Written Inaction

Let’s get this party started.
August 25, 2011, 12:51 pm
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Boundarywaters Bound
August 25, 2011, 12:38 pm
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The best laid plans of mice and men so often go awry. Or something like that.

After having roused myself from a restless sleep at 4am to leave for the airport at 5 am, I had no delusions about what today’s travel would be like: long. And adding to its length would be its difficulty. 6 men, traveling from 5 different locations around the US, converging on one remote town that would be their launching point into the back country.

Hailing from Seattle, Manchester, Dallas, Boston, and Austin, we had anticipated a landing of the first two in Duluth at 2pm, then the rest at 8. So far, little has gone to plan.

Jason, coming from Boston, was delayed first. 2 hours. Since he was to get the rental car in minneapolis and drive it to Duluth, this stranded me at the Duluth airport for 3 hours or so until he got there at 5. This precipitated my allowing myself to be bumped from my flight in exchange for a $400 voucher (yes, I’m that easily bought)- the next flight would get me into Duluth @5. Sounds like a deal to me. Bested, perhaps, only by the next question: “do you mind an exit row seat?”‘ somehow, I forced myself to deal with this circumstance, even after learning that I had been upgraded to “sky priority”.

The others, at this point suffer a fate worse than death. They are stuck in Detroit. Worse, given that Duluth doesn’t get a ton of air traffic (surprise!), they’re on the same flight that now gets in a 10:30pm.

The fun really gets started then, because after shopping and picking them up at the airport, we begin the 3-4 hour drive to Grand Marais. So going from a small remote town to an even smaller, remoter town without much cell service, directions, or camping reservation (arriving at 2am or so, assuming good time) just smacks of the banjo-twanging disaster that we all feared this would become. I know this isn’t banjo country, but I’ve been up since four. Let me have this.

But honestly, this is quite fun. Texting from around the country like refugees, plans constantly in flux…this is the stuff adventures are made of.

Who ever thought “texting” and “adventure” would fit in the same sentence?

Time to board! Time to trader Discover
magazine and crappy iPhone WordPress app for a fishing pole and
Unnecessarily large hunting knife.

Team Parkinsons STP Cycle Ride 2011

My grandfather’s name was John Krawchuk.  When I was born he had already retired and between him and my grandmother, I was spoiled with undivided affection.  I spent a lot of time as a young boy “helping” my grandfather with his various hobbies.  He was an avid gardener, fisherman, coin collector, aquarium keeper, and outdoorsman. For anyone who knows me, his influence on my interests isn’t hard to see.  In the hot summer months when New England thunderstorms would roll in we would sit in lawnchairs in the garage and watch as lightning cracked across the olive green sky and thunderclaps shook the house.  When it was sunny, we’d collect fallen apples, put them in a bucket of water, and aerate it with a bicycle pump so I could make my famous ‘apple soup’.  I was even tolerated in the garden, where my fervor for pulling out baby carrots was well known.  During the winters we’d build snowmen and then retreat to the basement and, with a fire in the fireplace, pound nails into pieces of wood on his workbench–making “tables”–until I exhausted myself.  Then we’d roast marshmallows in the dark, I’d fall asleep, and eventually wake up upstairs on the couch with my grandfather sitting in his chair watching nature documentaries.  We were partners in crime.

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Sorry. I’m That Asshole Biker.

The woman in front of me is texting; that’s why she’s taking so long to pull out of the garage and onto the main street.  I consider cutting along her left side to get in position for my right turn, but if she takes the closer lane I’m likely to get clipped.  I balance on my bike a few more seconds before she pulls into traffic, and I am following behind her when she stops abruptly.

I’m not in the correct lane, and didn’t anticipate the quick stop—now I’m a little off balance.  I look up the road and see no cars ahead in the centermost right turn lane and hug her left side and ride the white dotted line between lanes.  This is a mistake.  When a cyclist is approaching stopped cars from behind,  he or she can get away with this.  But from an approaching car, this looks like you’ve taken the lane, which is what it looked like to the Escalade that blared its horn from behind.

In my defense, it was very light colored—the color of the tan concrete backdrop of the surrounding buildings—which is why I don’t think I saw it.  But that’s just a justification; it’s my job and responsibility to see it, and I didn’t.  But the horn, loud and jarring, scared the crap out of me and I let fly with a terrible habit— the middle finger.   This was also a mistake.

“Stay in your lane and that won’t happen!”  yelled someone from the sidewalk.  “Fuuuuuck you” I said back, making my turn.  “Back at you,” came the quick reply that both impressed and annoyed me.   I signaled left, made my way over to the far lane and stopped at a red light, shaken and aggravated with myself.  Stupid.

The light changed and I pedaled forward, and that’s when, from behind, I heard the roar of a large engine, coming up.  Fast.  When it sounded like it was on my back wheel, the sound moved right and roared up alongside me, deliberately crowding my lane.  “HEY!” screamed the driver, a spray-tanned, overly-gelled, ring-wearing , 40-something fratboy “You’re lucky I don’t drag you off that thing and beat your fuckin’ ass!”

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Making Bedroom Videos (Not the Cool Kind)

NorthWest Hospital and Medical Center has a Department of Sleep.  That’s not the real name, but it’s more fun to think of it that way–with a Deputy Director of Snoozing and a VP of Catnaps running the late night activities.

Joking aside, the place does exist, and I know that because I am currently sitting in a sleeping room, patiently awaiting my tech–Jeremy–to affix me with wires and suction cups before my 11pm bed time.  Already the place has a surreal feel to it.  Walking through a parking garage with your own pillow (recommended for the study) feels a bit like trying your boxers in your high school classroom; it’s not indecent, but its far more intimate a detail than you care to share with strangers.  Upon entering the building, however, things felt even weirder.  The hospital was largely abandoned, with lights dimmed or off, and as I walked the corridors looking for 320, I wouldn’t help but think of every sleepless little boy in every children’s book my mother had ever read to me–wandering the dark halls, pillow in tow, looking for the light to show him where he was supposed to be.

I found where I was supposed to be–in the waiting room with two other people–both holding pillows, thank you–with very puffy and bloodshot eyes.  “This where the slumber party is?”  I asked, staring at the guy.  “Yeah,” he responds with a smirk.  I sit down.

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White Water Raft Guide Training: Week 1-The Skagit

“What the heck are you doing?”  Asked Kenney coolly as we headed toward the rapids.  Apparently, he didn’t like my choice of direction.  “What the heck are you doing, man?”  He started gesturing to the left, “turn, TURN, THAT WAY!”

His arm jabbed the air viciously to river right, and as water smashed over the bow and the crew paddled ahead.   I had decided, apparently, to make an example of myself by doing everything in this instant wrong.  In the panic I did not realize that I was actually pulling in the opposite direction that I wanted to go; I’d moved from my post to the back of the raft up the side and tried–as panicked guides do–to muscle the 1400lb boat myself, and finally,  as the raft began to spin wildly our of control, I froze, unable to decide what to do.  Which is why we went over the rapid backward.

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Iceland Day III: The Rift is Lovely, Dark, and Deep

Today is the last day I see my brother.  A little melodramatic, but today Kevin separates from the group and decides to head off on his own on a two-day hike toward a glacier.  I’m convinced he’s going to die and I’ve told him as much.  Several times, actually, but there’s no attempting to stop him once he has an idea in his head, and though he is ill-prepared, inexperienced, and unplanned, there’s nothing I can do to change his mind.

As I sit here eating coffee yogurt and writing before we leave for my dive today he teases Stephen about sleeping too much.  At the same time, the wind outside screams across the plain with a force that causes the whole house to creak—and this is what I worry about.  Is it unseasonably cold?  No.  Is it periodically raining?  Yes.  Is it unseasonably windy?  Why, yes, yes it is.  And that’s a perfect combination to get you in trouble with exposure. Were it freezing and blowing a snowstorm, that’d be one thing—but when it’s relatively light and clear, you don’t think about the fact that if you get wet and then wind picks up, you’re not going to have a lot of time before you start getting cold.  And as we’ve come to appreciate, this place does not have a lot of cover to hide from the wind.  There are a few rocks to hind behind; that’s about it.

So the one thing I can hope for at this point is that his stupid plan falls apart and when he tells the guides his plans and asks for a ride into Rekjiavik, they’ll tell him what a bad idea it is and he’ll scrap it.  Unlikely to happen, but it’s the best I can hope for at this point.

I didn’t sleep much last night either.  I’m plagued by thoughts of him getting himself into trouble, about having to tell my parents that my little brother has been lost on a mountain, about losing someone who’s been such an integral part of my life for so long.  The thoughts fly faster than the winds that threatened to tear off shingles last night, which ultimately they didn’t, but they did take several pieces of porch banister with them.  At 2 in the morning I’d considered going out into the fray for a moment, just to see what it felt like to stand in winds that roared loud enough to scare me awake, but was worried that something might hit me in the darkness, and that I’d get locked out.  But honestly, it was the sound that scared me—I’d never really heard wind that loud and I was scared of it.  The night was plagued with a whole roster of things to fear.

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