October 14, 2004

Cycles and Plans

Today Nathan began his journey back to the South Pole for the season.

My friend Brian, who just recently returned from a trip to the west coast, will once again be spending his winter in the woods, sleeping in a canvas wall tent near Duluth. Ryan has reawakened plans to start his own internet software business. Mr. O’Shay has announced his intent to attend this year’s Yukon Days, much to the delight of campers and counselors everywhere. Other people have scattered to the four winds and I hear little of their goings-on, but I am certain that we are all putting forth our own little plans.

My future has finally crystallized to the point where discussing it makes sense. A few months ago the wanderlust awoke, and I knew that once again I needed a change of scenery. I have entertained numerous possibilities and ideas, and have finally settled on a course of action.

This November I will have lived in Bend for a full year, and in January I will have worked at my current job for a full year. It’s amazing how quickly time has gone, how bones have been broken and healed, how mountains and coasts and rivers have been conquered, how many friendships have been made and strengthened.

In December I will fly back to Minnesota to spend the holidays with my family, who I missed last year while I was working at the mountain. I will also be able to attend Yukon Days, where I will be able to catch up with my friends from camp. In February I will take off to Los Barilles, Baja for a twelve day kiteboarding trip. I will live right on the coast, drink margaritas with friends from Hood River, and kiteboard in lovely turquoise waters.

Come mid-winter (which for Minnesotans means anywhere from January to June) I will pack up my tools and move back to Hood River, to ramp up for another hot season of wind, women and work. I plan to spend the spring and summer working for my windsurfing shop, working as a web programmer/developer/slacker. As a side note, if anyone is looking for some great summer work out west, and loves working hard in the wind and sun, I can recommend a place.

Again, the path goes dark at the end of the summer. That is becoming our traditional way of running things. We do a lot of careful planning to set these gears in motion, but true finesse asks that we willfully surrender control after a certain point. A year ago today I knew hardly anything of Bend, and nothing of a sweet ski nook out that way. Two years ago today I knew little of the Columbia Gorge, beyond the fact that I knew that I needed to live way out there at some point in my life. Three years ago today, windsurfing and snowboarding were both sports where I owned all the gear, but possessed none of the knowledge to be successful at either.

It’s fun to watch as all this stuff coalesces out of nothing. I wish a safe and happy journey to all of you embarking on journeys in pursuit of your personal dreams. It is possible and it can be done, but keep in mind that the scenery changes as you fight for it. You may not get what you bargained for, but if you tilt your head just right you can always make do with what you get.

October 11, 2004

PBRs for Ed

Dane, Jim and Morgan, enjoying Pabst Blue Ribbon at Ed's Flag near the Deschutes River, October 2004

In anticipation of Great and Horrible Things to Come, I resurrected the Audio/Visual section of Brainside Out. There’s nothing new, nothing yet, but if you’ve never seen it before, then it’s new to you.

I did this out of respect for Brian Perez, who contacted me wondering where he could download the Spontaneous Combustion hit You Don’t Know Brian Perez. He wasn’t the actual Brian Perez, of which there is one, who plays tenor sax like a madman, wears classy shirts, and makes the occasional “phert” sound. He was a different Brian Perez entirely, but just as I respect all those who are in the Dane Petersen clan, so I respect all whose names start and end with Brian Perez.

And before you caw and spit at me for my videos not working, please follow the instructions at the bottom of the page. I was way high on snortin’ Pixy Stix when I made that video, and I encoded it in some archaic multimedia moon language that can only be deciphered by the codec equivalent of the Rosetta Stone. Soon enough, you’ll get to see me caw and spit at something else entirely. Like George Zimmer, I guarantee it.

Anyways. Our river trip down the Deschutes was freakin’ sweet. Jody and I shot our fair share of class four rapids in a two-person inflatable kayak, and Jim paddled our Monster Raft as Morgan drank cans of Guinness. Whitehorse was definitely the burliest rapid we hit, a huge and snarling drop that roared around rocks the size of sunken Volkswagen buses.

On Friday night a huge windstorm whipped up and tried to steal our camp out from under us. It managed to pick up Jody’s tent and roll it 50 feet downwind, even though it was weighed down with eighty pounds of gear. The wind ripped out multiple grommets and shredded the tarp we were trying to set up to protect ourselves from the Impending Rainstorm of Doom, and anything that weighed less than twenty pounds was sent pin-wheeling across the ground. I got kicked all over the place as I was cooking up our Italian sausages, which ultimately had the best meat to grit ratio I have ever tasted.

We took Saturday as a layover day, and spent the morning hiking to Ed’s Flag way up on the cliffs. The view was spectacular, and we could just barely make out Broken Top peaking out from the clouds. Instead of hiking all the way down Jim led us on a rock skiing expedition. Following Jim’s leaps and shouts of enthusiasm, we jumped, shuffled and slid down a steep scree field, all the way into the valley.

After a dinner of steak and potatoes, and a good night’s rest, we hit the river again on Sunday. Jody and I were noticeably more comfortable in the kayak this time around, and we started playing with the ol’ girl a little bit, surfing behind rocks, standing up and balancing through rapids, and snoozing through patches of whitewater. For lunch we went ashore near some basalt pinnacles that rose out of the middle of the river, and we scrambled to the top of them and leaped off into the current.

The two tough patches of water that day were Buckskin Mary and Boxcar. Buckskin Mary had a freaky approach, as Jody and I watched a boat go over the rapid and completely disappear from view. As we got closer we saw that it was a huge and glassy drop that dumped into a boiling white hole, so we paddled our fool arms off and shot right through the middle of the sucker.

Then there was Boxcar. We asked Jim, our seasoned guide, if it would be worth our while to get out and scout it like we did White Horse. “Nah, we’re just gonna flip, anyway,” he said. Jim’s assurances were reinforced by another guide, who shouted at us as we passed the last landing before the rapid. He saw our kayak and yelled, “You’re gonna need more boat than that!”

Boxcar is a large drop with a twist to the right. If you don’t line up the twist correctly and end up too far left, you’ll pitch over the rock and end up in a huge hole, which will suck back and keep recycling until you’re a gooey red mess. As we went face to face with the rapid we paddled like crazy, and after getting kicked around in the whitewater we shot out the far side unscathed. We didn’t need a bigger boat, and that guide needs to grow a set. Wuss.

We finally came ashore in Maupin at 5:00 Sunday evening, wet and cold and exhausted. Jody still had enough energy to flip out at the landing’s $3.00 per boat take-out fee, and he asked Jim for a sledgehammer so he could be sure to inflict our six dollars worth of damage to their precious pavement.

All things told, it was a wonderful weekend. We couldn’t have asked for better October weather or more bees at our campsite. Jody confessed that in his life he has been getting angrier every day, so on any given day that you see him, that is his angriest day. Morgan seduced bees into his Nalgene bottle, and dunked them in the cold river so they would hibernate and he could have his way with them. Jim was an excellent river host, supplying beer and whiskey and meat in such great quantities, and he said something about mangos that I will not soon forget.

And me? I decided that the only thing I want in life is 118 acres of land, so I can drive around drunk all I want and never be “humbled” with by anybody.

October 7, 2004


Captured! By Robots: Live at the Grove in Bend, Oregon

I’m freakin’ exhausted, and tomorrow morning I leave for a weekend trip down the Deschutes River. I need to start sleeping again.

Captured! By Robots was most excellent, and was everything you would think a band named Captured! By Robots should be. The Headless Hornsmen were dressed up as Bush, Cheney and Bush, and they played trumpets that stuck out of their chests. GTRBOT played one of those freakin’ cool guitars that are, like, double guitars, only one of the guitars was, like, a bass guitar. Whatever it was, it had FLAMES.

There were also talking apes and blown fuses and leather masks and moshing geeks and exercise videos featuring pregnant women. The evening could have been rivaled only by the earlier evening, where there were bloggers and Swiss chocolate and Donkey Kong and celebrity drunk-dialing.

Jesse’s account of the evening is much more thorough than mine, the quality of which I can only blame on my sheer amount of blood loss.

October 6, 2004

Busy, Busy, Busy

Lots to do this evening. First, at 7:00 we have a Bend Blogger Bash at the Cascade Lakes Brewery. Meet by the pool tables and I’ll challenge you to a FIGHT TO THE DEATH in Donkey Kong. Bring quarters. I’m not payin’ for your whooped ass.

Next, at 10:00 we’ve got Captured! By Robots playing at the Grove. Cover is five grubby dollars. I have no idea what to expect from these guys, only that we tried to recruit them for Geek Prom last year.

October 4, 2004

From New to Old

South Sister, Middle Sister, North Sister and Broken Top, seen from the summit of Mount Bachelor

It’s been a weekend balanced between playing outside and playing video games. I picked up Doom 3 the other day and I’ve made a habit of playing it late at night with all the lights turned off. The game is super dark and scary as hell. You’ll walk through an equipment room when you hear something growling above you, and when you look up a vent cover falls down and a dead body flops out. Suddenly all the lights cut out and freaky-ass imps teleport in on all sides, and the only way you can see them is when they’re lit up by the crackling fireballs that they hurl at your ass.

Doom 3 by far the most detailed game I’ve ever played, and I can’t believe how immersive the world is. I need to work up the nerve to load it up, because the game is so intense it completely consumes me when I play it. Last night I was sneaking around a dark server room with pentagrams burned in the floor and walls oozing with pulsating veins and organs, and when I realized that my roommate was watching over my shoulder I jumped and completely freaked out. Trying to keep the mood light, Shane and I resurrected Total Annihilation (the best strategy game ever created) and playing against each other until 2:00 in the morning.

Now, while video games and other forms of digital sedation are excellent ways to spend the weekend, the weather has been too gorgeous to not get out and take advantage of it. Saturday afternoon I ducked into the Cascades and climbed to the summit of Mount Bachelor. The climb itself isn’t too much of an undertaking; you park at 6,000 feet and follow a trail to the summit at 9,065 feet. The whole thing took me four hours, including a half hour of dilly-dallying on the summit.

It’s not a big deal, but it is. Consider it’s the fall of 2002, and you tell me that on a particular afternoon two years from now, I will look at my watch. You tell me that I will look at my watch, and upon realizing that I still have five hours of daylight left, I will pack some Clif bars and water, and climb a mountain. I probably wouldn’t have doubted you (seeing as how most of my time in college was spent at the edge of delirium and I would have had trouble doubting the possibilities of anything), but I’m certain that I would not have been able to draw the causal connection between then and now. I’m still not certain I can.

It has been a slow change for this Minnesotan come Oregonian, and it is a change that I have only recently realized. I’m growing into these volcanoes, into these old-growths, into this wild, untamed landscape. The emotions are different. I no longer get the absolute drop-jaw awe I used to get every time I rounded a bend in the road. I still find the mountains extremely exciting, but the mere sight of mountains is no longer as satisfying as it used to be. I’ve done all the looking I care to do, and now when I dash into the woods, I do so with purpose.

Each of my excursions has a goal, whether it’s a bike ride along Swede Ridge, a series of bouldering problems near Widgi Creek, or the summit of Mount Bachelor. The excursions have goals, and the goals have names. The familiarity, both with the terrain and with myself, is something that I had never anticipated when I left Minnesota a year and a half ago. At that time, Oregon was nothing but a huge forest slashed with mountains, and that vague notion was good enough for me. It was more than enough to pull me out here, but it wasn’t enough to make me stay. In order to stay I needed to find substance, which, like a lost set of car keys, I can never find when I’m looking for it.

Ultimately, there is only one reason that I’ve been in Oregon as long as I have, and that is because I am not in complete control of this life. For how much I may wax poetic about Minnesota, I have no regrets about moving to Oregon. I have no regrets about staying in Oregon, and I would have no regrets about growing old and planting my body in Oregon.

That being said, exactly one year ago I went through great pains to figure out how to gracefully move back to Minnesota, paving the runway with glowing resumes and a birthday vacation to the motherland. None of these attempts bore any fruit that would have improved on the life I was already living out in Hood River, so they were abandoned. The next plan was to work as a lift operator for a ski resort in Utah, but the cold reception I got from the resorts down there signalled that I was following another red herring.

However, I got a lot of encouragement to come down and interview for a rental technician job at Mount Bachelor. I would have gotten hooked up with this job, too, had I not gotten lost in the woods and given some homeless fellows a ride back into town. I finally ended up at the job fair two hours late, and I waited in line for three hours only to be told that all the positions I was applying for, from rental technician to lift operator to ticket attendant, were already full.

Already full. Beyond full. As in, each department had already had their arms twisted so grotesquely to hire beyond their needs, that it would have been absolutely ridiculous for them to hire me. Heck, it would have made more sense for them to put me on payroll and insist that I never come within a hundred miles of the mountain, than to hire me into an already overstaffed position.

Call it fate or call it dumb luck, but it was only because of these messy events that I got to spend my winter as a snowboard instructor, a job that was beyond my wildest dreams of mountain living. I wouldn’t be fixing bindings, I would be strapping them on. I wouldn’t be grabbing lift chairs all day, I would be riding them. I wouldn’t stand around and scan lift tickets, I would scan my season pass every workday. And all this I did until March, when I broke my leg in the terrain park.

Mount Bachelor is one of many locales that have played a huge role in shaping my west coast existence, and thus I don’t feel like I climbed a mountain yesterday so much as I revisited a period of my life. All this time I had expected the mountains to remain nothing more than pretty things, so to have so much of my soul wrapped up in at least one of them is an unfamiliar feeling. Over the past year, the relationship between the mountains and I has shifted from new to old love.

And old love isn’t as bad as it sounds.