Thursday, July 16, 2015

Please go to russellcahill.com for new blog posts

New posts will be done on my new website. This site will remain for a while and will be reachable by navigating back from russellcahill.com. Thanks and sorry for any inconvenience.   russellcahill.com

Monday, July 6, 2015

How Old Are You Anyway?

Blog #34
How Old?
Terran and Russell 2013

On Wednesday I will spend my seventy seventh birthday at the Mariners vs Tigers game in Seattle. While working on the current project, a memoir of the eight years I served in the National Park Service, I've spent a lot of time looking back. There is a lot of nastiness going on in the world today and there certainly was during the year of my birth.

In 1938, Neville Chamberlain went to Munich and gave the Germans permission to invade Czechoslovakia. He came home to England declaring, "Peace in Our Time." German thugs and a willing population committed the, "Night of Broken Glass," during which they trashed the businesses and places of worship of Jews throughout their country. Ten thousand Jewish children were evacuated to England. The lead up to the second world war was in full swing in Europe, and in the Asian areas where Japan was invading and expanding its empire. All of this led to my father, his father and his brothers and sister participating in World War Two..

I decided to try something. What about someone who was seventy seven when I was born? What was going on in the year they were born? So I went back to look at 1861. Southern states seceded, Fort Sumter was taken, and hundreds of thousands of men signed up to go to battle over slavery. Some say the Civil War was fought over economic issues not slavery. O.K. but the cash value of slaves in the south was the biggest economic component of our national economy. The flesh of human beings was used as collateral, mortgaged, insured and brokered in markets throughout the south. The economics, for which we sacrificed somewhere around three quarters of a million of our citizens in the Civil War, was the economics of black flesh owned, broken, raped and ground down into a huge machine to produce cotton. 

This exercise got interesting. I did a leap backwards again to 1784. The United States Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War. King Carlos of Spain authorized the issuance of land grants in what is now California and Russia established an outpost in Kodiak, Alaska. During that same year Kamehameha began his war of conquest which led to the founding of the Kingdom of Hawai'i. During my life I have lived in Washington D.C, California, Alaska and Hawai'i.

Three seventy seven year old people span the history of the United States. War today! War yesterday! War seems to be the common denominator in all three of these life-spans. . The question that comes from this sequence is natural. Terran Russell Cahill just turned two. If he lives to seventy seven what will he have lived through?



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I Rant - Again

Blog #33

The Cons That Waste our Time

Lets's say I live to be 100. I know, it probably isn't in the cards but let's just say. That means I'm more than 3/4 of the way there. And the time is starting to accelerate toward the finish line. So time is valuable. Now if I want to waste that time watching cat videos on Facebook, that's my choice. I've gotten pretty good at scrolling past Donald Trump's face lately.

But here's the deal: I don't want anyone else ,wasting my time. I own it. You don't get to use it unless I choose to let you. So when I get an official looking piece of mail that says in bold letters,

REQUEST FOR ACTION -2ND ATTEMPT TO CONTACT

and it has my car information listed right on the cover, I think, "Oh no. Not another recall from Toyota." But then when I open it and read the fine print It's some yokel trying to sell me a long term maintenance plan. And I pitch it, along with an accompanying phrase that will go unmentioned here, into the trash with all the personal letters from President Obama asking for money for candidates and all the other junk mail.

Now that I'm started, there's Comcast. I pull up the site to check my e-mail, and there in front of me is a teaser to click and see what's happened to the unfortunate people burned out in the wildfire in Wenatchee. Click on it and someone spends a half minute trying to sell me golf clubs before I can see whether any of my friends have been burned out of their homes.    

Then there are all those things asking you to click on the article telling you which states have the highest taxes or are the worst places to live, or which players in the NFL will be good this year or which 19 year old starlet looks good in a bikini. (really I don't click on that one) If you click on any of that stuff you are barraged with ads and have to work your way through dozens of pages to get the answer to the questions they posed to get you to bite. And the worst thing is that I'm paying them a lot of money to waste my time.

 Every step you take to avoid these intrusions just causes some clever PhD Psychologist to try harder to get your attention. I can understand the motives of the machine smashing Luddites from the old days. Sometimes I get the desire to smash all the computers and tablets around here. OH wait! the phones ringing I wonder who's calling me from India now. You say you're from Microsoft and you know of a problem in my computer and you can fix it for me,  WAAAAAH!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The T-rex you can't see

Blog post #32




 

The latest Jurassic film shows people being chomped up by T-Rex hybrids, (No spoiler alert here. You have to be comatose to have missed the previews), carried off by flying lizards, and gulped down by some sea monster certain to inhabit the dreams of the kids who see the film. Unless you are a creationist you recognize the absurdity while enjoying the fun of seeing the visual reconstruction of these creatures. The real creature that haunts the dreams of Public Health workers today is invisible.

Tyrannosaurus rex never killed any humans. Yersinia pestis has killed tens of millions. The organism is somewhere around a hundred times smaller than one of the pixels you are looking at. The plague in its various forms killed 25 million people during a 200 year epidemic in the last millennium. The numbers may have been bigger but no one was counting large parts of the world outside of Europe, North Africa and parts of Asia. Some say the fall of Rome may have been caused by a pandemic brought back by troops returning from Persia. Seventeen days ago the septicemic version killed a sixteen year old boy near Ft. Collins Colorado.
My familiarity with this tiny killer comes from a part-time job I had in college. Several entomology students were hired by the Public Health Service to trap and collect rats along the Guadalupe River corridor in San Jose. We set snap traps along the river from the bay to the source in the Almaden Hills. The rats, mostly Rattus rattus, carried fleas, and the specific fleas we were looking for were the commonest carrier of plague bacteria. Many fleas can carry the bacterium but only two species have caused the pandemics. We taped our sleeves around gloves and shook flea powder on the arms and our pants cuffs and used long wooden tongs to pick up traps and dead rats and dropped them in a plastic bag which we sealed. In the lab we identified fleas and sent the likely ones to a USPHS lab in San Francisco for analysis. No plague was found but we know it was present in fleas on small mammals in the Coast Range of San Mateo County and in the San Bruno Hills.
North America was free of plague until ships brought the rats from Europe and Asia. Now it is endemic in populations of small mammals in the west. Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado are centers of activity but it occurs throughout the west. When people hunt squirrels and other small mammals or live in dwellings supporting flea populations they can be susceptible to the plague. During the middle ages, any priest or lay-healer could diagnose the bubonic version. Today many physicians have never seen the symptoms and may miss the diagnosis. Pneumonic plague occurs when the lungs get affected and can then be transmitted through coughing.
The good news is it’s treatable if diagnosed early. Unfortunately the boy in Colorado caught the fast-track version and evidently died within a week of contracting it. There are still a thousand or more cases reported around the world and probably many more unreported. Anyway, this is a darn good reason to stop feeding squirrels in the parks. Avoid dead or sick appearing mammals when hiking. The fleas will be looking for a convenient replacement for their meal ticket.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Reflections on Woodard Creek

Post #31
Reflections on Woodard Creek


We sleep with the window wide open during this June weather and the susurration of Woodard Creek lulls us to sleep. It's origin is from the artesian springs just a few miles from here and the flow is supplemented by the rains that keep this place so green. In late November we leave the window open a little and I awaken to the sound of splashing. The chum salmon are spawning and I know that before Christmas they will have sent their DNA forward to another generation and very slowly stayed with the current until either they weakened and were picked off by the Bald Eagles perched in the trees below our house or washed to the shore to be consumed by racoons and a host of other members of the recycling corps around here.

Narda and I keep track of our wild neighbors. The Human ones are pretty tame around here, but two days ago I saw a doe with a couple of frisky fawns prancing by the window in the photo above, and later, a coyote crossed the gravel driveway carrying a medium sized racoon or similar sized animal it had taken. The flowers in the photo are grown, with my vegetables in a garden surrounded by a fence equivalent to the one at Walla Walla State Prison. Keeps the deer from eating everything.

Garter snakes and northern alligator lizards keep down the slugs and bugs in my garden and red legged frogs join the tree frogs as part of my pest control-no chemicals strategy. Sometimes the slugs do well but we always eat well with the remainder. I won't use herbicides, so moles and other critters have made the "lawn" into a dandelion and buttercup forested ankle busting obstacle course. Mowing to keep the fire danger down is an adventure but it is great for the forty or fifty relatives of our two families who show up here every Easter for the feast and egg hunt.

The forest was cut about 120 years ago and I've had to take out a tree or two now and then. Western red cedar and hemlock along with a few Douglas firs are surrounded by big leafed and vine maples, alders and willows. The birds love our nine acres. Chestnut backed chickadees and red headed sapsuckers have nests drilled out of the same dead snag just outside our dining room window. Big pileated woodpeckers shout out their Woody Woodpecker imitations and Coopers hawks come winging their way through the woods. We've seen three kinds of owls here and often fall asleep to their calls. We keep a log of what we see and the notes let us predict what's coming next.

The monetary value we put on real estate is interesting. You couldn't buy half of one standard suburban house in San Jose with what this place is valued at. But then you'd have to drive to state and national parks to see the things that pass our windows every day. Half of the property is on the other side of the creek and is almost never visited; at least by humans.

I've seen sea-run cutthroat trout here and once, a dark torpedo shaped steelhead shot by me on the way up stream. The stream is reasonably healthy, considering the thoughtless development of some stream side properties but it has survived, And when all of us are gone it will still be here. I've worked in some of the most remote and beautiful places on earth but really, there is no place like home.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Last Yosemite Bear Tale

Blog Post #30


The Last Yosemite Bear Tale


Figure 1 Big Bend Black Bear NPS Photo by Reine Wonite

This is the last of the Yosemite Bear chapter. I had no treed Yosemite bear pics, so this Texas bear will have to do. Now I have to get on with writing the rest of the book. Expect it late this year. The Hawai’i novel Kolea should be out in electronic form sometime in July and in Print a couple of months later.Thanks for reading my blog.

(continued from #29) Not too long after that a yearling bear clawed a visitor in another campground. Often a young bear will “tree” if pursued. This one did so. In order to avoid shooting a firearm upward we would use a tranquilizer dart loaded with Sucostrin. The metal syringe cylinder is shaped like a short cigar and is delivered either with an air rifle or a bow and arrow. The thick bore needle on the device injects the chemical on impact and will tranquilize the bear. This bear had sent a woman to the hospital for cleaning and stitching so, unfortunately, it had earned the death penalty. We loaded the cylinder with a lethal dose, and I used the bow and arrow device and shot the dart into the bear’s buttocks.
As the poor beast crashed down through the tree branches a troop of Girl Scouts came out of the bushes behind us. Their leader was lecturing them. ‘The bear’s not dead, she said, “He’s just asleep. They’re going to take him to some remote place and drop him off in the wild.” The seasonal rangers looked at me for guidance. “Get the bear in the truck,” I said. They did so and the children gathered around as I started for the cab and a quick getaway. It was not to be. “Look!” one of the more observant girls said. “He’s not breathing.” The bear was dead but quivering from the effects of the drug on his nervous system. I ordered one of the rangers into the truck bed and said, “Pump on his chest.” As I drove away I saw in my side view mirror the skeptical look on the scout leader’s face. She knew. Around a couple of corners I stopped to get the ranger back in the truck cab. “That was quick thinking,” he said. “If it had lasted any longer you’d have been giving the bear mouth to mouth resuscitation,” I replied.
Some of the seasonal rangers were smarter than others. These were mostly college students working as rangers during their summer breaks. All were intelligent but some had very little common sense. One fellow was asked to take the bear trap out to a problem location and set it away from the camping area. He said he knew how to work the thing, so off he went with the pickup and trailer. After a couple of hours not hearing from him I sent another guy to find out if he was having problems. He found the first ranger trapped inside the bear trap baking in the summer heat. Ranger number one didn’t know what the little hatch in the front of the trap was for. Instead of baiting the trap through the little hatch and then cranking the big door up before returning to the hatch to set the trigger, he had entered the trap, hung the rotting bait on the hook and triggered the trap door shut on himself. We nearly had ourselves a baked ranger.



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Blog # 29


A Bear Invades the Ahwahnee Hotel

Black Bear at Sequoia-Kings Canyon  NPS Photo

This is a continuation of the last blog post. It's from the book I'm writing about being a Park Ranger

One quiet winter morning at around three A.M. I got a call from the desk at the Ahwahnee Hotel. The excited night man was hollering into the phone that a bear had gotten into the hotel and was running frantically around trying to get out. The Ahwahnee is the “high end” of the Yosemite Hotels. I rolled in and grabbed a shovel out of the back of the patrol wagon and went in the front door.

It turned out that the night shift baker had propped the kitchen door open so he could empty several containers of garbage without having to open the door each time. On one trip to the “bear proof” dumpster a medium sized black bear had gone into the kitchen. When the baker went in for another load the bear panicked and was bellowing and running around the kitchen. The baker jumped up on the big grill and yelled for help. Hearing the commotion, the night man opened the door to the kitchen and was nearly bowled over by the bear as it barreled into the main lobby area.

When I showed up, the bear was in a large sun room that surrounds a big stone fireplace. The bear was jumping onto the expensive furniture trying to find a way out. He had already pooped on the Navaho rugs and was in total bear-panic. I banged the shovel on the floor and advanced on the bear. It ran around the big fireplace and into the lobby, so I opened all the doors in the sun room and went after the bear. Soon the bear was after me and I backed around near one of the doors, and when the bear advanced with his hackles raised, I banged the shovel on the stones at the fireplace and he darted out one of the open doors.


I had to kill three bears during my tenure as a National Park Ranger and I hated every experience. It is one thing to hunt and kill an animal for food. It’s quite another to have to take its life because people have gotten the animal used to handouts. Most of the bears had been fed by ignorant park visitors. Feeding a bear is like being on a homicide jury and voting for the death penalty for the bear. A black bear is a creature of habit. Once the bear learns to get food it will return over and over to repeat the experience. To save these magnificent creatures and to save the rangers from the terrible duty required of them, the animals should be left alone and campers should use secure storage for their groceries.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Blog #28


Yosemite Bears

Cartoon by Bill Mason ceramic by Carol Janda


The people who read this blog have told me to stop messing around and go back to what I do best: telling stories that may or may not be factual. So here's an excerpt on Yosemite bears from a book I'm writing about my National Park years. Cartoon bears are a lot of fun. Real bears are wild animals whose behavior is modified by living in common with us.



Bears
The dump was closed. For many years, an area near Camp Curry was used as a dump. Later, responding to the growth in trash, the garbage was hauled out of the park. A transfer station had replaced the old dump but generations of bears had been using the dump for a long time and they had taught their offspring to visit it. So when the bears came sniffing around the dumpsters at night there would be dozens of flashes going off from cameras of visitors looking for wildlife shots to take home. I have no idea how many people watched slide shows which included pictures of bears trying to get into secured dumpsters. Rangers had to referee the nightly dumpster jamboree to keep the players apart. 

The bears became more adept at getting food every year and raided campsites and cars on a regular basis. The issue was exacerbated by fools who fed the bears in order to get a photo.
The bear population of Yosemite Valley was estimated at just under forty. Interactions with visitors became a serious problem. We were required to kill bears that attacked visitors. We knew the bears on a personal-name basis. They were named by seasonal employees. I was tasked with euthanizing the bear known as “El Cid”. He had clawed a pair of teenagers who had waded to a wooded island to get some privacy and the pair were suffering from a bad case of Ursus Interruptus.

Two seasonal Rangers and I began to follow the big male bear through the campgrounds. I carried a .375 caliber Weatherby magnum rifle designed for killing large animals. Killing a bear with a big gun without hitting someone in our filled up campgrounds and lodges was not an easy task. All afternoon and evening we followed him until about ten at night when we finally found a place to take the shot. The bear had decided to wade across the Merced River downstream from Stoneman Bridge. We had followed him through Camp Seven and from up on the bank I could shoot at a downward angle with the opposite bank as an effective backstop.

My father had taught me to shoot when I was a young teen and after my Army Reserve training I became an instructor in all of the hand-carried weapons. But this was a difficult shot. The bear was in the water moving away and the ranger’s flashlights were wavering as the two of them were breathing hard. I was also puffing a little from the jogging pursuit and needed a brace-rest to get the shot. The closest rest was the side of a small Airstream trailer in a campsite right above the river. I braced against the trailer, calmed my breathing and found the bear in the telescopic sight.

The Weatherby has a huge cartridge and it makes a hellacious loud noise when you fire it. When the rifle went off the poor fellow asleep inside the aluminum and wood structure had a terrible awakening. Boom! went the rifle. I cranked another round in as the bear rose up and spun around twice and then dropped into the shallows dead. The first shot had been true. During all of this, the camper popped his head out the door to see what was going on, and here was a ranger cloaked in gun-smoke with a rifle yelling, “Get back inside.” He did.

I waded out with the rifle ready, but the shot had been placed right and the big bear was dead. We rousted several seasonal rangers out of their tents and dragged the bear out of the river, up the bank and into the pickup. I weighed the truck, drove the bear to the site we used to dispose of the carcasses and went back and weighed the truck again. It’s a rough estimate, but the bear weighed about six hundred pounds and was the biggest Yosemite Black Bear I ever saw. In the morning I went back to apologize to the camper. He was O.K. with the whole deal, had gotten his hearing back to normal and was telling the story to other campers.

Next time I'll tell you about when I chased a bear around in the lobby of the Ahwahnee Hotel.Or was it the bear chasing me?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Bag Man

Blog #27

Bag Man

The Russ Solution

My last blog, a book review bombed. It had the lowest readership of any. So I decided to do something really exciting this week. GROCERY BAGS. Yes folks it's the new attack on plastic bags.
Here in Olympia and in Seattle and the rest of liberal land it's now not legal to get your groceries in those thin plastic bags. That's good. Maybe a few sea turtles will avoid strangling on them and they won't be blowing all over the freeway and the beaches.

But the alternative is largely more plastic. This time they are pushing the reusable ones with big pictures and colorful logos. Sorry, but what happens to those when they get worn out or lost? They will join the other plastic that lasts virtually forever and join the mega-tons circulating in the North Pacific Ocean and being ingested by other organisms in the food chain.

So here's the deal. I have CRS (can't remember stuff) and make grocery lists so I don't forget what I'm doing and then I forget the list and leave it on the counter in the kitchen. I'm not making this up.
So I kill two birds with one stone and write the list on a paper grocery bag and take it with me. These bags cost a nickel, will last several shopping trips and when they finally give up they can go in the paper recycling. They are made with 40% recycled content so you are really doing a good thing to use them.

I mark each use when I unload them and I'm shooting to beat ten uses per bag. What a superior feeling I get being a greeny.  See, wasn't that exciting.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Book Review - Unfamiliar Fishes

Blog post #26



A Book Review – Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell - Riverhead Books 2011 

 It is not easy to explain to people why Hawai’ians are blocking the road to the top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island. The protesters have slowed the construction of one of the biggest land based astronomical observatories ever. If you are of Hawai’ian ancestry, you are often asked why. And why the big protest over the geothermal energy trials at Kilauea Volcano a few years ago. If you read Sarah Vowell’s book you will begin to understand. 

Vowell takes her readers from the early Puritan based religious fervor in New England through the missionary zeal that sent the Brig Thaddeus to Hawai’i, and beyond into the history of the Hawai’ian people and their conquerors. She chronicles the unfortunate coincidence of the isolated population’s lack of resistance to common diseases and how it coincided with the missionary’s zeal to convert a successful culture into a subservient population which, in today’s political world, has little power beyond that of protest. She writes with a wry humor that I find appealing even though it describes one of the saddest parts of our history. 

The descendants of the missionaries who locked Queen Liliuokalani in the palace are characterized by her in quotes and comments from this letter from Lorrin Thurston to Sanford Dole, (italics added) "'I hope those who are drafting the constitution will not allow fine theories of free government to predominate over the necessities of the present situation.' He counsels against free speech because that would only encourage the native opposition: 'To treat them with forbearance and courtesy is like trying to disinfect leprosy with rose water,' He casually dismisses the need to guarantee a trial by jury, which had only been a bedrock principle in the English-speaking world for only, oh say seven hundred years."

 Vowell goes on to talk of Thurston’s plan to disenfranchise Hawai’ians and Asian workers, to require loyalty oaths (which Hawai’ians refused to sign) as a requirement for having their vote count, and literacy tests borrowed from Mississippi’s post Reconstruction laws which disenfranchised Blacks. He also wanted to suppress a free press and deport opponents. More than twenty six thousand people signed petitions against annexation to the U.S. but Vowell describes how three prominent descendants of the missionaries went to Washington and convinced the Congress and newly elected President Mc Kinley to annex Hawai’i. Sarah Vowell doesn’t excuse the Hawai’ian royalty from part of the blame but you get the impression she believes that Liliuokalani would have straightened out the constitutional monarchy and made it work for Hawai’ians and others had she been given the chance. 

If you read between the lines you will find the descriptions of the takeover similar to the arguments made by Hitler prior to the invasion of Poland and the Russians prior to their most recent “non-invasion” of the Crimean Peninsula.

 So, today with Hawai’ians (bunched together with other Polynesians in the census) less than ten percent of the population in their own land, and with the trusts set up to guarantee them an education and health care, under challenge why not protest. There are plenty of cultural reasons to keep industrial sized projects away from areas considered sacred by Hawai’ians just as has been done by other Native Americans. Reading this book won’t change what happens in the islands but it will make you better understand the events.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Dorothy is Missing

Blog Post #25


"Dorothy is Missing."


During the summer of 1923 the six year old child in the left side of the photograph and her twelve year old neighbor, Loretta Short, were lost for three days and two nights in the forests of Santa Cruz County in California. The child was Dorothy Hutchinson, my mother.

Each summer the Hutchinson clan would pile huge amounts of camping gear in their vehicles and drive down the narrow dirt road to Big Basin State Park for a month of camping. The men would stay for two weeks vacation and then drive back to work, leaving the families camped and returning on weekends.

The lost girls generated an enormous search with park rangers and volunteers combing the forest, searching through the night with gas lanterns and dragging the swimming area in a search for possible drowning victims. Here are excerpts from my mothers own recollections:

"We walked for what seemed like endless hours. I recall stooping over a little creek to get a drink and seeing a small yellow snake come gliding out from under the bank, at another point in our wanderings my shoe came off and went down a rather steep hill. Loretta was afraid to go down to get it because, she said, she was afraid she might not be able to climb up again.
We slept under the trees for two nights and Loretta covered me with an old sweater she was wearing. At one time during our wanderings Loretta found two slightly green blackberries and I can't remember having anything else to eat on our long journey...
When I grew up and had children of my own I finally had some inkling of what Mama and Papa must have gone through. Mama said that the thing that scared her most was the thought of the mountain lions which were populous in the mountains at that time...
I guess we finally found ourselves, because while we were following a creek we heard the sound of an automobile horn. It was being sounded by a woman who had become tired of waiting for her fisherman husband to return to the car. We rushed out into the clearing and were overjoyed to see grownups. They were very kind and had heard about the "lost children". They took us home and bathed us and fed us and put us to bed. It was wonderful when Mama and Papa showed up to take us home to camp."
The two girls had followed Waddell Creek to the Theodore Hoover ranch at the coast. It is possible that they were found by Theodore's brother and President-to-be Herbert, an avid fisherman who frequented the coastal streams around the ranch. They had walked somewhere between eight and twelve miles. Today there are maintained trails all along the route, but in 1923 the girls were true pathfinders.

I was the Director of California's State Park System in the 1970s and celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the park system with a big picnic at Big Basin. My mother, who had taken us camping in the family tradition, sat at the picnic table with former Governor Pat Brown and told her story. A few years later she asked that her ashes be scattered in the redwoods and our family obliged.



Friday, May 15, 2015

Blog Post #24


How much is a park worth?

Washington is home to Starbucks, Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, R.E.I. and huge crops of apples, wheat, trees and oysters. To say we are lucky would be an understatement. At the smaller end of the economic spectrum is Sage, making some of the best fly rods and Werner making the best kayak paddles. What's the point?

Last year Governor Jay Inslee included me on a panel charged with looking at the value of recreation to the people of Washington. State Parks has one hundred forty employees fewer than ten years ago. What's the deal? Are there fewer people? Are there fewer people with their R.V.s, bikes, tents, climbing gear skis and all the other stuff needed to enjoy the outdoors? Go out and take a look.

It turns out the economic value of outdoor recreation in Washington is huge. Somewhere around 25 billion dollars per year. That's sales of recreation stuff, the cost of going fishing or camping or to your softball game or whatever you're are up to. Buying a boat? It's in there too.

It's Really Big! Bigger than aircraft manufacturing and software and coffee. It's guys flying radio controlled airplanes and girls riding jumping horses at the Washington State Horse Park. Really, I found out that the sales tax collections from just the trips taken to state parks exceeds the meager budget approved by the legislature. We are already paying 70% of the costs of running the parks through the sales of the Discover Pass. That's better than any other state. If this were Boeing, everyone would jump to the tune and straighten this out. We'd give another tax break.

Call Someone! Get on the phone or the Internet and let your legislator know you want the parks kept open, the toilets cleaned and the criminals kept out. These are some of the few things we all get to enjoy from the spending of our taxes. Don't let the penny-pinching-spoil-sports scrimp you out of your parks and do the economy and the unemployed a favor by recognizing the real value of these parks.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Bill Cahill Meets Jim Crow

Blog # 23


Bill Cahill meets Jim Crow

1936 or 37

The reports of police and security guard brutality and shootings of black people have brought to mind a story from my family. My Grandfather, who related this story to me was chief engineer on a freighter in 1936 or 7. My father, pictured above, was a wiper-the lowest guy in the engine room of the same vessel. 

When the ship docked in Savannah, Georgia my father went ashore to buy some snacks and walk around a bit. He entered a grocery store run by Greek immigrants and was immediately challenged by the store owner and told to go outside and come around to the "negro entrance". Dad refused and the police were called. According to both my dad and grandfather dad was arrested and told to go to the station with the officer.

Dad said that the Savannah police officer told him, "We know how to deal with you northern niggers. You're going to Farmer Brown's pea farm," Evidently this was a euphemism for the "chain gang". Things got nasty then and my dad punched the officer, took his gun and threw it in the canal and ran back to the ship. 

When the police showed up at the ship, they were met by the Captain who told them that under maritime law, they needed to have a U.S. Marshall to board the ship. According to my dad, Grandpa was stationed above with a rifle and was prepared to start a shooting war if they forced their way onto the gangway.

The cops came back with a U.S.Marshall but found my father had disappeared. The Captain had sent him out a seaward hatch and a launch carried him to an outbound ship where he became a part of a crew headed for the Panama Canal and home. Had my father not been a good fighter and a fast runner, It's not likely that I, and the rest of my siblings, would be here. He would not have survived captivity.

Afternote: A few years ago my wife Narda and I were in Savannah. I went to the waterfront to try to recreate the scene I had pictured from the stories. There, at 5 E River Street, where the store had been described, was a Greek Restaurant called the Olympia with a sign indicating it had been there since the mid 1930s. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Two Hawai'ian Cultures

Blog #22

The Two Hawai’ian Cultures

I wanted to write a book about Ancient Hawai’i. I had climbed and walked the mountains of Maui and some of the windward side of Molokai. And there I heard the echoes of the ghosts of a huge ancient population that was unlucky enough to have lived isolated from common germs and American nineteenth century commercial culture for a long enough time to find themselves ripe for destruction. It wasn’t a perfect life. There were wars. There was an elite that sometimes oppressed the common folk. People had to work hard to supply communities with food, and shortages were not uncommon. But they were a bold bunch. Experts at things like celestial navigation and irrigated agriculture. They used nature to produce fish in ways unequalled to this day.

That ended when sailors supplied guns to Kamehameha and he was finally able to defeat the people of Maui, Molokai and Oahu and form a kingdom. It also ended when the idols were burned and the Christian Missionaries organized the survivors of the diseases and taught them to be servants just as they did American Indians and Australian Aborigines. Then the white advisors divvied up the land into sugar plantations and later, pineapple and imported foreign labor because they believed the Hawaiians, some of the most hard working people on earth, to be lazy.

Today the population of Maui is about ten percent Hawai’ian. The culture is divided. People of the original race that occupied everything from South America to Australia and from Hawai’i to the South tip of New Zealand try hard to retain some pride in their cultures. The voyaging canoes that began with Hokule’a are now eight or nine in number spreading through the Pacific. The old vaudeville type songs I grew up thinking were Hawai’ian music have been replaced by slack key innovations and a renaissance in Hawai’ian composition. Hula, as a mystical communication and a way to transfer the ancient culture has returned after being banned by the up-tight missionary advisors to the royals.

The majority cultures that make up the ninety percent have their own version of Hawai’ian Culture. There is a web site the person designing the cover for my novel referred me to. It’s called Shutterstock and it has thousands of images used by graphics designers for everything from t-shirts to greeting cards. Shutterstock fulfills a legitimate need. It provides people with a simple way of avoiding litigation over image copyright and it is easy to use. But it is also a weather vane for culture change. While foraging through about a hundred pages of images I found one of Haleakala Crater and more than a hundred of Hawai’ian pizza. There are dozens of ugly tiki images with alcohol jokes and not one Hawai’ian outrigger canoe. There is a woman wearing coconut shells for a bra identified as a Hawai’ian Hula dancer. And most of the people portrayed by far are white.


I recognize this for what it is, a rant. It will not, nor should it stop anyone from going to Hawai’i and enjoying what passes for Hawai’ian culture in the tourist trade. But please, when you get a chance, stop and talk to the guys rubbing down the canoe at Honaunau on the Big Island. Get a Hawaiian guide to take you to Waipio and listen to the song of the waterfalls. Take the drive to Hana on Maui and jump into the pools at Kipahulu. Tourist guides called them sacred. Sacred for individual sites is really a foreign concept to Hawaiians who believe the earth is sacred. All of it. Oh, and read my novel Kolea when it comes out.  Thanks for reading this and Aloha.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Time for Dragons

Blog # 21

Time for Dragons




If you are in Krakow, Poland on June 7, 2015 you may join a hundred thousand or so Poles and their visitors in an enormous town square for the annual dragon bash. There is a rock concert, a "Lindy Hop" competition, - man these Poles have fun!- and the dragon festival. Dozens of dragons produced by children and their parents from all over Poland come for the parade. There are marching bands and all kinds of entertainment. Here's the background story:

It seems that long ago there was a nasty dragon denned up next to the Vistula River. He would come out in the daytime and forage through the countryside eating sheep and cows and  making a general nuisance of himself, People left the area and the king tried to get rid of the dragon by offering his daughter's hand, and I suppose the rest of her body, to anyone who could kill the dragon. Many knights perished in the effort.

Along came a young shoemaker who told the king he could get rid of the dragon. The shoemaker bought a sheep from a farmer, some mustard seeds, and a bucket of sulfur from a miner. He skinned the sheep, mixed the seeds, sulfur and some pitch inside the sheep's skin, and carefully sewed it closed. He placed the sheep bomb in the entrance to the dragon's den and hid behind a rock to watch. 

When the dragon came out he saw the sheep and gobbled it up. In a short time he got a huge belly ache and started belching enormous amounts of fire. The dragon jumped into the river, swallowed all the river's water and exploded. 

The shoemaker, who was named Krak, got the daughter, became King Krak and built the Wawel Castle on the hill above the dragon's den.

At the end of the dragon festival daytime events you can sit on the hill next to the castle and watch huge inflated dragons travel down the river in a lighted parade. They blow a dragon up, shoot off fireworks, and just have one heck of a good time. Oh, by the way, there are cake shops in the town square where you can replace the calories you spent walking all over the festival and Polish beer is fantastic for replacing your electrolytes.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Empty Chair

Blog # 20

The Empty Chair

My blogging slowed this week because my book came back from the editor with enough critical marks that I spent a lot of time correcting my terrible English and punctuation. Want to experience humility? Write a book and get a good editor. Here's my latest post.


In 1942, John Tanaka was the Valedictorian of his class at the Juneau-Douglas High School in Alaska. He was spirited away by his own government to spend a couple of the most hopeful years of his young life in an American concentration camp. You may not like the term I just used. In polite circles they were called "relocation camps." That sounds like some real estate picnic. But when asked, my former secretary Jane Matsuoka who spent her post high school years at the camp at Tule Lake said, "It was a concentration camp."

At the age of two, the husband of one of my sisters was sent with his family to a camp in the middle of an Indian reservation in Arizona; sort of a concentration camp inside of a concentration camp.

But back to the empty chair. When the graduation ceremony took place at J.D.H.S. in 1942 John Tanaka's friends decided a statement had to be made about fairness. They placed an empty chair on the auditorium stage for their missing Valedictorian. If you visit Juneau today, you may visit a bronze replica of that chair. On the bronze boards are engraved the names of those who were "relocated" from the region. The memorial is a short walk uphill from the cruise ship landing. Don't miss it and its implied message; Don't violate the constitutional rights of your citizens because of their race.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Blog # 19 Boxtops

Blog # 19


Boxtops





Image from www.mybreakfast.com

Before everything came coated in sugar and corn syrup there were boring breakfast foods. No one talked about the need for fiber in the diet except our constipated elders. Along with thousands of other kids I was suckered into saving the box tops from the cereal I had badgered my mother to buy. Shredded Ralston, Cheerios, and whatever else the Lone Ranger and Tonto advertised showed up on our table and I think my mother, a paragon of parental wisdom, wouldn’t let me cut off the box tops until the cereal was eaten. Early incentives.

Then the day came when I had collected enough box tops and sent them in to General Mills, Kelloggs or Purina and the 30 or 60 days had passed and here in the mail was my decoder ring or the signal ring with the siren you could blow through to summon help when surrounded by natives. “Hey! Aren’t we natives?” It turned out my sisters were the only natives surrounding me while they tried to stop me from blowing the damned siren ring.

The decoder ring did not lead me to a cryptography career. And neither the Lone Ranger nor Tonto came when I blew on the siren. Either Sky King or Tom Mix, (these things get confusing after a while.) sent a balsa wood glider that was the tiniest thing I ever saw and the slightest wind would blow it three blocks into someone’s yard with me chasing it and learning lessons in futility.

I suppose the great value of ordering all that trashy box top stuff was the lesson that one should not believe everything one hears from people selling stuff. The descendants of those advertising geniuses are now selling us expensive phones that take pictures, connect us with thousands of other people’s boring pictures and can actually video a murder as it happens. There are pluses as well as minuses for the phones but you know, if you were one who sent in the box tops, that six months down the road your zphone#3h will be replaced by a zphone#3i and that those in their teens and twenties will know you are a geezer if you don’t buy the new one.

And the worst thing about all this, the very worst thing of all, is that the box top guys are now trying to sell us a new president. Believing these initial messages from either party, or their fabulously rich friends is the equivalent of blowing on the siren ring and hoping the Lone Ranger and Tonto will save you from the next international crisis, raise the minimum wage, and take off the onerous regulations keeping one from becoming the next Bill Gates.


HIYO Silver and Gittum up Scout!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Blog # 18

The Shrine


What's the story behind this? A couple of months ago my sister Robin and I were spending a weekend tromping around in the desert at Anza Borrego State Park. Robin is an Archaeologist for California State Parks. We found this little cave in some Badlands between Salton Sea and Borrego Springs. In it was a display of worn out size 13 men's shoes, a little orange piece of luggage, empty soda pop cans and a few votive candles which had been burned in decorated glass holders. 


All of the candle holders were those carrying the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. There were also Starbucks cups and many personal items. A newspaper type publication offering items for sale by owner and garage sale notices was folded in to the back of a box and gave an indication that the little shrine had been in use for three or four years. The pop cans had various shades of fading from the sun and were probably brought on visits over a few years.


The site is forty hot and dry miles north of the Mexican border. Did some immigrant on foot make it to the road nearby? Were they sustained in the blistering heat by cans of pop? And perhaps they return each year to light candles and give thanks to the Virgin for helping them make it through the traps we have erected to keep them out.


Or, is this the shrine to pay homage to a man with size 13 feet who didn't make it and perished on the way to his promised land?  Do his family and friends come here each year and climb down this gully to pay homage to the man and his dream? My hope is for the former scenario. 

"Tear down this wall Mr. Gorbachev." - Ronald Reagan

"Tear Down this wall Mr. Obama." - Russ Cahill

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Blog # 17

Matthew’s Killer Chickens

In 1971 a wild chicken showed up in our yard on the slopes of Maui. It would search for insects and seeds each day and return to the woods behind our place to roost each night. The hen looked exactly like the pictures I had seen of Red Jungle Fowl, the chickens brought to Hawaii with the first settlers. All domestic breeds of chickens are descended from these and the Grey Jungle Fowl found in the forests of Asia.

I obtained a rooster from the stocks at the Honolulu Zoo where Jack Throp had bred them and used the chickens on the grounds where they were not only interesting to zoo visitors, but ate all the dropped food left by visitors. A sort of Gallinacious serendipity.

That’s how “Super Moa” ended up on Maui. The hen was known to my kids as “Henny Penny” and she took to the rooster in a hurry and began laying eggs. My older two, Tim and Joan, were raising 4H beef steers but Matt was too small at age 8 to handle a steer, so he took over the jungle fowl. We ate some of the eggs, but the hen was pretty good at hiding them and soon there were little yellow chicks peeping away in the yard.

I discovered how tough these birds were when a mongoose showed up one day. The rooster was elsewhere, but the hen made some kind of noise and the chicks scattered into long grass and stayed perfectly still while the hen pulled her wings back behind her, squatted as low as she could and charged the mongoose. For those of you not familiar with the mongoose it’s like a big weasel. It’s the Rikki Tikki Tavi of Kipling’s Jungle Book; the one who fights the cobra. The chicken looked like a big feathered arrow as it screeched and charged. The mongoose took one look and high-tailed it. Literally.
The roosters were also aggressive. A stray dog was eying the chickens one day, and the rooster came from behind the house scooted silently up behind the dog and then screamed his battle cry as he erected all those green, gold and red-brown feathers and flew onto the back of the dog’s neck and went after its eyes. The dog escaped by running off a 10 foot steep embankment and tumbling to the road below where he ran off. There was a lot of strutting to follow, kind of like an NFL touchdown dance but a lot more colorful.

Matt separated the cockerels from the hens and raised them in a covered pen. He planned on fattening them up and selling them as fryers. But one morning we found the pen looking like a slaughter house. Seven of the nine or ten week old cockerels were dead and the last two exhausted looking birds, covered in blood, were facing each other to see who would be champion. We separated them and cleaned them up. Word got around the neighborhood, and there was a lot of interest among Haka Moa practitioners. Cock fighting was popular among ancient Hawaiians and the practice was still common on Maui and Molokai in 1971. Matt sold the remaining birds and didn’t ask where they were bound.

Thanks for reading my blog. There is a recent New York Times article about these birds at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/07/science/in-hawaii-chickens-gone-wild.html?smid=nytnow-share&smprod=nytnow&_r=0

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Post # 16


The Polynesian Voyaging Canoe
Polynesian Voyaging Society Photo


It's been forty years since the Hokulea came into being. Hawaiians wanted to understand just how their ancestors made such a fantastic voyage from the Marquesas to Hawaii without charts,compass or sextant. A society was formed and a large canoe constructed. Modern materials were used because the trees traditionally used to construct the large double hulled canoes were long gone from Island forests. Hokulea was a bold experiment but it was not to succeed without sacrifice. 

In March of 1978 the vessel capsized in a storm off the Island of Lanai. The crew clung to the bottom of the hull without their emergency beacon. Eddie Aikau, an experienced surfer and lifeguard launched his board and paddled into the storm to try to bring help from Lanai. He was never seen again. A Hawaiian Airlines plane spotted an emergency flare from the canoe and all of the crew except Eddie was rescued.

Future voyages would include many more safety precautions, but the purpose remained the same. Prove that such voyages were possible. The Hokulea made successful voyages to Tahiti and other places. Micronesian and other Pacific Island navigators taught the Hawaiians ancient navigation techniques and today there are canoes travelling throughout the oceans.

A second Hawaiian canoe, the Hawaii Loa was constructed from large old-growth logs donated to the Polynesian Voyaging Society by Native Alaskans. That vessel is more traditional in construction and has traveled in Alaskan Waters. 

In my novel Kolea, you will be able to read about the construction of such a canoe. For lots of good pictures and descriptions of the existing canoes go to the Polynesian Voyaging Society web site at www.hokulea.com.  Thanks for reading my blog.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Blog #15


Anza-Borrego State Park


In late March of  2015 I drove the 1250 miles south to Anza-Borrego. Along the way my daughter Joan joined me at the Oakland airport and we drove across the bay and picked up grand daughter Melanie at Stanford where she was on spring break.
Russ and Melanie with Ranger

Inspecting a Mammoth Skull















Melanie is a geology student and the trip was designed to introduce her to one of America's great treasures. Joan loves poking about in rocks and the paleontology interested her as well. The park is two hours drive from San Diego and a short distance north of the Mexican Border. It spans more than six hundred thousand acres of the Southern California desert and, after Adirondak Park in New York, is the largest state park in the coterminous 48 states. My youngest sister Robin Connors is the archaeologist in the park and she organized tours of the archaeology and paleontology labs for us. 

Headquarters is in Borrego Springs which is largely below sea-level and the park goes from minus 200 to 6,000 feet in elevation. The park has the most continuous fossil evidence of the past seven million years found anywhere in North America. Walrus, dolphin, elephant, camel, horse, mammoth, saber-toothed cats, hyenas; you name it and its probably found there. If and when the sea rises, it will become inundated again along with the Salton Sea and Death Valley.

We caught the tail-end of the wild flower bloom and got to hike in some remarkable places. A dozen rare desert big-horned sheep wandered by us while we were hiking and we saw lots of birds and reptiles (no rattlers) along the way. It got up to a hundred degrees F and we north-westerners were feeling it. Along the way we camped at Allensworth and Morro Bay State Parks as well as Joshua Tree National Park. The trip home took us up the coast where we saw hundreds of Elephant Seals hauled out on a beach at San Simeon and cooled down in the Redwoods of Northern California.

When I think of the continual erosion of funding for state parks in our state I can't help wondering where our priorities as a people who love our country have gone. I'm certain I was passing Californians going in the opposite direction to get away from the drought and heat and to bask in our cool climate while I got a bit browner in theirs.  "... for purple mountain's majesty..."  

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Eddie Le Baron

Blog # 14
Eddie Le Baron 1930 - 2015




One of my heroes just died. If you think Russell Wilson is too short for professional football, you don’t know about Eddie. At 5’ 7” and 175 pounds Eddie Le Baron led College of Pacific to an undefeated season in 1949. In his senior year Eddie passed for twelve touchdowns, punted for a forty yard average and intercepted nine passes from his defensive backfield position. He also averaged four yards per carry rushing. Eddie was named to three All American teams and was drafted in the tenth round by the (okay, I’ll say it for historical purposes) Washington Redskins. I saw Eddie play on two occasions when I was an aspiring football fanatic and never saw a more deceptive ball handler.


Before he could play pro ball Eddie went to Korea in 1950 as a U.S. Marine lieutenant. He was wounded twice and awarded a bronze star for bravery under fire and a purple heart.


Eddie played for the Redskins and Calgary Stampeders, and started at quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys during their first three seasons. He rushed for the first touchdown ever scored by the Cowboys. Eddie retired after eleven years as a pro quarterback. He was all-pro in four of those years.
During his off-seasons Eddie studied Law and practiced law after retiring from football. He became an NFL general manager and led the Atlanta Falcons for several years. When I saw the obituary I remembered that at one time professional athletes routinely served during wars and conflicts. Ted Williams, Moe Berg and Eddie come to mind. The sharing of the pain of military service by a cross section of our population is extremely rare today.


Goodbye Eddie. Thanks for everything.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Blog # 13


Baseball and Book Season


Russ and Narda True to the Blue


Good news! Opening day will soon be here and Narda got tickets. And I got an e-mail from Booktrope saying that they want to publish my novel, Kolea. I was hiking with my daughter and granddaughter in a no-cell phone zone for a couple of days and when my cell phone found a signal, there was Narda's text message saying they had accepted my novel for publication and a contract was waiting on-line for me.

Now I have to get into the process of getting on a team of editor, cover designer and all the other people who will help me get this show on the road. After final proofing, the book can be out in about four weeks. This is all new to me and pretty exciting. I'm into a second book already and have sent a short story off to an anthology. This blog is a thank you to all of you out there who have helped me get to this point.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

One Good Reason to Travel



Blog # 12

Why Travel?

There are lots of good reasons not to travel. There’s the expense, the time stuck in those cramped middle seats on airplanes and the long lines waiting for TSA people to search through your underwear for explosives. Then there’s the annoyance when you can’t get a wireless connection so you can look at silly pictures and blog posts. Oh no! Not the blog posts! But today I’m going to give you the best reason to travel: Chocolate.




















In Koln (Cologne), Germany is an enormous chocolate museum. It is right on the river, and easy to find. You can learn the history of chocolate’s origin in Meso-America and you get to sample the stuff right where it’s made. The Lindt people have set up a factory inside the museum and they pass out samples. Narda claims I pushed my way into a line of children to get my sample but it’s not true. Go there and smell the heavenly odor of the stuff and you’ll discover why it’s worth standing in the airport lines. The Belgians make awfully good chocolate as well. The Bear in this picture was captured in Brugge (Bruges) in Belgium.
Bear Awaits Execution



Sunday, March 22, 2015

Blog# 11

The following is an excerpt from a book I am writing about my eight years as a National Park Ranger. It is part of a chapter about Glacier Bay National Monument in 1969. Glacier Bay is now a National Park.


Life at a remote station

Our groceries came every eight weeks on the MV Nunatak. The boat was a seventy two foot vessel built for the U.S. Biological Survey in the 1920s and had been used in the Bering Sea. She would do ten knots no matter if you had her at half or full throttle and was an excellent boat for a base of field operations. The Captain, Jim Sanders was a former Coastguard NCO and knew his vessel and the waters very well. There was a cook-deckhand named Bill Meyers who was a backup at the helm, kept the boat reasonably well tidied up, and cooked our meals for us. Bill drank whiskey and read philosophy books in the evening and could be counted on for fascinating and hilarious discussions about politics and world events.

The down side to the old boat was that it was infested with cockroaches. When Susie and the children and I toted our groceries from the boat to our houses, we would unload the boxes outside and after inspecting every package, take them inside. We burned the boxes because the roaches would lay eggs in the corrugations of the cardboard and stow away into our pantries.

On a trip to Muir Inlet on the Nunatak, our regional director was aboard and Bill Meyers had purchased steaks for all of us. As he served the hot platters with steaks and potatoes, a roach dropped off the overhead and landed on the regional director’s steak. He jumped up and yelled at Superintendent Bob Howe, “Howe, why don’t you get rid of these God Damned cockroaches!” Bob grabbed his briefcase and pulled out a sheaf of old requests for funding for the exact purpose and told him, “I've been asking for this for three years and you keep turning me down.” With a lot of cursing, the Regional Director said he wasn't hungry and retired to his bunk. Ranger Greg Streveler and I cut out a little piece of the steak the roach had landed on and split the rest between us. But the cook had the last word. He looked at us and said, “I saw that bugger walking across the overhead and just as he got to the right place I willed him. Under my breath I said, ‘drop you sonofabitch,’ and he did.” That winter The MV Nunatak was taken to Seattle for a haul-out and was fumigated. We had Bill and his trained roach to thank.


Friday, March 20, 2015


Mary and the Bear
Blog # 10

Last time I visited Mary Hervin we talked about the time the black bear tried to bust its way into her cabin. Mary’s place is back in the woods a couple of miles down the road from my Alaska cabin. I think Mary is somewhere north of 90 years old and still as full of life as ever. In the photo she and the late Sally Lesh were offering their services at a 4th of July Gustavus Auction.

Mary lived alone except on Friday nights when everyone came over for whiskey and snacks and filled the little cabin to overflowing. One day, when Mary was a young woman of 90, a bear busted into a window in her porch, stuck its head into the hole and started looking around for something to eat. Mary grabbed her camera and shot a picture of its head, and then picked her broom out of the corner and jabbed the broom straw into the bears face. That didn't do the trick, so she started whaling away on the bear with the broom. The bear got discouraged, figured it could find easier pickings and left for parts unknown.

This incident is not atypical of the Mary I know. She moved to Gustavus, Alaska late in life, started the first taxi with a little station wagon and worked as a deck hand on a tour boat. Back in the summer of 1941, she and another 18 year old girl won a cash prize at a drawing at the Juneau movie theater. They bought a skiff and motored up to Skagway, traded it for a canoe and rode the White Pass and Yukon train up to Whitehorse. Then they put the canoe in the Yukon River and went the way the miners had done in the 1890s gold rush and paddled down the Yukon camping along the way.

Back in the early 1990s, Mary and her friend got together, took a Klepper kayak and repeated the trip to celebrate being 70 years old. She wrote a little book called Yukon Rerun which tells the tale. If you can find a copy, read it and find out what 70 year olds do besides watch television. Mary can’t get around like she used to but when I saw her in Redding, California she was still full of the old stuff and told me a racy joke that was going around. Thanks for reading my blog.