bar and hope the person who sat on the empty bar stool next to him was somewhat literate or at least open minded.

   Eventually, it dawned on him that not everybody was so wholesomely understanding. He started looking at people differently after that, as if they were very far away even if they were actually sitting right next to him. He said it gave him a buffer, a little cushion between him and those who chew gum compulsively.

   As luck would have it, one day I was sitting in the bar stool next to him and after listening to him unravel about his wife, about how people reacted to his telling them about his wife, and then about his realizations about those people and their reactions to his reactions concerning his wife...well, let's just leave it at this:

   "Dude, you have got to kick the reefer, you're not making any sense."

   His reaction: "Dude, it's not addictive."


Thursday, August 22, 2013

To Sting Or Not To Sting

The world is populated by swarming bees

Fighting over flowers
Living in isolated hives
Serving a purpose but never enjoying the end result

                 Everybody knows

                 How that feels
                 But nobody seems to realize
                 That the bees
                 Are very happy
                 With the task at hand
                 They have no desire
                 Or aspiration
                 That demands they
                 Or destroy
                 They just do what they do
                 And that is that

                                      If only people could grasp the 

                                      Of such simple truth
                                      Do what you do
                                      And that is that

Impressed By A Rainbow

              Rainbow, left (north), Denver August 21st 2013

I am fairly certain the last time I was overwhelmed by a rainbow I was not yet 10. Today, as I drove down Sheridan just past 84th, as the rain began to let up (deluge to drizzle in about 30 minutes), I caught sight of the most impressive rainbow I can readily recall.

It was a double rainbow, though as usual the second arc was much fainter than the first.

The primary arc of this double rainbow was so much brighter, and the inside of the primary arc so much whiter, it sparked long dead sci-fi ideas of living life under a dome in my head.

               Rainbow, right (south), Denver August 21st 2013

This particular spectrum of light was also very big, so big it could not fit into one picture. I walked back, back, back until I ran out of room trying to get a picture of the full arcs of the inverse twin rainbows.

It amazes me how rainbows can still amaze me. I understand fully that they are just the reflection of light through water particulate in the Earth's atmosphere, but damn, they are pretty. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

You Got It Good When You're In San Diego

Whenever I tell anyone I was raised in San Diego, the question as to why I ever left such a beautiful city is raised.

There is an overly long, unnecessarily drawn-out, almost morbidly detailed answer to that question, but what I usually reply is that it was just time for me to get out into the world and make it on my own.

Which is, for the most part, a truthful answer. The more complete answer would be that it was long past time for me to get out and make it on my own.

Going back to San Diego, there are people and places I revisit that serve to remind me that choosing to leave was both a good and bad decision.

The city itself is one of the most beautiful in the world, filled with an overabundance of natural and man-made wonders. From the beaches to Balboa Park, from the bay to the east county hills, there is always somewhere nice and something enjoyable to do somewhere in San Diego.

However, like all cities In the world, San Diego has distractions that can wreak havoc upon a man's ability to break free from the limitations of the environment he was born in, especially if that environment was one of discord and impoverishment.

Driving through the more pleasant areas of San Diego when I visit, Spending time with the more successful and well-adjusted friends I grew up with, does serve to implant the idea in the ol' cranium that maybe I could find myself living in the land of flip-flops and coconut-scented sunscreen again one day.

Of course, that would mean having to find a job that pays 75% more than I earn now so I won't have to live in a tent under an overpass in National City, and learning how to live without seasonal changes in the weather again...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tormented By A Fickle Sense Of Common Sense

There are times when Common Sense has left me. Just up and left, as if called away suddenly by an urgent matter that was far more important than whatever it was I might have need of Common Sense for.

Invariably, that would happen at the same time that good ol' Mr. Poor Judgment would stop by for a visit.

Yep, ol' Poor Judgment would just show himself in, arrogant as all get out, help himself to whatever's in the fridge, plop down on the sofa, put his feet on the coffee table, and swill the last of the JD.

And while Common Sense was away, Poor Judgment would not only make himself right at home, he would pretty much take over the place, going so far as to invite his buddies, Impulsive Action and Ignorant O'Consequences, over for a little bar-be-que.

Those three in the same head are not simply a recipe for disaster, they are a formula for such high-grade calamity it would scare Gustavo Fring into looking under the bed.   

And, as regular as a car-bomb going off in Baghdad, just after those three clowns have wrought as much damage as possible, Common Sense decides to pop back in.

It goes something like this: Common Sense bails. Poor Judgment shows up with the great idea of, say, deciding to get a hot tub. Then Impulsive Action not only agrees, but posits the idea that money could be saved if I built the concrete pad and little gazebo shelter for it all by myself, and Ignorant O'Consequences chimes in with the thought that it all could probably be done in a weekend.

About halfway into the undertaking, but well past the chance to pull out and minimize the damage to pocketbook, back, arms and shoulders (as well as mental well-being) is when Common Sense strolls in whistling "Can't Hardly Wait" and then stops and stares at the half-finished mess.

Taking in the hot tub sitting in the yard next to the deck, the 8 foot by 8 foot by 6 inch deep hole that has been dug for the pad (and all the dirt in piles over by the back fence), the plans drawn up for the little gazebo shelter (and the materials to build such stacked next to the hot tub), Common Sense lets out a long, low whistle and with a pained sigh says, "Man, this looks like a lot of work. I'm pretty sure it would have been much easier and cheaper to just join 24 Hour Fitness and soak in the hot tub there."

Screw you Common Sense, screw you. I want my own damn hot tub.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Most Men Know The Feeling

An exhilaration
Greater than the first time you set eyes on the woman
You instantly thought was the one
Much greater, like the first time
That woman, the one you thought was the one
Forgave you for screwing up.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Unknown Innovators

There should be a special chapter in every history book devoted to unknown geniuses. By and large, most everything we use to make our lives easier or more enjoyable, has an origin that can be traced. 

However, there are some everyday items, like glass for example, that most amazing of materials, that just showed up one day in ancient Mesopotamia, and/or spontaneously in China and other areas of the world, without a word written as to who made the discovery.

It staggers me to think no one thought to record who it was that discovered glass. In my mind, if someone were to walk up to me and present a transparent material that could hold the most corrosive liquids and yet be so fragile as to shatter when dropped from waist height, I would immediately pull out a chisel and carve into rock who that person was along with every single detail of the event.

"Dear Diary: Today, Argus of Sentha came to me with a magical bowl. I could see right through it! It was filled with water from the mother river, which by the way is filthy, and I could see the water through the vessel! It was a miracle!"

There are a number of important inventions, or developments, or discoveries, that have absolutely no attribution. 

Some of that is attributive to the fact that written language had yet to develop, things such as the discovery of fire or how to determine if a particular sea creature was edible. But a lot of the common, ordinary things we use everyday that were put in use after written languages were developed, are of unknown origin. 

Written language itself, for instance. If you came up with a method of recording spoken communications, wouldn't one of your first missives have been "Today, I Torrquag made symbols that directly relate to the sounds made when people grunt to each other."

Numbers share the same fate as language. Historians write that numbers originated with Mathematicians on the Indian sub-continent, but they cannot narrow it down to the one person who looked at his or her hands and started touching fingers for each goat in the herd. This person had to have walked up to someone else and said, "I touched all of my fingers on both hands 4 times, and then the first 3 fingers on my right hand, so that means I have 23 goats." That other person must have looked at his or her own hands, then the other persons goat herd, and said, "Whoa."

My top ten list of inventions/discoveries/developments/innovations that have no attribution:

1) Glass

2) The Level ( Supposedly, someone in Egypt came up with this, though there is still tons of contention).

3) The fork (Some people still do not understand that the fork was an improvement on the stick. Go to any Sushi joint and you will witness people still trying to pick up food with sticks. It's actually quite funny.) 

4) The drum

5) Filtering Water (The first city on the planet known to have filtered water was Paisley, Scotland ( a suburb of Glasgow these days) - it boggles the mind that not one person in 1804 thought to write down who it was who came up with the idea and put it in operation).

6) The broom (I imagine this sprung from the brain of the first neat freak. Somebody who looked at the remains of a tribal get-together and said, "Man, there has got to be a way I can sweep all this up into a pile") 

7) The hammer. This is one of the more universal inventions - it is used to build everything from homes to ships, artwork to shoes. Yet, the first person to use a hammer is unknown. How is that possible? I'm thinking that somewhere, probably in a cave, there is the inscription  "My name is Yhang. Today I secured a rock to a stick, and it made a fantastic tool, or mighty weapon if you're one of those stay-in-the-trees freaks."

8) The hook. Somebody, somewhere, thought to create the hook. That made fishing quite a bit easier. Much, much easier.

9) The Chair ( Think about it. No matter where you are, the seat of your chair is 17 to 18 inches from the ground. And it allows you to eat, sip, work, or converse comfortably. Genius).

10) Ice Scraper. Those of you who live in southern climes will have no idea why this device is so highly rated, but the first time you walk out to your car after the 15th of October north of the Tropic of Cancer, you will grasp it's significance and send silent praise to the unknown genius who created the first one.

There Is No Time In Space

             There Is No Time In Space, 7 & 1/2" X 10 & 3/4", Sharpie on paper, August 2013

My first exposure to what is known as Op Art was through the work of Jim Steranko. I was not aware of it until I was in my mid-twenties, but his covers for the late '60's run of Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. featured homages to some of his personal favorite artists, such as Salvador Dali, Will Eisner, Edna Andrade, Reginald Neal, and Bridget Riley, all of whom were proponents of Op Art at one time or another.

The first Op Art painting I actually put my own eyeballs on was at a contemporary art show held at the San Diego Museum of Art sometime in the mid-'70's, when I was but a wee lad (I think I was 10).

The painting, which I only faintly recall, was of a pattern of black and white squares that seemed to undulate on the canvas. I was fascinated by the effect the piece had on my depth perception and the illusion of motion it possessed.

That was the earliest I can recall saying to myself "I can do that" while looking at artwork hanging in a gallery. 

So I did, all the time, on my book covers, Pee-Chee folders, notebooks, etc.

I lost interest in Op Art by the time I graduated High School, but for whatever reason I seem to be creating a lot of Op Art doodles lately. 

Kinda fun.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Brief Excerpt From A Bit Of Historical Fiction I've Been Concocting

The large, somewhat rectangular hole in the wall was new. It must have been made this morning, for as best as Arthur could recall it hadn't been there last night. He stood in front of the hole for a few minutes, studying it like a forensic investigator. He ran the index finger of his right hand along the outer rim of the hole, trying to imagine just what it could have been that made the hole.

The hole was too large to have been made by any of the candlesticks or lamps in the room, and certainly could not of been made by a hammer. A hammer with a head the size of the hole would have kept going, as the momentum of the swing necessary to create the hole would have surely carried the hammer clear through the narrow strips of wood and plaster of the wall of the adjoining room like a rifle bullet through a watermelon.

Arthur reached into the hole. He felt around with his hand for the pieces of wood or chunks of plaster that had formerly been an integrated part of the wall, thinking they may be still attached by splinters or thin shards to the bottom lip of the hole, but there was nothing there. Whatever it was that had created the hole had torn the lath and plaster completely off and the pieces had no doubt fallen to the bottom of the inside of the wall.

Just as Arthur was turning away from his examination of the hole, his friend and house guest Adler Simms entered the room. "Ah, good afternoon Arthur, my apologies for having had to leave without a proper explanation in the early hours of the morning. Afraid I was in a bit of distress."

"Distress?" Queried Arthur as he looked at his old Army compatriot. "What could possibly have caused you distress?" As those words escaped his lips Arthur noticed the bandages wrapped about Adler's right hand.

"Last night, after we had finished with the billiards and bid goodnight to one another, I was overcome with a slight bit of insomnia. I retired here, the library, in the hopes that an hours perusal of Ainsworth or Zola would bring the sleep I craved. Unfortunately, an unwelcome visitor disturbed my attempt to self-induce sedation."

"A visitor? At that ungodly hour? Whom could it have been?" Arthur stammered out the words with a mystified glaze in his grey eyes. "Not whom," replied Adler, "but what. It was the largest, most obnoxious, and certainly the most irritatingly elusive mosquito I have ever encountered. Got the little bugger though."

Arthur looked at Adler's bandaged hand again, and then back at the hole. The missing piece to the puzzle fell right into place. "I'll have to get Graham in here to tidy things up. Dreadfully sorry about the inconvenience. Though I would be remiss to point out that swatters are kept near all of the windows."

"Right, noticed them just after I made the choice to silence the intruder with my fist. May have been the effects of the Brandy."

Adler smiled as he said this and both men laughed at the allusion to the night in Paris 14 years ago that saw them both fleeing the Prussian forces of Wilhelm I in the company of three young parlour maids and a wagon laden with casks of the finest brandy in all of France.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Best Things Said That No One Ever Hears

                                                  East Dorset, Vermont 1994

We all say things we really, truly mean
                                 Under our breath
We all shout out for release at the top of our lungs
                                 In locked, windowless rooms 

                     The freedom 
                     That comes
                     From letting go
                     When you are certain
                     No one will ever know

Being bold is easy on the stage in a theater
                                  Filled with empty seats
Long conversations that succinctly make the point
                                  Carried on with a mirror

                      Being Clever
                      Debonair, graceful
                      Effortlessly articulating
                      Seems to always be possible
                      When no one else is looking


Sunday, August 11, 2013

She Said Her Smile Was The Result Of A Lifetime Of Living

World-weary woman grown tired of the ways
No longer seeks to distract herself
From the truth of the world around her
Sits in her favorite chair without longing for the days
Displayed in the faded photos on the shelf
Doesn't waste time wishing for life as it were
Twirls strands of hair marveling at the grays
Counts them all as if calculating her wealth
Makes her feel like a millionaire

Friday, August 9, 2013

All You Ever Think About Is Sex, Part II

All You Ever Think About Is Sex, Part II, 3" X 10 & 3/4", Sharpie accent highlighter on paper, August 2013

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hikin' Alderfer/Three Sisters Park Up In Evergreen

         Alderfer/Three Sisters park is located in the heart of Evergreen 

Just north of C-470 up Colorado Highway 74, and a little ways along Colorado Highway 73 to Buffalo Park Road, is a pleasant little park that boast 13.9 miles of hiking/jogging/mountain biking trails with a few unique geological features, historical homesteads, and quite a bit of Colorado flora and fauna thrown in to make the visit an interesting adventure.

The drive from my home in Lakewood was approximately 3/4's of an hour, and that includes stoplights and slow traffic. It's a beautiful drive up 74 through Morrison, Idledale, and Kittridge btw, especially in the morning when the sun is pouring into the canyon.

The Hidden Fawn trail is basically a dirt sidewalk

Alderfer/Three Sisters is Jefferson County Open Space, and was acquired through donations of land from the Alderfer family and the Spencer Wyatt family, as well as purchases made from the aforementioned, from 1977 through 1986. Additional acreage was purchased from the State Land Board in 2002.

The park is just under 800 acres, and while it is known primarily for the Three Sisters and The Brother rock formations, it also has a trail that winds it's way up to the 8,536 foot summit of Evergreen Mountain.

                                       Wildflowers line the trail like a colorful honor guard

Midsummer means almost daily rain in the mountains and foothills around Denver, so it is wise to bring along a jacket or poncho in case the clouds decide to burst as you hike. While this park is not as isolated or as wild as a lot of the parks in Colorado are, the elements are still a factor and should never be ignored. 

               Crazy twisty curvy tree, an inspiration to straw manufacturers everywhere

The Three Sisters are on somewhat of a northern slope and as such it can get a little chilly, even in the afternoon of a warm sunny day. Fortunately, I prepared well in advance by developing several layers of subcutaneous fat to keep me warm, all polar bear like.

                                              How many deer can you see?

Walking along the Hidden Fawn Trail and staring off into the forest it eventually becomes apparent how the trail got it's name - there are a lot of deer hidden in there. The deer are docile, almost tame, which comes I suppose from not having to deal with the treat of hunters in the little sanctuary.

                                             Toadstool or mushroom? You go first

The rains not only bring out the wildflowers, but a wide variety of fungus as well. The mushrooms grow fairly large and colorful, which may or may not be a good thing. Magic or not, mushrooms have very limited appeal to me.

                                            A carefully stacked cairn along the trail

Cairn building is becoming a thing in Colorado. In the past two months, and over a few hundred miles of trail, I must have passed a few hundred of these, some are very simple little stacks of flat rocks, and some are very involved structures that look like small Japanese temples.

                                        The happiest rock in the history of the Earth

The trail makes it's way past, over, and through a lot of rock formations, most of which have been well-worn by millions of years of exposure to the elements. The Rocky Mountains offer an excellent shortcourse in geology. 

                                     The trail up to the Three Sisters gets a little narrow

Once off the Hidden Fawn Trail and on The Sisters Trail it is only 15 minutes to the Three Sisters and The Brother. The trail is a fairly easy switchback with only a 250 or so foot elevation gain from the parking lot.

                      The Three Sisters as seen from the top of The Brother

At the base of Three Sisters the temptation to clamber over the rocks is nearly overwhelming. It's as if there is some innate desire to see the view from the top. Fortunately, finding a route up is easy, and hand/foot holds are very evident (and stable). 

Scrambling up any of the Three Sisters or The Brother is not too difficult (no gear is allowed, so it's all hands and feet). I made it up The Brother to get a photo of the Three Sisters in about 15 minutes, and trust me you, I am no rock climber.

                Looking north from the top of The Brother

The views are excellent, though there are a few larger trees that poke up and obstruct here and there. 

                               The Colorado monsoon season brings out the fungus

I opted to follow the Bearberry Trail once I left the Three Sisters. The path is wide and an easy walk down to where it meets up with the Mountain Muhly Trail. 

                                           These guys are everywhere!

The Mountain Muhly Trail, as the name implies, winds around Muhly Mountain. At 7600 feet, it's more of a hill by Rocky Mountain standards than a mountain, but it does meander past an interesting old barn and adjacent cabin (now boarded up tight), and there is plenty of beautiful scenery to take in. 

                       An old boarded up cabin along the Mountain Muhly Trail

There is no signage other than "Keep Out" posted on or near any of the buildings that are along the Mountain Muhly Trail. The large cabin that is just past the barn looks at least 60 or 70 years old, with electrical service apparently added sometime after the cabin was built. It's a great old structure, and if it starts raining there is plenty of room under two separate porches to find shelter.

                                      Windblown trees line Mt Muhly Trail

The trail continues beyond the old cabin as a narrower, single track, though one that is still relatively easy to hike. The path quickly tops the mountain and the descent is along the west slope.  

The trail down has seen a bit of rain recently

From where the Bearberry Trail met the Mountain Muhly Trail to the top of the mountain took thirty minutes, and that includes time spent exploring the area around the old cabin. This hike, while at a slightly higher altitude than Lair O' The Bear and Pence Park, was proving to be far easier than that much shorter hike. 

View of the Three Sisters (and brother) from Mt.Muhly Trail

Muhly is somewhat northwest of the Three Sisters, and offers a nice view of the formations on the other side of the valley as you hike along the trail. 
  The midsummer rains have brought out the wildflowers

                                         They are following me...I know they are

The forest the trail cuts through is full of the sounds made by wildlife - chattering squirrels and chirping, cawing birds. Every so often the rustle of branches can be heard as well, the sound of the large mule deer making their way through the trees.

Mule deer sightings are common, and are generally a good thing, as it indicates that mountain lions and bears are probably not around.

                                                   Trails don't get better than this

The Mountain Muhly Trail was at one time a service road (for access to the old cabin, I imagine) and is still well maintained. Hiking along this trail, even at altitude, is as easy as walking along the sidewalk in front of my house.

              Turn the corner of the Bearberry Trail and you see the old Alderfer ranch and homestead

The Alderfer homestead was originally settled in the mid-1890's by George Dollison, and became the home of E.J. and Arleta Alderfer on Christmas Eve of 1945. The Alderfer family lived and worked on the property, expanding it to include a working cattle ranch, until the mid-seventies when Jefferson County Open Space began acquiring the property.

                   Lava plumes from millions of years ago have been weathered smooth

              Excellent view of the Three Sisters and brother from the Silver Fox Trail.

The best view of the Three Sisters and The Brother are from the Silver Fox Trail where it meets the Ponderosa Trail. The trail junction is only 1000 feet of level, well groomed trail from the Le Masters Road parking lot near the Alderfer homestead. 
The color variations in the wildflowers are incredible 

This particular portion of the trail features views of wildflower-covered mountain meadows, and there are even a number of benches available for anyone who desires to sit awhile and enjoy the cool mountain air.

                           A lunatic Mountain Biker blazes the trail to the Alderfer homestead

The Mountain Muhly Trail eventually meets the Bluebird Meadow Trail, which leads to the Alderfer homestead and ranch along Buffalo Park Road next to the Le Masters Road parking lot. 

There is a large herd of deer that makes it's home in the park, and in the area in front of the Alderfer homestead. 

They are mule deer that have been adopted by the people of Evergreen, and have become almost tame.

The deer gangs of Evergreen

Crossing Buffalo Park Road to the south section of the park the first trail encountered is a nearly level half-mile trail named Wild Iris Loop. It encircles a meadow that is generally filled with wild irises and other wildflowers, hence the clever name. 

At nearly the southern apex of this trail is the junction with the Evergreen Mountain West Trail, which leads to the summit of Evergreen Mountain.

The Evergreen Mountain West Trail

The trail is not too steep, but it is an ascent. The elevation gain is about 600 feet, and the trail is very popular with lunatics Mountain Bikers. It being a single track trail though I had to quickly step to the side to allow a careening Biker to blaze on past on a couple of occassions.

                                        Felled Lodgepole pine trees litter the forest floor

Hiking along the Evergreen Mountain West Trail the evidence of a Forest Management Project can be seen strewn all over the mountain. There is a large sign along the trail that explains that the Lodgepole Pine Forest has been thinned to increase habitat and vegetation diversity  and to reduce the wildfire hazard.

What I don't understand though is, if the intent was to lesson the danger of a wildfire, why leave all the very dry, very flammable dead trees scattered throughout the forest? I mean, isn't that just a loose stack of firewood?   

                    Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt are to the far right of the picture

The view from the summit of Evergreen Mountain, while not quite what it was from last week's trek up Mount Bierstadt, is still pretty impressive. The front range of the Rockies sprawls out for hundreds of miles, and the small city of Evergreen looks like a child's playset left out in the backyard.

                  I can see into the backyards of some very wealthy people's homes from here

                     Trees grow out of the granite...obligatory nature finds a way quote

The crest of Evergreen Mountain is still below the tree line, but being as how the mountain is composed primarily of granite, the trees have to work to find soil. It amazes and impresses me to see trees growing straight through solid rock.

                                          Weather-twisted tree trunks abound

Being exposed to the elements at the top of a mountain also means the trees are under constant assault by those same elements. The wind and the rain combine to contort the trees as they grow, and everywhere toppled trees that look like rung out dish towels are scattered on the ground. 

This little dude was quick!

There are plenty of squirrels running around at or near the summit of Evergreen Mountain, but those guys must be the preferred food source for a number of predators, as I have never seen such speedy little critters. They have developed serious scurrying skills.

                          View to the southeast from the summit of Evergreen Mountain

The area surrounding Evergreen Mountain features many natural and manmade meadows. The manmade meadows are the result of pastures created for the grazing of cattle and horses. There are still working ranches in the area, though not too many run cattle - mostly just recreational horse boarding nowadays.

 The evidence of the lava flows that formed the foundation of Rocky Mountains is everywhere 

The Evergreen Mountain East Trail makes it's way down the peak with a few switchbacks and a number of long sections of wide path that pass strands of Quaking Aspen and thinned out Lodgepole Pine forest. From the short Summit Trail to the parking lot is close to two miles, but it's as gentle a downhill two miles as one could hope for.

The last few hundred yards of the park

All told, the hike was not too difficult - pretty easy on the feet and legs, and not too challenging in terms of an increase in altitude (from my home in Lakewood to the summit of Evergreen Mountain is a little over 3,000 feet). 

Of the 13.9 miles of trails available, I hiked 10.7, but I think being at less than 9'000 feet and not having too much in the way of steep ascents to deal with made that the easiest 10.7 miles I've hiked in a long while.

This is a park that has something to offer just about everyone. However, if hiking up and down even well-maintained switchbacks is not your thing, drive on up to the old Alderfer home and check out the deer herd that makes it's home there. Very photogenic, that group.