Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Friday, 26 May 2006

A Change of Plans

Butte, Montana - 26 May, 2006

We got an offer on our house yesterday, printed out the PDF file, signed it and faxed it back. The closing is June 30th which means we have to get our 'stuff' out and stored by June 30th and make a trip back to Tampa, Florida rather sooner than anticipated. We knew this could happen but moving from our home of 30 years is a strange feeling. What do we care about? Books, pictures, my tools, our dive gear, an old Victrola case that reminds me of a mummy and my depression glass collection. The rest can go. Hoping for no hurricanes just now.

The last two weeks we have been hiking in the North Cascades National Park in Washington and Glacier National Park in Montana. When they put a National Park out in the middle of no place that there is always something there to see.

We find bear signs in both parks, including piles of deer bones and scattered fur.

If you go outdoors where there are bears you should wear little bells and carry pepper spray, be alert for signs of bear and be able to distinguish black bear droppings from grizzly bear droppings. Black bear droppings are smaller and full of berries and squirrel fur. Grizzly bear droppings are full of little bells and smell like pepper spray.

The contrast in communications and connectedness between a long camping trip in 1986 and 2006 deserves some comment. In 1986 you were lucky to find a pay phone. In 2006 you may each have a cell phone, a GPS hooked to a mapping program, an IPOD, a constant wireless broadband connection to online friends and the ability to Google for infinite information. Many channels of satellite radio are available as is television by cable, satellite and antenna. Signals are everywhere.

The people you meet on the road can often be interesting. Yesterday we met a very old couple, both with arthritis and other serious medical problems who love to fish and travel continuously with no fixed home. They advise us to follow their 2-2-2 rule. Drive no more than 200 miles. Quit by 2 PM and stay at least two days before moving again. Or you may meet a blue-eyed young Mormon mechanic, a meth freak iron-worker, an albino snake breeder or a big ugly biker with earrings and a poetry book in his leather pants.

Give me a moment of breach
A second chance
To proof my existence
Let me tumble in the leaks
Though the cracks
and slants of light

- Found scrawled on the window of a long abandoned business in Butte, Montana in the cold wet drizzle of an empty street.

Butte had a long history of violent labor problems. The IWW 'wobblies' were involved in the labour disputes with Anaconda Copper and the 'Copper Bosses' and 'Copper Kings'. A book by Jarad Diamond, called Collapse, explores the failure of the Montana economy, Easter Island and other civilizations. Diamond won the Pulitzer prize for Guns, Germs and Steel.

Motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel grew up in Butte. He operated a diamond drill deep in the mines and was promoted to driving a huge ore mover topside. He was fired after 'popping a wheelie' in the mover and taking out all the power to downtown Butte. Evel gained fame by making ever longer jumps over lines of parked vehicles. He broke an impressive collection of bones on dozens of different crashes. One of his most impressive jumps was over the Snake River Canyon in a jet assisted motorcycle. His drag chute deployed on the launch ramp and he ended up in the river after his main chute deployed.

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