10 July 2016

Independence Pass and quiet time alone.

Yesterday I took a trip to independence pass. It was a great little get away. At some point I'd like to spend the night and see the stars from the midpoint on the trail.

I'm going to share some of the photos and a video the Google helped me create. As usual, they just don't capture the feeling of being surrounded by all that beauty. The parking lot for the pass was packed as one would expect, with people from around the world. I counted at least four languages. I was a bit concerned that I may not get the kind of relaxing and quiet afternoon I was in need of. Thankfully, as is often the case, the folks who were at the parking area were only interested in hopping out of the car, taking a quick photo, and then moving on.

As I began up the 2.25 mile trail, I noted only a few people were venturing beyond the pavement. A sigh of relief. The further I got, the less people I noted. At one point I had to laugh, as a couple who where speaking french were taking video of each other in full running garb "running" down the side of the mountain. (they really only ran for about one minute each, and then began to walk back to the car). Too funny I thought, and wondered what the story would be... did they go all the way to the top? Did they run the entire way back? Who knows. People are funny critters.

The smells were amazing, this late in the season, at this altitude, there were still a variety of flowers in bloom, and the air had a strong sweet scent.
Finally as I crested the first hill, I noted that I had departed both the throngs of photo seekers, selfie sticks, and the hikers. It was quiet. I took a moment to take it all in, and was surprised that despite the brisk wind, there were small butterflies everywhere! How they manage in that kind of wind is beyond me.

After the first hill, the trail ran directly on the ridge line affording a spectacular, and slightly unnerving view all around. I remembered reading about the hiker last week who died after "falling a significant distance" and again, my morbid sense of humor said in the back of my mind "He died doing what he loved.... you know, falling!!!" I laughed, and the mountain was silent.
As I crested the second peak, I noted that I was just beginning to feel the altitude. I made a conscious effort to slow down, and make each foot fall a sure one. At this point there is a small, what I would call boulder field on the crest of the mountain. It is easily maneuvered through, but slowly as there is not much room for error.

Just past this peak you encounter an entirely different type of peak, from here to the end the entire trail is all pumice like volcanic stone. No dirt, just many many stones piled on one another. I liken them to ankle biters. It had the sound of walking on broken porcelain. I noted at this point also, the sweet smell of flowers was gone. I was now well past the altitude of flowers, and the air here was slightly thin, but crisp and clear.

I continued on this porcelain path until abruptly, it came to a cliff edge. I stopped in awe of both the view, the my proximity to the side of the cliff. It was spectacular.

I turned left to head straight to the peak, and was surprised to find two "fox hole" like positions built out of the surrounding rocks. I dropped my pack and had a seat at the top of the final peak on this trail. It was still accept for the wind, the occasional aircraft overhead. Stunning. I must have sat transfixed for damn near an hour. This I believe is the closest I have come to what some might call meditation.

19 March 2015

Perspective check

At one time in my life I was so relevant that people wanted me dead,  and they did their best to make that come to pass.

I sometimes lose my perspective on life,  and I find that thankfully someone or something usually reaches out to remind me and set me straight.

Today it was a leader I will always look up to,  and I bet he doesn't even know what he did.

He is once again, and in fact has never ceased to be, in the situation I mention above. He is a highly relevant, trained, and motivated leader. He is engaged in doing good, and making things right in all corners of the world at the behest of our great nation.

Today, as I sat in a parking lot in Denver, CO fresh into my new job at a corporate office of a telecommunications company, wondering what I was getting into, and just generally over-thinking my life choices. This man, this leader, took a moment from his day and let me know he was in fact thinking of me. He said he was thinking of 12 years ago tonight when we were under SCUD attack in Kuwait, and that he hoped I was doing well.


The parking lot faded away…

12 years….

They were trying to kill me, him, all of us. We were relevant, alive, dashing to don our MOPP gear, then over and over running to the bunker and waiting.

Hearing the patriot battery fire nearby, then waiting…. Then BOOM…. Then waiting…. And waiting…. Using our M256A1 kits to see what we could see.

It became mundane over the next 2-3 days… so much so that my entire tent slept through one air raid siren and giant voice… never even roused. Our PL came through on her way back to her tent after the all-clear and threw our tent door open… banging loudly… and yelled “where the hell were you guys… I was worried about you” we all shot bolt upright in our racks… My mouth was moving before I could stop it…” So why didn’t you get us on the way to the bunker, why did you wait until the all-clear to get us???” She was not amused. I was not amused. There was no amusement. The door slowly slid shut. The only sound was that of the string holding the water bottle rubbing through the wooden frame…. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…. Followed by the dull, quiet thud of the plywood door as it met it’s frame. We never spoke of it again.

All of this flashed through my mind… as I sat in this rental truck… in the parking lot… where I’m so irrelevant that no one even notices me.

However, today I was reminded that at one point in my life… I was relevant, people wanted me dead,  and some people will never experience that.

11 October 2014

I roam

I am destined to roam

A weapon at my side

What home can I find here?

17 June 2014

Alaska Airlines 1st rate service and employees

To whom it may concern,
During a recent flight from Billings to Portland, I had an opportunity to experience something rare these days. Excellent customer service.
Your team members Salvatore and Melanie in the cabin crew were exceptional. From the start of our boarding process and safety briefing, Salvatore brought gentle humor and a very human approach to his briefing. It was refreshing to hear it given in the same tone as you would normally talk with someone rather than a chore or reading a dusty script.
Furthermore, while our flight was in route, we encountered rough air on several occasions. On one such bump, a passenger toward the rear of the aircraft made use of your air sick bags, or rather, should have, but didn’t. Both Salvatore and Melanie reacted professionally and with the utmost care. They cleaned things up, and made sure the passenger was OK.
As the rough air continued, so did their professionalism. They did have two very short opportunities to make quick runs through the cabin with the beverage cart. They were quick, clear, and managed to take care of the group prior to the seatbelt sign coming back on.
As the flight drew to a close we were again treated to a rendition of your Alaska Airlines Visa card pitch as only Salvatore could give it. I would attempt to regale you with it, but it would pail in comparison. Had I not already been carrying my own Alaska Airlines card, I would have grabbed an application forthright.
This cabin crew reflects great credit upon your company as a whole, their respective teams, and your training team. Thank you, and please do pass along my thanks to both Salvatore and Melanie!

04 May 2014

Relationships as windows

The other day I grew a year older, and someone who I am connected to through a loss we both felt in very different ways sent me a nice message. It made me stop, yet again and think of the great person we both shared a loss for.

I thought of this and wanted to share it here...

Relationships are windows in our life and heart.
I see a large white open room, big like your schools gym when you were little.
But all white, and quiet and clean.
It's impossibly tall, and has windows all over it. As we look around the room we see that the windows all have different views of out them.
It's incongrous and disorienting, but not unpleasant just the same.
As we look at each window we know, just know that each of them is a relationship we have with someone in our life.
Some are closed and locked against the storm, others are just dusty and rusty with lack of use.
Some are near, and opened, and we see that one in perticular makes us feel for the one we lost.
We recall that in the last this window was full of sun, and joy, and we could hear... no... actually feel joy coming through it.
But now it's differnet, it has been since he was lost.
Initally, some of us closed that window, against the storm and rain and cold.
She couldn't, she had opened that window and hapily given up the ability to close it years ago.
She kept it opened through the storms, and rain, because she knew that there would always be sun, and joy eventually.
She stood at this window happily for years.
Now since he has gone, she still keeps it opened.
She stood there in the rain and cold that chilled her to the bone over the last year and more.
She wouldn't leave... she needed to feel the loss, the pain.
And from time to time, the sun would come out, and the warm wind would blow the curtans in that loveley lazy way a summer breeze does.
She lives for these times.
As time went on, the sun stayed longer, and the breeze kept it's warmpth through the nights.
It was getting better.
She did notice that while the storms had passed, that now too, even the sun began to seem somehow hazy, and distant... but not in a painfull or sad way, rather in a comfortable and reassuring way.
It was many months before she relized she was no longer standing directly at the window, but was beginning to look at, and indeed through others again.
Her children could be heard through some of them, and close friends through others.
She looked back, frightend for just a moment that the window of her love would be gone, or closed, or something terrible.
But it was there, as she rememberd it, opened, with a warm sunny breeze.
She had weatherd the worst, and could now feel free again to walk around the room, knowing that she could always come back when she wanted... or needed to.

We all have these windows,
we choose which ones to open, and when. Some open to sun, and others to storm and rain. Sometimes we do what others call silly or even morose, and stand there with the rain coming in the window, and we just let it come in. We stand in the puddle, getting chilled to the bone, just as she had, but still we can't leave. We won't leave. Then sometimes the storm lifts, and we see sun, and beauty, and a warm breeze moves the curtains lazily, and we bask in this joy.

When we loose someone dear to us, I imagine we walk close to the window initally uppon hearing the news and gaze at it in a new way, seeing the small bits of paint missing, and the notes we have stuck to it in the past, or in some cases the cobwebs across it,  All in a new light. the light of loss.
It starts as a cold blue light, but over time can become warm again.

Opening these windows is taking a chance, so some of us keep them locked up, closed, we hope it protects us, but really we just isolate ourselves.
I urge us all to open them, and try it out.
See just what adventures await us.
It won't always be sun, but remember,
It can't rain all the time.

25 April 2014

It drives me

I'm going to add this personal post to a mostly vanilla web-page. Funny as I type this, I'm thinking it's a good analogy for what I'm about to discuss.

Some songs I keep around be cause they make me happy, some because they make me remember. The one I'll share with you today does something I'm going to try to explain, but I may fail miserably. Wish me luck.

First I'll try to explain it, then I may share along with the lyrics what is going on in my head as I listen to the song.

The two very different sounds during the song play at picking the edges of a scab I don't think is ready to come off. Sometimes I really do wonder if all of this is real. What do I mean by this? Well... During my deployments I knew in no uncertain terms that it was VERY real. there were zero layers of bullshit. War, is as real as life can be. Here, and now, as I listen to this song while running on a treadmill at a hotel in Rawlins, WY I get goosebumps across my sweating body as I really wonder just what the hell I'm doing here. As the song progresses, there are two very opposing sounds. Chaos, and metallic tones of something dirty, gritty, and raw. While in the refrain a silky soft melody settles in as we ask ourselves if this is real...
Now, all that being said, there is a silver lining. There are a few, OK, three people who know either some of the real me, or in the case of one, all of me.
This is new
This is real
I have never been able to be this honest with someone in my past.
This has given me hope that the scab I mention may some day fall away on it's own
This has given me hope that even if it doesn't, that's OK, and I'm OK.

So it's a tough song to listen to. I only listen while running, and it drives me. I'm not sure why, but it does. I choose to keep it on my playlist for the same reason we tongue a sore tooth. It hurts, but for some reason, we like that, even crave it once in a while.

So as I ran on that treadmill, I thought, I wonder if this would be helpful for anyone. Or perhaps helpful for me to share. Hell I dunno, but why not.

Something I read the other day just popped into my head as I'm finishing this up, something like this:
If you act like you, then you will meet and be with people who like YOU. Not a fake idea of you, or some image of you, but actually YOU.
Great advice I think, and for some reason in today's world hard advice to follow.

01 December 2013

A chapter closes

I have lived mostly in WI for my entire life. Don't get me wrong, I travel a lot, and have been overseas, but I always wound up back in WI.

Tomorrow that changes. I will wake up early, unplug my RV, hitch up my car, and drive out of Wisconsin. I'm headed to Montana, my new job, new area, new challenges, new fun, and all new adventures.

I hesitate to say home. As I have for several years. I do have hope though. Hope that I'm getting closer to whatever it is I'm looking for. I do have some fear, a move, this far, at this time of year, can be daunting. Particularly when your driving your home there. However I also have help. That's a great feeling. So it is with a bitter sweet excitement on my mind that I write this note.

One chapter closes, a new one begins, unwritten, with no boundary as of yet. No telling what may happen, or what hilarity will ensue. I like that. I like to feel the tangible excitement, even adrenalin. I know as I shift into drive tomorrow morning... my heart will be pounding in my ears with the recognition of what's happening. The gravity of it all... and I'm glad.

I will never look back and say, I wish I had given that a try.