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Saturday, June 17, 2017

In 1937, My Grandad bought my Dad a...

One way ticket on a slow boat to America. Like so many other tales of immigration this one too is interesting. 

My dad's family resided in a village near Lodz, Poland. They made their living mending and making clothes. The family was considered middle class. When a wave of Nationalism began to spread from Germany, a high tide of Anti-Semitism followed along. It wasn't a good time to be a follower of Abraham in Europe.

My Grandfather (according to Dad) was a pious Jew, who saw the hand of God in every random event; such as a letter arriving from the Sambur clan already ensconced in the Land of the Free. Unfortunately, it was written in English.  Fortunately there was a Polish-American visiting the town. The gentleman gave it a quick look. He told my Grandfather (in Polish) the letter was a wedding invitation. 

My Grandfather must have had a  "Something Wicked This Way Comes" premonition.(Book title by Ray Bradbury) Here was a Divine Sign. Seventeen year old Sid would go to the wedding in the Big Apple with no return fare. The Polish/Jewish DNA strain of Sambur's  was now destined to continue. 

Mind you, it wasn't easy for Young Sid. He knew many European languages but not the American one. He learned fast, got a gig as a tailor and eventually moved out of his Aunt's apartment. Around 1941 he met Clara Zinn (a recent Jewish/Austrian immigrant with a beguiling smile) on a blind date. On December 7th, 1941 Pearl Harbor woke the "Sleeping Giant."  America was then at War.

Irony: The US Army drafted Sid and eventually sent him back to the Europe. (The Continent his father shipped him away from). Dad wasn't assigned to the Front Line. He gave tetanus, penicillin and other inoculating shots to injured soldiers. He performed clerical duties.He also read letters from home to his illiterate Made in America compadres. 

It wasn't always chummy. Sid told a story of a cold night when soldiers were gathered around a communal campfire. A late arriving GI tried to bully my father away from the fire. Disparaging words were said about Jews. Verbal confrontation upgraded to physical confrontation. The combatants were eventually separated. Sid resumed his place by the fire. Apparently, the other guy wasn't able to let bygones be bygones. He swung a sucker punch, blind side haymaker at my father. The bastard was clutching a tin cup too. Sid's jaw got broken.

This incident made the rounds while my father was convalescing. A Jewish Captain appeared and gave Sid a two-thumbs up for standing up to the bigot. He went on to make it clear to the medical staff, Sid would get treated very kindly or their would be issues. 

V-E Day (May 8th, 1945) finally arrived. Refugee camps sprang up giving aid to the war ravaged and displaced Europeans. Sid's officers must have been aware of his gift for the local languages. (He spoke Polish, German, Yiddish and English fluently) He would serve as an interpreter in the camps. One day, he met a people from his village. He queried them about his family. I suppose they looked down at their shoes and shook their heads. Sid's parents and two siblings were executed for the crime of being born Jewish. In total,  approximately 6,000,000 Jews were victims of the Holocaust. 

Sid eventually was honorably discharged and returned to NYC and Clara Zinn. In 1948, she became Clara Sambur. My oldest brother Allan arrived shortly thereafter, followed two years later by Mike. I was the caboose who arrived after a four year gap. 

My brothers have four sons between them who have been busy procreating. 

My Grandfather can now RIP knowing the Sambur lineage is continuing on in the New World. Thank you Grandad, even though I never came close to meeting you.

Thanks Dad for teaching me the nuances and ways of being Jewish Thanks too for showing me it's OK to stand up for your beliefs. (Even though you might get pummeled!) 

Finally, thanks for all the times you said, "Jeffy! Be a Mensch! Do the right thing!" 

I'm trying, Sid, I'm trying.  God knows I'm trying. 

BTW. Without America"s Pre WW II  Immigration Policy, this post would never had happened. You would be looking at a blank screen. Please give this a thought. We are a Country of immigrants. 

Happy Dad's Day,

Saturday, June 10, 2017

In June 1864, Abraham Lincoln...

Signed  an Act of Congress ceding the Yosemite Valley and nearby Mariposa Giant Sequoia Grove to the state of California. With his signature two natural treasures attained a level of protection from loggers, sheep herders and other short sighted individuals. The land transfer wasn't perfect. Eventually Yosemite would become a National Park (1890) under Federal jurisdiction.

Now think for a moment about this random historical event. 

The US was in the throes of a calamitous Civil War with no obvious expiration date in sight. Death and destruction was the order of the day. A war weary Congress was able to take a time out, sigh and say, this conflict too shall pass, let's think about our Nation's future. The Act passed despite the fact most Congressmen or Honest Abe wouldn't ever gaze upon a Giant Sequoia (Behemoths of Biomass) or see Half Dome, El Capitan or Yosemite Falls in all its photographs don't do it justice glory.

That is unselfish and forward thinking! That's what made America Great. 

Now our Country is in the midst of another Public Lands debate. Twenty seven National Monuments are now under scrutiny to see if former Democratic Presidents wielded  the power of the Antiquities Act of 1906 a little too "Bigly." Disciples of the Sage Brush Rebellion shout "Federal Land Grab!" only to discover the property is already owned by the Feds. (Most of the lands are under the Bureau of Land Management or the US Forest Service jurisdiction) In the words of Woody Guthrie, "This land is your land, this land is my land." 

Yes! We are all part owners. 

Utah's Escalante/Grand Staircase NM and the recently named Bear Ears NM has drawn the most attention. 

In a recent blog, I spoke out about this contentious issue. 

One good blog deserves another! So... I decided to give a further look-see at Bear Ears NM concentrating my efforts in the Dark Canyon region west of Blanding, Utah. (Oh the sacrifices I make to provide good copy and photos for my handful of readers!) 

First off, both controversial Monuments have short growing seasons for human intervention. In winter, many of the unpaved roads get clogged with White Death (AKA snow). When wet the clayey roads become a slicker than phlegm mess. Even the most macho 4x4 trucks can get mired down in the primordial goo. Summertime is too hot and unforgiving in this desert environment. For these reasons, Spring and Autumn are the High Seasons. 

I justI spent five peaceful days hiking the canyons, driving the  dusty wash-boarded roads, reading, drinking IPAs, pondering things and sightseeing. In that time frame, I endured five minutes of conversations with other bipeds. It was wonderful.   

Not everyone's in favor of the Monument.  Many locals (I.E. Monticello and Blanding) want the upgraded Federal protection status to be rescinded. They look at the Ponderosa Pine covered mesas, the ravines, the canyons, the gulches, spires, turrets and arches to be their neighborhood sanctuary/playground. They feel by creating a Monument outsiders will come and "love the place to death." These are valid concerns. 

However, there's a problem with rolling back Bear Ears NM status. This would empower the current Administration to unravel the other 26 National Monuments under review. A Domino effect of areas of Natural Wonder, History and Solitude could possibly occur. The "Drill! Baby! Drill!" Crowd are the type of folks who ask for a "taster" sampler in a brewpub, then demand the whole keg-for free! In other words, their greed knows no bounds. 

For those who still seek to rescind Monuments, look at it this way. In the next four years there will be no net gain in National Monuments, Parks, Federal Wilderness Areas or Wildlife Refuges. 
The one and only exception would be President "Aren't Golf Courses Wilderness Areas?" to declare New York's Central Park a National Monument. The reason? This would increase the property value of the nearby Trump Towers. 

In the long run, it'll all average out.

Back to the start of this post. 

153 years ago, Congress squinted into a cloudy Crystal Ball and took a chance. Now no one complains about Yosemite National Park's protected status. They might be miffed at the gaggles of selfie stick wielding visitors but not the scenery. 

153 years from now, Americans won't be whining about too many or too large-sized  National Monuments. They will be pleased to know they are out there for everyone's use and enjoyment.

Besides, future Sociable Hermits (like me) will still need places to go.

From my three-acre meadow campsite! 

PS. Final photo. Yes! I am a tree hugger. Fido is marking his territory. 

For further reading on our National Treasures: 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Losing your Mother at...

the age of seventeen is miserable.

To this day, I think about how much I missed out on. I never got to know Clara Sambur as an adult. I never got the chance to have real conversations with her. I was denied the opportunities to get her opinions on how I was maneuvering through life. I've always felt cheated.

Would she have approved of my choices or just smiled and went along with them? 

I'll never know the answer.  What I do know is she gave me my smile. She gave me my love of the written word. She gave me my nurturing and affectionate side. She taught me the joy of giving and receiving hugs. She gave me my ability to herd someone with a gentle touch on their elbow. She passed on her bliss of being in the sun's snuggling rays. 

Mom! You passed on my best traits in those seventeen years of knowing you. 

Thank you! 

I wish you were around a whole lot longer.
You would have made me a better all-around human.

I still miss you.

Friday, May 5, 2017

A Day in the Life of...

a Wandering Wondering Jew.

People ask me "what is it you do on a typical day?" (Well, people really don't ask me that, but I needed a lead in for this post.) 

I start by waking up. This is far better than the alternative of not waking up. Therefore, I'm in the plus column when I open my eyes. 

Then I'll have two strong pots of Starbucks coffee while watching the sunrise. If my legs ain't twitching something is wrong. Breakfast is a large veggie omelette to nourish me for the "Event of the Day." 

The day's highlight is usually a 6-16 mile hike in a pretty place. I.E. National Park or Monument or Wilderness Area. If the place isn't so pretty, then it's called a work out hike. Either way, I'm in motion. I shoot photos, think a bunch and generally keep to myself as I make my way through the scenery. Lunch is taken while sitting on a soft rock in front of a potential picturesque photo op. My midday break consists of a PB&J sandwich and a few Cutie oranges. 

I'm no Foodie.

Then, I'll return to camp, clean up, do a few "grown up things," read, maybe even blog. Eventually, Happy Hour rolls my way. Dinner is whatever canned or boxed meal grabs my attention. 

Sunsets are of an Impressionist painting variety. It's worth staying up for. Oftentimes I'll give a silent IPA toast to a good day. Afterwards, I get horizontal while curled up with a non-fiction book or my Mini-IPad. About an hour later, it's lights out.

But wait! I know what you're thinking. Is that it? 

Yes, it's a simple, quiet life. 
When I'm on a outstanding Wellness Roll, my biggest stressor is keeping my beer icy.

It's not all sun and games though. In this recent Southwest meanderings, there was an eight day span of toe-numbing winds slamming down from the Land of Nanook of the North. I was forced to spend too much time in Barley the Van's 66 square feet of livable space. (Perspective First Ladies take note: Half of that space is an almost Queen-sized comfy bed.) 

With inclement weather, things can get claustrophobic real fast. 

I'll  admit at times like these, I begin to question the smarts of my grey matter. Illness or injuries will do this to my psyche too. 

Ahh! It's all about the weather. When the sun nuzzles me like a Mother hugging her infant, and the temperature is just right; it's hard to beat this outside the box lifestyle. Being in beautiful playgrounds helps too. 

It's not a life for people who need people. It's not a life for Party Animals. It's not a life for people who aren't comfortable in their own skins. So far, it's working for me, although female type company would be nice. (I'd buy a bigger van!)

That's pretty much a typical day. 

Now I'll digress: Why do I blog? 

A) Once in a Total Eclipse Time Frame someone compliments me on a post. That makes me smile.

B) I'll keep posting just in case I ever decide to write Book Number Two. Did you know I wrote an IPPY Award Winning book? Penning a good yarn is like any other skill. Use it or lose it. 

C) However, the biggest reason I blog is because I know this lifestyle is finite. One day for whatever reason, I'll have to give this Wandering Wondering up. My blog will be my memories. I'll read the posts, look at the pictures and think, "I used to do some pretty cool stuff!" 

I'll miss this life when I won't be able to do it anymore.

Although, there's still a stigma about the single guy in the white van...

Last photo: I always make it a point to visit Old Friends.

Life is about the motion.
Keep wandering.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Utah! National Monument Status isn't ...

Like ordering a meal in a Chinese Restaurant. 

"The State of Utah will take five National Parks from Column A. We'll also take six out of eight of the National Monuments from Column B. The last two Monuments upsets our stomachs and State's Rights sensitivities."

The two offending Monuments? Grand Staircase/Escalante and the recently added Bear Ears. I'll digress for a moment.

The state of Utah goes out of its way to promote its natural beauty. The Utah Office of Tourism has fostered "The Mighty Five" marketing campaign. This is in reference to Utah's National Parks. UOT purchases advertising space in the NY Times, LA Times, Outside, Fodors, Sunset and CBS This Morning. On the International scene, the "Beehive State" funds tourist bureaus in Japan, Germany, UK and France. Utah is on a mission to attract selfie-stick wielding mobs of hikers, sightseers, adventurers and wanderers. Some don't even speak English! The outsiders come, spend money and eventually leave. People don't come to Utah to go nightclubbing.

In 2012, tourists spent an estimated 7.4 billion dollars in Utah. They contributed 960 million in state tax revenues too. Definitely not chump change. Tourism is big business in Utah.

I'll digress again.

National Parks and Monuments are different in how they came to be. A NP is designated by an act of Congress. A NM is created by the President under the power of the 1906 Antiquities Act. 

From Wikipedia: "The Antiquities Act of 1906, (Pub.L. 59–209, 34 Stat. 22554 U.S.C. § 320301–320303), is an act passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt on June 8, 1906. This law gives the President of the United States the authority to, by presidential proclamation, create national monuments from federal lands to protect significant natural, cultural, or scientific features. The Act has been used over a hundred times since its passage. Its use occasionally creates significant controversy. On April 26, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order to review the Antiquities Act."

Could the fair people of Utah dislike the Grand Staircase/Escalante Monument because it was proclaimed by a Rhodes Scholar philandering Democratic President? Or in the case of Bear Ears, a Black (gasp!)  Democratic President? I would say a possible maybe, since the other six National Monuments are never mentioned in the debate. 

The politicians of Utah want to reduce the size of the GSENM and totally eliminate National Monument status for Bear Ears. They now have an Federal Administration who favors missiles, and mining over Monuments. The 111 year old Antiquities Act is now under fire. In our Nation's short history the President's use of this Act has been Fait Accompli. Well, there's nothing normal/usual about this Reality TV Administration. 

So back to the State of Utah. Why is it OK to be a whore for the National Parks within your boundaries but protest two Wild Areas which are now being saved and protected for future generations?  Create a National Monument and the tourists will come. They will spend money for the long term. Mines are finite, tourism is not. 

Utah! Are you in or out when it comes to conservation. There is no sort of being pregnant when it comes to making America Great. Poop or get off the pot. 

One more digression: An apt quote seen in the GSENM Visitor Center. 

"When some of us says, "look there's is nothing out there." What we are really saying is, "I cannot see." 

Terry Tempest Williams

We have an Administration who is blind.

All these photos are from GSENM. 

Think about this,

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Our Nation's Treasures are Under...


Back in November, 2014 I wrote a blog about Casey Nocket. 

She was the roving Bimbette who painted bizarre scenes in America's western National Parks and Monuments. She wasn't applying her acrylic paint to canvas. No! She was vandalizing the rocks instead. She took photos of her "works" and placed them on Instagram. Obviously, she wasn't a Valor Victorian at Stanford. 

Her posts elicited outrage on the social media scene. She pissed off a lot of people by dissing the places we love. It was a response she didn't foresee. Eventually, the Clueless One was sentenced to two years probation and 200 hours of community service. 

As far as I'm concerned, she skated. 

So...the other day, I took a hike in Zion National Park's Hidden Canyon. It's not really hidden since there's a marked trail there. But, it's still a cool canyon just the same. It was early and shadowy. All I heard were the sounds of my trail runners padding along the sand and rocks. Perfect! That is until I noticed #hiddenfreedom17 scrawled along a red-rock wall. Hmmm! That sucks. I took a photo of the crime scene to show and tell the NPS about it ASAP. Unfortunately, the graffiti was just beginning. The idiot art show spanned about 100 yards. I shot more and more pix, collecting evidence as I made my way up canyon. Crap! I was having such a wonderful morning too! I felt violated along with the canyon. 

A day earlier I was partaking in the sixteen-mile West Rim trail. Like so many trails, I see them once a year like old friends. All was good in my World until I saw piles of soiled toilet paper. Nearby was unmentionable human produce. What is wrong with people? 

Sure a New York City's amount of taggers and improper poopers are a nasty problem to our Nation's Wild Places. But wait! There's a more insidious attack about to occur. It comes from the enemy within.

It's the 2018 proposed Federal Budget. A nauseating and ruthless 12% cash slash to the Department of Interior. This includes the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service. 

For the sake of blog brevity, I'll concentrate on the NPS.

Here's the NPS's noble Mission Statement: "The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world."

It's hard not to like this outfit. The Park Service has been called America's best idea and invention for a reason.
These proposed cuts come at a time when the NPS's stock is on the rise. Record numbers of visitors (331 million in 2016) paid a call to  their 409 National Parks, Monuments and Battlefields, their 23 Scenic and Historic Trails and their 60 Wild and Scenic Rivers. The NPS has a large plate. If that weren't enough these Good Guys provide financial and technical assistance to our 49 National Heritage Sites. The proposed budget would eliminate that program. The damage wouldn't end there. The NPS already has a $12 billion maintenance backlog. With this slash and burn budget, things will go from bad to worse. 

Now, there's a new Sheriff in charge of the Department of Interior.. His name is Ryan Zinke. He is a President "You mean Central Park isn't a Wilderness Area?"  appointee. When at first pressed on the issue of budget cuts, he said he would be kicking and screaming at the thought. Now, not so much. He went Trump Toady, and said the $1.5 billion cut would be a tax savings. 

Mr. Zinke, that is an alternative fact. 

The tax $ is going to be reallocated to the Department of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs (no complaint from me on that one). 

America the Beautiful is being sacrificed to America the Badass. 

The concept of beauty goes beyond the "Ohhs and ahhs" of  skin deep. A country should be judged on how it treats its elderly, poor, handicapped and undereducated. Kudos go to countries who consider the non-voting elements: fish and wildlife, environmental issues such as clean air, water and uncontaminated soils. 

I cringe at the thought of an increased Military budget to the detriment of education, the environment, arts and humanities, proper housing and urban development, our wild lands and forests and Federal grant money for scientific research and development. 

Why are we building up our Military to protect this dubious Fox Network News notion of the American Way of Life? A Society based on fear and a "Watch Out for the Other Guy" mentality. Will the US become a soulless nation of strip malls, Big Box Stores, McDonalds  and subdivisions?  Are these superficial things worth fighting or dying for? 

True Greatness isn't measured in  shiny new tanks, fighter jets, aircraft carriers or multiple Mother Of All Bombs. It's about leaving this land/country in tip-top shape to our future generations who have yet to open their eyes or take a breathe of (hopefully) clean air. 

We owe that much to them. 
BTW. When I win the Presidency in 2020, it will be the "Greenest" Administration since Theodore Roosevelt's. 
The only thing Green about this current Administration, is their awareness that it's the color of money.

Happy Earth Day,

PS. Take note Casey, the last photo is art and not graffiti. See the difference? 

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Stigma of the Single Man...

in the White Van.

On April 1st, I unceremoniously passed my Four Year Homeless by Choice Anniversary. (It's not about the $). 

I'm still learning things along my journey. For instance: 

One) Perspective girlfriends have no sense of humor for a senior citizen who's address is a Van's license plate number. As rare as first dates are, second dates take on a Halley's Comet appearance time frame. In other words, not often. It's hard for me to get past the standard question of "where do you live?" I really squirm a lot when that subject comes up. On the "boy meets girl" issue, I could have chosen a more user-friendly lifestyle. 

Two) At times, things can get a bit feral. On stretches of what I call "rough camping" (no showers, no electricity and no flush toilets), I'll Solar Shower on some lonely dirt road. I'll expose myself to the elements while taking my daily ablution. I just hope no other vehicle ambles by. I might make YouTube in an awkward way. Please don't enquire about plumbing.

Three) I draw a lot of stares when I arrive in an RV park where everyone knows each other, but no one knows me. A fine example of this occurred in Lajitas, TX. I was driving a lap around the campground while looking for my designated site. Groups of manly cohorts were engaged in animated conversations. Upon seeing me and Barley the Van-SILENCE! They craned their necks while following me with their prying eyes. I parked, hopped out and gave them my toothiest grin. "Gentlemen! You have no need to worry about me. I will be the quietest neighbor you will ever have. You won't even know I'm here." The bull session resumed and everyone was happy. A few gents came by later on to check out the Barley Van. I gave them beers. I'm on a mission to win hearts and minds. 

Four) Families fear the White Van and probably the single man inside. On more than one occasion, I noticed young Moms and Dads pointing toward Barley while emphatically shaking their heads in the International "NO! NO! NO!" fashion. If the parents aren't getting through to their progeny, they wag their fingers too. Ouch! That hurts my feelings. 

This is why I never park near a school or playground. The local SWAT Unit would surely be dispatched with weapons drawn. 

For the above reasons and a few others, I've become more of an introvert/hermit. It's the price I'm paying for all this mobile freedom. Oh, I'll still say hello to strangers and wave, but I won't go further than that unless provoked. I'm definitely not the kind of guy who would stride up to someone, extend my hand and say, "Hi! I'm Jeff! Damn fine to meet ya." That being said, I'm pretty sure I'd still pass society's minimum standards of acceptable community behavior. 

I still consider myself to be a nice Jewish Boy from the Bronx.

What's to become of me? I haven't a clue. I'm still motivated to travel with and without The White Van. Barley won't fit in an airplane's overhead storage compartment, so I'll be leaving him behind in my future overseas travels.

Keep looking in, things will get interesting.

For further readings, check out these old posts. Maybe you'll see a pattern here.

BTW. I, still running for President in 2020. The First Lady slot is still open too.

Cheers while rolling into Year Five of Homeless by Choice,
Next to last photo: Yes, there are times I am living in my van down the river.

Last photo: Me in the Master Bedroom engrossed in an IPPY award winning book.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hiking the Grand Canyon with...


I met a lot of characters in my 28 year career on the fire department. One of the more memorable (in a bad way) was a bald headed, opinionated, conversation domineering , fib-telling Dude nicknamed STAN. 

He was the guy you couldn't top. If you caught a three-pound trout, he caught a five pound Brown on a one-pound test line. Ran a sub-18:00 Five Kilometer race? He won his age bracket in 15:30. Hiked a respectable summit? He scaled Everest with no oxygen. He couldn't be beat.

BTW: STAN translates to S--T! That Ain't Nothing!

So...on my recent backpack with Brad 
and Max and Cassie (son and girlfriend) into the Big Ditch I was told a stranger (to me)  would be joining us on the second night out of five. That's fine. Buddy of Brad should be OK by me. 

On the second night, we were camped at Monument Creek. Brad and family were out exploring the tiny tributary. I was hanging out contemplating the rocks or reading. In other, words typical Grand Canyon activities for me. Out of the silence, I heard, "Brad! Brad! Where are you?" 

I called out, "You must be #%#%. (That's my way of not indulging his real name). "Hi! I'm Jeff. Brad is out with his family looking around. Here's the campsite he picked for you. I'll go back to my site and let you set up. See you later." 

Around dinner time, I rejoined the gang at the designated kitchen area of Brad's campsite.  %#%# was in full story telling mode. It went sort of like this...

"In the beginning, I was born to poor yet humble parents. I worked my way through Harvard doing pizza deliveries on my tricycle. I got my Doctorate in Mathematics at the age of six..." and on and on it went. 

Hmmm! This was going to be an interesting backpack trip.

A few days later, we all set off on a 15.5 mile amble from Monument Creek to Bright Angel campground. In all my years of hiking in the Grand Canyon, this would be my biggest mileage day ever. No matter how you spin it, that's more than a stroll to the neighborhood post office.

%#%#% charted out his game plan on where he would be and at what time. "I'll be on my way at 6:03 I'll pass Salt Creek at 7:13. I should be at Bright Angel by 2:08 give out take a minute. I'll be hiking at three-plus miles/Hour. You guys know what that's like. Don't you?" 

I broke camp after my usual morning dawdle. I was fueled by my secret weapon. Two Starbucks shots of strong instant coffee. Pure grind your molars, quick striding energy. My plan was the standard one. Crank out as many miles as I could until the caffeine runs out; then arrive at my destination on fumes. 

It was a beautiful day along the Tonto Plateau, flowers were out, the air was cool and crisp and the scenery was the usual Grand Canyon magnificent. After awhile I ran into Brad, Max and Cassie. They were moving at a loping just fine steady pace. All were well with these happy campers. 

"Hi Guys! I'm nice and wired from the coffee. Who knows? Maybe I'll catch %#%#. That might quiet him down a bit." 

They wished me luck.

After Salt Creek, I spied three backpackers. One was definitely the 6'5" #%#%#. When I approached I overheard a story. "Then there was that time I was physically removed from a Vegas casino. I guess I was doing too good a job at counting cards. Hey! I was only up $5,000 on the House!" 

He was surprised to see me. "You are moving well! I'll try to keep up with you." 

"Don't sweat it. No worries. Walk your own pace. I'm still lit up from the coffee. Enjoy your day. See you at Bright Angel."

My caffeine fix expired at Indian Gardens. There was still five miles to go. My pace became a relaxed mosey, with food and water breaks along the way. 

On the Colorado River trail, I saw the familiar sight of the iconic Silver and Black bridges. I'm sure I was grinning. Once in camp, I found a suitable campsite and went to work on a bagel and cheese snack. A few minutes later, #%#%# strode in.

I nodded and said, "Long day. Strong work. I'm glad we're done." 

"I dunno. I could've taken a break and been good for another five-ten miles."

I know I let out a audible sigh. There's no topping a STAN.

But Hey! It's the Grand freaking Canyon! It takes more than a STAN to muddle the experience. Besides, I was still hanging with my Bro from another Mo and his amazing family. All is good in the world (except I'm sick again!")

Moral of the blog? Don't be a backpacking blowhard. 

Cheers from windy Kanab, UT,
It's an R&R day to try to get over this latest bout of sinuous infection. Yes, I'm on drugs too.