I follow a YouTube channel called “The Vocalyst,” not sure of that spelling, but it is this singing teacher who dissects popular songs/artists, breaks it all down, and tells you from a technical standpoint just how special the artist is. I know, it may sound like a strange premise for a YouTube channel, but trust me when I tell you this young woman is wildly successful and popular.
It’s easy to like her. She is adorable, she seems genuine, and at times her reactions are almost childlike. She seems like a person I would like to know.
But I am rambling down the wrong rabbit hole. I actually have a point.
It is interesting to hear a popular song, in its entirety, and then hear it through the knowledge of this young woman, broken down into segments. You have the brilliance of the song without interruption, but you also have the brilliance pointed out in minute interruptions, like the whole is greater than its parts, and yet the parts are what make the whole so fantastic, if you can follow that weird explanation.
And that triggered this segment.
One of my favorites places on Earth is in Yellowstone and, in particular, a small hill overlooking Hayden Valley, the valley formed by the Yellowstone River. I’ve been to Yellowstone five times, I believe, and I clearly remember the first time I saw that valley, stunned enough to stop the car I was driving, pull over to the side of the road, get out and just gape with my mouth open at the beauty before me.
The serpentine, blue river contrasted by the greens and yellows of the valley floor, the mountains towering in the distance, it was almost an overload for my senses, a picture worth a world-class photo, or a painting by a Master, a poem by a wordsmith, that sort of beauty.
Drive a little further and there are trails which lead down into the valley, and if you are lucky enough to walk one of those trails, which I have, you will see the subtle nuance of nature, a kaleidoscope of colors, as though the ground itself was imprisoned by a rainbow, towering pines standing as sentinels, songbirds singing background melodies, raptors in flight, gentle breezes causing the aspens to whisper as you pass by them, the parts, which make up the whole, powerful and stunning in their own way, leaving any passing visitor to wonder how it all happened, how could one place capture so much beauty while other places seem devoid of it.
But that would be false. I realized that earlier this year standing on a hill looking down at the Anza-Borega Desert in Southern California, during a super bloom, blown away I was by the dazzling colors totally unexpected and the subtle array of desert lifeforms almost impossible to see from a distance and yet so apparent up close.
And the thing is, and I promised you there was a point to this all, the wonder of nature is there for all of us to see. Mind you, it won’t be seen sitting on the couch watching reality television, or some game show, but walk out your front door, take a stroll around your neighborhood, and pay attention . . . really pay attention . . . and you will witness the same “miracles” I witnessed in Yellowstone and SoCal.
I love flying my drone. It presents a different perspective, you know? A vantage point few of us will ever see, even of the neighborhoods we live in, and that perspective triggers an appreciation in me every single time I fly my DJI Mini 2. And I wonder, and not in a critical way, but a curious like a cat way, how is it that more people are not outside amazed at the wonders around them. Do they even see them? Do they care, or have they given up, or did they ever see them?
And is that related to I am what I think? Like I see what I want to see, or I see what I’m programmed to see, or I see with blinders on . . .
Get out there and find the miracles. They are waiting for you!
BEV IS INCREDIBLY HAPPY
Bev’s hiking partner posted one of those Facebook short reels today, actually four or five short reels, and Bev was in several of them, and she just looked so damned happy. She looks like she has found her happy place, and that makes me so happy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her look so contented, so free, so comfortable. She is about three-hundred miles into Oregon, the heat has been bothersome, the smoke from wildfires has shrouded the landscape at times, the mosquitoes have attacked in waves, her body has screamed for rest and recovery, but she looks like she is right where she was always meant to be.
The real dangers of the trail are behind her. Ahead, in the remainder of Oregon and the length of Washington, there are ups and downs, more ups and downs, heat and more smoke and climbing over more fallen trees; there are still seven-hundred miles remaining, more sore muscles and aching limbs and feet screaming for relief, but essentially the scary parts of the trail are behind her. Now it’s a matter of mind over body, convincing herself to climb out of that tent every morning, shake off the pain of joints, hoist that thirty-pound pack again, and continue taking one step at a time until Canada comes into view.
Words make it sound so mundane, so effortless, and therein the language we speak falls short.
It is anything but mundane and effortless.
I’m just so proud of her.
Up ahead, maybe ten days from the time of this writing, is Timberline Lodge, then the Bridge of the Gods, Knife’s Edge, the Goat Rocks Wilderness, Mt. Rainier National Park, and the North Cascades National Park, some serious elevation gains, and some of the prettiest scenery this country has to offer anyone who has a hankerin’ to witness it in person. And I honestly don’t know if Bev will film any of it, take pictures of any of it, or write about any of it. She wants this to be about her, an inner response to an inner voice, a personal quest, if you must put a label on it, and I’m not sure she wants to share any of it.
There is a commercial running on tv lately, from the Texas tourist bureau, and it talks about some family and all the things they are doing on their vacation, and at the end one of the family members says something to the effect “Hey, this is our vacation. Go make your own.” And that perfectly punctuates Bev’s attitude towards hiking so many miles since March. This is her challenge. Go make your own!
THE PUDDLE WALKER FACELIFT
From boring white to white with a red stripe to the latest reincarnation, white with red, orange, and yellow stripes on her sides, Puddle Walker is strutting her stuff today and into the future.
Why red, orange, and yellow? I really don’t have much of an answer for you; it just felt right. Someone suggested those colors, and I liked the suggestion because they were happy colors, and turns out, now that the bus is adorned with them, they really are happy colors.
Someone saw the pic on Facebook today and said the colors remind them of a sunrise, or a sunset, and that’s a pretty good description; again, it makes me happy.
And curiosity got the better of me, so I looked up on Google what nation’s flag has those colors, and it turns out no nation has those three colors in that order . . . but . . . those are the flag colors of Gay Pride . . . and that makes me happy.
AN EXTENDED STAY
Went to the doctor with my buddy yesterday, a check-up to find out the progress of his restructured leg; everything was fine, but he needs to baby it for at least another four weeks. With this being August 4th, that means my buddy won’t be able to really function fully around the house until the first week of September.
Which means I will probably continue on here, in Olympia, as his primary caregiver until then. This would not have been possible if our original plans had taken place, but Bev is cranking out the miles, she really has no desire to wait around on the Columbia River for PCT Days (August 18-19), so there is no real reason for me to drive down to the Columbia to meet up with her, not for one day, much too long a drive for that short reunion. And yes, I was looking forward to attending the PCT Days festival, but helping my friend is much too important and certainly outweighs a festival.
And then I can meet up with Bev when she finishes the PCT, sometime mid-September.
Four more weeks in Suburbia.
I walk the dogs every morning at 6:30. It’s quiet then, even in an HOA, and it’s as close to peaceful as I’m going to find in the inner city of Olympia. I snapped a photo of the sun rising over the neighborhood this morning, symbolic, I think, the sun’s rays brightening the boats and RVs and patios and lawn furniture and gazebos and SUVs and . . . and . . . and . . .
I always feel like I need to explain myself on this point, but I truly have nothing against owning possessions or chasing the American Dream. If that floats your psychological boat, more power to you. What I do have a problem with, and you know this is true, is people going into debt to pay for that dream, and then complaining that they have no money or it’s too hard for the working class to get ahead, or any of a dozen other popular complaints. This has nothing to do with my own philosophy of life, that possessions are unimportant to me and I think they are silly; but it has everything to do with people not being honest with themselves. You can’t spend yourself into debt and then complain about the debt. That’s just ludicrous.
So, after that digression, sunrise over Suburbia, the same Suburbia where I saw a black bear two weeks ago, as in me and the dogs walking yesterday when out of the brush, not five feet from me, a Cooper’s Hawk burst skyward, scaring the bejeebers out of me, startling the dogs, and confirming that my heart is, in fact, healthy and strong.
Nature . . . there is no holding her back, you know?
I was going to take a photo of the sunset over Suburbia tonight . . . call it The Sun Sets Over The American Dream, but I decided that was too negative a metaphor.
I am so incredibly antsy. I want to hit the road.
Walking with the dogs early this evening, I came across a man with a walker. It took all of thirty seconds for me to surmise that the man was confused. Add to that the fact that he didn’t speak English. I asked him if his home was nearby. No response. I asked him if he was lost. No response. He was in his sixties, Mexican my guess, hard to really tell his age, looked to be blind in one eye, and a dilemma was forming for yours truly.
I motioned for him to follow me, and I started going door-to-door in the neighborhood, asking people if they knew the man. Nobody did, but now I had a circle of concerned neighbors wondering how they could help.
After a half hour of inquiries, one of the neighbors suggested the man might be from the adult care home two blocks away. Someone drove down there, asked the caregivers, and sure enough the man was missing from the home. And this is where my blood pressure begins to rise. Nobody from that adult care home was out looking for my new friend. And, once told that we were keeping him company two blocks away, no offer to come pick him up was made.
I walked him back to the home, knocked on the door, a woman answered, said “oh, there he is,” said thanks to me, and that was that.
I am incensed thinking about it a day later.
For those not aware of the term “adult care home,” it is almost always a private residence, run by a private homeowner, who has made alterations to the home so that it can meet the state requirements for assisted living habitats. The homeowners are paid for providing a minimum of care to people who cannot care for themselves, and I have not had many positive experiences with such homes. My opinion of them now is at an all-time low. I think the absolute minimum you should expect from someone taking care of another human being is that they know where the hell they are. It’s not like we are talking about a large building with multiple wings. We are talking about a single-family home, a home an old man with a walker just strolled out of unnoticed.
The man grabbed my hand as I was leaving and, in broken English, said thank you very much, amigo.
The only good to come out of this story is that the old gentleman now has eight new friends in the neighborhood, and we are all looking out for him. His extended family grew overnight.
Someone once said and yes, I know who that someone was, but I don’t choose to mention her name, that it takes a village. In this instance I agree with her. It takes a committed effort on the part of all citizens to create an environment of healthy living for all citizens. We do not get a free pass because we are too busy or too distracted or whatever the excuse of the day might be. If we want a world of good vibrations, we must be an active participant. Otherwise, we need to shut our mouths, stop ranting about the bad in this world, and go stick our heads in the sand until the tide washes over us forever.