The morning was bright and the air clear Blue skies above and few clouds seen Cool is the temps but not to a frost The motor it rumbles an idling song The loping rhythm of cylinder fire Unmistakable sound of Milwaukee V Twin
Layers under leather, helmet and gloves Throw a leg over, firm hand on the grip Twist of the wrist and the rumble it changes A roar of the pipes, a signal of power
Out to the roadway, the game has begun Right turn, roll throttle, then smooth pavement I feel Thrust is apparent as I kick her to three
The wind it is cool, a definite difference The light of today, softer in some way A tint of yellow, you could almost say gold Fills the crisp air and comforts the soul The grass still green and the streams are a flow’in But something is different on this beautiful morn’in
Making my way I straddle my girl The big motors heat rising up warming my legs My senses alive because, well, I’m not in a cage
I consider the changes I’ve been talking about I realize the signs and now know the reason Summer has ended and autumn arrived With the tree leaves a changing, I feel a new season
Not yet the brilliant color on display but of this I am certain, that’s not far away So thankful I am to be riding this day A knowing witness to mother earth’s aura
Others may wonder, and not clearly know Just why it is, that I love to ride motors
Traveling by motorcycle places the rider directly into the elements. It is for this reason that motorcycles are so attractive to those who have inclination for sun on the back, wind in the face, smells in the air, and freedom. What also comes is risk and the needs for awareness and preparedness is a great idea. Much like life in many ways.
On a past weekend I found myself joyful in my travel south with the weekend promises of sun, motorcycle, a pretty woman, swimming pools, and the love of family. As I traveled toward my goals, dark clouds, thunder storms, and falling rain gathered and affected the area. The prevailing wind carried the storms on a north, north east direction crossing my path diagonally. I soon found myself shooting gaps in the storms. Speed increases to pass before some or slowing with pauses to pass behind others. I was actually having fun dancing with Mother Nature and maybe was getting a bit too cocky at my success.
About 100 miles out I saw it. Directly ahead a dark and dismal storm sat in the canyon that was to be my passage. I watched the dark falling moisture as I approached closer and closer. An indication of direction is what I sought. Seeing nothing I soon determined, the storm and I were on a direct collision course. It was refusing yield and kept coming on. Thoughts changed to shelter and a race soon began. Do I stop here in this town the safe bet, or do I chance making that rest area 20 miles out? Confident was I at my success of this day.
The rest area it would be, I would challenge the storm and get there first. It’s a hard task to judge the speed of a storm which is coming head on and I soon found myself riding into the first of its moisture. Light at first but building in strength the storm moved right up and over my path. It soon consumed me. 5, 4, 3, 2 miles more and the storm raged on.
Cars and semi trucks on roadside shoulder, a couple down the embankment, they were hydroplane victims. The cost of not slowing despite Mother Nature’s power. Thought’s now pass in my mind; “this race I’ve lost, and I’m going to get wet, soaked to the bone.” My furry companion snuggled up close to my back whining at the sting of rain drops and hail. I should have stopped in the safety of town but that option has passed. There is no option now but to carry on in the rain; 1 more mile, then a ½, I was so close now but the storm in its laughter poured on the rain.
Off of the interstate the danger had passed. Into the lot and quickly I parked shutting the big motor down with a flick of the thumb. I dismounted my girl, untethered my buddy and into the shelter we walked together. A gutter chock full of water and BB sized hail stones on the walkway explained the sting my little buddy had felt. As I lifted my helmet and Kev shook off the water, three others I saw all smiling at me. With Harley hats, Sturgis shirts, leather and helmets of their own. I looked outside in the parking lot opposite of mine. There were three bikes parked in a row, it seems they were quicker than I this day. They had made it to shelter and waited all dry.
“Well Howdy”; my greeting was given with an acknowledgement of, “That’s one hell of a storm. I thought I could beat it but it came up on me quick”
By the grins on display I knew they understood clearly my own soggy wet smile. Surely they thought of rides in their past and of their own chances taken and races they lost. There is some strange satisfaction at pressing my luck, taking a chance, and even in loosing this race.
The sunrise, a beautiful orange mixed with red. Just a slice before the panniers were full. As the morning rushed on, it was high in it’s rise. Brilliance occurred as the sky turned turquoise.
Soon all were ready and motors were fired. Loud pipes sounding the motors willingness to run. Up the on-ramp, speeds increasing, a natural formation was soon achieved. Two by two the adventures rode, chasing what the new day will hold.
Wind on the face, the first sense awaken. The power we held in a twist of the wrist. Across rolling hills of gold that only this land holds. The natural beauty, broken only by a faded dark path. Concrete, asphalt, and fresh painted lines winding a way. Silhouette of riders out in front, carving the pathway over horizon.
Deep canyon landscape, endless prairies, moist mountain air. Farms, fields, open range ranches, and sprinklers too. Antelope, Geese, Wild Turkeys, Bison, the Eagle and so many more. But the one that stands out, is the hawk that flew overhead, with a snake in its talon.
It’s a harsh beautiful land in evidence to be seen. Drift fence a plenty and trees on permanent bend. Dark and deep canyons, which feel of recent rain moist. Where shadow stays long and cool is the air. Cascading water fall tumbles to gravity pull, and they call it a Bridal Veil fall.
Peace is found in a motors straddle, and freedom like an Eagle’s graceful soar. Four indispensable leaders of their time, enshrined with faces of stone. America the beautiful is how song goes. I wonder the author, must ride motors too.
A sign which reads a message of pride. Great Place, Great People referring to all, who call this wonderful country home. I will have to agree, because we ride the heart land today. America’s heart land is to what I refer.
The best way to see her is bestride a motor. Where senses are aware of just how blessed we are.
Perspective is a beautiful thing but once in a while it really kind of slaps us. This was the case for me recently while I was reading a short story on social media. The author drew a conclusion which caused me to reflect and like a slap in the face, for just a moment the conclusion really had my attention.
The author stated in writing that the graduating class of 1982 had been graduates for forty years. Forty years, I thought and quickly did the math mentally. Holy crap people, that is correct. Forty years. Forty years. The impact was stunning like a Will Smith slap across the face and like Chris Rock I just stood there for a moment thinking. I even said to my lovely bride can you believe that this year I will have been a graduate for forty years? She looked at me with a, “Duh” expression clearly displayed on her face. You see she is my junior by a few and hasn’t gotten that forty year slap yet. I know there are some of you that are 50, 60, and maybe even 70 years slap recipients and you are likely thinking; “punk kid” right now. But please hear me out on this one, I think you may enjoy.
I thought about it for a few minutes remembering the last few days of school with many of my class mates and friends with whom I had endured 12 years of instruction drudgery. Ours was a small school and we knew everyone very well and were comfortable together. In the drudgery, the bond was forged and is strong to this day.
Like all graduates, we felt we had the world by the tail. I remember a teacher who was our class advisor telling us at the taking of our graduating class picture that this would be the last time that we would all be together at the same time for the remainder of our lives and that we should look around and remember that moment. I did so but at the time, as many of my classmates did, I remember thinking how full of crap that statement sounded. However; I get it now, the advisor like most of the time in those days was correct. Soon we found out that a couple would move on and leave this world just a year or two after that prophetic statement was made. Some others have moved on through the years and I try to make a mental note and think of each at that time.
Still, many of us tarry on and I associate with some still after all the years. This despite the fact that our little class of graduates has spread across the world now. When I see one of my old classmates we will normally greet and smile at our common beginnings. It has been a grand adventure for me and continues to be each and every day. Time goes fast and I must say what a wonderful journey it has been.
I recovered quickly following the forty year slap and returned focus onto tomorrow and what will be. It is good to remember and stay connected with where we are from but the excitement of life remains as it was forty years ago. It is in tomorrow, and the next, and the next after that. I’m looking forward to seeing some of you again as our paths may cross and we will laugh and catch up on goings on in our lives.
I know now just as surely as those young kids of 1982 marching proudly out the front door with wonder in our eyes, we still have the world by the tail. I hope to find you hanging on tight and running at a full speed forward just as fast as you can. Go Wildcats!!!
To that graduating class of 2022, get ready folks. Lace up your Vans, 2062 sounds far off, but it will be here quicker than you may think. My hope for you is that your adventure will be as grand as ours. It may seem like a stretch to you now but we are more alike than you know. Because you see, way back in the day, we wore Van’s too.
Every once in a while, if we listen, it becomes apparent that we do not travel alone. I have an angel very near who protects in the most unexpected ways. This is a tale of such a day when I and many around me were protected in just such a way. I needed only to listen.
The day was a beautiful one and I was intending to travel. I had been asked to tow a recreational vehicle with me for a little over three hundred miles as my journey took me. I agreed and on that beautiful morning responded to the area where the trailer and unit was parked. I backed up to the trailer and hooked on with my pick up which was to be my transport for the trip.
Now, for those not familiar with a towing hitch please allow me to describe the mechanical function. Mounted on the truck or towing vehicle is a ball hitch. It resembles a clinched fist at the end of a wrist, the top of the ball is wider than the shaft leading up. The hitch is on the trailer side and resembles an upside down cup which is a partial hour glass shape with the rim being more narrow than the inside of the cup. The rim has a section about one third the diameter of the rest of the rim. That section is flexible and moves out to allow the wider ball to slide into the cup as the trailer hitch is lowered. The flexible section can then slide forward once the ball is seated into the cup. The flexible section has a lock mechanism that allows the flexible section to lock into place forming a closed rim which secures around the shaft. This section allows the hitch and ball to form a secure attachment which will rotate as needed for the trailer to follow the towing vehicle.
So when I hooked onto the trailer that morning, I opened the flexible section and lowered the trailer hitch over the ball. Once seated, I moved the locking section forward into place and engaged the lock. I again raised the trailer to test the connection. The truck began to rise with the trailer indicating the connection was secure. I then lowered the trailer again, rotated the jack into the travel position, hooked up safety chains, the electrical lights cable, and tested them with the emergency and turn signal. Once completed I started on my way.
I pulled the trailer out onto the public street and began my journey. As I traveled along a secondary roadway not far from my start, I had a very real impression that I should check the hitch connection again. I call it an impression because it was a thought but I hadn’t thought it. I felt it, like I was being told that I should. In my mind, my own thoughts were resisting; “I just checked it when I hooked on and the truck raised with the trailer jack. The connection is good.” I thought and I ignored the impression and continued on my way. The impression did not go away but remained as a nagging feeling. I traveled about 5 miles to an intersection where I intended to enter an interstate freeway. This interstate freeway is a two and three lane high speed cross country route with speed limits set at 80 miles per hour. As I approached the intersection and entry ramp, again I had another impression, this one stronger and more urgent. It came as a matter of fact and not a suggestion. I felt; “You need to check that hitch again before you get onto the interstate!” So intense was this feeling that I simply could not reason it away. In my mind, or you know what, I might have even muttered aloud and I answered; “Ok; fine, I’ll check it!”
I pulled into a small dirt parking area just prior to the interstate interchange. I exited the vehicle walked to the space between truck and trailer, got down on my knees and looked up under the cup of the hitch. By this time I already knew there was a problem with the hitch connection simply because the prompting told me so. I just needed to figure out what the issue was. As I looked up under the hitch I saw that the flexible section was not in the correct position but was on the top of the ball. The hitch connection was open which would allow for the hitch to separate at any time the front of the trailer would have risen. Without doubt the connection would have separated at some point on my journey.
At seeing this I understood the urgency; there was an obvious problem that needed to be corrected. I again lifted the trailer hitch with the jack and moved the flexible section back so that the ball could pass through to the seated position. Once there, I reengaged the lock and, from my knees, I looked closely to insure the lock section was in the proper position and that the connection was secure and locked. As I stood, brushed dirt from my knees, and returned to the driver’s seat the nagging feeling left me and I was filled with warm confidence the danger was past. It felt like; “Good job buddy, now you’re good to go!”
I traveled the journey with no issues what so ever. How thankful I am for that warning from my companion who travels with me constantly. I shudder at the thought of what might have been without the assist.
Listening to my companion can be a challenge for me at times, I can do better and know that I should listen when spoken to. He is with me to protect!!!
Living by the 5W’s of analysis; who, what, when, where, why and sometimes how. This is a tale of “Who” was that and “How” did you know? If not for clarity this instance, they were good for a laugh.
Last summer I was driving around the community exploring new areas with snow birding relatives. Snow birds are people who travel south for warmth during the winter seasons. We entered an area where there are some remote residences on the edge of a scenic national forest. As we made our way enjoying the sights and visiting, we observed a man and woman couple doing yard work near their fence which bordered the public roadway. The Conversationalist who was our driver on this day pulled up alongside the couple and stopped, he rolled down his driver’s side window and engaged the man in conversation which he initiated.
“Hi Larry”, he said, “What are you doing today?’ Larry looked up and responded, “Oh Just cleaning up some lawn items. What are you doing? ” “We are just doing some exploring. Do you live up here?” “Why yes we have been here for over ten years now, are you thinking of buying up here?” “No, we’re just looking around the beautiful area and spending some time this afternoon and I saw you here.” “Yes, it’s a nice area we love it. Well, enjoy your day.” “Ok, will do, see you later.” “Bye”
As our driver rolled up his window I asked, “Who is that?” To this he responded, “I have no idea.” Confused now I said, “But you started the conversation?” “I thought it was Larry but it wasn’t so I just went with it. I guess his name is Larry too.” To this all in the car burst out laughing. It was so hard not to yell, “Hey Larry, have a nice day.” as we drove past the couple again on our exit. Since then it has been a running joke and a favorite story to tell.
Now fast forward about one year and our snow birding relatives ventured south again. We decided to once again go for a drive and stopped at a favorite local diner for lunch. It is a busy place and we needed to wait for about fifteen minutes until a table opened up. As we waited standing outside, I was hugging my wife from behind enjoying her closeness and the sunshine on my back, when two women exited the cafe.
My actions drew their attention to us and they smiled saying; “We have left a table for you. They’ll be out to get you soon.” Seeing that one held a book in her hands, the Conversationalist said; “Well thank you. Did you finish your book?” To this the woman replied; why yes, I have just finished. It was quite a project but I have just finished writing it. Thank you for asking. “No problem”, and a smile appeared on his face. “Do you mind if I share a small part of it? A prayer really.” “No, not at all. Go ahead.” To this the woman recited from memory about two minutes of narrative from her writing which ended with her giving each of us her blessing.
I determined that apparently the woman has a close relationship with God and wrote a book about it. I thought it very nice that she felt her closeness with God and was willing to share with us a blessing from her heart. But a question was forming in my mind. Soon we bade her farewell and she was on her way.
After she had left, seeking understanding, I asked; “How did you know she was writing a book?” “I had no idea.” With knitted brow I just looked at him for an explanation. He had noticed the book in her hand. When he asked, “Did you finish your book?”, he had meant did you finish reading the book in her hand.
Again, we all burst out in laughter but we were grateful for the blessing given. Someone wondered out loud, “Who was that woman?” The Conversationalist responded; “She must be Larry’s Sister.”
There is a river in the Nez Perce National Forest of Idaho that is called the Clearwater. The river itself is appropriately named as the water cascading through that drainage is some of the most transparent I have seen.
Peering into the water from above you can easily see to the river’s rocky bottom which in the summer months has a rusted, copper, or dark tan color from algae growth under the water’s surface. Over millennia the river has cut passage through hard rock and now clears the way for Route 13 to flank its path winding and turning in a north or south direction through an amazing forested area.
If you are thinking that sounds like an excellent route for a motorcycle ride you would not be mistaken and in fact I have travelled that way with friends not long ago.
As I rode along enjoying the turns, the curves, wind on my face, the coolness of the air and the majesty surrounding us I caught movement off to my right. As I turned to look I saw a gaggle of seven Geese flying along that magnificent river. At first they were slightly below my position but they were traveling in the same direction as I and were gaining elevation. They had formed into that well known flying V formation and were traveling at the same speed.
Have I mentioned how hard it is to keep one’s eye on the road when absolute perfection is occurring right next to you? Well that was my dilemma and I did my very best to safely take in the scene. Imagine if you can seven graceful birds of brown, white, green, and tan each painted the same beautiful pattern flying in perfect formation with a back drop of a clear river cascading over rocks of copper and forested rocky hillside behind. Absolutely splendid!!!
I would hope that moments like this last forever in my memory even if for a short minute or two in reality. I watched in amazement at the grace as the gaggle paced me along my path until at last they began to descend and eventually splash down in that cool water creating a splash of white water droplets that flew outward away from their bodies as wings tucked into their sides.
I continued on along Route 13 anxiously waiting for the next miraculous sight from a straddle my motor. But somehow I think this one will stay with me for a while.
As I gazed upward this morning at an incredible sight, I was reminded of the phrase; “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” (Neil Armstrong, 1969) he along with Aldrin and Collins, the epitome of bravery.
I think to myself, step out there today and do something special with this gift of a new day!!!
Located on the south eastern edge of the Hurricane Valley is a Butte which has a shape and size that stands out on that beautiful sky line. Mollies Nipple is one of those landscape features that the eye is simply going to notice. As such was my case some three years ago when I first started to frequent the south western corner of this amazing geographical area located in State of Utah, USA.
Of course my interest in the area was and continues to be toward a person more than the geography here but for me once I discovered that hiking Mollies Nipple is not only possible but is frequently done it has been on my, “to do list.”
So on Saturday last as the good Lord granted me yet another day to get it right and I woke with that special person who had brought me to this area in the first place along with my trusty furry side kick Kevin, the question was once again poised; “What should we do today?” At this question the answer popped into my head and I blurted out. “Let’s make a run on Mollies Nipple!” So with that the days adventure was set into motion.
Now any hike requires a degree of planning and preparation. Over the last couple years I had spent some time researching and scouting the area. Locals had told me previously of an access road that made the hike to the summit an easy one. I had spent time searching for this road but was unable to locate it and soon put the thoughts of the easy access out of my mind. I did find the hiking trail to the summit and had driven to the trail head a couple times where I looked up longingly at the summit to the Butte tracing the route visually.
Mollies Nipple trail begins on the valley floor at the edge of a new subdivision where an access gate is located. From there it quickly passes through a wash and then immediately begins a steep upward climb. Statistics indicate the trail is 1.7 miles out and back and has a “difficult” rating with an elevation gain of 1,353 feet above the valley floor. Doing some math I discovered that the hike was a bit of a scramble up covering on average 80 vertical feet every tenth of a mile. I could see that this average was mostly contained in the lower third that is steep and the terrain being that of loose gravel and rock. The trail spider webs into several routes all leading upward. They all converge on a spine that continues upward to the Butte’s summit.
As we planned our day my beautiful little companion had a number of other items on her list and was contemplating a timeline for this hike. I quickly recognized the seemingly short time allowed to complete this, “to do” listed item for me. I think I remember her saying something like; “Well we could knock that out in this many minutes and then we could…” Now my little companion is nearly always willing to try my adventures even when she doesn’t have a clear idea what I’m asking of her. On this occasion I simply stated; “Oh, let’s just play it by ear and see how long it takes us.”
With the plan set we packed hydration and snacks into my pack, donned our hiking shoes, climbed into the power Dodge and off we went onto an adventure filled day. As I drove to the trail head located at the foothill, the summit of Mollies Nipple loomed over us and Kathy asked a couple of questions as she began to grasp my adventure plan. The two I remember were; “We are going up there?” And, “How do you know where to start?” I replied; “Well I have driven out here before, I thought that you were with me?” With a pause I continued to state facts about the trail I had discovered. After talking briefly about the lower thirds challenge and its eventual transition to a easier slope I ended with; “maybe we should get you a better pair of hiking boots so you have better traction and ankle support?” To this there was a distant but thoughtful reply while she continued to look up and up. “No, I’ll be fine.”
With that we hopped out of the power Dodge and seeing two other cars parked near the trailhead I mentioned; “Well, it looks like we are going to have company up there.” I figured a misery loves company statement might be the encouragement she needed. Little did I know how accurate this statement would later prove to be.
So with a spring in our step, fresh legs under us, the thrill of engaging a challenge clearly felt and with Kevin running back and forth excited to be out with us and not on leash, we began our ascent. As we continued up and up, I began to think of some great mountaineers in human history. The likes of George Mallory, Andrew ”Sandy” Irvine, Sir Edmund Hillary, and Tenzing Norgay were on my oxygen deprived mind. Of course this was no Mount Everest but to a middle age, out of shape couple, gaining feet in elevation with every step, oxygen deprivation is the same.
Years ago, when responding to questions about why someone would want to climb Everest? Mallory and then later Hillary replied; “because it’s there!” This statement continued to ring in my mind and I began to look forward to my own statement about Mollie. You have to celebrate your little victories; they are the marrow of life.
Up, up, and up we went; resting every few paces. Over, through and around scrambling opportunities until at last we reached the spine above the lower third. I smiled when by little companion began to send text messages on our rest breaks canceling her additional plans made for that day putting them off until another time. Yes, playing it by ear for this outing was becoming a necessity.
However, once on the spine the steepness of grade reduced and scrambling gave way to upright walking on a gentle slope with a well-defined trail. Our eyes fixed on the crown jewel itself the summit of the Butte which jutted perkily into the blue sky above. Yes, yes, this Butte had been appropriately named. As legend tells the Butte was named by a Mormon Pioneer named John Kitchen in commemoration of his lovely wife Mollie. Since there are reportedly at least 6 different geological features in the State with reference to Mollie, I think she must have been some little gal who never strayed far from her husband’s thoughts.
Continuing on with heaving breath at every step I was reminded of my healing airway. Having recently recovered from a severe nasal and chest infection. Oh I tell you now, there is nothing like exertion and clean air to clear air passages and remove congestion from the alveoli of the lungs. Yes, it was a blow and go experience for me and I was so thankful that I had remembered to bring along my handkerchief.
As we pressed on and I continued to think of Hillary and Norgay and the elation they must have felt as they accomplished the enviable success in being the first to summit Everest and survived to tell the tale. I was feeling my own sort of elation and excitement at summiting Mollie when I saw movement there on the summit. I stopped mid-stride and looked closely at that amazing shape ahead. Yes, there was movement for certain. I saw standing on the summit, a person with another scrambling up behind. I said out loud; “Well look there, we are to have company today after all.” Kathy also stopped and looked at our destination. We watched for a time as the figures began their descent and were closing the distance clearly on the same trail; we would soon meet.
As the couple approached I saw they too had a furry companion and its looks was very similar to Kevin. Soon we were talking together and comparing notes on our experience of the lower third as our furry friends played together no less energetic from the start. At this time we felt we had less than ten minutes to our eventual summit success. While conversing with this wonderful couple, I continued to keep my eye on the goal by occasionally glancing up to the summit. To my amazement I saw additional movement there. I said; “look there is someone else up there too.” Thinking immediately about the third car at the trail head I determined they must be from that last car.
It was at this time that reality came crushing down upon me. The couple said, yeah there are a lot of people up there. Confused I must have looked because they continued; “Yeah, there is a road on the other side and a parking lot there. You can just drive up from the other side.” I must have let out a gasp of air like that of a fully inflated balloon being pricked with a sharp pin. With a sympathetic tone of voice the couple said; “yeah, it was a bit disappointing to us too.” Disappointing? I thought to myself. No, “crushing” was a better description of what I felt. Imagine the blow to Hillary and Norgay had someone landed in a helicopter at their Everest summit camp and hopped out eating a McDonalds Big Mac. “Road” I thought, where in the hell is the road? I had driven all over out there while scouting and couldn’t find it at all.
I soon recovered and after a few more words and joking with this fine couple we pressed on to the summit. Upon our arrival I saw out in the distance just what had been described. A dirt road with multiple vehicles parked in a turn around and a number of people walking to and from the vehicles. After visiting with some of the folks at the top I determined where I might have missed the road on previous scouting trips. The folks there were young people from a local community out on what seemed to be an awesome group date. I enjoyed helping them with several group photographs to document their day group date and then we went our separate ways.
The tremendous trio of Kathy, Kevin and I made our way to the highest point of the summit where we sat, snuggled, and drank hardy amounts of fluids while snacking on granola bars, cheese and crackers. While overlooking a spectacular view of the Hurricane Valley, we cracked off-color jokes and made creative statements about dining at our current location. We laughed at ourselves and at my scouting error. We looked back toward our own approach and eventual descent and felt a tremendous sense of victory. We had in fact summited Mollies Nipple and we had done so the right way; the hard way.
In fact I’m intending to produce tee shirts for the three of us to boast of the accomplishment. I envision a silk screen image of the Butte and conversation starting statements for the tee shirts. Maybe something like; “We did Mollies Nipple the hard way” for example. That should do it, oh the conversations and bragging opportunities we’ll have.
At having seen the area from an elevated spot, we returned to the area the next day and located the elusive road I had missed previously while scouting. I had in fact been right on the very road I was looking for but because of vegetation and angle I had missed the road continuing on past the place I had turned around.
Upon locating it we drove out to the turn around on our OHV and gazed up at the summit which was only a couple hundred yards away. I’ll tell you the experience was just not the same as the day previous, there could be no comparison made.
Although the hike is a butt kicker in every sense, I’m thankful that I had missed the road while scouting and we had experienced Mollies Nipple as we did; the hard way. It seems that the more the struggle the greater the reward. I am proud to have been a member of the tremendous trio expedition that scrambled up Mollies Nipple and we did it the hard way. What is more? We’ll have the tee shirts to prove it.
You may recall a recent posting called “Where Eagles Soar”. In that posting I described a majestic sight of two Bald Eagles I had seen during a motorcycle ride near Wolf Lodge Bay on Lake Coeur D’Alene Idaho. Such a wonderful sight that I’ll not soon forget it. Since seeing it, I have, and continue to share that experience both in written word and storytelling. It was on one such occasion that Folklore pushed this experience to a new level, an angle I hadn’t considered before.
Folklore is an interesting word which includes two parts. “Folk” or regional people and “Lore” or stories. Folklore is the tales of regional or local people to an area. Now this Lore can be true, a fabrication, an embellishment, or a combination; it’s all fair game. I didn’t know at days start but I was to meet a regional person that very day.
I was performing the duties of a substitute teacher in a local high school. It is my practice to introduce myself so the students know who is sharing their class of the day and then as time allows I make effort to interact with the students. It is my experience that learning occurs in many ways by doing this and I often find myself learning from the students as well. On the day of this occurrence there was a young person in class that was among his peers yet he was separate in some way I hadn’t clearly understood. While speaking with him I determined he was new to the school and had recently moved to the community. Therefore it made sense that he was among his peers but a little different at the same time; the new kid in school. He told me that he had previously lived near Coeur D’Alene Idaho.
At this I found an opportunity to share my Bald Eagle observation yet once again. Since the days subject was a little dry and the students were struggling, I did this not only to the young man but the entire class. While I retold the experience the young man sat, listened intently to my tale, all the while he was smiling in a knowing way. I assumed he was thinking of home and being reminded of his time there.
When I finished the tale he asked me if I would like to know the rest of the story. His classmates had listened carefully to my tale and was now very interested and focused squarely on their new classmate from Idaho. I thought what a wonderful way for him to become better acquainted with his new class mates in a new community and share a bit of himself through story.
I gave him the floor and he soon began a tale of his own. He told of the fame of the Eagles I had seen. He said the Eagles do fly together just as I had described and they seem to always be there. He furthered his tale by baiting us with; “and there is a real good reason why”; then he continued.
As his Tale went, and I paraphrase, he described a few years earlier there had been a terrible accident on the lake. A young couple had gone out in a small boat to the open water fishing for the day. On this fateful day a sudden storm approached the area catching the couple unprepared and ill equipped. The boat they were using was capsized by high winds and the loving couple had perished in the cold water as a result. Then he described the lore as told that the couple each had a love of Bald Eagles in the area and each had at one time or another tattooed images the majestic bird on their bodies. Following the tragic loss of the couple the local Folk noticed the same birds I had seen. They hunt, fly, and are always together in the area. Legend holds according to the tale that the birds are the spirits of the ill-fated couple who have returned to continue fishing the cool waters of Wolf Lodge Bay.
At the conclusion of his tale, fellow classmates smiled each thinking and evaluating the tale he had told. I have found that this is what learning looks like on the face of a person with a curious mind. I saw in their eyes a new appreciation for their new peer. Now Folklore is a tremendously powerful form of storytelling. Many listen and reject the lore as local superstition, while others wholeheartedly believe and accept the tale as truth.
As for me the addition of Folklore to my own observations has made the experience all the better. In my mind’s eye now I can hear the pitch of a powerful motor change as I slowed, I feel the cool wind on my face as I looked upward, I smell the dense Pine forested landscape, and see the two Bald Eagles circling in a cloudless blue sky. One following the other not knowing which does lead nor which does follow. A representation of the doomed couple that day?
One thing is for certain they are beautiful and majestic birds, they were fishing, and they were together. Coincidence one might ask? Tell you what; I’ll leave you at this Tales ending to decide for yourself and I hope that you wear a curious smile as well.