Archive | May, 2011

Have a Good Memorial Day Weekend

After this weekend, it’s smooth sailing through summer and fall. Or so they say, right? Have fun out there.

Joe Cocker – Let’s Go Get Stoned

May 27, 2011 | Have A Good Weekend | Continue Reading | Comments { 0 }

Great Lakes Surfing

I (Geoff) grew up 40 minutes from Lake Michigan, and that’s where I remain today (Grand Rapids, MI). Last fall I bought my first surfboard, a 6’1″ made-for-the-lakes shortboard and stumbled into the 14+ foot swells that the cooling lake offers as winter’s winds approach. It’s tough, lake waves are choppy, inconsistent, usually mushy, and for that reason, require unprecedented attention to conditions to get that real good day. A “swell” (see: storm) can mean driving 8 hours north to Lake Superior to catch a 3 hour window of clean, surfable waves, some of the same that snapped a 730 ft. freighter in two. That said, I’ve paddled out into waves that were far too big and blown out for me to surf, without fear of being pounded into the hard-packed sand bottom (beats a reef I guess) or into the concrete pier. I’ve seen onlookers swept off said pier with recorded 20 foot waves, the wind tearing at your board as you trudge head-down from each iron support to the next to pull your way towards the lighthouse.

Surfing the Great Lakes is still an oddity. People will see you walking in from surfing, wrestling out of your sandy 6/5/4 wetsuit (with hood, mitts, and booties), shivering in the parking lot at the state park and kindly inform you “you can’t surf on a lake”. Lucky for them, conditions are best in the fall and winter of the year, which require surfing in snowstorms, and searching for breaks in the ice shelf along the shore to paddle out to open, slushy water. The oddity of surfing the lakes is one of it’s pulls for me, all egos aside.

I’m not good. Watch the documentary Unsalted (2006) to see people who are, surfing some of the cleanest, biggest waves filmed on the lakes. You can catch the trailer here. Cruise the local lake surf forum, watch this, this, and this.

May 27, 2011 | Long Hairs | Continue Reading | Comments { 4 }


Fire Season: Field Notes From A Wilderness Lookout has been out for a few months now, but I haven’t had a chance to dive in quite yet. Free books on stoops (see below) are cutting in line.

After a career at the Wall Street Journal, Philip Connors quit, moved to New Mexico and started watching for fires over the beautiful Gila National Forest. That was in 2002 and he’s done that job for the National Forest Service every summer since. Fire Season recounts his stay in 2009, from April to August, with one chapter devoted to each month.

A little bit more to the story, of course, so read the NYT review here, watch a video preview of the book here, and read an excerpt of the book here.  90% of lookout towers in the United States have been decommissioned and only few hundred remain.

MP3: Bruce Springsteen – Fire (GO!)

May 26, 2011 | Music/Movies/Books | Continue Reading | Comments { 2 }

In the Shadow Of A Rainbow

I don’t know too much about art, but I recognize a Peter Parnall when I see it. Spotted this cover on a lonely stoop this morning while riding past on my bicycle. Haven’t read this one yet, but so far, so good. And it was free, of course. Anyone out there finished it?

In The Shadow Of A Rainbow:

First published in 1974, this classic tale of friendship, courage, and the wild has captured hearts of all ages. In 1970, a young Indian who introduced himself as Gregory Tah-Kloma beached his canoe near the author’s Babine Lake campsite in the backwoods of British Columbia. Night after night by the campfire, the young Indian told the remarkable story of his devotion to a pack of timber wolves and their legendary female leader: Náhani, “the one who shines.” This extraordinary tale has touched many readers over the years with its moving portrayal of the friendship between Greg and Náhani. Certain names and locations have been altered, but the facts of Gregory Tah-Kloma’s adventures with Náhani are as he told them to Robert Leslie.

More Parnall here.

May 25, 2011 | Music/Movies/Books | Continue Reading | Comments { 2 }

Happy 70th

“Don’t know if I saw you, if I’d kiss you or kill you, probably wouldn’t matter to you anyhow…”

MP3: Bob Dylan – Standing In The Doorway

May 24, 2011 | Music/Movies/Books | Continue Reading | Comments { 0 }


Sierra Dawn’s Campsuds is a staple in backpacks around the country. In the 1960′s Campsuds became the first biodegradable, multi-purpose cleaner created specifically to meet the needs of the camper and backpacker. Use it on your pots and pans, then take it down to the river and wash your hair. (No matter how biodegradable any camp soap is, try to avoid using it in water if you don’t have to. And use it sparingly. You’ll only need a few drops.)

Campsuds comes in a few different forms, including one with peppermint, lavender, and citronella to help keep the bugs away. And after spending the weekend in upstate New York after a week of rain, you’ll need it.

May 23, 2011 | Clothing/Gear | Continue Reading | Comments { 3 }

Nemo Letters

Everett Ruess (NEMO) (1914-1934?) was a young artist and poet that explored, wrote about the high desert, and captured the lust of Utah and the High Sierra in linoleum block prints (with which he traded with Ansel Adams). Jon Krakauer likens Christopher McCandless to Everett Ruess in Into the Wild, in a gripping, harsh retelling of Ruess’ escape to the wilderness and proposed fate, leaving only his pen-name “NEMO” scrawled on the stone walls in his wake. In 2009, it was thought that Ruess’ remains were found, being believed by some that he was attacked and killed by Ute indians, an assumption that was taken back by a Utah archeologist after thorough DNA analysis. If you haven’t read the book Everett Ruess: A Vagabond for Beauty, a book written in 1983 about Ruess’ life, buy it this morning.

Cruising eBay an hour ago I ran across these gems that an antique seller recently grabbed from a California estate sale: newspaper clippings about Ruess, 2 photos of Ruess (one with an American Indian mother and child), as well as handwritten letters/poems by Ruess (!), all found in a dusty leather case (included).

More resources about Ruess and his life can be dug through here.

May 23, 2011 | History, Long Hairs | Continue Reading | Comments { 1 }

Head For The Hills

Turn up the radio, start tapping the wheel, and roll down the windows. Memorial Day is right around the bend and War on Drugs has a new one coming soon.

MP3: War On Drugs – Baby Missles

May 19, 2011 | Camping, Music/Movies/Books | Continue Reading | Comments { 1 }

Come Hell or High Water

Come Hell or High Water is a body-surfing film by Patagonia surf ambassador Keith Malloy. The film is set to release in “not soon enough” by Woodshed Films. Woodshed did 180˚ South as well as several other amazing films, like one of my personal favorites, Sprout, by Thomas Campbell.

“It’s all about taking a breath, and kicking your feet, in the big blue sea…come hell or high water.”

Watch the trailer here

May 19, 2011 | Music/Movies/Books | Continue Reading | Comments { 1 }

Deserts To Finally Die In When The Heart Fails

I’ve posted this before, but I spent the better portion of yesterday listening to Freedom and Wilderness from Moab’s Back of Beyond Books. It’s just so so good. Enjoy it.

We need wilderness because we are wild animals. Every man needs a place where he can go to go crazy in peace. Every Boy Scout troop deserves a forest to get lost, miserable, and starving in. Even the maddest murderer of the sweetest wife should get a chance for a run to the sanctuary of the hills. If only for the sport of it. For the terror, freedom, and delirium. Because we need brutality and raw adventure, because men and women first learned to love in, under, and all around trees, because we need for every pair of feet and legs about ten leagues of naked nature, crags to leap from, mountains to measure by, deserts to finally die in when the heart fails.

MP3: Ed Abbey – Excerpt from “Freedom and Wilderness, Wilderness and Freedom”

May 18, 2011 | Desert Solitaire | Continue Reading | Comments { 0 }