Thursday, April 30, 2020

Lost Again

I grew up doing everything pretty much on my own. For a brief period after Dad died, my mother had re-married and I went from being an only child to being one of six kids. I got along okay with the others, but you couldn't say we were ever friends. I had a few very good friends with whom I went camping and fishing quite a bit but, primarily, I liked being by myself.

I know now that adults around me felt a little sorry for me because of my solitude, which they assumed was involuntary. They couldn't have been more wrong. I often elected to go off by myself when I had ample opportunity to be with friends. Especially when I was in the outdoors. To me, fishing, hunting and hiking were very solitary pursuits. I enjoyed my lone bicycle trips to the lakes, rivers and streams around Yellowstone to fish, hunt or just be out there.

Once I could drive, it was just that much better. I had a Toyota pickup with a camper shell on it, and I went all over that country. I got spectacularly stuck a few times and lost a couple of times but I always managed to get back in time to get to work. If my mother had known how often I got really lost in the woods, she wouldn't have allowed me out of the house without a bell around my neck!

I always explained my inability to find either my truck or the road it should be parked on by emphasizing the structural instability of the Yellowstone area. There must have been a localized earthquake that had moved the road to a different location. When I went hunting, I'd hunt elk and deer when I left my truck, then hunt my truck for the rest of the day.

I always figured that the early mountain men got lost all the time, too. It just didn't really matter to them because they didn't have any place to go back to, anyway. They weren't lost. They were exploring.

This tendency of mine to discover that whole drainage systems had changed around and that the sun was now setting in the south has plagued me to this very day. I just make allowances for it. If I'm only going for a short hike, I try to stay in an area where even a major shift of the local landmarks will not turn me around completely. I aim to get back to a road, not the truck, a line, not a point.

Two Top
Back in June of 1981, I had one of my more memorable hunts for my pickup. I was home on leave from the Air Force and decided I would go backpacking for a night or two. I drove up Mosquito Gulch and turned up the draw by Johnson's cabin, parking my truck about a mile up the dry stream bed, southwest of West Yellowstone. I then shouldered my pack and started trudging up Two-Top mountain.

Now most folks who've been up on Two-Top go up on snowmobiles in the winter because the view is fantastic and the wind up there moves the snow into weird sculptures; smal1 pine trees totally obscured by wind-scoured snow. But, in the summertime, nobody goes up there. I'd hunted the area before and there was an old sluice box I'd found once that I wanted to find again. Who knows, maybe old Johnson (if that's who'd built the sluice) hadn't found all the gold in the creek. 

It was a fabulous hike! I remember that it was hot and even a little humid. The hot sun brought out the odors of the grass, willows, pines...even the scent of the bark of the trees could be picked out. The loudest sounds were the sounds of my footsteps and the hum of the mosquitoes. The mosquitoes were so bad that I put on my rain jacket, thus covering myself, except for my hands and face, in clothing. I could still hear them popping against the back of my head, buzzing around and calling me names. No insect repellant could deter a Montana mosquito for long. They're tough, determined and they outnumber us so I think they'11 eventually take over the world! When I turned around to look back over my shoulder, there was a cloud of the greedy little buggers right behind me! So, I didn't look back very often, which is a big error in back country travel. If you think you might ever want to go back, you'd better look back once in a while so you'll know how to get back.

Up on top, there was a nice breeze blowing, so the mosquitoes gave up on me and went buzzing away, looking for other prey. As I stood quietly in a little bunch of "jack pines" I heard something in the clearing behind me. An elk calf, not much bigger than a small deer, was walking up to see what I was! It'd never seen people before and, since it was months before hunting season, mama must not have discussed the hazards of getting close to us world leaders. I got several really good pictures of the big, curious eyes, long knobby knees and puffing red sides of the young "Mountain Ghost". Suddenly, I heard Mama snorting, somewhere out of sight. The little one turned and raced clumsily across the clearing and back into the timber towards Mama. I never did see the mother because I'm sure she knew men aren't the safest of companions.

I tromped around for quite a while, finding the remains of the old sluice box. Couldn't pan out any fortune in overlooked gold, though.

I was planning to camp near the creek, but from the high vantage point of Two Top, I'd seen what looked like a really interesting storm blowing in. After reflection, I decided that the better part of valor (and of creature comforts, but we Mountain Men don't admit needing these) was to hike the two or three miles back to my truck and give up this camping idea in favor of a warm bed and a morning fishing trip. When you live next to Yellowstone Park you can make these spur of the moment decisions, you see. So, I headed up over the top again and back down, gleefully hurrying along towards my nice dry truck before the sky got around to falling on me.

I'd been hiking downhill about a half hour, daydreaming and just enjoying the mountains: the clean, fresh smell and sight of my world that I'd been missing for so long, when I got the feeling that all was not right with my world. It's hard to explain that sudden realization that, for all intents and purposes, you 've slipped into another dimension.

The steep part of the ridge should be on my right, not my left! The timber should be older growth, farther apart with more clearings and "parks". Apparently, while I wasn't watching, the earth has shifted again and I was on the wrong side of it. But, not being easy to convince, I decided that I just needed to keep going a ways and everything would change back again. So I did, but it didn't. Things got worse and I was soon on fairly level ground and surrounded by really thick four to six-inch diameter lodgepole growth.

That means a visibility of about twenty feet and a kind-of greenish twilight to see by. What finally made me decide that I needed to re-think my strategy here was, just at the edge of the visibility in the green, soft light and dark timber, I say a big, black something! I stopped to try and see exactly what it was. It snorted or growled or some such noise (since my hair was standing so straight, it had pulled my ears out of sync), telling me that, whatever it was, it most likely wasn't a tree!

There were some fairly uncomfortable possibilities. Moose? Not good. Moose can be very cranky when disturbed and I think, whatever my real intention, you could say that I was disturbing it. Bear? Definitely not good for the same reason as the moose. If it was a bear which (After those few split seconds of contemplation) I though it probably was, Was it a grizzly or a black bear. You see, there are degrees of terror. Although stumbling over a black bear or moose ranks right up there, annoying a grizzly is a real chart breaker!

Anyway, I stood frozen for about twelve years. Probably ten seconds in real time but I aged at least twelve years! (Gibson's "Theory of Relativity", write it down.) and whatever I was terrified of (I still don't know) stood there watching me.

Have you ever felt real terror? I don't mean being caught under the sheets with Dad's girly magazines and a flashlight. I mean feeling all the strength rush down your body and out your toes, leaving your whole being empty and cold. It's a physical feeling of a warm wave rushing down through your chest, stomach and legs, leaving ice behind. I don't know if you can physically function when that feeling comes over you or not. I don't think I can. I think, when that happens (and around the places I went in Yellowstone land, the feeling came frequently), I couldn't do anything but watch the proceedings.

Finally, my not clearly discernible companion decided I was petrified enough and it faded into the forest, going in the same direction I had been. Thus helping me to decide that it was time to retrace my steps. If the big, black blob was going south, I was going north!

I'd pretty much decided that I'd gone over the wrong ridge line, putting me into the Idaho side of the divide and, to get back, I just had to go back uphill till I got to familiar territory, then start over again. So, I started climbing back up the hill. The conditions were still pretty nice, but the signs of a major storm were building around me.

A pretty stiff breeze was starting to sigh through the fluffy tops of the tall lodgepole pines. Once in a while, I'd hear a sharp “crack!” as a branch broke from the topmost reaches of the trees .

About halfway up the ridge, I came to the edge of a small park. You find these little clearings all through the mountains. An island of sunshine and grass suddenly appearing in the midst of timber as thick as needles on a porcupine.

In this particular clearing, on this particular day, were two young bull elk. Both were what we call "spike" bulls. Both animals were gorgeous, a creamy, reddish gold color, almost shining in the still, bright sunlight. Their antlers were still covered in velvet, giving them a soft, almost unearthly look. Both animals saw me at almost the same time that I saw them. We all stood frozen in time for a few nano-seconds before they exploded into violent retreat.

I don't know why but elk don't seem to like to run away without causing heart failure in their pursuers. Elk can ghost through the timber without a sound, gliding, antlers and all, through thickets of trees and brush without stirring a leaf. But they can also go crashing through, twigs and divots flying, sounding like a big car wreck. It seems like, when I try to follow them, I always sound like the latter.

I kept on going up to the top, gradually entering familiar territory. By that time, the storm was coming in fast and you could tell it was gonna be a real downpour. Since I was back in an area I knew, and certain I could now find the truck with no trouble, I debated retreating back to the truck as quickly as possible. But I knew it would take me at least half an hour, maybe forty-five minutes to reach my vehicle and by that time I'd be half-melted by the drenching rain on the way.

Black clouds had obscured that bright sunshine which had been out only moments before. The wind was screaming through the trees and any branch not firmly attached was flying through the sky. When the first few rain drops began splatting down around me, I knew it was too late to head for home. My inadvertent visit to the Idaho side had insured that my over-night trip would be overnight.

I raced through the sudden downpour to a high spreading blue spruce tree near the top of the ridge. It was much shorter than the tall lodgepoles around me so, hopefully, I wouldn't be zapped by lightning. But it was great shelter because the branches were thick and spread out like a hens' wings waiting for her chicks. This chick dove into the tree's cover and cowered there, watching the rain come whooshing down!

Some Rocky Mountain rainstorms are quick showers, just giving a tantalizing glimpse of what a nice cool rain could do. Others are sudden bursts of roaring water, quickly over, as if God threw out the dishwater onto us. Others start with the initial deluge and then continue to pour down for days. This turned out to be one of the third. Just my luck.

Within minutes, everything I carried, even under the spreading branches of the spruce, was soaked. Even things inside my backpack took a drenching just from the rain water splashing up from the ground as the drops slammed down and then bounced back up.

Oh well, I just had to make the best of it, so I huddled under my rain jacket, holding my sleeping bag under there with me, trying to keep it as dry as I could.

Everything was already so wet that I couldn't get a fire going with either matches or a butane lighter. I had forgotten to bring any highway flares so I was stuck with going through the night without a fire.

When one of those long lasting mountain washing storms catches you like that, about all you can do is stretch out and wait it out. That's what I tried to do. As darkness closed in around me, the rain slowed to a steady downpour, like being under my uncles' sprinklers at full blast, for miles around. When darkness did settle in, it was a total darkness in which I literally couldn't see my hand. I know because I tried. There's no ambient light in those high mountains, miles from any artificial lights and with the stars blocked out by the thick black clouds, it was dark!

And cold. I was at about 8500 feet elevation, wet, cold and starting to shiver. Water was running along the ground into my shelter, further soaking my sleeping bag, as rain water dripped down through the branches, soaking one from both above and below.

I tried to sleep and did finally manage to drop off from sheer exhaustion but about one o'clock in the morning I woke up shivering. I was so cold my teeth were chattering, my down sleeping bag was soaked and thus useless. I had no dry clothes, no fire and no way to get warm. Since nature abhors a vacuum, I could only get colder as time went on. This was becoming an extreme case of hypothermia, getting worse and could, probably would, result in my death! Now, I like being in the mountains and if I had to pick the where of my eventual demise, I couldn't choose a better place, but I'd be embarrassed to let myself meet a tenderfoot tourist's end. So I decided I'd better just "saddle up" and start hiking.

I knew the walking would get me warm and I could be back in West Yellowstone for breakfast. I didn't dare try going back to my truck. If I had gotten lost in the day time, I could really get screwed up in the dark. No, it was only a few miles down to the Madison Fork Ranch and then to the highway, only two miles from town, and there was a pretty clear trail all the way. With my big police-style flashlight I knew it would be easy to find my way and the long hike would surely warm me up.

As I started out, I realized that it was a little harder to keep track of the east trail than I had expected. The steady downpour swallowed my flashlight's beam, resulting in a glow around me which illuminated very little. But, I did find a good trail heading down...almost a road. I kept to it, walking quickly, still shivering but getting better.

The next few hours are a memory blur. It was beginning to get light when I came to a hip-deep creek across the trail. "Oops. This shouldn't be here!" Again, the world had shifted around me, creating a new watercourse. Actually, after I got home and broke out my maps, I realized that this was Tygee Creek.

I'd kind-of figured that at the time. I realized I was on the Idaho side of the divide but a long way from West Yellowstone. Nearly as I could remember (if memory is a measurement of intelligence, I'm in trouble), it wasn't too far to Sunset Lodge from here so I might as well hike on down to there. So I kept going and going...and going, just like the Energizer bunny!

A road so wet and muddy that it was easier to walk on the steep bank beside the road, because my
feet sank over the ankle in the mud of the road at each step. Finally, as I came down from the mountain elevation, the roads' character changed to gravel, giving me a much better walking surface. The rain had stopped and now it was getting hot. I kept on walking. That one sentence pretty well covers what I did for the next few hours. I kept on walking. Finally, I was down onto the edges of the Henry's' Lake Flats and, far in the distance, I could see cars on US 191, the highway to West Yellowstone. I kept walking.

I finally got to the highway and started walking northwest towards Montana. An Idaho State policeman gave me a ride to the truck stop at Valley View, and from there I hitched a ride with a hippie (from riding with cops to riding with hippies. Also a cultural journey!) back to West Yellowstone.

My Mom was cooking at Hams Cafe, a truck stop in West Yellowstone, so I had my benefactor drop me there for a meal. When I walked into the kitchen and Mom saw me, mud to my knees, raincoat over super sweaty clothes, hair plastered to my head, most likely a blank, exhausted look on my face, she became very concerned. She looked at me with compassion and caring in her eyes and, very briskly, asked, "Where's the truck?". I was obviously okay since I was standing there so it was time to worry about more obvious things.

Later, my Uncle Dean and I hiked up to get the backpack and sleeping bag I'd left under my fir tree and to bring my truck back into the land of the living. So, all ended well and gave me a good story.

The Moral?

I don't have one. Although this is my most profound example of being "turned around" in the mountains, it's not the first and most certainly won't be the last.

I've spent much of my leisure hours hiking in the mountains and forests of southwest Montana, and I've been lost before, to one degree or another. I expect to spend many more hours in those same mountains and I expect to be lost again from time to time. If you keep your head, it's not that big a deal.

It has been a big deal, I know, to many people in many places. People who never made it out. So I take precautions.

I never go hiking without survival gear. Just a small belt pack carries extra food, first aid supplies, clean socks and fire making supplies. Ä good knife and waterproof matches are on my person at all times so that, even if I lose my little pack, I'll still have the means to take care of myself. Also, I try to always have a map of the area and a good compass also on my person. That way, several times, I've been able to realize the mistake I made and thus arrange to rectify it.

Mostly, although I'm as attached to microwave ovens and central heating as anyone, I am comfortable in the forest and I learned long ago that a few nights sleeping under a tree are just mildly uncomfortable, if you just keep your head and make the best of your situation.

Friday, April 17, 2020

I'm Ashamed of Our Cowardice

I watched today's Covid19 press conference as the President and his Task Force explained how they expect to attempt to rebuild our country.

They talked of much testing for this virus and Dr. Birx was talking about testing and monitoring ANY respiratory type illness, from now on into the future.

Dr. Fauci has talked about no longer shaking hands as a greeting...ever. They all kept talking about the "new normal". Except for President Trump a couple of times. He was talking about things going back to nearly normal. But, as he goes along with his crowd of Chicken Little's, even he makes me sad.

I'm ashamed. I'm ashamed of our response to this virus from day one. I'm ashamed of our various state governments and THEIR response to this. I'm VERY ashamed of my heroes in Law Enforcement who have done such stupid, unconstitutional things while enforcing "orders" from dictators. I was always taught that we didn't HAVE to enforce or follow orders that we deemed unconstitutional or illegal. So, those officers who arrested the father for playing in the park with his daughter; the ones who cited the pastor for holding church services and the ones who cited people for having non-essential items in their shopping carts...they must all have believed those actions were right, just and within the bounds of our God given freedoms. Let me help you here. THEY WEREN'T!

Heating my home with wood is dangerous. If a fire started in this old trailer house, I wouldn't have time to get out of my bed. I also have a propane furnace. I am personally acquainted with people who have experienced propane explosions. Of course, I could remodel and make everything electric. But, then, an electrical short could kill me as well.

Fishing, hunting, hiking, horseback riding; all these outdoor pursuits are incredibly dangerous, considering the possibility of drowning, snakebite, getting lost, being shot by another hunter or even accidentally shooting myself.

Much of my outdoor recreation is done in the Yellowstone area so I'm taking a very real chance of being killed by a bear.

Of course, we all know how dangerous it is to drive, ride in or walk near a car. They are just hurtling death machines and we take our lives in our hands and put our lives in the hands of others every time we get on the road.

In fact, there is a very real possibility of death or serious injury any time we get out of bed. The number of fatal or critical injuries caused by accidents in the home, including falling in the shower, accidental electrocution, falls of many other kinds...Wow! I guess we should all be living in terror.

So, the way the President and his advisors talked today, we will forever live in terror of this super-flu virus, being tested, watched, monitored and quarantined from now on. For the rest of our days, 
catching a cold will not only be a personally terrifying experience but, if you want to go to work, recreate or even go out of your house, you'll have to conceal your symptoms or risk being hauled off to quarantine. Many will be wearing masks, refusing to shake hands or even be close to others from now on. Every time I see people walking around with those stupid masks on, it makes me want to "uurp" on their shoes. THAT would give them something to be afraid of!

Doesn't ANYone else think this whole episode has been incredibly ridiculous? I know many of my friends who have been mad at me for denigrating this stupid, hysterical panic we have been going through but I am just disgusted with the whole thing.

I'm sick alright. I'm sick of this extreme over reaction to a virus with a 97% (at least ) survivability rate.

For crying out loud, my ancestors came across an ocean in a tiny little ship to settle in an unknown "New World". We followed our dreams across an ocean, over high mountains, across vast prairies and more mountains. We built a nation more vast and diverse than any other in the world, before or since. We didn't do that by cowering in our huts when we had the sniffles.

Just think of the history of your own state; your own communities even, and what others went through to give us the chance to, now, allow our governments to tell us when or if we can work, go to the store, visit our neighbor, go enjoy the company of our fellow men or even worship as we please and where we please.

Guess what. Our Founding Fathers went through the tyranny we now are beginning to embrace and they devised a government system designed to leave our God Given Rights to US. It's OUR choice if we want to open a business. It's our choice if we want to go to church and sit next to our neighbors. WE choose if we want to risk driving a car to a deep lake, go out on a flimsy boat...all to catch a few fish that many of us just release anyway.

They acted, today, as if allowing us to leave our homes for any reason was a great favor. We should 
be thankful to Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci and even President Trump for offering to grant us an opportunity to pursue Life, Liberty and Happiness. How magnanimous They all are to relent on our house arrest a little bit and allow businesses to open and a select few of us to socialize. But, only a little! Remember, keep your distance! Don't shake hands! Wear those masks!

Don't visit your lonely elderly family members. Leave them alone in those "facilities" with no personal contact with their families. How many of those people, who, remember, went through two world wars, a depression and an entire life of hard work and sacrifice; would happily risk this stupid virus to hold the hand of one of their grandchildren?

THINK! You Have the RIGHT to do these things! GOD gave you those rights when He allowed you to be born! The government doesn't GIVE you those rights. The Constitution doesn't give you those rights. The Constitution is there to keep government from suppressing those rights. But, having those rights is useless when the government, at any level, decides to circumvent, disregard and TRASH the Constitutional principles our Founding Fathers enumerated.

But, all my ranting is of little merit if the people of our country are willing to meekly allow an All Powerful Government to direct their every step, from womb to tomb. Because; here's a concept that may be new to you...the Government is US. It's YOU. Those Governors who showed their true, power hungry colors by ordering Their Police to stand on your heads; If you don't vote Them out and get some "leaders" who believe in that Constitution, well, then you will live the way you deserve. As serfs, peasants, "Free roaming humans on a big tax farm".

Our country was Divinely founded. God placed some of His most Chosen people here at that time. God guided their minds and actions. The Constitution of the United States is a Divinely Inspired Document, designed to do just what it did. The Constitution is the foundation of the greatest, most prosperous and free country EVER to exist on this earth.

But the growing iniquity, slothfulness and apathy of our people could very well cause this great country to come to a bitter end. Unless we turn back to the ways of our forefathers. Unless we take back control of our country from all those who threaten it, we will cause our descendants to live in bondage and servitude. Maybe, it will happen quickly enough that some of us will experience it. We HAVE experienced it, to a small extent, over the last two months. They have shown us what They want to do. Now, we either accept their control or we do not. It's up to's up to YOU!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

U.S. Air Force, 1979-1982

A long time ago.  Seems like VERY long.

Anyway, I had graduated from the West Yellowstone High School and I knew I wanted to be in Law Enforcement.  My real dream was to be a Gallatin County Deputy Sheriff and be stationed as the resident Deputy in West Yellowstone.  

But, I was 19 and impatient.  I wanted to start meeting my goals NOW!  What to do?  I was a dispatcher for the West Yellowstone Police Department so I was kind of "in the group" but...not quite.

One of the WYPD Officers had recently gotten out of the USAF where he had been a Security Policeman.  He influenced me to make a decision which had the most profound effect on my life of any decision before or since.  I enlisted in the United States Air Force.

At the time, 1978/79, the AF was contracting guaranteed jobs.  So, I didn't enlist and hope for police.  I was able to enlist to be a Law Enforcement Specialist.  The recruiter went to great lengths to get me to enlist as a Security Specialist instead.  Still Security Police but a much different job description.  I knew I wanted Law Enforcement and, with a big sigh of resignation, he signed me up.

Actually, I had to lose a significant amount of weight before the AF would even take me.  I was ready to sign up in January but it took me a couple of months of dieting and running to get down to where they would even let me do it.  Story of my life.

Also, I remember, very clearly, the day Mom drove me to the bus station.  As we drove past the restaurant she still worked at and I had worked at for many years, I turned and looked at her and said: "At least I'll never have to work in a cafe again!"  Never say "never" folks.  It's too big a word.

This was one of the most influential periods of my life and many of the lessons I learned in the Air Force are still habits today.  Little things, like how I fold my clothes, and big things like how I walk and how I treat people.  

Most notably, to me, are the friends I still have after all these years.  Friends who are still closer to me than family, even though we haven't actually seen each other in 30+ years.  Facebook has brought us into more frequent contact but any of the ones I'm thinking of can call me or I them and we talk as if we had been next door neighbors for all these years.  The best and closest friendships ever are those between veterans who served together.

My first assignment was at a NATO station in Izmir, Turkey for fifteen months.  No base, just Town Patrol and one Weapons Storage Area we had to guard.  Mostly, Town Patrol in the city of Izmir.  A great assignment with experiences and memories I will treasure forever.

Then I went to the most ideal AF Base I could imagine, for someone like myself who was lazer focused on Law Enforcement and being a "Cop" on the streets of America.  Lowry AFB in Denver, Colorado.  It was GREAT!  We had no Security mission there at all, the base was "open" with one of the main thoroughfares of the Denver Metro area as the main
street of the base.  Four lanes of city traffic.  The gates didn't even have physical barriers.  Just a "gate shack" in the median of 6th Avenue.

In many ways, we were just a suburb of Denver and our nightly activities reflected that; with DUIs, assaults, rapes, robberies, traffic accidents, traffic enforcement...everything Denver or Aurora PDs were dealing with on either side of us, we got a share of.  Not quite as much as the civilian cities because, after all, our primary "citizens" WERE military.  But I got my first real taste of Law Enforcement at Lowry.

I am very sorry that I took no pictures at Lowry.  All the things we did, all the memories I have and no mementos of any of it.  Lowry was my "Glory Days" and it's all just in my head and my heart.  Nothing to focus these old eyes on.  Very bad mistake.

But, the extreme mistake was taking my discharge from the U.S. A.F. in December, 1982.  Within a couple of years, I realized that I had made a HUGE error!  I had gotten out of the AF because I was 22 and knew everything.  I KNEW the Air Force wasn't doing Law Enforcement right and I wanted to get into civilian LE where things would be "better".  Guess what.  It wasn't really any different and there were many things about the Air Force that I missed.  But, the Air Force didn't take prior service.  End of story.  Although I argued with the recruiter and even went to my Congressman about it, nothing changed.  As far as the Air Force was concerned, I had made my choice and now I could live with it.  Even though I was a Deputy Sheriff (not in Gallatin County, but still...) and still in the same career field.  "All you've gotta do is give me uniforms and car keys and I can go to work!"  

When I finally gave up and left the AF recruiters office, the Army recruiter met me in the hall.  If I would enlist in the Army as an MP, he could give me a rally good package.  But, part of that package was Basic Training.  Apparently (understandably) the Air Force basic was too wimpy for the Army so I'd have to do theirs.  I turned him down for a couple of reasons.  First, the Basic Training thing.  Been there, done that, don't wanna again.  The other was that, although I always thought the AF wasn't really serious about Law Enforcement, what I had seen of Army MP situations was even worse.  I always felt kind of sorry for the MPs I knew; green cars with a bubble light, as an afterthought, on the top, 45s in flap holsters, fatigues as the uniform of the day.  I contrasted that with our more police-like uniforms, nice police cars, .38s in more modern holsters...just the outward appearance gave me the impression that I was happier in Blues.  

Later, I learned that after 12 months service in the Army I could have applied for a "cross service" back to the Air Force again.  A back door.  Whoops.  Apparently, I didn't know any more at 26 than I had at 22!

I was able to meet my goals, though, mostly because of the Air Force.  I was a Deputy Sheriff in Montana and then in Oregon.  I had a good, successful Law Enforcement career and those memories too are what sustain me today.  

But I dream and day-dream, almost every day, of those very few short years.  Slightly less than four years, actually, as my Mom was sick and I got out a little early.  

In the top of my closet is an old beret, with an Air Training Command pin.  In a drawer is the Air Force Security Police qualification badge I was issued.  I didn't manage to keep my actual badge.  I turned it in, as required.  On my wall I still display the "Peacekeeper of the Month" award I got while in Turkey in...1980?

Once in a while, I'll drive over to Spokane where one of my old partners lives.  We were at Lowry 

together and made a great team.  We'll sit in his living room and tell old "war stories" until far into the night about incidents we were part of, friends we made, arrests we made...pretty much, we're telling each other stories of events and places we shared.  

Now I'm old and fat and the idea of rappelling off of a building or out of a helicopter makes my head hurt.  I don't even like to climb up and change a light bulb!  If I had to run across the street, my fat belly and floppy tits would probably beat me to death.  Two minutes on the heavy bag reduces me to a sweaty, panting mess.  Slow and steady is my gait today.

The good news is that the memories get to stay with me forever.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

How far will They take it? The answer far as we LET Them!

A very good friend of mine ( a couple of them, actually) laughs at me because I'd be perfectly happy as a hermit, living with little or no contact with the rest of the world.  These same people, all good friends and close enough to me to know me well, "accuse" me of being perfectly happy if I were just a drifter with a horse and a bedroll, in the 19th century.

They are very correct.

The trouble I'm having is that I want to CHOOSE to live like this!  I want to live in a country where my lifestyle is MY CHOICE.  I don't want the Government to tell me when or where I can go, whether or not I can work for a living, whether I can attend Church or go out to a bar and play pool.  I'm too old, I guess and have too many memories of a Free Country where the police don't cite pastors for holding services or arrest fathers for playing with their children in a public park.
Father arrested for playing with children
Pastor arrested for holding services

I don't want a Government that lies to the population in order to instill fear and gain control.

Here are some basic facts.  Covid19 IS more deadly, overall, than the seasonal flu.

I'll grudgingly admit that if we weren't doing this house arrest thing, it's possible that Covid19 would infect as many Americans as does the seasonal flu and thus the fatality numbers would be much higher than the flu.

Maybe, just maybe, living in fear, crashing our economy, only going outside when we must and then wearing protective masks is all for the good.  A couple of months ago, we laughed at people who did such things.  "Germophobes".  Remember that?

Of course, a couple of months ago, people who stored a reasonable amount of needed supplies, in case of emergency, were ALSO crazy..."Preppers", "Survivalists".  Hmmm.

My fear is not Covid19.  If I were inCREDIBLY unlucky and caught Covid19, I know I'd be very sick and, with my health, would be in very real danger.  Even so, if They gave me the choice, I'd go back to living my life normally, working, shopping, playing pool in crowded bars, waiting tables in a crowded restaurant and going out to eat in those same kinds of restaurants.  Normal and FREE.  My Choice!

No.  My terror is that, now that They have had a taste of Total Control and They HAVE total control, through fear and intimidation, They won't want to let it go.  Once power hungry people get control over we serfs and peasants, it's really hard to make them let go.  Usually, the effort to regain freedom is not pretty.  Probably lose all those we saved from this virus!

I feel as if I'm shouting in an empty hall because most of my audience is already in agreement with me while a very few who are reading this stuff are in complete lockstep with the Pied Piper Government.

I have had more than one, a couple for whom I have utmost respect, indicate to me that they completely believe everything we are being told by our Government and the Main Stream Media and they are living in fear because of it.  Anyone who questions "Them" is a conspiracy nut.

Also, I am painfully aware of the fact that each of the numbers we are seeing indicates a real person, with family and friends.  Each of the thousands affected by this or any other virus is a tragedy.

But, I'm going to go through this again because, just maybe, we can still pull our country out of this tailspin before it's completely lost.

Oct 1, 2019 to April 4, 2020
Flu numbers...39-56 MILLION flu cases
410-740 thousand hospitalizations
24,000-62,000 thousand deaths
.11% fatality rate.
Approx 5350 people per million infected
Happens every year.
CDC Flu Numbers

Covid19 As of April 11
506,000 cases
19,666 deaths
3.9% fatality rate
About 1600 people per million infected.
Worldometers U.S. Covid19 numbers

More people are hospitalized with the flu every year in the U.S. than even HAVE Covid19.

Flu has a vaccine of debatable effectiveness.  These numbers are WITH a large segment of the population vaccinated.  If more were unvaccinated, flu numbers would be MUCH worse!

It seems obvious that the flu is considerably more contagious as, even if we project a million Covid19 cases by the time this is all over (doubtful), we are still as much as 50X more likely to catch the flu than we are Covid19.

However, if your luck is really bad and you DO catch Covid19, you are going to be more sick and have a greater chance of dying from it.

However, every October to April, during flu season, we don't close most businesses and our State and National Parks.  We aren't ordered into house arrest and we don't go around wearing masks.  We go about our daily lives.

The huge numbers of flu virus hospitalizations don't overwhelm our hospitals and run them out of supplies.

We can't so easily research daily tracking of flu infections by state and country, with the numbers of new infections that day highlighted.  We don't keep running numbers of deaths, how many per-million of this or  We just go on with our lives, knowing the flu is out there and trying to stay away from those who look sick.  Hospitals sometimes, during flu season, limit those allowed in and always ask that, if you're sick, please don't bring it to the rest of us.

So, what's going on with this Covid19 pan(Dem)ic?  My common sense tells me there's something else involved here.

Dr. Birx not only admitted that They are padding the death numbers but actually bragged about it.  In her comments, she was contemptuous of countries where the actual true cause of death was being cited while happy that, if someone in the U.S. dies WITH Covid19, they are shown to have died BECAUSE of Covid19, whether or not that is true.

So, why are They deliberately lying about this?   What's in it for Them?

I think we touched on this.  Power.  Money.  Control.  If we as a people are totally dependent on our Government to provide us with all our needs, giving us Their Permission to have a job and maybe even allowing us to go out once in a while; then, maybe, we will be happy to shell out more in taxes.  Those most benevolent Government Leaders can continue to live their lives of leisure if we are more willing to pay Their bills.

This HAS to come to an end, folks.  Without the requirement to have our "papers" if we leave home.  At first, probably, proving that we are immune to and/or not carriers of Covid19, then ANY disease, then, who knows?  Will our Papers advance to our having permission to leave our state, then, when we're used to that, permission to leave our county, city, state or even peoperty?
US May Issue Immunity Cards

How far will They take it?  The answer far as we LET Them!

I can't believe it! I WANT to WORK!

For the past 12 seasons, I've been the entertainer for Parade Rest Guest Ranch near West Yellowstone, MT, normally from about the middle of June until around the first week of September.  This involved entertaining at cookouts two days a week.  For the last few years, I've also been the dinner cook two-four days a week at the Ranch.

On the days I wasn't either scheduled to entertain or cook, I'd go hiking in the mountains, camping and generally just enjoying the Yellowstone area.  Sometimes that meant sitting in a chaise in the mountains somewhere, reading a book in the sunshine.  Just sitting on a rock, far back in the mountains, while I listen to the breeze sighing in the pines, basically doing and thinking nothing...that's about the closest I get, anymore, to feeling peace and even a little happiness. 

If I felt like it, I would go to the West Park Mall, in town, set up a stool and a tip jar and just play and sing, sometimes for hours.  I didn't make a great amount in tips and CD sales, but it was enough to handle most of my summer expenses.  I'd also schedule a few bar gigs and other events on Saturdays during the summer to make a little extra.

I've made a concerted effort, over the past few years, to cut my expenses and debts as close to the bone as possible so if I saved $4000 over and above my expenses/bills during this three month effort, I was happy.  

This year, of course, this is all probably shot in the ass.

"They" have closed The Park and are "advising" against travelling to resort areas.  We all know that They have locked down our country, purportedly because of this virus.  

If the past two weeks are any example, I will spend my summer working around the yard, cleaning house, reading and watching movies/TV on my computer.  In remuneration for my staying at home, essentially doing nothing, They have promised to not only pay me unemployment but (I'll believe it when I deposit it) the Feds are supposed to "grant" me $600 a week, over the state unemployment amount!  So, if They actually come through, I'll get a little over $4000 for six weeks (Hopefully, that's all!) of unemployment.

So, what am I complaining about, you ask?  I mean, if They actually pay this much, I'm going to make MUCH more during my house arrest than I would have while waiting tables for these six weeks and I'll have a lot of stuff done around my house, will have read most of the books I have pending and will have watched many hours of TV.  Oh, and I'll have gained about 100 pounds, but let's not think about that!

My complaint is that They will have shown themselves and us that They are in control.  Will we need "Papers", showing that we are immune to and/or not carrying Covid19?  Will we have to show a reason to travel away from our homes?  Will all the motel/hotel registries be sent to the local police each night so They can cross reference and make sure everyone is complying with "restrictions"?  You laugh.  We in the U.S. have rarely experienced such things but, in many other countries, these restrictions and rules have been in effect for a long time.

Will They have finally managed to get Their gun control more in place?  Will our medical care be handed out to us by our Benevolent Government?  How about recreation?  They can close OUR parks, restrict our use of the rivers and "Federal Lands" now.  We have surrendered many of our freedoms over these past few weeks.  Gradually, yes.  Certainly, the argument can be made that these draconian measures have protected much of our country from what we are seeing in New York and New Jersey.  But, are They going to relinquish Their hold on us, our freedoms, our incomes, our whole way of life?  Now that They HAVE control, will They give it back?

I don't really like being back in food service work.  It's not where I planned to be, back where I was at 16.  In fact, it's not uncommon for me to shed a tear and sob a little before I take a deep breath and walk out the door, headed for work.  But I WORK for my living.  I have value and I feel valuable because I'm producing something of value.

If given the choice, I'd much rather do a physically demanding, sometimes unpleasant and even somewhat menial "job" than have Them support me in sloth and meaningless inactivity.