Nights that I’d like righted, days I’d like longer, some memories shorter, but I know we must remember.
To walk with a breeze and soft sunlight, showing, guiding and pulling, hearing the joyful noise of all of it through the trees. To earn with a living, these steps I’m believing, will always lead the way.
In hands we’re united, fingers twined but not in fighting, love should always win again.
Unfurrow your brows and allow the sweetness of each day to wash over you in waves of gratitude and patience. Allow ourselves a bow and remember how, love is the brightest part of each day.
In sickness and in health, through poverty and wealth, our attitudes shall always offer the most riches. It’s always darkest before light, so I offer you find comfort there to learn your way. The fear will subside, your heart and mind will slow, your eyes adjust allowing an image you never saw before.
In fear we can flight, or stand to fight, what we believe in and know we are going our way. Treat others better than yourself, find a balance in mind and health, and know, tomorrow is always another day.
Lay your head where it may, close your eyes and sway, keep your chin up all you crazy fucks, and remember to go your way.
Steam rises from a stainless steel coffee cup, warming my hands and lips, filling me with caffeine and perspective. Outside the storm pushes on, rain for days, our snow pack melting, soggy streets, dampening spirits an increasing solidarity. The rivers and creeks ebb and run over their banks, flooding roads and further isolating us from the outside world.
When I decided and found a way to move here, I couldn’t help but be excited about SEASONS, actual four seasons of the calendar year. The nourishment and lessons from each, the patience and prospects, reaping what you sow , enjoying and falling in love with the seasonal rush. I wanted to find a new adventure in the backcountry, skis, skins, snowpack and the changing hills fit and fill me with a passion and love I do not have words for. Reading at nights, trying to enjoy the shorter days, with a clean effort of what we need to do to prepare ourselves, our finances and souls, our hands and all they hope to hold.
There is a rhythm and hum of what all needs to be done. A constant pulse of work and play, of bills and pay, and of loans and interest rates. Lately its been my future love, this shop, this town, some woman who can house me, expand me and simply be with me, in those outlandish and quite times, equal intro and extrovert, and to each their own.
The elements shift like mood swings and our great mother has been brooding, overflowing and full of nourishment, I know that is also why I moved here, the Lost Sierra is my Soul Kitchen, her cupboards full and bright, filled with color, experiences, toil and effort, but the reward is tremendously high in both reward and gains, personal and financial. They long told me of the winters and tightening up, I am lucky to have a low overhead for a man entering his fourth decade roaming this land, although I do have loans and guarantees, promises and words kept, and those who believed know I’ll work my fingers and ass to the bone.
The rain thunders down on the asphalt shingle roof, the power flickers, the southwest wind shivers great arms of pine n cedars, causing cones and needles, fat droplets of aquatic spheres thrown about the ground. there is a steadiness and cause for storms, unlike temper tamptrums, they fill watersheds, clean out and thin the backcountry, causing more work for those who trim and cut trail, but seasons always need force and life cannot always be a beautiful John Muir picture. In truth, we all need to rage with energy, good and bad to create a cleansing new beginning and a end.
Attempting to be an entrepreneur of some sort, a business owner, friend, fixer and shop, to become an idealic member of this community, one that fits and fills a lack of family and longtime friends. I find my allotment of personal pleasure is in the backseat to the reality and wanting of this idea, this creation to be done better and more personal than ever before. It’s amazing the smattering of people who decide to make a little town their home. The hills are dotted with brilliance and success, but with equal parts failure and hiding. We all move to the same cord, just different tunings. It all works as a muse for me, especially when a woman cannot. The Brothers Comatose provide the music, as I reach for the pot of coffee to warm the steel and refresh ideas, its the only warmth’s in this otherwise typical Pacific Northwest day I grew up in.
Bikes and mountains, love and life. Energy, currents, sometimes swelling sometimes swaying, cover and scare us, allowing us to float or reinforce boarders. Passion and effort, the realization of a life’s work, a mentor of mine told me once you find your niche, your life’s work, you hone that and you’ll be alright. Alone in these mountains, I know that I’m not, but the wheel is mine sometimes the strength wavers but the passion does not. I believe in the ideal of the effort. Outside the windows and shop door, the neon open sign shows the rain in a technicolor, giving a different perspective and beauty to an otherwise bleak day and reminds me I love my brain and oddness of thought, but mainly the ability to be still and see things how they evolve instead of forcing and ideal.
And that, is my morning in the Lost Sierra.
I suppose I shoulda realized all those years ago, that this is where I should’ve ended up and gone sooner, but knowing now, this is where I belong. I was 15 with a learners permit in wallet and a bike mechanic for a co pilot heading a meandering southern route to Mammoth mountain and my first national, but more importantly it introduced me to the Sierras. I remember a spell of amazment, giant peaks, big trees, rivers and lakes, everything a boy from Snohomish loves, but alas, no soggy rainy gray skies, just bluebird days and brilliant sunshine.
Broken hearts and torn dreams, scattered remnants of what use to lay between, my head and heart floated amlisly I had lost my pure passion for the bike and its people, I was integrated into the wrong folk, I was grumpy and scared, the plight of an independent rep trying to provide for a family and find the inner love and freedom the machine had always given me. A mutual lack of communication and less and less time spent together spelled the end six weeks before knots where tied and vows where made, isles where walked and a lifetime of plans where laid. Looking back with a clean conscious and piece of mind, it all happened the way it should, although I do miss the structure and foundation of love, and being in the warmth of it, there, I’m truly my best self. Hands touching the soft porclien skin of a woman, and these lips have places to go, hands and fingers twined together and my heart and soul find a counterpart worth their time and devotion.
Exes and counterweights, the way a 9 foot 5 weight fly rod shake, trembling in current and rings in lakes, the cool air of sunrise and sunset cast a vision felt through my core. Dancing on rocks and pounding nails, fixing bikes and riding lost Sierra trails, I’m not content, I’m in love with the lay of the land and my place amongst it, I’ll never regret that relationship ending because it brought me here, where my love and soul converge and my eyes can roam and my body can be at rest and tired from true effort. Maybe she’s out there too, a woman who’s been lost and found, hurt and bound and ready to move on. Each experience is its own sphere, planets align and stars shine, we find love and gratitude be our galaxy and keep us in place, we are all energy and currents, some bigger and brighter than the others, but energy the same. Fear is a thought that keeps us sharp but can override us in times of drought, when love and reflection have gone missing our current dries and our bright ideas and eyes die.
There is always contrast, west and east, country and city, nature and civilization, youth and age, heart and head, energy and wisdom, love and tragedy. To be balanced we must hold all these accountable, much more, ourselves. We all need to find our purpose, and I’ve got mine, although my personal time is cut short by bank loans and my desire to pay those back and people who believed in this endevour, but everyday I lock the doors and roll out, the tall pines and cedars welcome me amongst their limbs, embrace and envelope me in a welcoming hug. The sun shines on my face and back, a nip of cool air cools my thoughts and I’m surrounded by beauty, simplicity is the root of life, but we often spend the majority of our time fucking it up.
I often think of a custom made left hand band and the pride I took in wearing it and the craftsmanship of the woman who created it. Eventually all wounds heal and we gain perspective and thought, although I loved her like no other, and we co habited well together, she wasn’t the human for me, I think moving beyond that was the hardest part, the idea VS the realization, that was the biggest hump, and also realizing my allotted time in Arizona had come to an end, I’m a man for the mountains, and without them I will go crazy. In all honesty however, I do miss her mom and the artistry they shared, that’s something beautiful I’ll always carry with me.
I don’t know when or how we forget a dream or find it out of reach, or not worth the fear of failure, sometimes you have to pitch it some reign and let the big dog eat, do our life’s work and find our place. I’ve rarely been lonely here, I have desires like any other, but I’ve found a peace from my work and my effort, more importantly though is me downloading and helping those who honestly need it and appreciate it, all my exerpeicnes come together like the big two headed river and I’ve created a space I’ve always wanted and craved, and that fellow souls can mingle and laugh, and that makes me about he happiest mother fucker you’ve ever met.
The lost Sierras have found another soul, and I’ll be forever thankful, I couldn’t help but feel that this area needed me as much as I need it, it spoke to me the way love does when I fall to it, easy, all consuming and no words need to be spoken. My passion for life, people and the bikes are back and better than they’ve ever been. I miss the Rice’s, Clint, all the Ahwatukee folk a lot, those I rode with and challenged each other, my friends in Tucson to Flag, but I had to do this, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made, all those experiences we shared are now being shared with others and the stories have new voices, much like the rivers and streams joining each other and rambling on to new lands, we all cast lines and have hope, hook and snag, catch and release us, but love and gratitude is always the current.
I hope y’all still dream and fight the good fight, find love and gratitude, challenge and peace, and at the end and beginning of the day you have somebody to kiss and love on, keep it simple, deep breaths and little steps, we’ll all be alright.
As my time in AZ comes to a close, I’m overwhelmed with emotions of gratitude, love, humbleness and appreciation. Thank you for allowing me to grow as a man, for accepting me as a person and opening your hearts and time for me, helping absorb my failures and allowing me to expand beyond the horizons. I’ve had my greatest amount of growth and success here and a lot of that is contributed to you all. The cycling community, Ahwatukee, friends that became family, I smile and shed tears not out of sadness but that I won’t see you as often as I’d like, and that maybe I haven’t shown just what you all have meant to me. It was the first time in my life I was just me, and I met the greatest people in my life amd those people became my pillars and I hoped to further evolve, be a husband and father with the communities help, but you’ve given me more than you’ll ever know, and allowed me to accomplish all that I have. There are far too many people to list and name, but there is nothing but love, gratitude, appreciation and affection. I’ll carry each and every one of you with me in the future and hope to see y’all soon, smiling and crying, I’m excited about the future and what lies ahead and the hope and wish to see you guys soon, thank you for the friendship and love from the bottom of my heart. Good things to come!
One of the first I ever wrote, these road days and miles are winding down, time to get back to who I am, and yea, I’m a bit soft.
What if all I am is a rhythm without the lyric.
A constant melody of shifting emotion wrapped in forms of intoxicating verses. It is the sweetest sound of your name from the openings of her mouth, corners of lips curled up in the shape of a smile. Strands of hair come undone from behind her ears, and fall across her face and cover the eyes, and it is here through this transparent mask there is no use in hiding anymore.
The cool air of sunset filters in the shapes around, here the angelic bliss comes closer. The texture of a kiss lingers on the anatomy of my lips, and now I’m left holding my eyes to yours and trying to unlock words to say. And then song begins again, as I see love in the corner of your eye, and now the soul melodic structure has a verse, or at least a chorus.
I thought about you in length today in the midst of my doings of nothing, just gathering the hours and bringing it to a close. I saw you at sunrise, sleep in your eye watching the explosion of a new day. Chilled air comes through naked maples and shines brightly long skinny shadows on the frozen ground. Streaking colors of violet and tangerine skies covered your face in a wash of color, as I kissed you on the neck and held you from behind. It somehow didn’t make sense of my rude image belonging in the picture, but it is my story and that’s how I see it. To flirt through a weekend morning, trying to watch my behavior, the stems of your legs shoot through the openings of my boxers and your body shrunken in my shirt, another wave of music enters my subconscious and adds to song.
In the vapors of afternoon rain, the cycle continuing upward in natures own rhythm, I pictured you through the steam, walking from rock to rock, I felt the base line of your feet carrying the beat, careful not yet to dip into rivers water. Your arms outstretched for balance as conducting an orchestra, condensations gathers around your finger tips, and the crash of symbols and drums rumbles from behind, it gathers a force when searching for a new stone, and then crescendos down when a path appears before you. It is here I know I’m dreaming, but there is no hurry to rub my eyes.
In the imagination of love, softly knowing I’m headed towards the end. I can make out the lines around your face, and skin to my chest. Gathered in arms and lordly with feeling, I hold tightest to the knowing everyone has a song to sing. But it is here, undercover of thread count drifting in sheets, half tangled in reality and wanting, I’m comfortable in essence my arms are full and the song not yet complete. In its own music it shuffles over life and makes the words, but it is us who provide the voice.
Going to get back to more of this, loving, grounded, believing, forgiving and growing.
I have dreams of my great grandmother, and this is our conversation. She was the first woman I met of unbearable will, and also the first person I was to ever see pass away. I was twelve years old staying in Vermont when she died, visiting her and my family. She reminds me of the great, strong women I’ve let into my life, and all that comes with it.
In dashes of light. Come what might, I seek to find.
Out beyond waters edge, out past where the sidewalk ends, I’ve always felt more comfortable in the dirt.
The earth have me to bed in soft grasses that whistle, the sound water ripples, a sweet voice calling me to stay.
I feel a hand in my palm, pulling me along like a boy who’s finally found his way. This feeling I’ve felt, the last time I knelt, at the foot of your grave.
With the eyes of a child, I see you and smile, you tell me its all okay. Young in skin, I ask to see you again, you whisper, just close your eyes, and sway.
Sway with the cattails off the waters breeze, move with the lyrics, no one else can see, sway with the power you create, just remember, its not all for you. You’ll be alright come morning light, the gift to see beyond has always been your way.
My Dear boy you’ve got fight, I hope you find, that not everything is a struggle. You have a lovers soul and look to find, questions that sometimes have no answers. Let your adventures tune you to yourself, find a balance in home and health, let good people into your soul. The strength you have is not just yours, but you have always known that.
You have a poor mans will, a preachers faith, the poets guilt, and a masons grace. How you’ve risen up beyond your place, as a child you where scared and timid, not once did you shy away from the pain. To know the truth is to know agony, to feel its power and live it in the day to day.
It has served you well for the places you’ve dwelled, out on the oceans, down the divide, countless races, it has its place, but cant erase what was done. You don’t live in the then, but fight in the now, I ask you please, to allow yourself a bow, there are people who love you and more that respect you, some that are affraid of you and more that don’t get you, but its not their gift to see.
I’ll always be that voice that calls to yore, out beyond the water bringing waves to the shore, you’ve always been able to find me. I am that breeze that comes through the pines and aspens bringing a song to the air, I see you lay your head down and stare at the leaves that twirl in the autom air, I’ve seen you fight and stumble but never ask why, some answeres a mother just knows.
Sweet boy, in my arms I hold you tight, through deep water and windy night, I’ll see you forever more.
I’ve spent nearly a month at my parents’ house. The house that we built, the space that saw me through high school and beyond, the gravel road that carried my feet from 1982 to beyond. Maturity was a benign word to me, perhaps, till even a couple years ago. I had to find it on my own, without the safety of parents, old friends and familiar people. Through failures and patience, the love a few damn good people, I’ve come out on the other side. I’ve always prided myself on internal honesty and honing a perspective unique to me, also knowing that said ideal could be shifted askew by the thought process of an irreverent man. But I also knew that T’s needed to be crossed and I’s dotted, that’s the maturity and vocabulary I was once missing to handle it correctly.
When I was a kid, I found solace in the quite. Our life was always full of noise, what I perceived to be hectic, white noise I didn’t know anything about. Filled by People with lots to say and no ears to listen, and I, didn’t know what or how to begin to unravel the alphabet trapped between my ears or the jumbled knots in my head, heart and gut. I was reminded of subtle beauty, sounds and getting lost in space and thought. My legs stopped what they were doing, my eyes looked towards the sky and my mind slowed to everything but listening. The axis shifted and the world once again came to me slowly, in maturation it ebbed quicker, but the feeling and sense, one and the same. Wide brimmed maple leaves sway and rub together in a melodic hymn, tops of pines leaning on each other’s shoulders, sharing a view and a story with one another looking over the mountains and river. Crickets, frogs and dogs walking upon 5/8ths minus gravel where all I heard, and I of course felt love, but a nostalgia for someone who is back in our home. I realized I’ve always listened, perhaps as a way to avoid fear, the unknown is what everyone was afraid of, and sometimes of what was inside the house. I waited to hear it coming, and instead however, I was ushered into a translucent beauty full of color, sounds and imagination.
The mornings are cast in an array of dew, spider webs spread from blackberry bushes upwards to poplars carrying weaves of water slightly drooping each filament of web. Pools gathered in the depths of leaves, captions of breath held like quotations above your head, the world was held in an aquatic chill, fog and the mystic of a new day. Baby blue sky bends to white arching across the sky patiently waiting for the sun. Soon however, it will rise from behind the mountains, tall pines and slowly burn the fog off and bring it back into the cumulous, where the cycle would repeat, or eventually come down in earnest precipitation.
The artic light of late summer throws sunlight deep into the later hands on the clock, where a man can still navigate till 10 pm, but he should be close to home. It’s here I realized, that 187th was no longer home, but a place I grew up. It’s the house we built and the structure that houses my parents, but for me, it’s an address. You’d be hard pressed to discover love as the underlying movement amongst our family, we’re fighters and workers, sometimes shameful, others gluttonous. Markedly different but we share the same stories and last name, but for me, it’s because of her I’d do anything for and our future.
Sacrifice, commitment, Love and the steady peaceful feeling internal happiness comes when you’re paired with someone that speaks on levels both seen and those we didn’t know we had, pushes you to be better and live fuller. For me, it’s the only time in my entire life I simply couldn’t get enough of somebody, or something. I wanted her near whenever possible. Worked hands become silk when brushed against porcelain skin, rugged edges become smoothed by whispers and a kiss, and madness at times fills us both, especially on her end, as my idiot endeavors have tested every boundary she’s had, and for reasons I’ll forever be grateful for, she’s here, love is indeed, the greatest feat of them all. With a look, a convoluted world makes sense when I watch her, and it wouldn’t matter if it was Chandler Arizona, or Chernobyl, I’d go right now with her.
Love, when done right is the most selfish and gratifying of any emotion and endeavor. Selfish that in the notion of purely loving someone it fills a well within, all the while filling theirs, the preverbal win/win. In adoration, I’ve become fuller. Acting true to yourself, heart and beliefs makes them love you even more as silent rhythms resonate and give new light to find further things we love about something, or, someone. In over a year and a half my introduction to this is continuing, learning new things about the emotion, fear and complete joy as a wide smile crosses my face by just a thought. It’s addicting, funny and a fact that I’ll never bore in love with her. Missing someone is the quintessential etiquette, their sound, touch and habits.
The last time I was housed here, there wasn’t any madness to love. I remember telling my friends, “why you with her if you don’t like to be with her” I, of course was a virgin and late to the party, but it still holds true. I’ve spent the greater majority of my years alone, and it’s been alright, I’ve seen and experienced the hardships and unworthiness of others. In circles spinning smaller and larger, we all come around, whole, there is a steadiness now, a foundation and core, a pact and honor. For a couple years I lost that, tangled in deceit, falseness, lost my trust in myself and others. Spending months fishing in Alaska to return, mildly homeless, I’ve always wanted a home, warm, soft and trusting. Filled with someone I cannot get enough and positivity, where any direction is alright, especially if we’re heading there together.
In the time and talks with my parents, sister and family, we’ve righted many wrongs and non-spoken words. Mended and coped with love and hope, but more importantly dedication and I’ve felt myself a changed man, closure and good endings, I’m looking forward to a lighter self, a self-imposed prisonment is over, and at the core I firmly see what I’ve always believed and the path and direction has never been clearer.
It is never too late to do the right thing, it’s never too late to be honest. Find remarkable people, give them yourself in honesty. Find a woman who inspires, trusts, loves, shapes and voices, images that will last longer than a lifetime, and pictures that make you see your life play out, acts of a husband, father, friend, lover and partner. That honor is something I’ll never bury again, the privilege of someone’s love and respect, it is beautiful. I would’ve never thought that my life, especially love life would be this overwhelming, that the long images of who I wanted to truly be all them years ago has come to fruition, that hard work pays off, but most important that love is the true barometer.
It’s shown me what I’ve achieved and learned, what I have and the gratitude, respect and honor that comes with it, but more importantly what we need to work on and improve. These are all things I’ve thought on oceans, bikes, mountains and rivers, but now they’re being played out, that the core is stronger than ever, character will always shine through and home has never looked so good. Here’s to family future and past. Who every would’ve thought maturity could feel so good.
I’ve been stuck on words lately, partly, because of the mercury needle approaching the top floor of numbers, add in a pinch of mad I know I house and because I know I’ll spend some time back home this summer. Bound by streets I can retrace with a whim of memory, cloaked in green, hugging all their secrets closely and the beauty of everything on the inside. 7522 187, might as well be a tumbler code unlocking me to a world that will forever amaze and behold, teach and appreciate, I became a graduate student over time from learnings long ago, alone in the hills, rivers and trees.
Maybe too, because I’ve been reading Maclean at bedtime in what has now become one of my favorite pastimes. Although I’ve never liked my voice, especially stumbling over words I can feel but cannot speak with the cadence it needs. I read aloud with the dog vertical between us and the girl asks me what a certain section is about and then tells me to carry on, in a broken rhythm, wishing I had been better at English and Lit in school, as now it is all I think about other than bikes, a girl and adventures. Without fail, within minutes, she’s snoring and the dog has also long found my voice not worth keeping her up. Then I delve back into a slow, quite space full of music, as I mouth the words and create all I want to see and the author too, methodical twisting of words full of images, stories, painted beautifully by a master in art.
Often he speaks of a knowing when he realized his life became a story, and that at some point he must write his passage of time. I was young, and at times it was tragic, I held a confusion that I harbored and didn’t realize for a long time. Characters took shape, plots thickened, expanded, things became remarkably bright and full of color, there was evil and beauty, and always a boy and a river. We reflect a certain degree of our youths, rarely though, do we mirror it, swim in it, bleed with it and have its currents replace our blood and transcend decades and centuries to fully revel in our paths.
Water has long soothed me, the sound, feel, current and coverage. Power and grace, aged and telling. Chilled and created in the mountains with giant stones and watersheds, it spends it youth forcefully, rushing past its surroundings, falling hundreds of feet rolling softly over buried treasures, gracing banks and shade. Swaying widely and softly towards the sea, giving life by the mile, the young current becomes aged and knowing, carrying tales, boats, dreams, and lines but mostly, always, stories.
We reflect much of a river, young, ambitious, eager to leave a mark, then to roll back and fondly remember all we did, the stories we created, retold to countless others and slowly sway out to the ocean, whichever one you believe in, always though, we wished we could spend more time in the peaceful beauty of where and how we started.
Hydraulic, as stated in a dictionary is
“Denoting, relating to, or operated by a liquid moving in a confined space under pressure. “Hydraulic Fluid.”
I ask then, aren’t we all bound by hydraulics? Liquid moving in a confined space under pressure is our blood circulating in our bodies, the pressure created by lifestyles and efforts. I was young when I first remember hydraulics, it was the first encapsulating thing I felt take over my entire body, a cocoon of safety, powerful and always willing to tell me a story and of course, take mine with it. There was a fear of its strength, of what lurks beneath the pools, what came to feed off its offerings, but there was always beauty, both loud and quite. I’ve never felt more understood than knee deep in a powerful river, feeling the lower chill, the upper warmth, my feet making awkward and balancing movement over ancient stones, sheer faces and shadows of mountains in all directions, granite, pines, greens, blues, moss and sand.
There are a few lines in the Matthew Arnolds “the buried life”
“And then he thinks he knows the hills where his life rose, and the sea where it goes.” This is where I’m from, hopefully someday, these educations will lead to a fuller, brighter and better told story.
Art, I had once thought was based on the education of understanding patterns. To fully understand it, you need to reflect on what you see, and that, is the beauty of art, the impressions we all see differently looking over the same objects. It’s interpreted through your eyes, casting a wave of spells over your brain sending electrodes throughout your body, casting down through, and between your toes to rise back up again leaving the vocal chords numb of beauty and effort, words cannot do it justice, so we sit in silence and drink with our eyes.
Time however, was never our strength, always behind the eight ball making ends meet, running to events, trade shows, side jobs and family obligations. I was young and knew I was different. I wanted to stop and watch tall evergreens sway and tip each other, like there was current in the tree allowing it to bend against its will, but its constructed to do so. Thick maple leaves cast off from their homes and become inanimate objects stuck in the swirl and birds float in the wind. My day dreaming would be interrupted by my father telling me to stop being lazy and get back to work and not kill time, but my mind had gone in the breeze, tall trees swaying to frame the Cascade mountains, thick cumulous gathered at the their shoulders and ebbed towards the forest, and us.
Softness, wasn’t something we had every day. There was love, without question, but the jelly squishiness of it was over ridden by the sheer need of what had to get done. My parents started a family early, a couple years after they got their own license. I believe they didn’t get to fully find themselves without the anchor of little ones running around, but they are responsible and here we are. Of course grandparents do what they do, and that is when my world slowed down, they would take me to places and asked me what I saw and how that made me feel, down to the big city of Seattle, wharfs, Pikes Place, Museums and of course the ocean. My small world became full of old planes, flying fish, highways and storied buildings. I believe that is why I returned to them in the end of their life, to ease what I could, but age and Alzheimer’s took the majority of their best parts, leaving sections of beauty that would occasional return.
My first memory is our house in Marrysville. We had a half door leading to the back yard that led to a willow tree, I was small enough to walk under the first half of it, everyone else except my younger sister had to open the top half, I thought it was made just for me and the dog. Out to the large base of the comfy willow, there was a stream down below the bank and I would lay here for hours with our dog Boots, a large, loyal yellow lab mix, dumber than the bottom part of that door but a good hound. I remember thinking that life is grand, a soft tree, a river bank, a pillow and friend in the shape of a dog, everything was clean. I remember walking with my brother to his bus stop but didn’t understand where he had to go for hours on end.
We become reflective and educated with time. I was young and thought I was tough, but I also knew things where beautiful, and that life could mirror a poem, a baseline chord we live our days to. It was quite the contrast from my family as I wrote early poems in the tall grasses of our backyard as my brother would disappear with his friends and driver’s license, my sister the youngest would be with her friends and I was fine being alone, but I never felt alone. lost in an emotion I didn’t understand. I grew up in a greenhouse and barn, one gave life and beauty to flowers my father would inexplicable grow from pin point seeds and one that would ease pain the law deemed illegal.
Two gutter connected greenhouses stretched towards our barn and equaled work, I took a young cucumber plant under my wing and it grew to give us a nice yield, till one day I saw bugs around it and knowing my father used a spay to kill them, I picked up a green spray paint can, and begun to kill the bugs, my plant as well as paint the plastic walls of the greenhouse. It was one of the only times I fucked up that he laughed at it, I was sad I killed the plant and thought for sure my dad’s skilled and callused hands could certainly fix it, but he took the plant out of the pot, tossed it into the compost, inspected the soil and recycled it to another pot, the circle of life. Pigs, chickens, flighty horses and cows. They’re all beautiful to watch and move, their strength and fears, trust and tempers, sitting on half eaten wooden fencing my world bent around the edges of alders and huckleberry bushes, the burn pit and tractor.
We always respected strength, fighting strength, lifting strength and effort. I was young and small and didn’t have much but I never quit, my father used to forcefully stop my brother and I from doing sit-ups, he thought anything over two hundred we could hurt ourselves. I began to realize in our mobile home that my strength was in the foresight, knowing beauty and the totality doesn’t belong to the wealthy, that art is all around and it’s given to those who can see and feel what is created. I was stuck recently by a passage from a lost mentor.
“But that is the way it was for me-a young romantic beginning an involvement and commitment to life and writing which-when it reached its most enlarged and present state-rests on the basic belief that what seems most beautiful in all I see about me is what men and women can create with their hands, issuing from their hearts and heads.”
We were beautifully rough, hands that created things from raw material, hands that protected our last name and sister. My father probably doesn’t think he’s an artist and that too is the beauty of him, and I believe that is my role within this bunch, to be a mirror for them to see themselves as I do. The fisherman, how lucky was I to experience years with him on a boat built by artisans in 1929, built and tailored for punishment, effort, work, payment and family. Allowing souls to experience the meaning of dedication, belief and power of currents, mountains and of course, wind. He too an artist of life, in the knowing there is no ceiling, and we can be whoever we choose.
Creating things with your hands, issuing from the hearts and heads. Eventually someday I hope to be a good story teller, that in some way my life will bend to allow the grandeur, defeat and effort of all I see and have done. That I can do justice in the beauty of the place I was raised, in the silent pride of our family, that my spelling and punctuation will someday match the staccato and rhyme in my head and I too will issue it from my heart and head and create something beautiful with my hands in a different way than I was once taught
Life is segmented by memories, they make up the DNA of our years and mark chapters of who we are and what and where we have been. Towards the end we all converge, like a notch in a mountain, a watershed ravine that spills to a river that swaddles and wonders towards a bigger ending, both a berth and a death.
I read, the pointed truths of those before me, with more education and a greater knowledge of vocabulary vernacular, but story tellers all are wishers and wonderers, all lovers of rivers and all with an internal twist for expression.
I recall a memory often of mine, maybe because it was full of fear, full of unknown and full of loneliness, defiance, effort and it marks my family perfectly.
I rode the Tour Divide in 2011, I started with a young man who I wish would’ve let me persuade him to who he is, but we all have destinations and disappointments, and those lesson he’s learned many lifelong assentation’s from. Now it’s a footnote to a long list of accomplishments, and for that, I’m deeply proud of the individual he’s become. Every failure is a window to future success.
I rode 90 percent alone, some 2,915 miles and 217,00 feet of climbing once Taylor sought a different path, I had some mechanical issues that needed time and that too left me trailing most. I wanted to ride in truth the ethos of the event, little help, little hotels and isolation. I read a lot of Norman MacLean, his family had a summer cabin in Seeley Lake Montana. The days leading up to that spot on the map where filled with cold nights, snow hikes, chilly rain and bears, a lot of bears.
On the run in towards Seeley Lake I encountered a typical Montana rain storm that I knew from growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I was experiencing the mild humbling’s of hypothermia to only find a laundry mat/restaurant at 5 a.m. My buddy stopped early, I walked in Snow for hours upon hours to the idea of Sasquatch, hunger and death. I really had no idea the true distance, nor did I want to, the idea of the next town was fuel, and my large imagination ran rampant on the idea of soft chairs, strong drinks and food.
You go through many epiphany’s in doing such an effort, you become manic in moods, they are marked on either end of the truest high, and the lowest low. My night in the Rockies of Montana, the closest I’d been to home where lonely and frightful, I saw well over 30 bears on my ride through the Forrest service road towards Owl Creek and the outskirts of Seeley Lake.
I had been awake and moving since Whitefish Montana and the massive rain storm, lying in a simple gor-tex bivvy I laid under a property sign hoping for some coverage, the tall summer grass laid over me and blanketed me in wetness, the bivy sunk from the pools of water and sat in my mouth attempting to suffocate me. I was once Closter phobic but, commercial fishing cured me of such nonsense, I pulled my shit together and rode to a gas station in town, stripped naked and blasted the hand harmer all over my frozen hands and man parts, life wasn’t good.
Waterproof maps soaked through and ruined, batteries corroded over, spirits where sunk and absolutely nothing was dry. I spent half the morning with everything in the dryer, then pushed off into the wilderness, off towards a destinations I’ve always wanted to see. The miles where long, with little stops but cute little churches, tiny A framed buildings of faith I knew people needed in this country, all painted white and coming to a cross over the doors.
A late afternoon sun broke through and shone on the green mountain next to me as I covered easy flat miles, it reminded me of home and the hills and roads I grew up in, my mood changed. A little gas station a ways off the track then the road to Seeley Lake, I had caught up to the South Africans, Luke and Meriam, really nice people doing it right. Somewhere during the miles we spit up in the long steady climb up. I had an old shitty blackberry phone and reception sucked, so I never had constant service or communication on who’s in front or behind, or little rest stops that others could search for.
I rode on, alone towards town some 75 miles away, I came to a clearing after seeing the most bears I’ve ever seen, including Alaska. The Montana Rocky Mountains laid over my right shoulder, it was nearly 10 pm but still light out, snow shouldered their slopes and gave a hint of white to the dark blue and grey mountains, the light was soft and the hue of some daylight hung in the air. I heckled at bears like you would cows, “hey bear”, “hey bear” ushering them out of your line, they were fat from a good spring, and my contraption was odd and they slowly meandered off the road. I rode in the dusk towards midnight, I had slept maybe three hours the day before and was done. At this point I still had my jet boil so I made some tea, romin and tried to calm myself about sleeping in the valley of bears. I found a random campsite and took that as an omen, it was complete with a built shitter, a water spigot and two picnic tables, one I slept under, life was good.
I woke up in the pre-dawn hours, looking over at eye level frosted grass I saw three bears no more than 20 yards away. I rolled my head back over, back to the down and synthetic warmth of safety and closed my eyes wishing they would see something different. I again turned to my right and saw three bears loaming about, I waited a second, noticed the bent forms of heavy bladed grass cursed with the weight of frost, I still had some of last night’s food in my mouth and gathered a plan. I moved and the crinkle of the bivvy and frost caused them to look at me, I stared at them in my most evil, don’t fuck with me alpha male look/please don’t eat me. They rambled off at the odd animal under a table and a pile of gear on top of it, occasionally all of us would look at each other, gauging, judging what we should do, I loaded up my gear on the bike, pedaled off and starred at bears.
I made my way to the outskirts of Seeley Lake, from gravel to pavement where the dirt road shot up mud till I reached pavement. I saw a long row of US flags at a cemetery and swerved my bike across, a list of those gone but not forgotten proudly remembered. The town had grown from what I had read about it, but those where the 20-30’s and in his last book, “young men and fire”. I found the first diner I could, rolled my bike up and fiddled with equipment as the waitress brought hot food an drinks, it was here I found that my camera charger could charge my ipod and for the first time during my ride I could have tunes. My spirits began to sore, I had a belly of food, a plan of action to Lincoln Montana, and beyond. The South Africans joined me on my last round, and as well all reveled in our experience I paid my tab, saw my music device fully charged and was stoked to cover miles.
It is a process to load up your bike and gear stash, and I was still a rookie at this point. In gathering my things and making my way to the door I saw a twin to my brother, we locked eyes and he began to make his way to me. It took me awhile to realize that it indeed was my brother, it had been nearly five years since I had seen him, my dad had joked that he would find me when I “ride my bike” at the time telling them of the trip it didn’t really sink in till we started, then they realized the scope of what we were doing.
Josh came up to me and said we’ve been trying to find you for days, you had some shit weather. He said Dad was across the street, I hadn’t seen my father since I moved to Arizona. I walked outsided, past my loaded up bike and looking north across the street was a grey haired man looking to leap frog through traffic. He came up to me and for a second there was a brief awkwardness of side hug or full hug. I waited till he was done looking at my bike so we were shoulder to shoulder for a good solid hug. The last couple of days where the most trying mentally and physically for me, and for the first time in a long time I felt the security of having your father there, even if it was for a moment, the security, the piece of mind, it righted me for the rest of the trip.
He didn’t have a smart phone, so he was in contact with my mom back in Snohomish about where I was and how to find me, distant GPS signals and no name towns and then, boom, a reunion. We had a brief conversation, I needed to make use of the sunlight and good roads, we had agreed to meet in Lincoln. It was 80 or so miles to meet back up, I had tunes in my ears and The head and the heart played as I left the nostalgia of seeing my dad in half a decade, my brother was healthy and present, I rode along a swollen river to see them again, through a couple small towns and asked them to stay open for the South Africans, through fields being irrigated by rolling sprinklers leaving a mist that laid at the foot of the mountains, past the big Blackfoot river where MacLean fly fished and I stopped and took a pic of tombstones rising up like shark fins in the flooded waters, his staccato matched my cadence and gave further song to the ride.
The last little bit of ride to Lincoln is pavement, alongside it was a creek cut deep into the earth, a beautiful sunny ride, my first in Montana, I rolled into town and heard “PETTIT”, “HEY, PETTIT”, “JONNYP” and there as promised sat my dad and brother, hanging out waiting for my meandering ass. I had to do laundry again from the muddy roads, we ate together and then I wanted to push off, but he waitress had other plans, she showed us the dumpster out back where a bear had shoved it open, a grizzly to be exact. So instead of covering ground I stayed with my family and we talked for hours, and to some to not see each other for years is odd, for me and us, its normal. We got caught up as big mosquitos bumped my a bear totem pole outside the hotel, the late night air was much lighter than the day before, here, with my dad and brother I was awash in safety and familiarity.
In the morning we had breakfast, we shared a room and they both snore beyond control, a large part of me wanted solidarity, to experience the divide as it comes, but I knew these days are few and rare. I stayed longer than I should at breakfast and enjoyed them for who they are, I knew a long lonely day awaited me and maybe we would meet up again, but here, in Lincoln, we were perfect, and together, a beautiful sunrise had greeted us, there was no, “you should call more” just love. Love for me being me, love for them being them, I had a 20-30 mile climb ahead of me and at the top, surrounded by myself, I stopped at the beauty of all that was around, in the snow and wind, with the pines and dirt, it was the only time I cried on the entire trip.
My dad has since had some health issues, and my brother is dealing with issues that I don’t know how to speak of, but I know he’s more than what he has been, and certainly more than who he is right now. I sit in the sun and he sits somewhere remarkably different, past failures are a window to success, we don’t have to be limited to our past and we have to have the imagination and integrity to become what we imagine, all I really know is, when I was the most scared and lonely, my family was there, and approaching the 40 mark I should probably let them know more often, they’ve always laid a path for me to get where ever I’ve ever wanted, and that, is beautiful. I rode than damn long stretch of trail, I saw them again and it brought us back together.
As should bikes, effort and forever seeking limits and truth should.