"May you live in interesting times."
A purported ancient Chinese curse
I couldn't believe it! Just when I thought it was safe to go back into the dark waters of current events, there it was! The governmental shutdown had finally hit home!
With the closing of Yosemite National Park, the current crop of climbers posting late-season routes on some of the Valley's classic walls have found themselves on the outside, looking in. Whatever serves as the replacement for yesteryear's iconic "dirt-bag climber" hangout of "Camp 4" is now empty. Of "crag-rats," anyway.
There are, of course, the ghosts of dirt-bags past. If you can convince your right-brain to put the squint on that revered yet non-descript tent-site and table strewn area under the "3-Brothers" and just west of Lower Yosemite Falls, you might perceive apparitions of Yvon Chouinard, Chuck Pratt, Tom Frost, and Royal Robbins sorting through their 1960s-era gear prior to putting up one of their almost daily assaults on what had never been done before.
Oftentimes there's an upside, a silver lining of sorts, to the manifestations of such imbecilic behavior as that now most prominently being practiced by Congress. With pilgrims being given the boot from the National Parks that remain closed, they are forced to investigate the periphery of the designated hallowed ground in question.
Word from the front is that the surrounding Sierras are quite cathartic, indeed, to those who were asked to vacate Yosemite but, rather than return home, chose to nose around a bit.
There was a time when I underwent a similar metamorphosis. For years I had been a card-carrying member of that class of humanity Edward Abbey found to exist solely in the lowest dregs of the food chain. "There is no lower life form known to zoological science than the motorboat fisherman, the speedboat sightseer," is how ol' Ed put it.
Included in his essay collection, "Abbey's Road," or as he referred to it, the "confessions of a literary hobo," that particular quote always resonated with me. Even while boat-camping upon his hated Lake Powell, "Lake Foul," in the environmental vernacular, I understood the ethic. The loss of Glen Canyon had been nothing short of blasphemous!
Hiking the remaining exposed remnants of Glen Canyon became a way of better coming to terms with what had been lost and part of every succeeding boat trip. And so, once the time arrived when I no longer possessed a motorboat to call my own, I already had a leg up, so to speak. The entire non-inundated desert southwest opened up before me and was now mine to explore.
In many ways, it was a blessing. I was forced out of my addiction to flat-water to go cold turkey and abandon my sea-legs. Yampa Canyon, Ladore Canyon, the desert, the southwest canyon country, the "Big-Rez," the Hopi Mesas, Monument Valley, Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, Inscription House, Batatakin, Keet Seel, Taroweep, the Box, Barrier Canyon, Chesler Park, and uncounted others all might have eluded me had I retained my trusty craft.
I have yet to quite figure out how exactly the Dodgers' recent two-game debacle in St. Louis fits in to all this but I'm sure there's a connection. Obviously the budget-rug for hitting with men in scoring position has been pulled out from under them.
Although they won Monday night, having wasted quality starts by aces Clayton Kershaw and Matt Greinke, my bums definitely have an uphill row to hoe. And with a recent CT scan showing Hanley Ramirez with a rib fracture, I can't see their position improving much by the time this current drivel sees print. You never know, however. They may yet learn how to apply hickory to horsehide when it matters most.
Things have gotten so convoluted around these parts of late that even members of the local equine population have taken it upon themselves to go on the lam, to hit the highway, to look for greener pastures, as it were.
A couple of them, Romeo and Austin to be specific, made short work of what was presumed to be a locked gate and, before appearing on the radar of our crack local Animal Control team, were well on their way to The Hub for an all-you-can-eat oatmeal brunch. It seems that we're not the only ones with a bit of periphery to explore.
So, except for my Dodgers, the hits just keep on a-comin'. The Vail boys ride in and the Meth boys are hauled off. It's getting harder and harder and curiouser and curiouser. The blame game remains afoot. The spin doctors and the barbarians are at the gate. And betting on the muse for an original thought is no longer a sure thing. It's a longshot if there ever was one.
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.