Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Rocky Mountain National Park...

"Now he walks in quiet solitude, the forest and the streams, seeking grace in every step he takes.
His sight is turned inside himself, to try and understand
the serenity of a clear blue mountain lake."

Rocky Mountain High lyrics by John Denver
(It's not often I'll quote John Deutshendorf, Jr)

At 101 years young RMNP is still a precious gem amongst our Nation's Parks. 
Unfortunately, being beautiful has its price. It's the third most visited NP in the U.S. Last year a whopping 4.16 million trod upon its roads and trails. That would be similar to having the entire state of Oregon's population stopping by for a visit. (If that ever happened, I'd race to Oregon. Think of all the untrammeled recreational opportunities there would be.)

Yes, RMNP can get Grand Central Station crowded, but there are ways to avoid rubbing body parts with your fellow hikers. As a service to my billions of fans, I'll point the way. 

One: Wake up early. I'm not talking about the  "Today Show"  early. I mean just a nub of gauzy light early. Kind of when sunrise is a distant rumor. 

Two: Drink two pots of strong Starbuck's coffee washed down with a substantial breakfast. 

Three: Start driving to the trailhead avoiding all the deer, elk and moose who are all in the midst of a quiet Animal Planet moment. Make sure you smile, wave and say good morning to the four-legged vegans as you ease by.

Fourth: Park your ride. There will be plenty of spaces to choose from. 

Fifth: Do a little fussing and packing and start up the trail. The air will be as crisp and cool as that first swallow of a Union Jack IPA. (That will come later at Happy Hour.) 

Sixth: Enjoy! You will be alone. Just you and your thoughts and the beauty that surrounds you. A good way to start the day. More than likely, you won't see anyone until you begin to head back down to civilization. 

That's when you'll encounter the legions of the ill prepared.
As in this recent episode: 

On my return from Timber Lake, I saw a portly mid-60's couple. They were decked out in the latest Walmart sneakers, cotton socks, jeans and black Harley Davidson shirts. Neither wore a pack.

After I said a friendly "Hello!" the gentleman asked me.

"How much further to the lake?" He was already panting. 

"Well Sir, it's a ways and you haven't even begun the 2,000 feet of climbing. It might not be a good idea to try for the lake. You aren't carrying any food, water or extra dry clothes in case a storm rolls in." 

"I'm carrying water!" With that said, he pulled out a plastic 8 ounce bottle of clear liquid for the two of them! 

"Sir, in Colorado we call that amount of water a shot. People don't age in this state, they desiccate." 

"Well, maybe we won't go the lake then."

At least this gentleman saw the light.
BTW: This couple were only a half a mile from the parking lot.

Riddle! How can you spot a Texan who is ill prepared? The same scenario as above except they are holstering a side arm attached to their belt. I suppose Fox Fear Network might have ran a story about man-eating marmots. 
Personally, spotting an armed hiker in the wilds constitutes a clear and present danger to me. I leave the scene ASAP. 

Jeff's Rule of Thumb states.  The ill prepared hiker factor increases exponentially as the sun rises. 

BTW. I wasn't paid to write that rant about being ill prepared by REI, although it would have been nice.

I'll shut up and let the Centennial Park plus one speak.

Please be safe out there, 

There's still time to sign up! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


The end result. 

When I wrote a blog about my high PSA (prostate specific antigen) test I was amazed at the many responses I received.  

Three buddies stepped forward and provided  me with scary, yet useful information. They relayed their personal experiences of having this trouble making gland surgically removed. All three were incredibly honest in their assessment of what life is like without a prostate. Surprisingly, they were all upbeat about their futures. They had beaten cancer. 

Then again, I heard from many who had also heard the bad news of an elevated PSA test. More than a few went on to undergo a painful biopsy. The results were good in their favor. Yet, in introspect, the bloody procedure seemed so unnecessary. 

I even received strongly worded messages from a few women acquaintances. As far as I know, women don't own a prostate, but they sure have opinions! 

With all these wide ranging thoughts going through my head, I paid a visit to a Boulder urologist on June 14th. 

After a back and forth session of information gathering by both patient and Doctor, we got down to business.

"Well, Jeff, it's time for you to assume the position." 

I sheepishly submitted to a body cavity probe. (Never again will I think of going into a burning building as a strange choice of careers.) 

When he was done,  he told me what I already knew. "You have an enlarged prostate." 
No surprise since I've sat on a bicycle seat for over a quarter million miles in my life. I was pleased that he didn't exclaim, "Oh My God! There's a bloat of wallowing hippopotamuses growing on your prostate!" 

The Doctor then advised me make an appointment for an ultrasound prostate test. He also wrote out orders for a more in depth PSA blood test. 

On June 16th, a vial of red stuff was drawn from me and sent to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. (No wonder health care is so expensive.) 

Today, I opened up a secure website to see my grades. Here's my scores:

6/16/2016 10:50 AM
  • TOTAL PSA 2.30 ng/mL
  • FREE PSA 0.30 ng/mL
  • PSA RATIO F/T See Comments ng/mL

Dr. Lonny said they rate a "very good." 

I am now very relieved and happy. Maybe now I'll be less distracted in my day to day activities. (Like losing five Nalgene bottles in a month and driving over a solar shower). 

Now I can on with my travel plans for the summer and go back to being a full time Wandering, Wondering Jew. It's a dirty job but someone's got to do it. 

To all of you who did welfare checks on my mental health along with good tidings, a sincere Thank You! It was very appreciated. 

I know I worried about this a lot. Sid Sambur passed on his worry gene to me. 

Sid also had prostate cancer at my age. 

I bought lakeside property to celebrate. I'm camped at Horsetooth Reservoir for another night. Come on up and join me and Barley. I have plenty of IPAs and I'm willing to share.

It's true, health is our greatest wealth. Just ask Steve Jobs if you were now able to.

There are so many pretty places to see.
Cheers and thanks again,

PS! There still time to sign up for the G W,W J Sweepstakes!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

My Father didn't play with...


For Sid, being a Dad meant being a good provider. He brought home the brisket (can't say bacon. Our kitchen was strictly kosher). We were raised with Old World family values. This makes sense since my parents were escapees from Hitler's insane concept of human genetics. (That is why I flinch when a Presidential candidate proposes "round ups" based on ethnicity.) 

In the Sambur household parenting tasks were strictly divided and adhered to.

Clara was in charge of nurturing, hugs, feeding us (too much) and making sure we wore our galoshes on rainy days. In Mom's eyes, her three children were God's perfect creations.. Mommy's love of her "boychicks" (little boys) was boundless. We could do no wrong. I think she  often overlooked our transgressions in a Jewish Motherly way.

Dad provided the reality check. Sid's approach to parenting was laissez faire. He believed in hands on intervention only if we strayed away from the concept of being a "mensch." (From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: a person of integrity and honor.)

Punishment came in two forms. We would hear about our screw ups forever, despite our many hang-our-heads-down apologies. When I became an adult, I still found myself muttering "I'm sorry" to him for a bad deed done decades ago.. It's true, Jewish guilt is the gift that keeps on giving. 

The other form was physical, but never brutal. If we were given the choice, we would have chosen physical over emotional. At least, the slap was over and done with in a second. 

Sid still loved us, just sort of in a different way. 

I'm pretty sure I became a mensch too.

Now I'll get to the point:

I've  never been a father (at least, not that I'm aware of) but I've been around a lot of children. Instinctively, I follow Sid's example and tend to shy away from these miniature humans. Sure, I'll smile at them, wave and say hello, but I'd rather be somewhere else. Being around kids never felt natural to me. 

Well, that changed with Little Dylan. She stole my heart. I think it's her smile that's so reminiscent of Clara's. OK. She giggles a lot too. 

I think Sid would've been taken by her too. He might have even played with her. 

Happy Father's Day! Sid! 
I love you. Thanks for instilling me with sensible values.

It's not too late to sign up for the Great Wandering, Wondering Jew Sweepstakes
OY! What have you got to lose?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Fight or Flight...

I'm an escapist.

For 28 years I served as a mercenary for the Poudre Fire Authority. I received good wages to battle occasional blazes and deal with medical emergencies that would make normal citizens cast their eyes skyward to an imaginary Goodyear Blimp. It was a career that suited the aggressive side of me. That's my fight instinct.

(Read all about it in my book Destroying Demons on the Diagonal),p_27:Jeff%20Sambur/

When a situation or a relationship begins to be bothersome, I take to the hills. Literally. That's my flight instinct kicking in. Maybe that's why I wander so much.

So when Dr. Lonny informed me my Prostate Specific Antigen test came in high, I went into flight mode. (After making an appointment to see a urologist on June 14th.)

I sought succor in four reliable pastimes: baseball, buddies, brews and views. I've been on the road since May 26th. 

Here's a few of the venues I gave flight to: 

Paid homage to 14 Fallen Firefighters. 

Took in five games of Junior College World Series Baseball in Grand Junction. It's always a pleasure to visit Jack, Judy and John T too.

Another visit to Great Sand Dunes National Park. I'll never tire of the sensual subtle curves of those high dunes. (Forgive me. It's been awhile since I had a GF) Its amazing what Mother Nature can do with sand, wind and water in the right setting. 

Lastly, I was ambushed by a rock on my descent off of West Spanish Peak. Outcome: A visit to the ER and four stitches. (If you want to see the gore, look it up on Facebook.) Steven Spielberg is thinking about making my self rescue into an action adventure film starring George Clooney as the Jewish blogger.

Alas, you can run but you can't hide. Occasionally I'd give thought to my upcoming Doctor's appointment. The other night I woke from an awful dream. My heart was pounding as if I was trying to keep pace with the Kenyans sprinting the NYC Marathon. 

The nightmare went like this. I was at the urologist's office. The Doctor, who had the bedside manner of Josef Mengele, told me too bluntly that I had prostate cancer. He then laughed. 

If the urologist looks like the sicko in my nightmare, I'll tell him what I think of the Aryan Race and the Final Solution. Then I'll leave. That'll teach him to mess up my night's rest.

I'm hoping this dream doesn't come true. 

Wish me luck,

Monday, June 6, 2016

If you can't beat 'em...

Join 'em.

Lately, I've seen too many dogs in what used to be unusual places. There's canines in brewpubs, restaurants, supermarkets, Home Depots and on our trails in the National Parks. (That's a real No-No). 

The canine owners seem to have the notion it's within their rights to subject the masses to their pets. Food establishments are caving in to these ideas of entitlements gone awry. Restaurant, brewpubs and grocery stores vie for the title of being "dog friendly." Is a business "dog unfriendly" because they still follow a line of common sense?

What ever happened to our public health laws? I don't want to see human hair in my food or IPA let alone a Golden Retrievers! There's other issues at stake when pooches are in a place of business: there's the barking, the inevitable dog fights and doggie doo accidents. Worst of all would be a potential petter being bitten. 

Pet Owners! We all have to give up a portion of our freedoms as America's population increases. No there's no need  to roll over and play dead. We all have to play nice and follow a few simple rules. The days of doing exactly as we please are long gone. 

For example: I would love to get out of Barley the Van on a summery morning while wearing my invisible pajamas. But I don't. I slip on a pair of shorts and a shirt to make myself somewhat presentable. Society has unwritten rules of decorum based upon others sensibilities. I understand that concept. I may not like it, but I accept it. 

From the photos you can see I'm a dog owner too.

Fido is the most obedient, mild-mannered and low maintenance pet in the World. Even when I take him into National Parks, he doesn't harass other hikers or the wildlife. That's a Good Dog! 

For the record, I don't hate hounds. It's a pet peeve of mine that dog owners are playing their individual rights and entitlement cards too often. Your dog doesn't need to be your drinking buddy too. 

I know this is a curmudgeonly post. Andy Rooney made his living on "60 Minutes" with rants like this. All I need to do is grow those great bushy eyebrows and get discovered by CBS. 

Woof from Dog Friendly Boulder, Colorado 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

I've never thought of myself as a...

Minimalist, until my old buddy Gladdie invited me along to see the movie of the same name  in Boulder, Colorado. 

Here's a description of the movie makers from their website:

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY, NPR, TIME, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana

Holy Crap! 4,000,000 readers! I'm jazzed about 30,000 plus page views! 

Enough page view envy.

The movie detailed how owning little equates to a more fulfilling life. Joshua and Ryan embarked upon a one year road trip across our Great Land of Consumerism preaching the Gospel of Less. They filmed their talks, hugged a lot of people and connected with many Americans who might have been questioning their own personal net worth. There were interviews of people living in tiny houses, tiny apartments and owners of tiny wardrobes. There was one Dude who carried all his stuff in two small duffle bags. I can't top that.

There were no interviews of any 61 year old Jewish man living in a Barley Van down by the river. What am I? Chopped liver? 

For me, getting rid of everything was the logical step to be free to wander and wonder. My stuff was trapping me in Tucson. 

Like I mentioned in my Homeless II post, it all stems from my near ultimate biffing it experience. It's true, being as close as a wisp of wind to getting killed can change a person. 

Then again, I never owned a lot. When I made my big move to Tucson from Colorado, the moving men laughed. They told me most Americans own 6,000 pounds of stuff each! I owned less than 3,000 pounds of stuff for my entire household. The thought of shopping for anything other than food or beer makes me feel queasy.

As I've mentioned numerous times, it's a simple lifestyle. Adjustments have to be made to live on such a small scale. A person can get a bit feral. After three plus years, I'd say I've adapted well. The only things I truly miss is a printer and my Sorrel White Death Boots. I miss not having a girlfriend too, but that's not a thing.

The movie ended with a simple message from Joshua. "Love People, Use Things. The opposite never works." 

I agree with that statement 100%. 

Jeff drinking coffee and writing this from Barley the Van,
Good Day!

PS. This is most of the stuff I own. There is one large red duffle bag, some family photos and maps at my best nephew's Keith's house in Boulder. 

PPS. It's not too late to sign up for the Great W, W J Sweepstakes. OK, the payout is sort of Minimalistic too.