13 Shorts

all over


the scene:

— the men’s room at the airport

what I am doing…

— standing at the urinal doing what one does when one stands at the urinal, which is to say, peeing

what the guy next to me is doing…

— standing at the urinal doing what one does when one stands at the urinal, which is to say, peeing, but that’s not all

what else the guy next to me is doing…

— talking on his cell phone, while he is peeing

what my imagination is doing…

— picturing him finishing up, then mixing up what each hand is holding, which is to say, he tucks his phone into his pants, zips up and walks out of the men’s room…


As I pose for this photo, Lisa asks me what I want in the background.  I say, “It doesn’t matter as long as you get the words that are on my T-shirt.”

A woman behind me overhears and because we are at a somewhat difficult summit, asks, “What does it say?  Ironman?”

I say, “No, better,” as I turn and show her the logo.


Alecia, as she and I get back to the car after one of our first three-day backpack trips, “Do you mind if I don’t put on my seat belt?  I’m tired of being strapped in.”


My first time in the woods backpacking.  I am apprehensive about this trip, not knowing if I’ll be able to carry all that weight, no idea of where I would be sleeping that night, wondering if I’d be hungry the whole time.  I lay awake the night before, hoping for rain because, after all, nobody goes into the woods if it’s raining.


On a trip through Yellowstone,

Desmond held his ice-cream cone

Out for grizzly bears to savor.

Desmond’s now their favorite flavor.

— X J Kennedy


The world will survive and so will we.  Change is a constant and we are almost as adaptable as the cockroach…and in many ways more despicable.
— my friend Dave


Sir Edmund Hillary is most famous for being one of the two humans to first climb to the summit of the world’s highest land mass, Mount Everest.  (Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay is the other guy.)

Upon returning to Camp 4 after climbing to the point no one in history had ever reached before, Hillary turned to his expedition mate George Lowe and in typical understated fashion, said, “Well, George, we knocked the bastard off.”

I had the good fortune to have attended a lecture given by Sir Edmund Hillary.  He talked during the first half of his presentation about his historic climb.  The second half had to do with his philanthropic work building hospitals and schools in the Tibetan Himalayas.

For me, the most striking moment of the evening was when Sir Hillary was introduced and, from the front row, he rose to climb the steps to the podium on the stage.

Watching him painstakingly climb the stairs, one by one, I was struck by the idea that it was this Edmund Hillary who became the first man in recorded history to stand on top of the world.  Apparently standing on this stage, at this age and physical condition, was an equal accomplishment.


In Maine, we drove across the 45th parallel.  There was no bump, no sound, it just happened.  The 45th parallel means that we were the exact same distance from the north pole as from the equator.


T-shirts I’ve seen while hiking…






One night we stay in the Forest campground.  The campground hosts, two couples in their 70s, race each other around in golf carts.


On April 23rd of 2013, Harriet Baskas, an NBC News contributor, reported that you can now obtain a spray that smells like a national park.  To wit…

“…in honor of National Park Week (April 20-28) the Air Wick fragrance product company and the non-profit National Park Foundation have rolled out a new set of National Park Collection candles, oils, automatic sprays and reed diffusers with scents said to be inspired by ‘the unique flora and fauna’ of six of the country’s national parks.

My response?  I know it can sometimes be difficult to find the time, funds and resources to visit a national park, but I say get off your ass and go there anyway.  Then smell the national park.


The first time I was in Yosemite National Park in California, I became aware of an impressive symmetrical granite dome called Mount Starr King.  At that visit, I had never heard that name before.

Thomas Starr King was a Unitarian minister, famous in New England.  He often vacationed in the White Mountains and even published a book about the area.  In 1860 he wrote, “What a pity that the hills could not have kept the names which the Indian tribes gave them.  Webster, Clinton, Pleasant, Franklin, Monroe, Washington, Clay, Jefferson, Adams, Madison.  What a wretched jumble.  These are what we have taken in exchange for such Indian words as Agiocochook, which is the baptismal title of Mount Washington.”  A voice in the wilderness.

Thomas Starr King was credited by Abraham Lincoln with keeping California in the Union as the state had been contemplating leaving to form its own republic.  Hmm…  Might not be a bad idea.  I’m thinking, President Starr King.  Or better, King Starr King.


Lookit.  The mercury in your thermometer will freeze at 40 below.  Trees burst, rocks crack apart and anything that you touch made of metal will burn like a red hot iron.  Any moisture released into the air will instantly turn to snow.

Temperatures like this literally suck the life out of you.  It can drain your energy and it can sap you of your willpower.  You grow listless, lethargic, and as one sufferer was described, “and at last turns drowsy, sits down to refresh himself with sleep, but wakes no more.”

This last quote is from A Library Of Wonders And Curiosities Found In Nature And Art, Science And Literature attributed to John Platts, or possibly I Platt in 1884.

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