I’ve finally nailed down the reason I feel a little off this week: I’m not in The South. This is actually the first year since I met my Texas-bred wife that I’ve not spent at least some part of Fall/Winter in some region of Dixie.
So when the leaves fall and the holidays roll around, I’m trained like Pavlov’s dog to think of pecan pie, bluegrass, and southern byways. It may be one of the reasons (along with the long work hours, the cat that’s fallen twice down a well this week, and the 7-year-old who almost choked to death on a quarter Friday) why the Thanksgiving Spirit has so far eluded me.
Thankfully Kristine Shreve of the Outdoor Bloggers Summit helped bring things back into perspective for me last week by issuing the “Thanksgiving Write About the Good Challenge.” Certainly I have plenty to be thankful for in the personal, spiritual, and family realms of my life, but those acknowledgments are more appropriate for other venues. There are plenty of people in the outdoors and writing areas of my life who deserve my sincere thanks.
The Great Outdoors
Obviously the great outdoors is a huge part of my life. For the techies out there, you might say that the natural world is the operating system of my mind. It’s the text by which I interpret life– the platform for my thoughts and outlook– the prism through which I view the world. Part of that is DNA. It’s gotta be. For that I can thank my dad. But I can also thank him for introducing me to the outdoors.
It was he who took me on my first week-long camp out when I was three weeks old. It was he who spent weekend after weekend teaching me how to fish, who taught me how to fry a trout and purify water and pitch a tent. Only later did I come to appreciate the hours he spent rigging my fishing pole and untangling my snags, the days he spent trekking with me through the High Uintas Wilderness, carrying his pack and most of the contents of mine. It’s because of Dad that I feel more at home in the mountains than I do in my own suburban neighborhood.
“When I die,” he always muses, “No viewings or funerals or anything like that. Just set me in my float tube and push me out into the middle of a High Uintas lake.” Here’s to hoping Dad’s Great Float is a long way off, and to many more years of backwoods adventure together.
Speaking of adventure, few experiences in my life can compare to the adventures I’ve had with my fellow BUDS. I’m not exactly sure how we came up with the name, but that’s what we called ourselves back in high school. An irreverent bunch of kids from every walk of life, we had one thing in common- an outright addiction to adventure.
Whether it was a midnight urban bushwhack through the hills of downtown San Diego or bonfire jumping contests in Skull Valley, we lived, slept, and breathed adventure. Well– and girls, and food, and (oddly) singing in choirs– but mostly adventure.
From high school until we started raising families, hardly a weekend would pass without some combination of us trudging through Utah’s back country. We don’t get out as much as we’d like these days, but I expect we’ll be back in full force once we pay off our houses and our kids are old enough to join us on the trail.
My BUDS adventures were the inspiration for some of my first outdoor writing (see BUDS-related posts here). I’m nowhere close to the writer I’d like to be, but my ghost town adventures with John and Tyler in particular have given me a lot to write about. Big thanks to SLCC history professor and skunk-raising hippie Chris Case for sparking my interest in ghost towns in the first place.
As long as I’m talking teachers, I’d be remiss not to thank Ms. Woodward, my high school English teacher. With a few college degrees under my belt, I can honestly say that Woody’s 12th grade AP English class was THE most useful class I’ve ever taken.
Thanks also to Jeff Barrus, an excellent writer and my editor at the Tooele Transcript Bulletin. Just over a year ago, Jeff took a chance on a guy with no professional training or writing experience whatsoever. I’ve been writing for the paper ever since, and haven’t been given the boot yet. For that I am grateful.
Finally, I’d like to give props to some of the writers I read as often as I can, and who inspired me to dabble in writing: Tom Goodrich, Steve Friedman, Richard Menzies, Bob Lonsberry, and Edward Abbey.
Thanks, all, and have a happy Thanksgiving!