Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cattle Drive

*photo by Yitka Winn

Most all recreation was east of the crest when I was a kid. Suburban loaded with a week’s worth of food, a hardly functional boat in tow full of camping and fishing gear. Years later it’s a Subaru instead of Suburban, bicycles replaced the motor-boat—‘same same but different’—heading to eWA still creates the same Disney-like feeling; warm, relaxed, and smiling.


 “Hammer on, that’s him up on the ridge.”

 I’m chasing a greyhound in the high country. It’s wearing a red hat, moves fast on the ridge-lines but stubbles up and down the hills. A tormenting beacon I can’t seem to catch. It’s a Montana sky—plain to see where a person is going; up then down, then up again. Grabbing sage brush as an e-brake around the corners, we’ll descend more than two thousand feet in just over two miles, run through a marsh, duck under a low rail-road bridge, cross a river and finish in the Umtanum Ridge parking lot in the Yakima River Canyon. 


 James is calm. The Disney feeling these days comes from James’ races (http://www.rainshadow-running.blogspot.com/ ); whether a person is first or last, Varner will be waiting at the line with a smile, hug, and high-five. “Welcome back.” He’ll say. 


 “The Greyhound can’t be caught” thinking to myself and taking in the amazing views of the river canyon down below, I started smell and see things I hadn’t been all day. 

 I gave-in a little started to enjoy the terrain. No one else in sight and an open face two miles wide by two miles deep, I finally found rhythm; reached mad pace and was floating and gliding as if putting a clean line down an open face of fresh thigh deep snow. For the first time all day it’s pure and simple. 

 I reach the marsh and lift my head, there’s a skinny runner moving slow right in front of me, can’t weigh more than a hundred and thirty pounds sopping wet, he’s wearing a red hat—it’s the Greyhound. I don’t think, just pass, then he passes, we duck under the railroad bridge, run over the river bridge single file and sprint towards a line spray painted in the gravel. 

 Today was a reminder: as in life, race your own race but have a plan. I’d been thinking about catching the Greyhound all day—didn’t really think about what would happen if I actually did. 

 El Segundo, 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

“He died that day because his body had served its purpose. His soul had done what it came to do, learned what it came to learn, and then was free to leave.”

― Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain

DAY 1:
It’s a bear.

Quarter inch sticks snapping, clumsy and thrashing it sounded big and awkward and heading right at me.

It was a dry heat in mid-August; you eat lunch and it cooks in your stomach. We were spread out all across the beach, Al had his book and flotation, mom had her towel and dad was asleep. Just long enough to get nervous, the mind races—too big to be a rattlesnake, too small to be a bear, "holy shit, is it a cougar?" “what the hell is that noise?”

Fifty yards down the beach there is a sand ramp, it drops strait into Lake Roosevelt at about forty five degrees. Near the top of the ramp there is a short vertical face and on top of the face is a ledge, and on top of the ledge is Rusty—our dog.

He was doing the Supine-Golden-Retreiver-Backdance, signature move, upside down and legs poinging towards the sky.


Winter of 8th grade I decided to be a soccer player who wrestled, dislocated my right knee, and got pretty down on life; that Christmas I unwrapped one gift—it was a picture of a Golden Retriever.


Day 5
Water ski boat camping was a summer tradition. Ski until your hands blister and fight off whatever obnoxious bug is in season for seven days.

I own one sleeping bag. It’s goose down; designed for cold and acts as saran wrap in the heat. The stars are close, a person feels like they can reach up and grab the Milky Way when they’re away from the city lights. But there it is again—some goddamn sound putting me on edge. This time it’s coming from the water.

Sturgeon can’t walk, I’m too tired to fight, out of my clammy bag and stumbling into the moonlight.

Rusty saunters out of the water, stands inches away, and shakes the lake onto my PJs.


It feels like life gets busy with pointless stuff as we get older. Dogs don’t care. Rusty was transparent of my families emotions. If a person has a reflexive version of themselves, it is most certainly their dog. At fifteen years, Rusty was a family member.

The collective put him down on Monday.

Seek up.
Don’t for a minute take it for granted.

Your pal,