Gone Fishin'


I'm not actively blogging here anymore. But if you got here because you were searching for something about bikes, you might want to check out my latest project, Vermont Goldsprints. In summer of 2014, I bought a used goldsprints racing setup and have made it a mission to get more bikes in more people's faces by putting on fun races in unexpected places. Come join me!


Job Interviews in Missoula, Part II

So I had my second real job interview in Missoula today, to be an associate planner with the county/city. It felt nice to put on a suit again, anyway. I had no idea I'd be interviewing with the entire staff there, but so it was and I rolled with the punches as they went around the table, asking me questions they had listed on a sheet, including one where they rolled out a subdicvision map and asked me to identify any issues I would see witht he particular plan. I think I either did really well with that, or they were simply all really encouraging. I spent about an hour with the group, asking and answering questions, trying to fill them in as much as possible on my work experience, as it seemed that they were all working off my couty-gernerated application form and not my nice shiny resume and cover letter. This probably has something to do with county practices and procedures for fair hiring, but I can't be sure. I have to keep my fingers crossed until sometime next week, when they promised to call me back. My heart skipped a beat when they called later today, only to inform me that as I left I put down my folder with my resumes in it and left it in the lobby! I hope that doesn't reflect on me too badly or at least that I'll have a chance to make myself look a little better when I go back to pick it up tomorrow.


There is a bit of real snow on the ground today and it doesn't look like it will be letting up any time soon. Temperatures have dipped into the teens and twenties after hovering in the thirties all week. With any luck the Snowbowl will be able to open up with top to bottom skiing this week, and the soft snow will make me look even more graceful at the hiring clinic! Posted by Picasa


The Fog Lifts

The fog lifted sometime yesterday morning, giving way to a high ceiling of thick clouds and a little bit of snow. Temperatures are in the mid 30's right now, and are showing just under 30 at the top of the Snowbowl, which opened today, downloading only with a 300 skier limit. I think I'll try to take out a shop pass on wednesday or thursday this week so I canget a few turns in before the instructor hiring clinic on saturday. They haven't been able to make much snow, as they have been up in the sun at 30 degrees with 90% humidity for the last week. They are reporting an inch of new snow at the top, though. Hopefully they can make some rapid progress before Christmas week.


Grand Finale

After a post-dinner walk on the Clark Fork River, pie is served with the ice cream we churned out this morning. Following dessert I picked the turkey clean and boiled the bones down for stock. We stored everything and should have some decent leftovers for quite a while! I would say that our first family Thanksgiving was a success, but we missed our parents and relatives and hope to be able to be back east and home for the holidays the next time around. Posted by Picasa


Our table. We only have two chairs so Ben volunteered to eat his sitting on the ball.  Posted by Picasa

The dinner spread, probably about enough food for eight. We didn't even put a dent in this but all the baking dishes come with covers and there's plenty of room in the fridge.  Posted by Picasa

The star of the show emerges.  Posted by Picasa

What to do with all the egg whites left over from making the ice cream mix? Egg white and spinach omelette with a little goat cheese. Posted by Picasa
The star of the show has come out of the brine, been stuffed with spices and our last apple from Boyer's Orchard in Monkton. It went in the oven at 500 for the first 30 minutes, and this is what it looked like after that. Now it goes back in for a slower roast. Posted by Picasa

The ice cream rig for the stand mixer does a good job of freezing up the mix in about 20 minutes.  Posted by Picasa

The ice cream mix is cooked before chilling overnight for freezing tomorrow morning.  Posted by Picasa

Giblets, onions, and parsley with a little black pepper get cooked down as a add-in for the stuffing.  Posted by Picasa

Out of round pie pans, the massive apple pie ends up in the square pyrex dish. It's a little big, but I don't think anyone will mind.  Posted by Picasa

The turkey has begun its overnight soak in the brine mixture. The temp outside on the porch is 26, so I don't think it will freeze tonight but I also think it will stay plenty cold.  Posted by Picasa

Pie #2, the classic pumpkin, per recipe on the can. This and the pie below it use a premade crust. I can't believe none of this filling spilled out upon expanding in the oven or just from my jostling it putting it in.  Posted by Picasa

This was the first pie to come out- it looked pretty good but did collapse a little bit upon cooling.  Posted by Picasa

The cranberry sauce started out this morning with fresh berries, sugar, and orange rind. It has been cooking down in the crock pot all day.  Posted by Picasa


Operation: Thanksgiving

Believe it or not, you are looking at the smallest turkey available for purchase at Costco, where Ben and I went shopping today. It's a mere 17-pounder. The three of us should have no problem polishing that off, right? Thank goodness for ziplock bags and a near-empty freezer. The problem is there's no way this thing is going to thaw in the fridge in time for T-Day, and what you are looking at is the solution- thawing the turkey in water, which is cold and continuosly flowing from the shower sprayer into the cooler. This provides for a rate of exchange in excess of the full change of water required every 30 minutes by the FDA or whoever makes the rules about these things, to be on the safe side. After this treatment, the turkey will get some fridge time followed by a 6-8 hour soak in a brine made following Alton Brown's turkey recipe from FoodNetwork. Until then, we are stuck with something in the shower that looks like it's straight out of E.T. Posted by Picasa



Nasty frozen fog outside again today, as shown in the picture below. My thermometer shows 31 degrees outside. The biggest problem is this means it's probably 35 in the sun up at the Snowbowl and their snowmaking won't work in those conditions. I heard from the ski school director yesterday through my boss at REI that they'll be lucky to have the T-bar open for the first weekend. Judging by the intensity of the sun up there, they'll be lucky to do that unless the wether changes.

Today's Fog Posted by Picasa


Out of the Soup

I got out of work at 2:30 today and took off for the Ravine Trail to try to hike up above the fog, which at this point looks like it will be staying in Missoula through the Thanksgiving holiday. I was up and out of the fog within a quarter mile and made the five mile round trip an about an hour and 45 minutes. I paused to take a few pictures and have posted them below. It was nice to get up into the sun and some of the balsam firs smelled so sweet that I kept thinking I smelled maple sap boiling. The sun was just so intense, and it must have cooked the trees all day. At any rate, sorry about the poor picture quality, but my only digital camera option at the moment is my video camera. Better than nothing.

Turnaround Point (my hat, too- nothing but bright sun up here) Posted by Picasa

Trees Marching  Posted by Picasa

View of Montana Snowbowl from Ravine Trail  Posted by Picasa

Late Afternoon Sun over Fog in Grant Creek Area Posted by Picasa

Glazed Trees (getting just above the fog now)  Posted by Picasa

Trees in the Ice Fog Posted by Picasa

Rants, I: The Apartment Complex is the New Trailer Park

Actually, our apartment complex has a trailer park on two sides, but I digress. The place Kate and I live consists of about 10 or so buildings, each with maybe 30 apartments, stacked 10 across and three high. We live on the second floor. The apartments themselves bear quite a bit of resemblance to most trailer homes I've seen, from the bland carpet to the prefab walls, doors and fixtures to the shotgun shape. Lately, I've begun to feel that where we live is a lot more like the trailer park next door, except that the trailers here are stacked on top of one another, which makes for closer quarters and even greater conflict than your average mobile home enclave on a saturday night. Allow me to begin with my downstairs neighbors. Recent transplants from Tennesee, Mr. and Mrs. Downstairs and (we think there are at least three, that we can count) kids have crammed themselves into the apartment below us. The Mrs. spends a good bit of time smoking on the deck below ours. When she does this, the smoke wafts up into our place if the slider is open. We like the fresh air and the access to our deck, but these are not ours to have if she's out having one of what has accumulated into an impressive pile of butts in a coffee can right under our deck. Mr. Downstairs occupies himself with running his massive diesel truck outside our window for hours on end, presumably to keep the engine warm on those cold, sunny 60 degree days. The constant drone and oily stench are just delightful. The Downstairs kids consist of a charming little girl (no sarcasm, really) who likes to ride her bike around in her free time, a far surlier older sister whose hobbies include making out with her far-older boyfriend in our shared stairwell, and pretending not to notice that we are there when we sneak by to get home, and a middle child who likes to hang off our deck with his friends and sneak glances into our apartment from his precarious vantage point. Older Daughter and Son also enjoy hanging out in front of our stairwell and giggling to each other while making snide comments at Kate and I under their breath when we come back from our runs. The comments seem to have something to do how uncool we look in our running togs, which are noticeably not available for purchase at the nearest Abercrombie and Fitch. The Downstairs family's primary evening diversion involves listening to loud, bass heavy music into the night in the larger of their two bedrooms. Kate and I actually had staked out the corresponding bedroom in our own abode when we first moved in, but we quickly relocated to the front bedroom when we discovered that we would not be able to get to sleep directly over the thumping soundtrack of the latests Hollywood blockbuster or plastic rap star. At any rate, we learned to shut our sliding glass door and sleep in our other bedroom, and things had been all right, minus the occasional baleful glance from one of the Downstairs kids as they whiled away their afternoons in the nourishing environment that is the parking lot, their young minds no doubt stimulated to great levels of inquiry and enlightenment by the asphalt expanse that lay before them. In fact, one day they were so stimulated that one of them drew a fairly accurate representation of male genitalia in the frost on the windshield of my car. Charming. Kate and I were getting along fine, and had pretty much written all this stuff off as a natural consequence of living in close quarters with so many people. It's just never going to be like living in your own house, and we can understand that. We remained tolerant, if annoyed. But tonight, that has all changed. At 11:30 PM I recieved a call that we were the subject of a noise complaint involving "stomping around" in our apartment and that this "had been going on for some time." I called the apartment manager back to plead my case, incredulous as I was that our activities that evening had disturbed anyone. Here is a list of the aforementioned activities: Matt: Sitting on the couch and reading King Lear. Kate: Earning a few bucks editing a paper for a Phd. candidate at USC. Ben: Typing up a homework assignment. Clearly, we will all have to be much more careful about offending the delicate ears of the Downstairs Family, which have probably been overly sensitized by all the straining they do to hear the stereo in their bedroom. As far as I am concerned, I don't want to start a war, but I see no reason to put up with any further asnnoyance from downstairs either. Hmm- I wonder if they said they had a smoker in the household when they applied for this lease, if they took out the extra insurance required by that, if they really told the complex manager how many people would be living there, if their three and sometimes four cars are just a few more many (an always parked in the most convenient spaces for access to my apartment) than the two they are alotted in their lease?


Ice Fog

Wish I had a picture to go with this post, but look at a white computer screen and you have a pretty good idea of what it has looked like in Missoula for the last two days. It's inversion season here again, and a massive body of high-pressure air has trapped some cold foggy air in the valley, with no signs of anything moving for the next couple of days. People who have been hiking up around Pattee Canyon and up Grant Creek road have reported that the fog is only about 1000 feet deep and that you can get up over it pretty easily- I haven't had the time. It has also been about 25 degrees here at night. The fog is so thick that it freezes on to everything, including my front steps, which just about threw me this morning as I rushed off to work. The roads have been OK, but the fog is so dense that driving Reserve Street (the Missoula Strip) at night reveals no lit up store fronts- they are there, but the fog is thick enough that you cannot see past the first few rows of the parking lots from the street. The grass and trees are all coated with a layer of gritty ice. I hope to get out for a run early tomorrow morning that will take us up above all this soup.


Two Under Par...

Well, today Kate and I went out for our afternoon run on the Kim Williams trail, a former railroad bed that runs out of Missoula along the Clark Fork River and on our way back we saw our first bald eagle. It was perched in a tree, easily looked bigger than a housecat, and coasted down to the river when we got too close, feathered talons outstretched. We were able to watch it for a few minutes as it perched on a rock taking periodic drinks from the river. Eventually, it took off and headed up the river. Beautiful, and maybe a good omen?

Recipes: Part I Katie's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" Sauce

Our friend Katie came up with this, and we just finished up the last batch we made last night. Two each red, orange, and yellow peppers (green peppers also if you want), chopped One big onion, chopped One big handful fresh basil, chopped One big knob of ginger (about the size of a snickers bar), peeled and grated finely Splash olive oil One mediun size can crushed tomatoes Hot sauce or chili sauce to taste Start the ginger, basil, olive oil and onion in a big wok or skillet over medium heat. Saute for a bit then add all the peppers. When the peppers get a little soft, add the tomatoes and continue cooking. You can scrape all the stuff to the sides of the pan and let the liquids accumulate in the middle, boiling them down into a nice reduction. Stir everything back together- you should have something between a thick chunk sauce and a stir fry. Season to taste with the hot sauce- it will already taste a little bit peppery from all the ginger. This goes great over jasmine rice and a little chicken or tofu. It's kind of a sweet and sour thing. I'm fairly confident you could add a can of cocunut milk, a little lime, and some cilantro for a serious thai curry sauce as well. Enjoy!

On Poetry: Part II

Following my graduation from college, I made all sorts of attempts to keep writing and to stay inspired. I wrote every night for most of the summer. I formulated a plan for how I would write a long masterwork. I still have the plan, but very little ever got written. Later, I tried to start an online poetry journal. I accepted poems only by mail, and all I got was junk. Incredible junk from really crazy people. I tried to start up a collaborative project with some colleagues from Saint Lawrence, and I even got a few poems back. I treasure those, but I never got enogh to finish the project, so it too sits in my bag unfinished. What I really missed was the coffee house - literary journal- conference- full- immersion experience that college had been. That was so inspiring, and I think I've been struggling to replace it in my life ever since. Kate and I certainly fill each other up intellectually to some extent, and when we get to hang out with our friend Katie, it is even better. Of course, during my year in law school, I didn't read much poetry, and I didn't write any. There just wasn't time, and I feared that there never would be time again if I did not change course. Here I am, course changed. To me, maintaining this blog even in the face of so much economic and career uncertainty is a small victory in the war to keep writing. I have found it easier than keeping a paper journal, so even though I like paper and I have plenty of blank books with maybe only a page or ten filled up, the blog is it for now. I think at some point, I should be able to compile all of this and do something with it, some editing, revising, organizing- make it into something. I'm still a little light on the actual poetry, though. I'm going to try to winnow out a few old things to post in the next couple of days, then move on to new stuff. It is tough to get inspired, though, to listen to the music and read the books and have the conversations that great poetry has always come out of- to select those things carefully. I have no place saying this, since I write so little, but there is so much junk out there. Angsty, trite, over-intellectual posings- the Internet harbors a lot of this, but some of this stuff makes it into print, too. Even reading through Poets and Writers reveals so many conferences and retreats that are held for self-serving reasons- to make money, to make writers feel good about themselves- I'm not sure. I just know that a great deal of the current poetry I've been reading is not the kind of poetry I'd like to write.


Weekend Update

We've had a nice couple of hikes in the last few days- we are still periodically going up the Ravine Trail that is just around the corner from us, although recent snow has rendered the trail surface a little icy and makes the descent slow going. On Friday, we headed out to Lolo and planned on poking around the trailhead for Lolo Peak. It turns out that the trailhead is over eight miles up a one-lane dirt road off Route 12 in Lolo, and that the dirt road was also pretty icy. Despite four wheel drive and studded snow tires, I shuddered at the possibility of going off the road (no guardrails or boulders) on the way back down. Instead, we hiked about four miles of the access road, then turned around and went back. We were passed by a few cars on the way up. First, there was a smoke-belching diesel dump-body pickup with a couple of high school aged guys in it. Later, a Jeep like our own from Michigan with a load of UMT students, and finally, a man and his son or grandson who were headed up to go hunting. They stopped to chat and the old man warned us that we were "really taking our chances" by hiking during hunting season with only blaze orange hats on. I'd rather not debate the safety level a blaze orange hat carries, but I am a little intrigued by the hunting debate. We seem to hear from hunters every year that the sport is safe, everybody has to go through a hunter's safety course, good hunters triple-check their target (including whether or not it is human) etc. Yet, these same folks are pretty sure we'll get shot for "looking like a deer" if we aren't decked out in neon orange from head to toe during hunting season. Hmm. We also took in a bunch of films over the weekend, first, the Warren Miller film for the year, Higher Ground, and then, about ten different outdoor films at the Banff Film Festival show in Missoula. Higher Ground was decent, but theis is the first film where Miller's voice as narrator was almost entirely missing, and it left a big hole. The skiing scenes were all pretty good, but it seemed like the film had more product plugs, fewer locations, and a lower budget overall. I do know this is the first year they shot in HD, so maybe a lot of money was spent there that normally goes for plane tickets around the world. The various films at the Banff show were picked from the winners at the festival and ranged from a film about two aged french brothers eking out an existence at their near-abandoned family farm to kayaking in Scotland, skydiving in Farance and mountain biking in British Columbia. I enjoyed a satire film by Carol Black about the "Lost People of Mountain Village," which poked fun at an ostentatious preplanned mountain community in Telluride, Colorado. I'm not one of those who resents wealthy people for their wealth but I am always up for making fun of people who use their wealth to build ugly faux-swiss houses with cowboy boot chandeliers in the middle of the Colorado mountains. A final note to the people of Missoula, who sat all around me at the theaters and watched these fine films with me. Bathe. Please. Two dirtbag guys sitting next to us at Higher Ground not only talked through the whole movie in this sort of twangy California surfer drawl, but also stunk to high heaven of body odor and unwashed funk. Then, at the Banff films, the guys behind us stunk similarly but added to this with periodic burping and flatulance. I had to sit uncomfortably forward in my seat to get away from the smell. Being dirty is not a political statement. Kate and I both felt we needed showers and antibiotics after attending the films.


Cape Cod Part II: Initial Impressions

I spent my first year on Cape Cod working for AmeriCorps. That meant I spent my first year with no money, living in a communal house with my boss and co-workers. I intend to write another series on my working life, so I don't really wish to go into the working situtaion here. Rather, I'd like to list some first impreessions from that first year: 1. Traffic is a nightmare. I can't drive anywhere without being cut off, flipped off, etc. My first drive down the length of Route Six scared the hell out of me, what with the 65+ MPH bumper-to- bumper and door-to-door traffic. I was sure I was going to hit somebody or get hit. 2. Houses everywhere. There is so little open space, and there is nowhere to just pull your car over and park for a walk. No trespassing signs abound, even ones that have been illegally posted across public ways. Many people have "no turnaround" signs in their driveways. The message is fairly clear: "if you don't own a house here, get the hell out." 3. Getting lost is easy. Part of Route 28 South actually runs due north. A lane choice you make a quarter of a mile away from a traffic light may dictate that you make a left turn at the intersection you didn't know you were going to have to make. I get lost in Hyannis the first four times I go there. It is even more confusing in the dark. There is no horizon, there are no hills or mountains or consistently visible landmarks to navigate by. 4. Everything feels "close." Until you get to the water and look out over the endless ocean, you are walled in by trees and houses. You don't see where you are going until you get there. 5. The sand on the beaches is different depending on what beach you are on, but most of it feels coarser than the sand in Maine, and it gives more when you walk on it. I didn't like the Cape much when I first got there. For one thing, by moving, I had put Boston with all of its traffic firmly between myself and any ski area. I had put a solid five hour drive between myself and my home town in Vermont. It doesn't snow much on the Cape in the winter, and what does fall seems to turn to brown slush within hours. It seemed like doing anything at all was expensive. Of course, when you are living on 90 bucks a week, everything feels expensive no matter where you are.


On Poetry: Part I

I have realized that although I want to chronicle a lot of things in this blog that have to do with my ongoing situation in Missoula, there is a lot of background to fill in as well. Hence, my recent post about arriving on Cape Cod more than six years ago. Cape Cod is one of the stories, poetry is another, and before I brave actually posting any of my own work, I would like to tell the story of my relationship with poetry and why it is important. I suppose I came by my interest in poetry honestly enough. I enjoyed reading it, mostly Frost and Robert Service, maybe a few others. My dad taught literature at a local high school when I was younger, so there was a certain degree of exposure in terms of the books that were shelved around the house and the stuff in his classroom and office, where I spent some time as a kid, when there was no sitter available or when it was more convenient than finding one. The first poem I remember writing had to do with walking on a frozen pond at night in winter and then lying down in silence to listen to it pop and creak as it froze harder in the cold night. I think I was in seventh grade. After that, there were bad love poems, bad depression poems, self conscious poems about writing, and a few blissful days at the New England Young Writers' Conference at the Breadloaf Campus of Middlebury College. Those conferences convinced me that while I wasn't half of the poet most of the attendees were, I might be decent someday. For me, being surrounded by writers, or really any kind of creative people, is an incredible high. When I began my freshman year at Saint Lawrence University, I took an introduction to poetry writing course taught by Albert Glover. I enjoyed the class, probably didn't produce much worth keeping (and knew it, even at the time), but became comfortable with the idea of writing despite that knowlege. Probably this is why blogging makes sense to me. I had the opportunity to take a few other classes with Glover, to attend a few conferences with him, and to get to know him a bit. However, I was an Environmental Studies major and literature and poetry were too easy to justify my full attention in college. At least, that is what I thought at the time and what I now would pinpoint as the beginning of my turn toward law school so many years later. I wrote some decent poetry, got interested in prose poetry, got interested in W.S. Merwin's prose poetry, and then graduated. I struggled to write after college and into the present, but that is a story for another time. Right now, what I am trying to work out is why I stopped writing (eventually) after college, what distractions I allowed to overwhelm me, what strategies I tried to employ to keep writing and why they failed me, and how in an increasingly complex life situation, I might begin to write in a meaningful way. Further, I wish to try to understand the current state of poetry in America and how I might fit into it. Of course, all this is done with my firm understanding that I really ought to just start writing poetry if that's what I want, and not worry about the rest.


Some Naive Observations on Lolo Peak Development

If anybody was wondering what the entire Missoula economic and environmental situation vis a vis the development of Lolo Peak would look like to a newcomer, they are in the right place. Some background is in order: Not far from Missoula and in fact in sight of the city lies Lolo Peak. There is some private land at the base and lower elevations of the area, and above that is land, all the way to the summit, that is managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS). Over the years, the USFS has considered the feasibility of constructing a ski area on and around Lolo Peak, but has always decided against it. In part, this has had to do with a need for snowmaking at lower elevations (and no water rights with which to do so) and a lack of land at the base of the mountain for lodges, parking, etc. Now, along comes a major private landowner who owns the lower elevations of the peak, (in fact, he's already cleared some trails on the land he owns) and has the water rights and flat land that the Forest Service has always been looking for. He proposes a development project on both his and federal land that would result in the construction of a destination ski area with over a mile of vertical drop, tons of real estate, hotels, base lodge, plenty of water to make snow down in the valley, the works. A match made in heaven? Hardly. The current USFS plan for the area (under review right now) specifically excludes ski area development. Here's what the ski area (Bitterroot Resort) proponents have to say, and here's what the "Save Lolo Peak" folks have to say. Look at these sites, read a few editorials in the Missoulian, and you will be about at my level of knowlege of the situation. So, what does a newcomer to Montana and Missoula, a skier and environmentalist, think of all this? As a skier and somebody who has had some trouble finding work in Missoula, I think there are some benefits to having a major resort in town. I reserve the right to change my mind about this at any time. Here's what I see as the major benefits of a destination ski resort so close to Missoula: 1. Jobs. Not just initial jobs, but the jobs this will create for the area after the thing is built. Sure, many of them are low paying. Guess what? Many jobs in Missoula are low paying. Many jobs on Cape Cod were low paying, too. But in my experience, when there are more low paying jobs than there are people willing to take them, those jobs have to pay more to attract decent employees. Barring a population growth rate that matches the increase of jobs created by a resort of this size, employers all over Missoula would have to compete with each other to offer better wages. 2. Unique opportunity. How many places in the country can you step out of a major airport terminal and be slopeside a half hour later? I think Bitterroot could be not just a destination resort, but a hassle-free one at that. 3. A chance to propel Missoula forward. Missoula is a great town, I love it here, and not being from here I suppose I have no right to make the following observation: There is a significant backward force in this place. I see sprawl that has resulted not from evil developers, but from indecision and regressive planning. I see traffic problems caused by the same. By being afraid to be too big or too innovative, Missoula is getting stuck in a quagmire. Bad air, bad traffic, bad development. I'd like to see a commuter rail line running from Bitterroot into downtown and out to the airport. Cripe, the tracks are already there for the most part! No need to build a giant "alpine village" at the base of the resort when you can take a train 5 minutes right into downtown. Right now, there's no good reason to visit Missoula for a ski vacation, and that could change. Tourism, managed properly, does not have to come with traffic, disposable development, and seasonal feast/famine cycles. 4. Finally, I think a major ski resort would complement the existing ski area in Missoula, The Montana Snowbowl. The Snowbowl is a more expert-oriented area that could be a tipping point for a lot of families deciding to plan their vacation in Missoula instead of some other western resort area. I could even foresee a relationship similar to that between Sugarbush and Mad River, areas in Vermont that share a geographic area and, I would argue, have a synergystic affect on the economy in that region. That's all I have for now, excepting an overwhelming sense that Missoula is on the threshold of something great, that is has unique resources found nowhere else in the region, and that if actions are not taken to maximize these resources, there will only be more sprawl, retail ugliness, and unemployment.

Cape Cod Part I: Arrival

I first came to Cape Cod in the early fall of 1999. I had just graduated from college that spring and had worked the summer for a landscaper despite my father's post-graduation advice that "the concrete factory is hiring." They were hiring, and I made it all the way into the lobby before turning around and finding the first landscaper in the want ads who was looking for help. After a summer of digging holes, however, fall was fast approaching and living at home was wearing thin. I applied to an AmeriCorps program on the Cape because it sounded like a good environmentalist thing to do and because the Cape sounded nice. I had never been there. To me, Cape Cod was the nice place my parents went to every spring while my sister and I stayed with my dad's parents in New Hampshire and reveled in the guilty pleasures of cable TV and fried food at various restaurants up and down the New Hampshire and Maine coasts, which my grandfather liked because "you get a lot." I was pretty sure I would get to the Cape, buy myself an old cruiser bike, straw hat, and a pair of flip flops and go native. I was wrong. In the ten years prior to my arrival, the population of the Cape had increased by 40%. In the years since, property values have doubled. Such a climate is fairly hostile to those who wish to live a floppy-hatted flip-flopped existence, unless you would like to do so in the back yard of a McMansion, living/kitchen/dining/bed room of a cut rate studio apartment in Hyannis, or the same room in an unheated cottage in January. My recollections of arriving on the Cape are foggy. I had never driven through Boston before, so I was a little bit shell-shocked for the rest of the trip. I'd never been on a road like Route 3, where the speed limit was 55 but everybody went 70 and up. Route 6 was more of the same, but narrower. We left the highway at Exit 7 and took Willow Street south to Camp Street. At the intersection of Camp Street and Route 28, I made my first and last left turn at that location. Route 28 was madness. People yelled. People cut in from side roads when there was no room to do so. There was no water, no sand dune or even seagull in sight. The hotels along the road were garish, with tall picture windows showing off forlorn painted concrete pool areas within. The tourist trap souvenir shops were carpeted in sun-faded infatable toys from the asphalt to the eaves. We passed several package stores as well, windows papered with prices for cut- rate booze. We arrived at our hotel to find that the sheets had not been changed in our room, and promptly lerft for another hotel down the street. I relaxed for the evening in the obligatory concrete pool area. my summer tan already fading to pallor under the greenish fourescent lights. Tomorrow I would travel back west from the middle of the Cape to Bourne.


Random Bison Photo

Not my photo, but probably what bison would have looked like if we saw them on the range. It has snowed a bit up in the hills around town in the last few days. No snow in the valley yet. Kate and I got on our bikes yeaterday and rode all over town, followed the bike lanes and paths into town along the Clark Fork River and then further out of town along the Kim Williams Trail, which eventually hooks up with Pattee Canyon. Posted by Picasa