Saturday, July 21, 2007

Jet Lag

I am unable to tolerate air travel well. It is the disorientation and dizziness. I can always tell when it will happen. Somewhere at about 30,000 feet, I will look out the porthole and see, on the starboard side, several men in orange vests waving metal signs. This is about the time the Dramamine has begun to take hold. Then we bank into a turn, the men wave goodbye, and we go round about some flaring thunderhead and head in the general direction of Baffin Island. Invariably, somewhere at this juncture, the plane begins to gently sway, like a crib. But cribs are penitentiaries for children! Free the children! At this moment, the captain comes on the intercom and everybody looks at each other and wonder why he is hissing so badly, but actually, his voice is scrambled by the static from the thunderstorm and the orange flames of Aurora Borealis arching above. He tosses out some statistics - speed, time of arrival, the elevation, the cabin pressure, his hat size, the number of men bouncing off of the windshield, the depth of the frozen hydrogen accumulating on the wings - and then all of the sudden, the plane goes into a steep dive. Fortunately, it is about then that I have fallen asleep, and I do never get to see how we pull out of it.
I think of this because the summers are sort of like that plane ride, only on the ground. I wake up in the middle of the night and I do not know where I am. The next day I drive to the survey site and all the vegetation is gone, stripped by a hailstorm the night before. I call Amy on the walkie talkie and she does not know who I am. Tomorrow I am expecting there will be rare invisible tornadoes and we will find that all of our movements during the day were worked out by two men playing chess in the coffee shop in town, both of whom have criminal records.
So, let it be that what that may be. What I mean is, a couple weeks ago we were experiencing this in Montana!

And then this!

The Castle Mountains and the Firehole River. As far as I can tell, I believe that is where we were.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Open Road

The difficulty lies in the absence of spare time and an unwillingness to abandon the exercise of my inalienable and fundamental human and civil right to ride a bicycle. There are some pleasant trails up in these northwoods, all of which skirt freshwater lakes, most of which are clear, cold, and radiant and pay no mind if an overheated cyclist misses a turn and plunges headlong into the water, joining the struggle for the right to swim. What prevents us from breathing underwater? Who shackles us with lungs? Who is to say we are not meant to live beneath the ice? Who says the water is just for fish? Lets overthrow these scaly louts and take the seas for ourselves! Live free and die!
So, I regress: After the spring ephemerals, in early June there was some work on the Little Missouri National Grasslands by the quaint village of Medora, North Dakota. Here is a view of Amy being swallowed up by the roiling prairie.

But then, it was over, and for a while in June I worked up by the Boundary Waters, in Minnesota, on the Superior National Forest. This can be found up there:

It's the Pigeon River Falls.
Where is my bike.