Monday, June 15, 2009

June 15, Rocky Gorge Campground, Lake Koocanusa, 3rd entry

5 p.m. - a sunny day since 2 p.m., a surprise, too! We slept and then awakened in rain, packed in a drizzle and betting against the odds set out to find the dry. The day before, we had come up the Bull River Valley - then up the Kootenai River Valley to Libby, Montana, home to the asbestos mine that was the source of much pain and suffering for its miners. That mine is closed now as are the timber mills, having little for many to do here. Upon arrival in Libby - to do our part for the faltering economy - we made a trip to the supermarket, as we knew supplies would be hard to come by over the next few days. We felt like Leonid Brezhnev when he came to America and went in his first supermarket. Whole system shock and judgment failure with the choices available. Had to fight grabbing at things before they could get away. Wondered how people could be so calm and walk around shopping so deliberately. Our hunger was talking in a loud way to us, and impulse control was not available. Must be what a meth addict experiences when without. Recognizing our disabled state, we restored some patience by an immersion experience in fried chicken from the deli, after which we picked up a few items for the next few days. Judgment restored.

Our stay in Libby was brief and wet. We did meet a young couple who had a trailer next to our tent site. He works on railroad tracks with a crew that contracts with BNSF to repair its rails and replace the stone ballast under the rails. This requires he move around the country at two to three week intervals. Had a big colorful tatoo on his arm, a lisp, smoked long dark cigarillos and a girlfriend named Brandi, who deserved the name. She took care of their dappled dachshund and sold Avon. Said it didn’t bother her to move around because she had grown up in the army. Described herself as shy - “trying to get over it.” They looked to me like a piece of driftwood floating down one of these raging western rivers but what’s the choice.

The whole town of Libby is somewhat adrift as are many of the towns in this region with the falling timber prices and closing mines. Reminders everywhere we go testify loudly to the interdependency of us all economically. Many don’t see the larger system as having failed them. They have their favorite parts to pound on as causative. “Canada is the problem - dumping timber on the US market.” “It’s the politicians.” “It’s us printing money.” From their perspective, they have suffered an economic ambush, and somebody is to blame.

There is a new type of roadside marker for traffic deaths, a six-foot high round red pole with a one-foot cross on top (or, in one instance, two white crosses). Many have plastic flowers around their base or wrapping the cross at top. There is no distinguishing dead motorists from dead bicyclists nor Christian from non-Christian. This may be a situation like the Mormon Church tradition of proselytizing the dead - reading them onto the rolls - even if long dead. Whatever the consequence for the dead, it does serve as a reminder of a clear and present danger on these roads. When you hit a cluster of these, you start flinching at the log trucks’ approaching roar.

Had a tailwind yesterday and today. Small favors from the Gods are appreciated, but we don’t take them personal. Would prefer their attention be on keeping the ferries afloat in Bangladesh to blowing us along if they are going to exert a choice.

One-half mile from campground we pulled over briefly to coordinate, and there on a post was an unopened Budweiser - big as life. Would you drink it? Guess what happened to it. See poem later for answer.

Sitting on a post, right next to the highway,
A bottle of Budweiser; no way you say!
There it was, though, the cap still on tight,
After 40 miles, to Dave, it was a welcome sight.
But was it beer, to me this wasn’t clear.
Could it be poison, something we ought to fear.
No problem for Dave, though, he just took a sip,
Liked it a lot, then swallowed another nip.
It wasn’t long, that bottle was completely dry.
Why was it there, he never even asked why.
He’s a man, knows right off, a really good thing
Something after a long biking day, that’ll stop the sting.

June 15 ------- 2nd Definition Puzzle

A continuous concatenation of contrived confabulations that offer their perspectives as reality to bring greater fragmentation and polarization of the populace in the hope of gaining the political ascendancy with no regard or concern for the ultimate deleterious effect this result will have on the public good and the ability of the populace to adapt to and address fruitfully, man’s serious contingencies, central to the future welfare of all - when and if they succeed in their efforts.

What is it?

Pat Sewell

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