Monday, August 31, 2009

Repost - The Hitchhiker

Pin It Originally posted on July 20, 2008

I have had quite a difficult time in picking re-posts; I vacillate between those which make me laugh, and those which make me think. I think that today is a 'laugh' day. However, in order to get the full effect with this particular post, you must imagine the voice which goes along with this elderly man...a kind of slurry, everything-drenched-in-maple-syrup geriatric kind of voice. If you can put that kind of voice to John, I think you can get a better idea of just what this conversation was really like - yeah, one of those two-headed chicken magazine conversations...

I drove past the man sitting on the guard railing; it was along a sparingly-traveled road some thirty miles south of St. George. As I passed, the words to Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, Heartbeat of Heaven, flashed through my mind.

I pulled up to the stop sign and I saw him standing there
The cardboard sign he held said he was hungry
I looked the other way and waited for the light to change
As if to say, “I'd help, but I'm in such a hurry.”

These are the moments of truth
What would love have me do?

I promptly turned my car and drove back.

As I neared the man, visions of axe murders flitted through my mind. However, as I pulled over to the side of the road and the aged man shuffled up to my car, cane in hand, I smiled.

An elderly axe murderer?


Enter the vehicle, John. Age: 72.

As John climbed into my car, he smiled warmly. “Thanks for stopping.” He folded up the sign on which he’d written:

St. George

As I pulled back on the road, and aimed the car in the direction of the freeway and St. George, I asked John about himself. This little old man promptly began to do so. Telling me of the life he’d lived, and his tales of woebegone adventures. I listened as he told me all about his first and second marriages, all the jobs he’s had since 1950, and about his health, which has steadily been on the decline since 1979. He had plenty to say, and there wasn’t but a moment or two that we were in want of conversation.

“So, where you from?” he finally asked, after telling me about all the different places he’d lived.

“Originally I’m from Washington State.”

John nodded knowingly, “Ah, lots of rain up thars.”

“Actually, I’m from the dry side of the state, luckily, the Cascade Mountains divide the state in two and the coastal area gets most of the rain.”

He paused, considering what I’d said. After a moment or two of silence he asked, “You ever seen a Sasquatch?”

“Uh…actually no.”

He leaned in conspiratorially, “I have.” He whispered with a nod.


At this point, John launched into a tale which quickly spread into two separate accounts of Bigfoot sightings. One of which was when he and a few of his kids were driving someplace up in Washington one night back in the late seventies, and he saw two Bigfoot on the side of the road.

“They were HUGE. They stood there, staring at us with their red eyes,” John recalled. “They just stood there like they were hitchhiking or sompin’. At first we passed by ‘em, when I got the car turned around so I could shine the headlights on them for another look, they were gone.”

John waited a moment then launched into his second sighting which occurred when John was out on a deer hunt in 1978. He’d been out pretty deep in the mountains near a large clearing. He said he’d been there for a little while when, at the other end of the clearing, he noticed commotion. He quickly turned and was surprised when he saw a fight ensuing between two large animals. “One of those animals was a deer…or maybe it was a deer, I don’t know really, it COULD have been a deer. I just know that it had these big ‘ole antlers…could’da been a elk though.” He held out his hands to show that the antlers were big. “And that deer was fighting this huge Sasquatch. It wan’t black or brown like a bear, but it was whitish. It also had these huge eyes and I knew it wan’t a bear ‘cause of that face…one that was almost humanish.”

John leaned back in his seat and fixed me with his intently-staring eyes, hand gripping his cane a little tighter.

“Well, that Bigfoot grabbed the deer by hit antlers and threw him up against a tree!” John said with a flourish. “I watched that deer…maybe it was a elk. Anyhow, it fell to the ground and didn’t move after that.”

I was trying hard not to smile, and instead endeavored to maintain a look of mesmerized awe, “Wow, what happened next?”

“Well, that there Sasquatch dragged that deer into the trees, leaving a bloody trail the whole way…I think he musta been hungry.”

“What did you do?”

“Me? I just sit there, watching. Some other hunters started shooting at it. I don’t know why they’d want to do that, it was just gettin’ its dinner. They probably didn’t have tags for a Sasquatch anyway.” He blew out a breath, and looked again at the freeway stretched out before us. “I never did find out what happened to that Bigfoot…or that deer neither.”

He looked longingly out at the horizon, as if watching something only he could see.

Before long, we arrived at John’s destination, and he climbed out of the car. “Thanks for the ride here, sonny.”

I waved a hasty goodbye as he ambled toward his home.

I am still speechless.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Repost: I have no speech

Pin It Originally posted on March 9, 2008

I will be honest; I don't always relish phone calls from can never be sure just what type of Pandora's Box is just waiting to be unleashed when that receiver is lifted. This experience is yet another landmark in the saga of teacherdom calls; however, this phone call is probably one of the most odd that I have ever received. This in itself warranted a re-posting of this particular experience.

I hung up the phone and shook my head.

I couldn’t believe it.

The conversation that I had had with this particular student’s mom was a bit out of the ordinary. I never thought a conversation like this would’ve happened…at least, I didn’t ever think it would.

But happen it did…

Z: Hello?
P: Hello, Mr. Z. This is Mrs. So-and-So; What’s-his-face’s mom.
Z: Good afternoon, Mrs. So-and-So. What can I do for you today?
P: Well, I needed to ask you a question, Mr. Z.
Z: Sure, what is it?
P: Well, my son, What’s-his-face, wanted me to call you and ask about your hair.


Z: My hair?
P: Yes, you see, What’s-his-face wants his hair to stick up like yours and the gel we have doesn’t seem to work very well. He was just wondering what kind you used and where you buy it.


Z: You’re serious?
P: Um, yeah. (In the background: “What kind does he use, Mom?”)
Z: Well, actually I buy it at Albertson’s.
P: Albertson’s? Great, and what’s it called?
Z: It’s called “Spike Glue.”
P: Spike Glue?
Z: Yes.


(In the background: “What does it look like?”)
P: Mr. Z? What does the container look like? What’s-his-face wants to be sure we can find the right one when we get to the store.
Z: Well…I think the container is kind of a light bluish-green color to tell you the truth. It says “Spike Glue” right on the lid. It also has kind of a yellow packaging around it.
P: Hang on, I need to write this down.


P: Okay, got it. Thanks. What’s-his-face will be so excited.
Z: Great, hope you are able to pick some up.
P: Oh yes, we’re going to the store right now.
Z: Alright…well, Mrs. So-and-So, you have a great day and I’ll see What’s-his-face back here again at school tomorrow.
(In the background: “How much does he use?”)
P: Um, Mr. Z?
Z: Yeah?
P: How much of the ‘glue’ do you really use? I mean, I don’t want him to use too much. He hasn’t done this before.
(In the background: “Mom! Don’t tell him that.”)
Z: Well, I usually just get some on the tips of my fingers, that’s usually about enough for me.
P: Hang on. I need to write this down. (In the background: “How does he get his hair to stick up?”)


P: And then how do you get your hair to stand up like you do?
Z: Well, actually, the gel does most of the work…that’s my big secret. You just kind of muss up your hair until it looks right. The stuff holds pretty well.
P: Okay, Um…Well, I think that’s all we needed. Thanks for your help, Mr. Z, we’ll see you later.
Z: Great, glad I could help out What’s-his-face.
P: Oh, so am I. Well…um…goodbye.

In the words of Jerry Seinfield, “I am speechless: I have no speech.”

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A button, a button!

Pin It That seems to be the call these days with blogs, isn’t it?

Stylish really, to have a button to advertise your writing and to let the world know.

So why haven’t I made a button for Adventures and Misadventures?


Eventually one will undoubtedly come out; however, in the meantime if you’d like to get a button…who am I kidding? Of course you’d love to have one! You, my friends, can go and get one which looks exactly like the one you see in the right sidebar; and to get it, all you have to do is click here.

You know you want one...all the cool kids have them.

Repost - The San Rafael

Pin It Originally Posted on January 21, 2009

The desert holds a special place in my heart. I cannot explain fully when or why this love came about, but it might have something to do with my dear friend and coworker, Ron Firmage, who introduced me to Expedition Red Rock and the beauty which southern Utah truly holds.

For this, Ron, I cannot thank you enough.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Repost - More than yesterday

Pin It Originally posted on Sunday, October 19, 2008

It has been an eventful past few days.

I feel I need to write this entry for all of those who do not feel that they are who they should be—those people who feel that they are not living up to the expectations of their families, their God, their workplace, themselves…

I used to go to the gym back one upon a time ago. I remember being pretty devoted for quite a while. I’d be up at 5:00 A.M. and would get in a session before work nearly every day—there were also days I’d go back to the gym after work and hit the treadmills or stair-steppers.

Like I said, that was once upon a time ago.

I suddenly stopped going. Life got busy, and I found myself pressed for time—time which I did not have.

It was several weeks before I was finally able to make it back to the gym—and this was only for a short 15-minute visit.

I was berating myself for not having stayed longer, and for just how terribly I was doing. Later, when I was with a friend, we were having a discussion and I mentioned to her how I just wasn’t doing as well as I should in regards to the gym.

My friend looked at me and said, “Well, you’re doing a lot more than you were yesterday, which was nothing.”

These words have stuck with me throughout the past few years, and I find them reverberating in my head—quite often to be honest.

There are times in all our lives when we find ourselves lacking in one or more areas. Perhaps we aren’t eating quite as healthy as we should be, perhaps we are feeling that we aren’t spending as much time as we should with our families, maybe we’re disappointed with ourselves because of our seemingly-lowered spiritual levels, or maybe we didn’t complete that project which has been begging for our attention for quite some time.

Always know that tomorrow is yet another day—a day without mistakes in it. I’m not saying to only live for tomorrow, but instead know that it is a new start. By doing just a bit more than we already are—even just a little bit—is doing more than we’re doing now…just remember to take it bit by bit and don’t let discouragement overwhelm you.

A wise man once said that it is by doing little things that great things will ultimately come about.

By eating one less cookie than you normally would have, by putting away just one stack of papers, by walking for one song on your iPod...all of these things are milestones in the sense that they are all perhaps more than you were previously doing.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Repost : Blogs - Serials of Society

Pin It Originally posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why do I like to read blogs? Interesting question…really.

I guess you could say that I relate blogs as serials of a society. Blogs, like syndicated programs I love to watch, allow me to know more about certain characters, about their interests, quirks, and even moments of frustration and achievement in their day-to-day living. Like favorite programs, I have my favorite blogs as well. However, I look forward to reading all of the blogs on my subscription list (currently at an undisclosed number). Some of these ‘shows’ are on more frequently, while others only have a special which comes on every once and great while (ex; Yancy’s Christmas Special).

In the words of Will from the movie, About a Boy: “The thing is, a person’s life is like a TV show. I was the star of The Will Show. And The Will Show wasn't an ensemble drama. Guests came and went, but I was the regular. It came down to me and me alone…”

Blogs, like shows, have their major and minor characters…those whom we’ve become endeared to—though perhaps we’ve never before met them. They are the characters we laugh with at the good times, mourn with when there’s tragedy, and stand up and cheer for when they rise up against the odds.

You know what though? The ‘show’ would not be worth watching if it weren’t for the good times, as well as the bad. We need both to recognize the other—and to appreciate them. I never feel so good about feeling well as I do right after I’ve just been sick.

There have been times over the pasts few years when some my favorite ‘characters’ have taken a turn for the worst, are met up with insurmountable odds and trials, or quite simply, jumped in the lineup for a cancellation.

I guess I write this because I need to remind myself that a serial does not have a happy ending…at least, not yet. Sure, there are those episodes which make us feel good at the end when the credits start to roll, but there are others which leave us feeling frustrated or upset.

Just know that the writers will eventually get past that particular hurtful episode, and will get it right. But in the meantime, don’t cancel your show just yet.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Four Perspectives

Pin It I’d like to invite you.

Yes, you.

I am setting out on a new endeavor with a few friends of mine.

I know…crazy; one more thing to keep up on when my life is now a whirlwind of events.

I’d be flattered if you stopped by; moreso if you did it more than once.

Repost - Stars

Pin It As a teacher there are students who slip in and out of a classroom, as well as in and out of a life. I’d wondered about this particular boy over the years, how was he doing? What was he up to? What kind of an individual had he become? I won't lie, I was moved when he showed up in my classroom on this winter evening...mysteriously finding his way into a locked school building.

These are the moments which matter - these are those small times when being a teacher is worth every single moment where we'd struggled.

Originally posted on Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I had a friend who needed to cancel our evening plans, which led me to stay at work a little bit later than usual tonight. As I entered grades, visited with a few other teachers, organized the room, and began to get ready for the next day’s teaching, my classroom door swung open. Standing there was a student I hadn’t seen for quite a long time…I’ll call this boy, ‘Joey.’

As Joey strode into the room I found myself surprised to see him, especially so late in the evening. How had he gotten into the school? Why was he here? Joey walked straight up to me and threw out his arms, embracing me in a bear-type hug. It was then that he began to talk. I couldn’t believe just how big this boy had become since he’d been a chubby little fourth grader in my classroom some six years before. He’d become a fine young man, now in his second year of high school.

Joey talked, expressing several times just how much he loved being in my class as a 4th grader. He reminisced about the voices I’d used for read-aloud, the assignments he’d had fun with, and just how much the room had stayed the same…though it was just a little bit smaller than he remembered. His face grew somber as he turned and looked me in the eyes. He began to thank me for the countless hours I’d spent on him; hours of working on assignments as well as tutoring him with reading.

He took a deep breath and then said, “I wanted to tell you something else…I wanted to let you know that I’m a good kid. I’m not perfect and I’ve done some stupid things in my life, but when I started to drive to the school tonight to visit you, I thought about how proud I was of the fact that I am a good kid, and I wanted you to know that. I’m not trying to toot my own horn or anything like that, and I hope you don’t think I’m being prideful, but I’m not doing drugs, I’ve got a lot of good friends, and I’m nice to people. I’m proud of myself and I wanted to let you know that, too, because, it was you who really made me the person I am today. I can remember all of the long hours you worked with me and helped me to love school. The things you taught me about being a good person. Well, I just wanted to thank you for that.”

It wasn’t long before Joey’s cell phone rang…it was his mom. He needed to be home for dinner soon. I walked him out of the school; before he got into his car he gave me another hug, once-again expressing his gratitude. As I watched the taillights of Joey’s rover vanish into the darkness, I climbed into my own car and made the trip home over the icy streets of town, my head a flood of reflection. I had thought about Joey—on numerous occasions. He’s the type of student that teachers often think about…wondering: Was all the time I spent on him wasted?

I felt a wave of gratitude wash over me as I drove home; thankfulness for the time I’d chosen to spend on this particular child who had struggled with education for so many years. It was this same boy, ­now sixteen, who helped me to realize that the time we invest in others, though it may tax us to our very limits, can make the biggest difference. This time we spend is NEVER wasted.

In the words of Loren Eisley:

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.

Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”

The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

“Son,” the man said, “Don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach, and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference for that one.”

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Repost - The Highest form of flattery

Pin It When Mom first started getting really sick two years ago, my dad called and told us; I took a leave of absence from work for a week and flew home in order to spend time with her. When I finally came back to my classroom, I was surprised by what awaited me.

Repost - Breakfast with Dad

Pin It This excursion to The Hoot Owl was during a period of time when Mom’s health had first become precarious because of the cancer, and I had left my classroom for a week because the doctors had said she wouldn’t be around very long—in fact, they’d given her between one and eight weeks in which to live. Who would have guessed that she would have outlived their longest estimations by nearly 21 months?

Even as I read over this particular post, it reminds me of the month that I spent up in Sandpoint, and the final days I was able to spend with her before she died.

I still miss her.

Originally posted on Sunday, October 28, 2007

The morning would bring with it an excitement like Christmas - and yet sadness too, like the last day of school in the spring. This bittersweet feeling came all because of something my dad had whispered to Yancy and me late the night before, “Tomorrow we go to the Hoot Owl.” This small statement, coupled with the fact that my flight took off later that afternoon, had me feeling a mix of emotion.

So, what's The Hoot Owl? To answer that you would need to imagine one of those little restaurants which you can only seem to find in small towns. One of those places which has been run by the same family for years and the menu doesn’t ever seem to change…it’s like stepping back in time to a place that never seems to age, no matter how much you do.

On Saturday morning I was the first awake, and I carefully awoke my brother and dad. I felt like I did back when I was just a kid…trying so hard to be so quiet on Christmas morning, and yet wanting to be loud so we could get things rolling. It didn’t take long before the two of them were wide awake and we slipped off into the early morning mist and the shadows which still covered the sleepy neighborhood on Red Clover Drive.

As we drove to The Hoot Owl the sun slowly broke into life, rising ever so leisurely with its first rays of morning reaching over the mountains to linger on the treetops, orange and yellow. We parked in the dirt lot next door, and made our way to the brightly-lit restaurant which greeted us not only with warmth from the chilly October air, but a bundle of smells which all spelled breakfast.

Years ago my dad used to joke with us, telling us that each of the flies which always buzzed about this cafĂ© all had names, and were personally trained by the family, being kept in little cages at night and released every morning to greet the customers. Though the thought of flies in a restaurant may sound nauseating, this is just one of the small things about this little restaurant which gives it a feeling of home. I’m sure that a part of this sentiment is due to the fact that it is a place that I’ve only been to with my dad before, and no matter how old we get we hold on to traditions—even those which have only been in existence for a few years.

My dad, my brother, and I sat there and talked over our steaming plates of breakfast. We didn’t necessarily discuss anything which was life-changing, or anything which was incredibly profound…we just talked. Many moments I just listened to what was being said. Amidst spills of water and maple syrup, laughter and deep thought, and friendly greetings from other people my dad and brother knew, we had the opportunity spend a last little while together before I left for Utah…this is something which doesn’t seem to happen near enough with my dad.

As we walked outside once-again into the chilly October morning, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. As I climbed into the rental car, fired up the engine, and began the two-hour drive to the Spokane Airport, I thought of how fortunate I was to have a family who cares about me, and one I care about back. Already in my mind I was anticipating breakfast at some future time again with my dad and brother at The Hoot Owl.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Repost - The Capitol Reef Adventure

Pin It I thought it only fitting that my first repost also be the very first posting I made. It’s amazing to me just how far my photography—as well as writing—has come over the past two years. It’s also kind of funny, I’d entertained the idea of starting a blog several times before, but it wasn’t until I’d had this particular little experience and had started to tell my friend, Annette, about it that she responded with, “I can’t wait to read about it.”

This was the final nudge which spurred me into the world of blogging. So with this post I offer a hearty ‘thanks’ to Annette for giving me the encouragement to set me off on the road of writing, and recording my Adventures and Misadventures of Daily Living.

Orignally posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2007

This has been quite the trip! As I think of my last trip to southern Utah I am reminded of the experience I had over Saturday and Sunday.

I was driving in Capitol Reef on Saturday and taking in the vistas it affords when I came across (many times) the banks of water flow during heavy rains. I drove through these repeatedly and had little to no problems up to this point so I wasn't worried until I started to get closer to a muddy patch of roadway ahead of me and saw just how bad it really was. I put on the brakes, but alas, it was too late. I ended up with my front tires submerged in thick, gooey, mud up to the front bumper.

I tried just about everything could...digging around the tires, using rocks, bushes, and sticks for traction...but nothing was of any avail. I was 100% stuck on a section of road which was 25 miles from the last person I'd seen.

It was at this point that I made a hike to I-70 and find a ride back to the beginning of Capitol Reef and find someone with a 4-wheel drive who could pull my vehicle out. So, I wrote a note saying what direction I'd gone on foot, grabbed my backpack, and started walking towards what I hoped would be civilization. Only one problem...the road I was walking on was not listed on one of my maps so I had no idea of how far away the freeway really was...I figured that it was between 10 - 20 miles, and that I knew I could handle.

I said a quick prayer as I ventured among the fading light shrouding the ancient mesas and towering cliffs. Soon the light was all but gone and cricket sounds filled the air around me. The road was not overtly difficult, just long. A half moon appeared overhead and the milky-colored way shone above me while ominous storm clouds threatened rain out on the horizon with flashes of lightning.

On a distant hill I saw a light...I could tell that it looked an awful lot like headlights. I turned my headlamp to "flasher" and signaled with my flashlight as well. Still I walked on while the distant lights would vanish, and then reappear. I was starting to wonder if maybe it was a group of campers who thought I was someone playing some type of light game or something...the lights then vanished and I did not see them again.

It was dark, and after the few hours I'd been walking I will admit that I began to feel a bit leery of being there in that vast space. Behind me I could hear something from time to time...what it was I do not know, but I do know that it was there, creeping behind me in the darkness, keeping itself far beyond the strength of my flashlight. Bats zoomed around me, drawn by the insects attracted my my flashing headlamp, and I felt totally alone.

Moments later the lights reappeared...closer this time. I began to signal with my flashlight again but soon the lights vanished. When they appeared again, I could see the distinct red of taillights as the vehicle was going away. I felt horrible. To think that someone was there and then gone was almost too much to handle. I kept my headlamp flashing, shone my flashlight around behind me, and continued walking.

I did an awful lot of thinking during that time--praying too--on that desolate road where the only light came from the twinkling celestial objects above me, and loneliness crept in like a suffocating blanket over an unwary sleeper.

It was at this time that the lights appeared again! Closer this time and I could tell that a vehicle was traveling on the same road as I! After several more minutes a truck came into view driven by a girl and her boyfriend. I had never been so relived to see another person in my life, and as I explained my circumstances they did theirs as well. As it turns out, they had gotten lost after leaving the Interstate and had been wandering around on unknown roads in the desert trying to find their group of friends who were camping.

By now it was nearly 11:00 p.m. (I'd started hiking around 7:45). I asked when they'd gotten lost and they said it was at about 8:00...the time I'd said a prayer asking for help. They had been wandering for hours until they reached a hilltop, saw my signal lights, and had come to find whoever it was but had come across many wash-outs and dead-end roads so had to find the right road.

When I climbed into the back of the truck, I felt a wave of gratitude wash over me...a wave directed towards God Himself. As we drove down the road at 45 miles per hour and I felt the wind going over me I looked up that that star-drenched sky and I felt tears pricking at my eyes. I just couldn't help it...God had heard--and answered--my prayer. I hadn't really been alone at all...He was there and was aware of me and what I was going through. Here he was orchestrating the complex movements of the universe and he still found the time to send a little miracle to a lost, decrepit soul. I was important enough for him to help.

All I could whisper over the rushing wind was the words, "Thank you."

It still took us nearly 25 minutes to reach the Interstate and it was here that I was dropped off. I thanked them for the ride and they were off and away, back to Denver where they'd come from.

I walked up the entrance to the on ramp and started walking west, towards the exit for another highway that would lead me down to Fremont, a small town near the gateway into Capitol Reef. It was my hopes to find a person there who could be convinced to drive to my car with a 4 wheel drive and pull my car out. As I walked along the dark freeway at midnight I thought about the distance I'd covered before--and after--the ride I'd received. I figured that I'd walked about 12 miles and then was driven about 20 more. If those people hadn't come along, I'd have walked all night and far into the next day. I also thought about the road I had been on...there had been patches of mud, rocky areas, and a few small hills, however, that had been nothing compared to the road which had laid ahead. True, the mud was nonexistent, but there were many side roads, and steep hills with drops to the side. The road I had walked, in comparison, was easy to what had been ahead of me...the road I did not have to travel on my own. Thoughts of how many things God must spare us from, and yet we are unaware of them, came to me during this time.

There weren't many cars driving on the Interstate in my direction at midnight and the first car which I saw passed me in a flurry of taillights, not slowing down in the slightest. A few minutes later a second car passed, however this one stopped. The driver was a Hispanic man to whom I sadly cannot remember his name as I'd never heard it before...however, I will choose to call him Paul, after Saint Paul because of how much he talked about helping others and the life of people like Mother Theresa.

Paul had said that he was on a run from Mexico to Las Vegas and then to New York for business. He said that he would pick up hitchhikers if it looked like they really had a need...I fit the description. Though I had my Camelbak with water, Paul insisted that I take a cold water bottle. He pulled a bottle of water from a cooler he had and handed it to me.

As he drove, he told me about how he'd come to the United States and about his family and the jobs he'd worked. He also told me how unkindly he'd been treated by many people because he was a Mexican, however, this did not make him bitter, but instead more kind to others and he was always looking for ways which to help people.

We missed the exit to Fremont where I was going to hitchhike down to the town and ended up in Selina--REALLY too far west! Paul insisted on driving me down to the town himself--now this was FAR out of his way but he said that he didn't mind in the slightest and refused to let me walk alone down dark, deserted roads.

As it turns out, the town was nothing more than a few homes and he drove me to the start of the dirt road which would lead to Cathedral Valley and where my car was. Paul was leery about letting me off in such an empty, dark place but I told him about a campsite just about a mile up the road and how I'd be fine. Paul finally relented and handed me another bottle of water imploring that I be careful.

I couldn't believe just how kind Paul had been and all he'd done for me. How far out of his way he'd gone to help...I shouldered my backpack and began to walk up the road with wonderings of just what would I do now. I walked two miles with still no sign of Riley's Spring. I wasn't sure just how much farther it was as the map I had wasn't much help for that either. I gathered wood and built a fire. When I was ready to light it I reached into my pocket for my matches only to discover that they had fallen out of my pocket...I'd transferred the container from my pack to my pocket and at some time, I'd lost them. I began to hike back down the road and luckily, I found them about 1/8 of a mile down the road.

By 3:00 a.m. I had a fire going...this was good too because it was cold. As the flames got higher it cast shadows away and illuminated the groves of quaking aspens all around me. A wild half-moon rode the cloudy skies overhead and I thought back to the moment Paul had dropped me off.

When he had driven away I was wondering if I should just try to get some sleep there. I'd cleared a spot of ground and laid down. I took my two maps and used them as blankets to try to hold in some heat. I watched shooting stars--or meteors--and thought about my dad. I thought of his excursions to the desert when he was younger and how he and his uncle would sleep out on the ground. I'd been checking for cell phone service pretty regularly and suddenly I wanted to talk to my dad--I wanted to tell him about this adventure I was having and all I'd done up to this point. There was still no service. I turned off the phone and thought of something else my dad had said about how dumb it had been sleeping on the desert floor when there are scorpions. I got up and decided to hike up the road to the spot where I built my fire instead of taking the chance of getting stung.

Now, with a campfire going it was warmer and I watched the skies. I tried to sleep once but was a bit fearful of falling asleep. I did doze for about 20 minutes but woke because the fire had died down to embers and biting coldness was setting in. I checked the time--it was about 4:00 a.m. I added more wood to the fire and's amazing to me all of the thoughts you have when all alone in a place like that.

I took out my Mp3 player and listened to a few songs with one earbud in..I wanted to be able to hear what was going on around me too. The first song to come on was a rendition of Joni Mitchell's, The Circle Game performed by Steven Curtis Chapman. As I listened to it I thought of my 5th & 6th grade teacher, Otamay Hushing, singing that song with my classmates and I when I was a kid. I felt a little bit less alone and the darkness creeping along beyond the strength of the firelight was a little bit less foreboding and spooky.

It was about 6:00 a.m. when I got a really good scare. I'd been watching the skies and noticed that it was just barely starting to lighten when I heard the unmistakable sound of a bear off in the trees...not too close...but to far either. The fire was mostly embers so I quickly doused it and started up the road as quickly as I could without police-style flashlight gripped tightly.

I walked about another mile before arriving at Riley's Spring. There was someone camped there, but it was still before 7 and I didn't want to wake anyone up. I decided to continue up the road passing campsites until I met up with someone with a 4 wheel drive who was awake.

It was 4 miles later that I met up with J.C. and his son, Jared. They were just up and awake and had a powerful truck. I told them of my situation and they were all too ready to help. J.C. also knew of a shorter road which took about 12 miles off of the trip to where my car was stuck. It only took a few minutes to get the tow rope hooked up and to dig the car out a little bit, but it came right out and I was again on my way. Like the others who'd helped me, J.C. refused any money and went on his way.

It is amazing to me that there are so many wonderful people out there who are willing to give aid to someone else who needs it. For this I find myself grateful.

The rest of my trip took me to fabulous places where I saw Calf Creek Falls--a place which I hadn't been for several years--and that night I was chasing a lightning storm down by way of Hanksville; of which, I got several great photos.

All in all this was a fantastic trip and one I will not forget again soon.


Pin It Hundred.





It’s strange for me to think that on August 8th I hit my two year mark as a blogger; and it is today, with this posting, that I hit my five hundredth.

Granted, most of you probably weren’t here at the birth of this little blog, nor probably have gone back to read over these past entries once you did start, after all—who really does something like that?

Can I share a secret with you? I usually don’t—that is, unless the person is riveting and has captured my attention. In which case, I always nearly do find myself browsing the archives and enjoying the posts I’d not had the opportunity to read, back when the blog had first begun.

In honor of these three magical aforementioned numbers, I’ve decided to repost fifteen of my personal favorite blog entries from the past 5 hundred – since August 8th – all the way back to 2 years ago.

One or two per day.

Is this cheating? Is this a way of getting out of blogging about what is going on in the here and now?


However, you do need to know that I thought about choosing five entries for every hundred that I posted, which would have been 25 altogether…yeah, totally cheating, I know…but I’m having such a hard time in trying to narrow this down to only fifteen; there were be so many of them that get left out in the cold—such a fickle friend I am.

I did want to let you know of another venture currently in the works I’ve undertaken with a few close friends, this particular little project will probably be mentioned here on Tuesday of next week…However, in the meantime, I’d like to ask that you come and revisit a few of my favorite posts over the next week or so, with perhaps a few new updates scattered in and amongst them.

So, for all of you who don’t read back…

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Mark

Pin It A teacher has students which enter the doors of his classroom every year. Every single one of those students leaves an imprint.

For some of them that impression fades slowly over time; like telltale footprints left in the shifting sands of life—

For others, their tracks are made in the proverbial ‘wet cement’ of memory. Small marks are left behind to call attention to those who’ve made a lasting impression; whether that is from responsibility they’ve evidenced…perhaps because of their kindness, or simply it was from their positive attitude which set them apart and made them so memorable.

These are the students which are so hard to see move on.

These are the students you hope that you’ve made your mark on as well.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I wanted to vomit

Pin It Tonight was Back to School Night.

I had had a migraine all day; but I tried not to show it—after all, what good would that have done?

At Back to School Night everyone met in the gymnasium at first in order to hear announcements, to have the principal introduce the staff, and to take care of various odds and ends. When the fifth grade team was introduced and our principal introduced me, a smattering of applause rippled through the gym.

I have to be honest, as I stood and gave a small wave I felt a bit uncomfortable; I felt badly for the other teachers who didn’t get accolades from the masses that I did; this being only my second year at this school and some of them having taught there for ten or more years. It made me worry that some of them would start to resent me for it.

Back in the classroom I met briefly with each of my students and their parents, the migraine still pounding in my skull, but I smiled and pretended that it wasn’t there.

I wanted to vomit.

The names I’d so carefully memorized became jumbled with the throbbing pain in my head and at times I had trouble trying to think clearly—I know that I forgot to remind some parents sign up for SEP conferences.


Finally, the evening was over and I found myself standing alone in an empty classroom—a classroom which was put together with the help of good friends and old students over the past few days. For all of which I am thankful and cannot express enough gratitude; you five know who you are.

I drove home, my head pounding—wanting nothing more than to yank out handfuls of my own hair. Migraines this bad haven’t been the norm, but have been a bit more frequent over the past week.

It is now night. The darkness is sweeping silently over the neighborhood along with the chill of evening.

Tomorrow is the first day of school.

The thought of teaching after a summer of privation comes, I ponder on the coming year; a tome of empty pages just waiting to be written. I hope to fill them with that which is worth reading. Yet, in the meantime I still have a headache; and I still want to vomit.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Searching for…

Pin It In music lies power.



I sit here in Washington Square Park in the late afternoon with my iPod. I love this park. It’s the location where one of my all-time favorite movies was filmed: Searching for Bobby Fischer.

When I first entered the grounds, I was changing up my playlist to listen to something a little bit different—I wanted something a little less…sonorous; after all, I was leaving the bustling streets and thoroughfares. This is when the thought occurred to me: why shouldn’t I listen to the soundtrack for one of my most treasured movies? One which had had some major scenes filmed right here?

As I called up the soundtrack by James Horner, I approached the men playing chess at the permanently-set tables. The familiar notes began to play, and as I watched the well-known landscape and scenes before me, I found myself completely blown away.

This park is suddenly no longer just a place to me; it now carries a whole other dimension to it; like sunlight so someone who’s been trapped inside all day, like a drowning man’s first gasp of cool, fresh oxygen into hungered lungs.

It is as if I am more here than I really am. This is one of the most powerful moments I have experienced while out here on this trip. Even now as I write this, the pigeons move about my feet, the sunlight patterns the ground and chess boards, and the players watch over their matches intently as their hands fly to their clocks and pieces. During this entire process the projector plays the film—not only in my head, but all around me

I am the movie.

This is life.

I find that as I write all of these things down that this moment is elusive, it refuses to be penned down with words—I try to find the right phrases and expressions which will describe what this is and how it feels, but they are slow in coming.

I could live this moment forever.

Tackling the beast

Pin It
I walked into the room and was blown away from the sight which greeted my querying eyes; I quite simply couldn’t believe the state of the area. It was a mess. I couldn’t remember leaving it in such a disconsolate condition; however, I’d jetted out in a flurry and headed out to a Hurculean summer of impossible goodbyes and cross-country exploits that it was entirely possible.

I had not been to that the classroom for the duration of the entire summer. More so, since the custodial staff had moved everything sitting on the floor in order to clean carpets and wax floors, the room was unequivocally declared as a scene of national disaster.

I felt like crumpling down in a mass of overwhelmedness and just letting the room trample over me; I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. “Please, just let it be fixed.” I thought, wishing that it would indeed be magically put back together the way I envisioned when I opened them, like something Professor Dumbledore had done in the most current Harry Potter movie.

But alas, Hogwarts my classroom is not

I couldn’t cast a spell to take away the heaps of papers and piles of boxes which had gathered from the other teachers leaving my team last year; and I had no potion to sort out the remaining odds and ends left by students which had mysteriously magicked themselves onto my desk—all in all which made it look more like a demilitarized zone in office warfare.

I had none of these resources at my disposal.

At this point I have to ask, have you ever noticed how being depressed and complaining never solved any problems? How it never accomplished anything? How it never actually made you feel any better? Well, not in the long term?

My point exactly.

So instead I set my iPod (I seem to do this a lot, don’t I?) to a favorite playlist, and as an alternative to complaining, set to work.

As I gazed about the room, I remembered something my good friend, Jaqs, had once said; something to the effect of, “Start off by doing whatever it is that will make it look like the most difference has been made with the littlest of effort.”

This was good advice as I spent the next six hours salvaging, sorting, organizing, moving, deciding, redeciding, resorting, and finally, standing back and appraising.

So, is my classroom ready?


Is closer to being done?


However, I still have two days to work on it; forty-eight hours to tackle this beast and make it appear that I am the teacher who completely has it all together.

Bring it on.

This, is magic.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Grimaldi's and the Brooklyn Bridge

Pin It My brother got off work late and we decided to head out for a delayed dinner—we ventured into Brooklyn via the subway under the channel, and ended up somewhere near Old Fulton Street—or as my brother said…just the place we wanted to be.

I had been told several times in transit about this place; it was supposed to be spectacular, but I won’t lie…I had my doubts.

We exited the subway and after a few minutes of walking we encountered a line which stretched over half a city block. My brother proudly proclaimed that this was the place.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria extraordinaire.

We waited.

The line moved infinitesimally slowly over the next 45 minutes; I found myself playing with my camera, taking photos of the street as the double-decker tour buses passed by on the street and the occupants waved and yelled to us.

One might think that waiting that long might have become tiresome, but being in a place like Brooklyn, there was always something to look at, or something to notice; besides, with a camera in one’s hand, how can one possibly be bored?

Before I knew it, my brother and I were whisked into the restaurant and I was taking shots inside the building as we were seated—all of which were severely blurred. You see, it just so happens that I had forgotten to switch my camera back to ‘automatic’ focus mode and therefore, every shot taken by my brother and myself in Grimaldi’s Pizzeria was junk.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. “Wait, Teachinfourth…aren’t you a photographer? Didn’t you notice that things weren’t in focus when you were taking those shots?”

Admittedly, I should have, but if I could bottle the smells in that restaurant—those aromas which accosted me as I walked in—if I could but take those incredible odors and perhaps have them waft though the exhaust port fan of your computer you’d be distracted right now, too.

However, images are not always necessary to convey thoughts. Helpful? Absolutely! Vital? Not necessarily.

Needless to say, the pizza had been well worth the wait and the cost.

My brother and I ventured outside and walked down to the pier for an ice cream; while he stood in line I strolled past the couples snogging each other on the benches, and friends laughing and sharing humorous experiences. I moved to the edge of the wharf and from there took a few photographs of the lights of the city reflecting off of the night water. Luckily, by this time I’d noticed my little error of focus and had since corrected it; alas, too late to save the other photos, but I had noticed it in enough time to capture these.

After my brother and I had eaten our ice cream we walked along the Brooklyn Bridge. I cannot convey that feeling of immense wonder I had as I gazed at those massive stones which were used to construct that bridge, and the steel cables lit up by the lights of the city in the distance.

I was in a state of awe. The things which mankind has wrought over the ages staggers the mind; it makes me reel back and consider the possibilities of the ever rapidly approaching future.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Empire State

Pin It I have arrived at home, but there is still so much to tell of my trip.

I’ve written most of my posts out as well...remember that willow-colored notebook I mentioned a blog or two ago?

Yeah, that’s the one.

Since I wrote the entries, “In the here and now” while they were occurring, I will present them as if I were still on vacation though I am not…deal?

Thanks for being so accommodating; I knew we were friends for a reason.


I stood on the teeming New York street looking up at the towering building before me; the very building where King Kong fought off the fighter planes which sought to kill him, the same building where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan’s characters met and fell in love, the identical building where James and his insect friends found themselves stranded atop an impaled giant peach—much to the dismay of the New York City residents.

I was excited—for giddy is much too strong a word—I merely eager.

I rode the elevator higher and higher reaching a floor someplace in the eighties; along the way I decided on a self-portrait with the other occupants of the elevator; which they happily obliged.

When I arrived at said floor I found that there was to be a twenty minute wait to reach the top—or one could take the stairs the remaining distance. To the stairwell I ventured and traversed the last ten or so floors to the rooftop, where the landscape was laid out before me.

Words will say no more, and I will instead let the images speak for themselves.

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