Monday, January 12, 2015

I am teaching Cooper to ski because time is a flat circle.

Stoked at Red Lodge.


Stoked at Crystal Theater.


Ought to be enough gear in here to keep us happy for a day or two.


Christmas Day on Lolo Pass.


My grandpa’s 1906 train, out for one day only on Christmas.


Disco: $12 beginner area lift tickets and $4.50 Cold Smokes.


It’s that time of year again.


Lupine Inn in Red Lodge. The manager’s brother walked into the room on our checkout day, pointed to a spot on the dresser next to TV, and told me “You can put tip, four five dollar, right here.” When I left the room he was waiting outside. I had not left a tip. I was loading the truck outside, standing in a snowbank, and he was standing in our room, banging on the window, trying to get my attention.


Sunset run in Pattee.


Dumping in Red Lodge.


The family whose ski tips stay together skis together.


A couple hundred miles of this on either side of the Continental Divide.


Letting it all air out.


More fun on Lolo Pass.


Fun in the fog on Lockwood Point.


Best thing I ever put in the fridge.


Darling angels. Ahem.


The crash of Air Asia 8501 struck more than most airline crashes, in part because I spent a bit of time on Air Asia planes and in part because I spent a morning in the Surabaya airport probably the same way a lot of those same passengers did – killing time and looking for something to eat. With its 40,000 or so islands and crappy roads, air travel is a bit of a given in Southeast Asia. As it happens with most markets in Third World countries, air companies in Indonesia spring up overnight to fill a specific need, and may disappear just as fast. We flew on a number of dubious airlines as we hopped around Southeast Asia, one of which had the unlikely name of “Sriwijaya”. Air Asia, on the other hand, has helped to level the playing field by eliminating some of the idiosyncrasies of Asian flying and keeping fares low. The airline appeared to us as professional, with online booking and clean planes with new interiors. (Contrast that to airlines with difficult booking operations and planes fresh from Craigslist. One we flew in was still partly adorned with Aeromexico livery.) There’s no proper way to end this: I could bore you with my memories of Surabaya, but won’t.

Flashback to 2009: Laura boarding a Batavia flight from Mataram, Lombok, to Surabaya.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Where the beer flows like wine.

Now everybody has a fancy pair of skis.

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And everyone’s got their own opinion of which Christmas tree would be best.

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Visiting the old haunts.

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And some new ones.

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Pushing off from Divide Peak, Hyalite Canyon.

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Looking all casual with the new Montana Backcountry Alliance hats at 10,000-feet plus. ($20 each, contact me at if you want one.)

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Dinner on Homestake Pass.

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Brekkie in Hyalite.

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Ripping skins at 9900.

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Sweet turns in the newly christened Oklahoma Meadows. Yeah, we’ll see how long that one sticks.

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Learning to carry his weight.

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Playing with grandma’s Christmas village.

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More than 50 folks showed up to our hosting Luc Mehl at The Trail Head.

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Most memorable line from Luc: during one of the Alaska Wilderness Classics, he and a partner decided to nap for a few hours after becoming so tired ‘we forgot what it was we were doing’.

Heard just a few flakes overnight, but woke up to a few inches new.

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Living the good life in Beehive Basin.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Allah is not obliged to be fair about all the things he does here on earth.

I learned to make pastry dough and biked in the snow and cold. We flew to Atlanta and saw the nieces and sister and parents et al., then drove to Waynesville and saw some old friends and our old home, now in dire need of landscape assistance (and for people to stop topping the damn trees -- jeez). We hiked in North Carolina and Tennessee, had Central American food in Greenville, and walked the gardens at Callaway. We took MARTA across Atlanta twice (some whites say it stands for “Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta”, but actually it’s mostly used by white people), and had two Thanksgivings – one at a Southern Living-quality home on 350 acres. As we were preparing to go to the second dinner we got the news that Mike Call had died while swimming off the Kona coast, and not 20 minutes later Correy texted to say Mrs. Siltman was dead, too.

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(Lolo on the first good day of skiing this season.)

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(Callaway Gardens)

Mike was the editor at the Tooele Transcript Bulletin who hired me on a scraped-together portfolio of free-lance writing clippings. He wasn’t particularly happy in Tooele, but then who was? We became good friends, and I lived in his basement apartment for two years. Many nights, when Laura was over, we’d hear him walk across the living room floor and open the fireplace grate to smoke menthols and blow smoke up the chimney. We’d go upstairs and while Porter chased the cats listen to him complain and laugh, since none of it seemed too serious. Things looked up for Mike when he moved to the paper in Odgen, and got better still when he started editing the paper on Kona and came out. Not long after he moved to Kona he started jumping into the ocean first thing in the morning and swimming with the turtles which, as his obituary stated, “gave him great happiness and comfort”.

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(Mike in Missoula, March 2, 2012)

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(Greg on Fuji)

Mike came to Montana two winters ago, and we had a beer at Charlie B’s and he gave Cooper an outfit and a baseball cap which he looked cute in but soon outgrew. Not that long ago we were talking about he a trip he wanted to take to Europe. I was encouraging him to go to Turkey, but he was keen on Greece.

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(Pre-Thanksgiving near Athens – not the Greek one)

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(Light show at Callaway)

I don’t think I’d seen Mrs. Siltman twice since Mr. Siltman died – one of those times I took mail to her house that wound up at ours by mistake. Mr. Siltman used to sit on his front stoop, and when he was out and I was walking Coozy I’d take her over. Without fail, regardless of whether Coozy was docile or slobbering straining at the leash, he’d say with halting enthusiasm, “That’s a nice dog!”

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(Pine Mountain, Georgia)

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(Working the hydraulics at -5, Deep Creek)

Na so dis world be. Allah is not obliged to be fair about all the things he does here on earth.

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(Between terminals at ATL)

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(Pastry dough)

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(Pretending the salt shaker is a camera)

**This blog’s title refers to the 2000 novel by Ahmadou Kourouma, a writer from Côte d'Ivoire who died in 2003. The obvious line is from Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian author.

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(Woolly worm in Great Smoky Mountains National Park)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Positive feedback loop.

Meanwhile, in Montana.

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Ready to roll.

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Killin it in Pattee.

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General consensus was that this was one of the nicest falls in memory.

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Cold day in the Seeley-Swan. That wraps up a summer and fall of biking the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Good times.

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Precious cargo!

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Learning to make a calorie bomb: bread, honey, Nutella, peanut butter, strawberry jam, and fig spread. Nude.

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Stabbing me with bear grass on the Montana-Idaho border.

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We made the news!

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About 50 came for our third annual milestone party. And only one baby pulled his pants down and peed on the shrubbery.

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Hiking the Stateline.

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Biking Gold Creek. This area was recently sold by Plum Creek to the Nature Conservancy. The land needs to heal in a serious way, but this is a major deal for Montanans.

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Climbing out of Goose Lake, deep in the Great Burn.

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Cowboy, spiderman, and a … hmmm.

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