Worth so much more

History, Landscape, Montana, Mountain Life, Nature

I grew up in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a beautiful state, that has been graced by nature with areas of truly awe-inspiring geography.  From the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay to the endless ribbons of wooded mountains and valleys stretching down its spine.

In 1783, Thomas Jefferson traveled to Harper’s Ferry (then Virginia) and upon seeing the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac River remarked that this natural wonder “is as placid and delightful as that is wild and tremendous. For the mountains being cloven asunder, she presents to your eye, through the cleft, a small catch of smooth blue horizon, at an infinite distance in that plain country, inviting you, as it were, from the riot and tumult roaring around to pass through the breach and participate in the calm below…This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.”

But Jefferson never traveled west of the Appalachians.  He could only imagine what his Corp of Discovery, led by Lewis and Clark had witnessed and seen on their journey to the Pacific and back.  As a teenager, I too hiked high above Harpers Ferry and like Jefferson meditated with the beauty of the confluence. But Jefferson never saw the sunrise in Eastern Montana, the sunset and alpenglow on the Mountains in Glacier National Park.  If Harper’s Ferry is “worth a voyage across the Atlantic”, then Montana is worth low bagging to get to. Montana is worth all the pains of having your heartbroken while you’re a zit faced teenager knowing that things are going to be better. Montana is worth the late night insomnia of doubt about what you should do with your life.  Montana is worth all this and more. Not just one view worthy, but thousands, from the soul swallowing immensity of the Missouri Breaks to every peak in the Spanish Peaks.  

Sunrise over the Judith River, Fergus County, Montana

Thank God I was not born in Montana and never had these state backdrops of Montana infused into my life before consciousness.  Every drive is a discovery, every trip across this state another opportunity to fall in love and realize the promise of life.  Montana, worth a voyage from anywhere.  

Summer Ends

Glacier national park, Landscape, Montana, Mountain Life, Nature, Whitefish, Montana

Tomorrow I begin my 18th year of teaching. Roughly 1,800 students can say that I attempted to teach them. I’ve grown an immeasurable amount since that first period bell rung so many years ago.

The North Fork of the Flathead River, Montana.

Summer break has come to an end. It really came together, much accomplished, much learned and the experiences I lived through recharged me, brought me back to a good place. I think I might finally be where I’m supposed to be. Thank you to everyone, I’m so lucky.

One final last trip into the backcountry this weekend. The weather didn’t cooperate, but even on her worst days Montana is where you want to be.

Texas in August

education, History, Landscape, People, Texas

Just a few miles west of Johnson City, Texas, is the LBJ Ranch. Then Senator Lyndon B. Johnson bought the ranch in 1951 a few years into his first US Senate term. The ranch became the center piece of LBJ’s political career, the backdrop to many visits by world leaders, national politicians and cultural icons. When Johnson became president the ranch featured an expanded runway that brought the president to his home. A scorching August day seemed like the perfect time to take a look.

The main ranch house is currently closed to the public, you can sneak around the back and look at the pool. A place where LBJ spent lots of time.

The runway on the ranch was not big enough to handle the full size Air Force One so President Johnson sourced some JetStars to bring him from Austin to the ranch.

MK and I have been driving across the landscapes of life for the past 17 years.

Do we know what joy looks like?

Glacier national park, Landscape, Montana, Mountain Life, Nature, People, Whitefish, Montana

Today’s reading in Ryan Holiday’s Daily Stoic dealt with recognizing joy. We often live in constant hunger for more, something we don’t currently have. Imagine that, with the blink of an eye, you have all that you desire. Would it be joyous? Bliss?

Middle Fork of the Flathead River, Montana

What if we have already achieved joy, but desire masks the symptoms? What would make you happy right now? Don’t let desire cancel joy. I spent three consecutive days floating the North and Middle Fork of the Flathead, pure bliss. My mind was unsettled, my conscious convicted and my attention erratic. Always ask, “Is this joy?” If it is, savor it.

I’m traveling far and wide in the next few weeks. I’ve also given up on Facebook (for now) which was the primary way people linked up with this blog. If you think what I have to say is at all worth sharing, please do.

Under the Big Sky

candid, Landscape, Montana, Mountain Life, Music, People, Street, Whitefish, Montana

This past weekend Whitefish hosted the first Under the Big Sky music festival. On almost every level, musically, organizationally, socially and any other metric you could think of this event was nearly perfect.

Jenny Lewis was a favorite of mine, this woman has skills.
The smaller stage features Haskill creek serving as natural moat to separate performer and the audience. There was also a rodeo that would fire up between acts in the field behind the stage providing entertainment for all.
Nothing beats a cold Coors on a hot Montana day.
Tales were told
Food, drinks and even a mechanical bull were available.
People were happy.
Nathaniel and the Rat Sweats brought the energy.

THIS MUST BE THE PLACE

Glacier national park, Landscape, Montana, Mountain Life, Nature
Going to the Sun Road, GNP, Montana

One of the best parts of Spring in the Flathead Valley is the slow opening of the Going To The Sun Road inside Glacier National Park. As the National Park Service works to plow and remove the snow to Logan Pass, the road is open to cyclist only. And so for roughly two months unparalleled road riding is available. It’s a treasure and a gift that I simply can’t get enough of.

Experience

Beach, Landscape, Nature, north carolina

Long for experience, not things.  What good are things if you have not leaned, with your back against the wall of a great city, watching the flood tide of humanity rush pass you, feeling energy from the brilliant, the brave and the demons who have walked the same streets for centuries. What good will things give you if you have not woken, awake and wide-eyed in terror, in the middle of a  long night, knowing your own actions your own vices threaten to destroy you. What good are things if you have not sat up all night with a friend, rehashing the high highs and low lows, and then you see the pale light of the new day on the eastern horizon. When your only dream is a nightmare and your mind only computes minor chords, at least you know you are alive.   Long for experience, not things.

Corolla, Outer Banks, North Carolina

lifted me high through the night

Landscape, Nature, poetry, Texas
Dead Coyotes, Texas

Dostoevsky

against the wall, the firing squad ready.
then he got a reprieve.
suppose they had shot Dostoevsky?
before he wrote all that?
I suppose it wouldn’t have
mattered
not directly.
there are billions of people who have
never read him and never
will.
but as a young man I know that he
got me through the factories,
past the whores,
lifted me high through the night
and put me down
in a better
place.
even while in the bar
drinking with the other
derelicts,
I was glad they gave Dostoevsky a
reprieve,
it gave me one,
allowed me to look directly at those
rancid faces
in my world,
death pointing its finger,
I held fast,
an immaculate drunk
sharing the stinking dark with
my
brothers.

Charles Bukowski

Lending Out Books

Glacier national park, Landscape, Montana, Mountain Life, Nature, poetry

You’re always giving, my therapist said.
You have to learn how to take.  Whenever
you meet a woman, the first thing you do
is lend her your books.  You think she’ll
have to see you again in order to return them.
But what happens is, she doesn’t have the time
to read them, & she’s afraid if she sees you again
you’ll expect her to talk about them, & will
want to lend her even more.  So she
cancels the date.  You end up losing
a lot of books.  You should borrow hers.

Hal Sirowitz
Glacier National Park, Montana

How do you look back on a whole lifetime of books and not think about the many friends you let down? You borrowed and didn’t return, you gave and they vanished. Should there be a tabulation of friendship casualties, killed in action, missing in action, wounded?