Tuesday, May 17, Ford Center, Alberta, Baragastan – No I don’t know diddly-beans about Yoga (Yogi Berra, you bet, Yogi Bear, Yes, Yoga the metaphysical stuff, uh-uh). Yoga Journal is Jambe Longue’s Maggie, which she uses to help her keep her ouchy back from barking and seizing up. The mag features stories such as “How to Move Safely From Matsyasana to Camatkarsana.” I thought the answer would be to hire a competent moving company, but I turned out to be wrong. Really wrong, and my humor was not appreciated.
To be fair, the raggy-maggie has some good stuff in it – beyond pictures of rubber-limbed women – such as a piece in the June 2016 edition which offers seven tips for stimulating creativity. What it actually says is “surprising ways to spur innovation.” Magazine writing always loves adjectives. Snark aside, here’s the list: 1. Take a walk; 2. Do a quick body scan; 3. Eat more fruit; 4. Let Yourself Be Bored; 5. Hit the road; 6. Leave Your desk messy; and 7.Start doodling. Immediate assessment, I already do 1-3-4-5-6 and 7, so I looked in the mirror, proclaimed “You’re fat!” So, I increased the amount of Nos 1 and 3, so I’m now 7 for 7, right? Move more, eat less, what could be simpler than that?
I’d like to focus on No 5, Hitting the Road and as I read this I could hear the late Robin Williams (playing AFRS radio DJ Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning Vieeetnaaam!) tell his elderly Viet students to “Hit the fucking road, Jack!” And all of them repeating as one, his precise instruction — like a good catechism class.
Seriously, travel, especially if you work to engage your new surroundings rather than just pass through them, is a wonderful way to open your eyes and find new things to see and new ways to see them and if you can dive deep into the local cultures, the creative dividends can be remarkable – especially if you get your butt off paved roads.
A few years ago Jambe Longue and I were in Gogebic County scouting scene locations for Mountains of the Misbegotten. We were over near Tula in Gogebic Co and after stumbling onto private property tried to find a road north into some country that I wanted my characters to travel through (and which is coincidentally laced with nice trout streams). First cabin after we pull onto the two-track there is a naked woman sun bathing on a front deck. Our arrival sends her scrambling and of course Jame Longue and I are howling and then we pretty much forgot about it. Could get more than a dozen miles north before poor road and my lack of nerve turned us around.
Put this memory in a little packet and hold on. Now let move to just this past weekend. Dave (MVB, Multiple Vehicle Boy) and Diana (Agate Vulture No. 1) Stimac asked us to go along while they made some business stops for their Nature’s Way gift shop her in Alberta.
We left here 0930 in Dave’s Ford 350 white “Land Yacht” (He calls in Fat Ass) and headed west, our itinerary being Ontonagon, Merriweather and Wakefield. After finishing business meeting in Onty we stopped for brunch at Syl’s Café and after Brunch stopped at the NONESUCH gift shop across the street where we saw a wonderful chainsaw carving of a bobcat. Yesterday I saw what looked like a similar one on my novelist pal Henry Kisor’s FACEBOOK posting and told him we’d seen one like it in the gift store. Turns out we saw the identical one because he bought it that afternoon!
At Syl’s I should point out that we saw not one, but two different priests having post-mass lunch with parishioners and of course I had to sketch them in my People I See in Public Sketchbook.
As we approached Merriweather (west of Bergland) we regaled Dave and Diana with our story of the naked sunbather and then we turned off the blacktop onto a dirt road.
“Hey,” I yelped at Jambe Longue. “This looks like the same road.”
She yelped back, “It is the same road.”
Then I saw the cabin. “Hey that’s the very cabin we saw with the lady on the front deck!”
And then Dave pulled into the driveway, grinning. “This is our destination,” he said.
Out came Jim white-bearded Jim “Agate Addict” Jim Collins. Great guy, very knowledgeable about agates and all sorts of rocks. His pal Jim (missed his last name) showed up shortly thereafter. Pal Jim is retired train engineer from Yoop, fun guy, very knowledgable, originally from Wisconsin. The agate addict lives in Minnesota but keeps this old trapper cabin as his man-cave. Wonderful place, will no doubt appear in a book at some point, which is another benefit of travel.
Naturally MVB immediatly regales the Agate Addict with the story of Mme Au Naturel and Collins is knocked backwards. “When was this?”
“Three years ago,” Jambe Longue says.
“You saw the woman too?” he asked Jambe Longue.
“Indeed I did.”
“Well it wasn’t my wife because she hates coming up here. I bought this place 10 years ago. My son is divorced by he’s got a new girlfriend. Or it might have been one of the women from the camp across the way looking to get away from “menfolk.” He continue noodling but no answer came to the fore and we went inside to start examining rocks and looking around. Then the Other Jim showed up. Not his wife on the deck either.
After the trapper cabin we moved on to Wakefield and then on the way home stopped at the giant stop and rob in Bruce Crossing — grocks, gas,sporting goods, bait, all the good stuff—and I took a photo of custom camo truck paint job and went inside with my camera, my only goal to find a john but I got stopped by a stumpy little fellow with his toque pulled down like Eminem. “What you take pitchers of eh?”
“Whatever strikes my fancy. The plan is no plan.”
“Here I got a photo you won’t get,” he says and takes out his wallet (wrapped, like mine, in rubber bands) and digs out an old faded snapshot of trucks. “This as when they was building M-28,” he explained.
“You’re right, I won’t get a photo like that,” and moved on, but he followed. “Hey, take pitcher dat trap dere, you ain’t never seen one like dat before.” In fact I had. It was a large Connibear.
I said, “I know a guy owns a fur processing business and sells traps, downstate.”
I keep walking and he keeps shadowing. We are by the donuts now and he steps up past me to block my way, “You ever seen a trap eight or nine feet across.”
“Nope,” I said.
“I have,” he said proudly and competitively. Then, “M-28 needs to be four lane but these dumb motherfuckers from Bruce Crossing don’t want no traffic here nor no tourist money. They just want be left alone.”
No way to take a leak now without a shadow, so I bailed out and got back into Fat Ass. We were parked by the home camo job. Lonnie asked, “Who do you think owns that?”
I told her I had a pretty good idea as we pulled out and headed east for home.
May 10 Dave and I made a run up Pequamming Road, north of L’Anse to see the bartender at the Bella Vista Bar. The guy had been collecting and stripping huge spruce burls from the woods and wondering if Dave might be interested in them for his wood shop, so we went to look and from there went to the guy’s house over in Baraga to look at an even larger specimen. The man’s girlfriend came out and talked to us, Said she and her boyfriend took six hours to pull the damn thing through a beaver pond to their truck – on Mother’s Day. The guy told us when we met him he walks all the time despite having “two new knees and a basket on his spine. Worked construction and in the woods my whole life, paying da price now, hey.”
May 13 Jambe Longue heard all the birds scatter off the feeders and looked up to see a flash and then a peregrine falcon landed where it lorded over its prey, a rose-breasted grosbeak, and held its wings up like batman while it hammered the thing to death. Jambe Longue was fascinated. We’ve seen Cooper’s hawks do this at our place in Portage and once Bob Linsenman, Godfrey Grant and I saw an eagle do this to a hawk on the Trophy Water of the Au Sable, but this was our first time seeing a Peregrine in action. I’d read that their attack speed is up to 220 mph and they are a perfect mascot for the United States Air Force Academy. Go Falcons!
Our hummingbirds (hummers) came back to our feeders May 8, same day as last year. We love the bird and animal life around Alberta. Recently we took the dirt Menges Creek Road to town (we avoid blacktop at all costs) and were rewarded with a porky in an oak tree midday. It did not like my dancing around below to get photos, but remained aloft, trying to ignore my presence.
April 28 in the morning 0730 by our old house (Birch House) Lonnie and Shagsper were on the morning walk when they spied a light-colored wolf running eastward through heavy cover, following a sort of trail and route we’ve seen them on before. We live between two wolf pack (the Arvon and the Alberta) and animals go back and forth. Perhaps this one was looking to recruit for the Arvon Pack or looking love in one of those wrong places. Wolves: Who knows what they think. We like having them around even though we have to take some precautions with the dog. This is the price of immersing in a place, rather than speeding along the blacktop and stopping in tourist motels.
My very first copilot, Terry Daugherty got in touch with me over the website while we were up here. He was watching a lacrosse game on TV and though, “My old nav played for Michigan State, I wonder where he is now.” So he got on the computer and found me. We’ll get together later this summer. Last time I saw him he flew an OV-10 for the Pennsylvania National Guard out to Kalamazoo and we had lunch. Before that we had met in Bangkok. I was there on 3-mo TDY and he was on a year assignment as a Forward Air Controller, working with a green beret A team, living in a primitive and remote compound on the edge of some jungle. He had gone from 220 pounds to about 160 and looked like he had just come in from the Bataan Death March as we filled up on fresh milk flown down from Japan daily. More on our adventures after we meet. We once flew formation together in F4Es, my pilot mistaking me for a pilot rather than a navigator. He nearly had a heart attack when he discovered the truth and I had our wing about five feet off Terry’s wing and my guy was pushing me to “get closer.” More on all that later. We both puked that day in our cunt caps.
Sometime after we got her, my computer gagged and downloaded Word 10. In keeping iswthi the Cardinal road rule of computer-crap-world, it didn’t ask me. Just did it, and since then I can’t print a damn page and only last night figured out how to dump photos from my camera disk to the computer. Compukers! Over. Photos follow. (I hope)