June 25, 2006

Walkabout Time

Ok. Enough said for now. Time to get out of Dodge. In two days I take leave of things urban and studious and head out into the tame forests of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). There in God's creation I will walk north from Crater Lake until I decide to walk no more. The plan is to wander about for 200 miles or so. This will take me around 20-30 days. I will need to stop about every eight days or so to resupply along the route. But as with all things that place great demands upon the physical, the emotional and the spiritual---we will see. If I can beat my record of 14 days alone in the wild I will be content.

It is impossible to carry more than 14 days worth of supplies---and that is only with an expedition backpack such as the Gregory Denali Pro. Here is a test: Imagine putting on the floor every bit of food you will consume over the next 14 days. The amount will shock you. Now imagine trying to stuff all of that into a pack. Clearly impossible. So what to do? For a long-distance solo hike you must plan with excruciating care. All food must be light and dry---no liquid at all, not even a flask of whiskey, alas.

You really have two choices: Either buy the absurdly over-priced 'backpacking cuisine' you find at outdoor stores---this works out to around 12 dollars a day just for food---or you can simply stock up on Ramen noodles, mac and cheese, oatmeal, coffee and pre-cooked rice and fettuccini. Cost per day for this last method: a mere 2 bucks. And it is this type of food that will be available along the way at the three or so fishing lodges I pass on the trail. These will also have gasoline for my MSR stove.

The pack I will use is the Mountainsmith Specter. It is far less robust than the Gregory but much lighter and probably more suited to the PCT. My tent is the super light Mountain Hardwear Approach, a lean 5 pounds with groundsheet. Here is a review of it I wrote after my return from Peru 1000 years ago.

I took this tent on several solo expeditions in Peru---12 days to the ruins of Choquequirao and 14 days to the Chachapoyan region of Gran Vilaya---and in Lauca National Park in Chile. It is a fine tent, lightweight and very strong. I camped below a 14,000 foot pass in the Andes, and when I awoke the fly was covered in ice. No problem, though. It sets up fast and tight as a drum. I always used a footprint.

More gear stuff: My boots are Lowa Tibet GTX, my sleeping bag is the Marmot Pinnacle. The rest of the gear is standard stuff: two t-shirts, one long-sleeved shirt, a fleece warm-up, Gore-Tex coat and pants, two pairs of pants, three pairs of socks. And of course a black fedora. One must backpack in style. Always. 

I have been abusing my body by this sort of thing for two decades in climes wild, weird and sublime. A desire to spend time out in the wilds starts out simple enough. A piece of real estate is chosen---which has mostly been somewhere in Central or South America. Information is gathered and, depending upon the place---lots on info out there on the PCT, scant available for the Rio Abiseo---plans are made ready. I travel to the beginning of my chosen hike and---walk. I have seldom been on a trail, expeditions in Latin America being mainly along ridge lines, beside rivers or following old trade routes. Sometimes, as in the Darien Gap or the Petén of Guatemala, there are too many trails leading out from every village. One must spend much time chasing down the most obvious ones.

And I always get lost. Always. Without fail. I have no sense of direction---although on long walks it does in fact improve. I use a compass not a GPS. A compass will not fail, and a GPS is almost useless with out a good topo map. But the PCT is better marked than any trail I have been on. There are signs, markers and blazes along its entire 2650 mile course. If you get lost there you are a fool---a condition well-known to me.

But neither compass nor gear nor markers can guarantee success; no, not even strength of will can do this. Success depends on a variety of factors, some of which are out of my control. If I break my leg the walk is done. If my appendix ruptures the walk is done. About everything else can be dealt with on the trail.

Ok. Enough. That will be it for some time, say around the end of July. Click on the photo.

 Bye.

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June 24, 2006

Democrat Talking Points

All private sins will eventually become public sins. This is in the nature of corruption both physical and spiritual. 

And in the nature of political corruption as well. A secret longing for defeat, a secret desire to slander, a secret hatred for country, a secret loathing of all things bright and beautiful will sooner or later come to the surface. Rot and debasement cannot help themselves, they must yelp from rooftops their innermost corruption. Like Milton's devil spewing hatred with his last breath. Like a solitary abuser who graduates from masturbation to pornography to rape and ends with murder. Like an alcoholic who keeps the flask handy and eventually loses job, family and money and ends up sitting in his own vomit in some gutter.

At last Murtha has revealed himself for what he is and what he has been for a generation. The creature simply could not hide his true feelings of the nation that gave him power and respect.

American presence in Iraq is more dangerous to world peace than nuclear threats from North Korea or Iran, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said to an audience of more than 200 in North Miami Saturday afternoon.

So there it is. America is more dangerous to peace than Chinese imperialism, Latin American narco-terror, Islamic fascism, Russian revanchism, Venezuelan instability, Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons. Murtha agrees wholeheartedly with Chavez, with Castro, with Kim Jong Il, with Osama, with Ahmedinejad. This outstanding Democrat patriot agrees with every America-hating goon and Islamic throat-slitter skulking through every alley and sewer on the planet.

We can expect him to follow in the cleft-feet of Carter and Clinton and Kerry and Durban---Democrats all---who jump at every well-paid overseas opportunity to slander their nation in front of cheering throngs of America haters. 

(This flotsam is as Ann Coulter described in her books Slander and Treason. It is no wonder that Democrats hate Coulter. She knows them and reveals them.)

Murtha has given aid and comfort to the enemies of his nation. He follows the wayward path of the New York Times who just revealed information our country had used to catch a group of Islamic killers. One soldier has spoken about such treachery. His words could have been written about Murtha as well.

Terrorists the world over can now change their practices because of your article. For some reason I think that last sentence will bring you guys pleasure. You have done something great in your own eyes-you think you have hurt the current administration while at the same time encouraging "freedom fighters" resisting the imperialism of the United States...I wish I had a subscription to your paper so I could cancel it as soon as possible. But alas, that would prove a little tough right now since I am in Iraq dealing with terrorists financed by the very men you are helping...Thank you for continually contributing to the deaths of my fellow soldiers.

Yes, John Murtha. Thank you for continually contriubuting to the deaths of American soldiers.

A pity this creature and all his acolytes could not be led to inhabit the chair of the Rosenbergs. The way Murtha is heading he just might meet them someday.

(Update: From Sweetness and Light: "Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled or hanged." — Abraham Lincoln)

How about arrested, exiled then hanged?

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June 23, 2006

They Are Coming To Take You Away, Hah Hah

One moment a nut case in North Korea is Hell-bent on launching a missile across Japan toward the US. The next he is demanding negotiations with the US. What gives?

This gives. Click on it.

fleet.jpg (1118518 bytes)

This is part of our fleet in the Pacific. Now you know where your tax dollars go. Here is Air Force Link talking about this 'Exercise Valiant Shield.'

A B-2 Spirit and 16 other aircraft from the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fly over the USS Kitty Hawk, USS Ronald Reagan and USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike groups in the western Pacific Ocean on Sunday, June 18, to kick off Exercise Valiant Shield 2006. The joint exercise consists of 28 naval vessels, more than 300 aircraft and approximately 20,000 service members.

The date is June 18. Right after crazy Kim said a launch was imminent. Gosh, I wonder what changed his mind?

And then we have this:

Senior Bush administration officials said publicly for the first time yesterday that the United States is set to shoot down any North Korean missile launch that threatens the United States.

Fear is a powerful motivator.

North Korea took note. Japan took note. China took note. The world took note.

Alas, part of me wanted Kim to 'just do it.' Then we could see all that cool stuff in the photo get some real-time practice. Come on, Kim. Make my day.

I guess the punk didn't feel lucky.

Quite a change from the Clinton years, yes? Here are Clinton's Secretary of State Madeline Albright and freaky-haired despot Kim Jong Il having a few drinks. Party on, dudes!

One more thing: Everyone assumes that North Korea has nuclear weapons. But there is something odd here: She has yet to test anything of the sort. And even if there were nukes secreted somewhere in that dreary nation, putting them on top of the Taepodong II missile would require quite a feat of techno wizardry. Save for a few sectors, the North Korean economy is on a par with that of Ancient Egypt.

Does this pot-bellied little emperor have no clothes? (Not that I have any Andrew Sullivan-type desire to see the fellow naked.)

As we say in Oklahoma: 'All hat. No cattle.'

And here is the guy Kim challenged to a street fight. 

Lots of hat. Lots of cattle.

(Hat tip: Varifrank)

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June 22, 2006

Terminate With Extreme Prejudice

The Persians have a phrase, shah-mat, 'the king is dead'. 

To win in chess you kill the king: check-mate. To win in war you kill the king: check-mate. If you cannot or will not kill him then two options appear: surrender, or negotiation---a draw in other words. Outside the Democrat Party surrender is anathema to Americans. A draw means that in the future you must return to that very same battle field and fight again. A waste of men. Of treasure. Of time. Of blood. Of will.

To wage war on the cheap is lose it. Ask the Vietnamese---those who survived our 'negotiation.' Ask the Kurds---those who survived Saddam's depredations.

Another way to say shah-mat is this: Victory. To invade nations and kill rulers, as a blonde, skinny non-Dixie chick said.

We did not march to Berlin in 1918. Result: Hitler twenty years later, another war and 60 million dead. We did not invade Cuba in 1959 and destroy the Castro regime. Result: Forty years of destabilization, murder and mayhem in Latin America that continues to this day.We did not march to Baghdad in 1991. Result: Saddam still in his palaces, another war and 500,000 dead between conflicts. We did not destroy the Chinese army during the Korean War. Result: A divided peninsula, a monster left in power and a continuing war in Korea.

And some have yet to learn the lesson. Two Clinton university graduates have some recommendations for the ongoing war with the weird-haired midget-monster who rules North Korea. Their advice? If the North Koreans insist upon launching the Taepodong missile, 

the United States should immediately make clear its intention to strike and destroy [it] before it can be launched.

And we must of course insure that

[t]here would be no damage to North Korea outside the immediate vicinity of the missile gantry.

There simply is no teaching some people, especially if they are professors at Harvard and Stanford. And what, pray tell, would Kim Jong Il do after we had destroyed his missiles? Would we really expect him to just sit there and take it? But the Clintonistas have it all figured out.

North Korea could respond to U.S. resolve by taking the drastic step of threatening all-out war on the Korean Peninsula. But it is unlikely to act on that threat... An invasion of South Korea would bring about the certain end of Kim Jong Il's regime within a few bloody weeks of war, as surely he knows. 

He does? How do we know that? These Clinton acolytes believe that Mad Hatter Kim is a rational actor upon the world stage. That once we demolish his missile systems he will begin to act responsibly.

There is no possibility of this. For when the entire world is aware of the smoking rubble of Kim's missile bases he will have two choices: Respond or be killed by his own people. This is the nature of dictatorship and has been since the days of the Assyrian Empire. To strike at a North Korean missile is to declare de facto war upon that nation. And she will respond, no matter what those two professors believe, no matter that it might lead to an all-out war with the US and the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

If we strike only at his missiles, Kim will in fact believe that we are afraid of a real war, that we are trying to win on the cheap. This is what Ho Chi Minh learned from our 'graduated response' in Vietnam. This is what Castro learned from our embargo. This is what Saddam learned when we stopped hundreds of miles from his capital. This is what Osama learned from Somalia and the Clinton 'cruise missile up a camel's butt' response in Afghanistan. This is the Clinton way to wage war. It will not work because it cannot work. At the very least it pushes the problem down the road---a typical Clinton thing to do.

Vietnam was waged thus. The first Korean War was waged thus. We lost both. Had we blasted the North Vietnamese regime to pieces in 1965 that war would be remembered as a defining victory for American arms instead of the shabby retreat that it was. Had we demolished the Chinese army in 1951 as MacArthur advised there would be today no Asian missiles pointed at our children.

The only way to wage war is to wage war. To cry havoc and unleash Hell. To invade nations and kill leaders. To do less is to practice nothing but onanism on a world scale---yet another Clintonian tradition.

If we strike at Kim's missiles we must strike at Kim.  And keep at it and keep at it and keep at it until he shares a room with Zarqawi. 

Ceterum censeo, delenda est Pyongyang.

(Hat tip: The Belmont Club)

(Update: More at Captain's Quarters)

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June 21, 2006

Sinking Oldsmobiles

The Democrats want the US to surrender. They call it 'redeployment' but it is surrender. It is 'cut and run.' No surprises here as this is what Democrats do. It is their fall-back position. They are experts at it. From Dean to Murtha to Gore to Reid to Kennedy to Pelosi to Durban to Schumer to Kerry it is all the same. America must leave Iraq. Now. Consequences be damned. 

It is their own Vietnam Syndrome. When Nixon fell and the Democrats reigned supreme they could not wait to break US treaty commitments to a US ally. South Vietnam was abandoned to the niceties of communism. The results were---how does one say it?---a bit messy: killing fields, uncountable sacks of corpses, grim gulags, reigns of terror. But no matter. The Democrats ruled! They managed through duplicity and their control of the media to elect as president that little mountebank from Georgia. With his sweaters, Southern accent and pretend Christianity he made an art of cut and run: in Nicaragua, in Iran, against the USSR---all of these nothing but Chappaquiddicks on a global scale. 

After the welcome relief of a 12-year Republican interregnum another Southern good-ol'-boy came to power. We know him for his skills at staining dresses, for finding new and improved uses for cigars and for turning over to the Chinese and North Koreans very cool technology that improved those gentle nations' ability to murder Americans. Like his mentors the Kennedys this Arkansas fellow cut and run from his wife, from his girlfriends and from the law. He desires nothing so much as to do to America just what he did to Monica's dress.

And now he and his Gadarene fellows advise us to cut and run---pardon me, to 'redeploy'---from Iraq. America is the sinking Oldsmobile and the Democrats are Ted Kennedy writ large, swimming away from all responsibility and leaving death in their wake.

Ah...that word: Responsibility! My God, do those Democrats hate it, just hate it. With a demented passion. Nationally, internationally, personally. They have abandoned the unborn, the crime victim, the Vietnamese, downed Black Hawks, God Himself---they cannot be bothered with those damned pesky consequences. And now they wish to abandon the Iraqis, which are to them nothing but a bunch of Mary Jo Kopechnes in funny clothes.

Imagine a Democrat victory in 2006 and 2008. Impossible? Not at all. But the consequences of these degenerate, debased and treasonous party animals coming to power will be remarkable indeed. What the Democrats did to the Vietnamese they will do to the Iraqis. What the Democrats did for the Chinese and North Koreans they will do for the Iranians. And what Ted did to Mary Jo and Bill did to Monica---and Juanita and Paula and the rest---they will do to us all.

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June 20, 2006

Why Ann Coulter Matters More Than Whiny Right-Wingers

From Kent Bailey, Professor Emeritus in Psychology. Yeah, he is a bit of a pointy-head but read the full article as well as the comments. Excerpts:

How, then, does the intellectual right routinely respond to one personal attack after another? It prostrates itself, it tearfully apologizes, and it resigns from one important and powerful governmental position to another, and it begs forgiveness from the radical termites that rule the country. Trent Lott comes to mind here. It has been a shameful performance for the past 50 years. The intellectual right has been so out-maneuvered in the war of words and concepts that one can only feel pity and contempt...

Jonah Goldberg, Bill Frist, Denny Hastert, John McCain---call your offices. 

And then into this swamp of defeatism rode the skinny, blonde, acerbic, irreverent (to the occupying forces), intellectually brilliant, verbal and conceptual, unabashedly religious, and in-your-face warrior hawk that we have come to love and admire. She knows what is going on, she knows who the enemy is, she resists the occupation with every cell of her body and- as her book sales will show- she speaks for the people of the heartland.

Compare Ann with the president, for example, who has scarcely bestirred himself to defend our military from the attack of the treasonous Democrats. (Perhaps he was busy writing an immigration policy approved by Vicente Fox.) Ann has cojones. What happened to Bush's? (Although he did have them on display the other day in Baghdad.) Could someone send him a copy of Godless?

You can tell when Ann has drawn blood. Liberals spit out their hatred and weak-kneed conservatives whine and wring their soft, flabby hands. Both sides want her to go away. 

Some of the weaklings on the conservative side squeal, "Can't we all just get along?"  Well, no. Somebody has to lose. Politics is hardball. It is blood sport. It is played for keeps. It always has been thus. And it will always be thus until Christ tires of the mess and calls the whole thing off.

A piece of advice: Stop pretending that the Democrats want the same things for America that the Republicans do. They do not. They are invested in our defeat. They only desire power. They worship at the feet of the State, of Moloch. They are God haters.

Ann knows all of this. And the Left hates her for it. And she laughs all the way to the bank.

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June 18, 2006

Handbook For Idiots

I sat at a Starbucks in Santiago de Chile and waited for the man who was to interview me for a job. He arrived right on time. He wife was with him. They were the very model of an modern preppy couple. His Dockers were khaki and well-pressed and his Sperrys were new. Both he and she wore Ralph Lauren polos. His smile seemed permanent and real and revealed the most beautiful white teeth. She glared with mouth shut. We shook hands and he and I sat down. The wife remained standing as if anxious to be out of my presence. After the usual quick pleasantries he asked if I had heard of the DaVinci Code.

The fellow was wide-eyed and excited, as if he were about to reveal some great though hidden secret. I had not heard of it. The wife looked at me with impatience and said, "It reveals the truth of the Catholic Church." Her husband said, "Now dear, Mike is a Catholic." 

Immediately the mood changed. The wife's eyes narrowed, her lips pressed together and she looked at me with a crystalline hatred. "The Catholic Church oppresses women!", said she, and she walked away. Her husband apologized and the interview went on. Probably both of us knew from that moment that we were wasting our time.

Once back in the USA I heard more and more about the DVC and its author Dan Brown. I had to see what all the chatter was about. A cursory look at it showed it to be simply another assault upon Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular. The thing was silly and laughable and I promptly forgot about it. Then Hollywood made a movie of it and the chatter began again. All sorts of educated types wrote learned dissertations about the 'secrets of the DVC' and how their exposure would affect Christianity. Christian writers wrote screeds against it and spoke about it in the most vehement way. Books were published about it. Commentary about the DVC became a cottage industry. But the thing itself remained silly and laughable.

The DVC has weird violence and steamy sex (or is it weird sex and steamy violence?)---always a sure way to get on a best-seller list---and  the usual tales of Christian hoaxes, clever Renaissance artists, hidden documents, convoluted conspiracies, secret societies and so on. Its message is simple, though: Christianity is founded on a lie. Its founder was a man who married and had children, the descendants of whom are alive today. The Catholic Church knows about this and works to keep this truth well-hidden. 

Nothing new here. All has been claimed before. Any precocious high schooler could show it to be false. Its laughable silliness will cause no Christian to lose his faith. Such childish rubbish as the DVC will lead those astray who were already willing to be led astray, who were already looking for a way out from under the moral certitude of Christ and His Church. Such as that modern preppy couple. The DVC was more than likely one of the few contacts they had had with Christianity. They believed that they now had proof positive that their long unease with God and the Bible would now be vindicated. Lovers of the DVC could continue their lives of eating, drinking and merriment---at least for now.

From the beginning the Church had to deal with such foolishness as the DVC. Strange tales circulated about Jesus almost as soon as the tomb was sealed. We hear of Gnostics, of Gospels of Thomas and Judas, of weird beliefs. Half of Paul's Epistles are concerned with correcting the many false teachings that sprang up. As the Church matured she dealt with an entire host of heresies, a list and description of which would exhaust even a modern Aquinas. These heresies never died but simply reformed through millennia, like a theological AIDS virus bent upon destroying the Body of Christ. The Church will be at war with them until the End of Days. Then they and those who follow them will go to their place. Dan Brown will be there with them.

As for the DVC, its true message is not at all complicated. Behind all the cleverness and ludicrous plot is nothing more complicated than fornication. Christ had sex with Mary Magdalene and fornication is what goes on in the Holy of Holies. That is it. The whole DVC posits a moral universe on par with that of the barnyard, Brad and Angelina, Ted Kennedy, MTV and Playboy.

We have been warned about all of this. The Son of Man demands of us that we not be

tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. (Ephesians 4:14)

 

In other words, don't be an idiot.

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June 17, 2006

Random Thoughts

I have been venturing out into the wilds for 20 years. Sometimes I am away from news for weeks. Always---always---upon my return it is as if I had never left. Scandal, war, corruption, another Kennedy embarrassment, another bastard produced by Hollywood stars, more Democrat Party treason and disarray. It's good to be back.

If we had slugged a police officer we would be in jail---but not Cynthia McKinney (D-GA). If we had left the scene of an accident where our girlfriend drowned we would have been incarcerated for years---but not Ted Kennedy (D-MA). If we had been a representative and allowed our apartment to be used as a male prostitution ring we would have been indicted---but not Barney Frank (D-MA). If we had perjured ourselves in front of a grand jury we would be busting rocks at San Quentin---but not Bill Clinton. If we had been caught stealing classified documents we would be indicted for high crimes---but not Sandy Berger. Our leaders are so much better than we are. They deserve special treatment. After all, all animals are equal but some are simply more equal.

And about the antics of Representative Frank: He is an admitted, proud and practicing sodomite. He claimed he knew nothing about all those boys being run through his dwelling by his roommate. These boys were 'rented' to older men for use as catamites. Well now: I am a teacher. I have Teaching Certifications from two states and reciprocity certification from dozens more. I would have been denied certification had I been arrested for 'moral turpitude'---you know, things like pimping boys to adult homosexuals. Yet Frank helps write education bills for our school system.

Ann Coulter has been attacked from all sides. I expect liberals to hate her. But some conservatives have jumped on the bandwagon as well. They do not approve of her language toward the 'Jersey Girls.' One blogger objected that Ann's description of Hillary Clinton's thighs as 'fat' was "unhelpful." Another silly boy called Ann "our Michael Moore." Well, how about showing where Ann was wrong or that she lied? And who among us has her keen mind and sharp wit? And her guts?

Ann Coulter is part of the Marine Corps of the conservative movement. She does the dirty work at the front lines. It takes a certain steely temper to do such work. How many of us could do it? Limbaugh, Coulter and...who else? Many conservatives fall all over themselves to avoid making liberals mad. Not Ann. She seeks them out and destroys them. Along the way she makes the flabby fellows at National Review upset. Too damn bad.

To read how harsh language toward one's opponents has been used before, you might look up the words of the Carpenter or John the Baptist. What would putative and weak-kneed conservatives say today if Coulter called the Democrats 'white washed tombs' and demanded that they repent? But oh dear and oh my, she dare not say such things! It would be so unhelpful. And it might upset Jonah Goldberg.

But what really upset Mr. Goldberg was this: One day after 9/11 Coulter wrote about certain Middle Eastern Islamic nations, saying that "we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." For writing this and refusing to retract she was fired from National Review. Well now: Reading the Old Testament we find that Joshua invaded the Middle East and killed its leaders. In the New Testament we find that Christ commanded His followers to make Christians of all nations. But we had better not reveal this to National Review. It would be so unhelpful.

And Hillary Clinton's thighs are fat. 

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June 16, 2006

Sound and Fury

It was mid-afternoon on the second day. There was a rumble in the sky and a wind that bent the tops of the tall pines that surrounded me. It was God's creation giving me a warning: I am going to show His majesty. Look upon it with awe. I had been there before: in the Chaco of Paraguay, in the grasslands of southern Venezuela, among Mayan ruins in the Guatemalan jungles, high upon Andean peaks. The sky was going to open up with a roar of thunder and a flash of lightning.

For a solo backpacker there is only one option: find a place to set the tent and get the Hell inside it. Which I did. The rains became a flood and beat against my frail cover. The thunder was ominously close and soon lightning sparkled about the tent. Trees were struck but my tent was not hit. Odd that a mere wisp of nylon was all that prevented the storm from venting its fury against me. But a backpacker learns to trust his gear. If he cannot he should not be out there. Against wind and rain and magnificent storm the tent---a North Face Slickrock---held. Thank you North Face.

Years ago I had the same little tent in the Peruvian Andes. I was solo hiking from the village of Huncacalle to the Inca ruins of Vilcabamba, nine days all told from high Andean peaks to lowland jungles. Here is a review of the tent I wrote after my return:

I recently returned from a 30-day solo backpacking trip to Peru. I walked the Colca Canyon and hiked nine days through the Andes to reach the last Inca redoubt of Vilcabamba. I needed a tent that was lightweight and could handle the variety of environments presented by the Andes, everything from 900 meter humid jungle to 4200 meter passes...

When I walked through the Andes starting at 3200 meters, crossing a pass at 4200 and then descending to 900 meters, the Slick Rock showed some design flaws. The weather during the entire nine days was wet, usually rainy and sometimes stormy, which meant that the half-fly scarcely covered my wet boots and stove---though they stayed dry...

But these flaws were more than made up the Slick Rock’s extreme light weight and typical North Face quality build. It was a snap to set up and packed up very small. It endured Andean rainfall on many occasions but the rain never entered the tent---unless I opened the doors! Its small footprint came in handy on some tight Andean trails where a larger tent would not have fit.

I will not take the Slick Rock again on such a journey, but will reserve it for desert treks and summer hikes in North America. Still, this little tent went through Hell in Peru---and survived without a scratch!

So I did indeed take it for a summer hike in North America. And damned if that Peruvian storm did not follow me through time and space.

Here is the tent and yours truly along the Colca Canyon in Peru thousands of years ago. I have the same coat and sleeping bag. Lost the silly hat though. Click on the picture.

Camping_along_Colca_River_2.jpg (77592 bytes)

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June 11, 2006

First Steps

Today after Mass I leave for a few days of solo backpacking in the forests along the Columbia River Gorge. I will begin at Eagle Creek and head for Wahtum Lake and then swing around toward the river and end at Cascade Locks. Let's say 4-5 days to walk some 40 miles. Not much more than a warm-up hike, of course. I have covered some of this trail before while hiking from Timberline Lodge near Mount Hood. I have not been on a walkabout in two years, and I need this time alone in God's creation more than life itself.

The real stuff begins later. After I return from Eagle Creek---and after real food as opposed to backpacking food---I will walk from Crater Lake National Park to Olallie Lake---200 miles all told, and all of it along the Pacific Crest Trail. That will take me somewhere into late July. And then, who knows? More walking along the Washington part of the PCT?

Time enough to think of such things this week while in my tent.

Back on June 15 or thereabouts. I will be thinner---always a good thing.

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June 9, 2006

If We Build It Will They Come?

Yesterday Colin Powell gave his view on a possible wall between Mexico and the US. Are you surprised to read that he is against it?

The Berlin Wall did not work perfectly and the wall that the Israelis are putting up is not  going to work perfectly...So, a wall alone is not the answer.

Hmm...so if something does not function perfectly then it should not at all be constructed? 

The Berlin Wall did what it was supposed to do. It kept East Berliners inside East Berlin. Sure some plucky---or lucky---ones escaped but they were the exception. The wall built by the Israelis has cut suicide killings to a fraction of what they were. And lest we forget, the Great Wall of China kept those wild and crazy Huns out of Chinese civilization. Those barbarians were forced to go West where they eventually met the unwalled Roman Empire (c. AD 350), alas. The Romans themselves built a wall across England---Hadrian's Wall (c. AD 120) to keep the crude Scots---then called Picts---out of the Roman Empire. It worked well for 300 years.

So what is Powell really up to then? His views on a walls are patent nonsense. Well, I read that he gave his views on the uselessness of walls in Mexico City.

Powell, speaking at a business conference in Mexico City, said any new barriers should include gates and other entrances to provide easy- access between both countries.

I'm confused. Why put up any barrier at all if we then install so many 'gates and other entrances'  as to render it porous and thus useless? 

Powell has a heart of gold, though. He is concerned for the welfare of those 12 million illegals.

We have to find a way for them to live in dignity and not in fear.

May I ask why Americans must undertake such a task? Did we invite them here? If I wake up in the morning in my own home and discover a bunch of illegals rummaging through my refrigerator is it my responsibility to 'find a way for them to live in dignity and not in fear'? 

So let's see: An out-of-office US politician giving a foreign policy speech in a foreign land that is manifestly against the expressed will of the American people. Powell must be a Democrat.

Which he is. I am confused no longer.

(Update: According to this it seems Powell is a Republican, which makes it even more embarrassing, alas.)

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June 8, 2006

Pop Goes The Weasel

He was responsible for a sneak attack that killed almost 3000 Americans. Many of his followers engaged in suicide bombings that caused the deaths of thousands more. He was allied with the most gruesome Jew-hating nation on the planet. His military innovations bedeviled US planners for years. The US government was dedicated to searching him out and destroying him. He was finally blasted to pieces by American war planes.

I am not writing about al-Zarqawi but about Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (1884-1943). History being a humorous thing, the parallels between Yamamoto and al-Zarqawi intrigue. But the Japanese Admiral was an altogether more honorable fellow than the grubby terrorist. He was someone 'worth killing,' unlike al-Zarqawi, a veritable rabid animal whose murders encompassed mainly Arab Moslems. And like a rabid animal he was dealt with accordingly. As Guatemalans say,

Para eliminar la rabia hay que matar el perro.

'To eliminate rabies you must kill the dog.' 

And so the beast was killed. Now he either busies himself with 72 virgins or suffers the eternal fires of Hell.

Let us hope it is the latter. But no matter. The dog is dead.

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June 6, 2006

Our Summer of Discontent

Bush is in political trouble with his base. And who might comprise this? Why, real honest-to-God conservatives, that's who. And what do these types believe? 

They believe in the God of the Bible. They believe in small government and low taxes. They believe in law and order. They abhor abortion and sodomite privilege. They support the war in Iraq and the upcoming war with Iran. They believe the enemies of America should be hunted down and destroyed. They heartily despise such political flotsam as Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Al Gore, John Murtha and anybody named Clinton. They believe the Democrat Party to be the home of treason, sexual perversion and corruption. 

Which it is of course.

Bush signed an education bill with Ted Kennedy. He has yet to use his veto. He has yet to speak out against the treasonous ravings of the Democrats in Congress, thereby ceding to them the terms of the debate. He proposed some absurdities such as the Harriet Meiers nomination and the Dubai port affair. He refuses to listen to the base concerning immigration. 

And so now Bush decides to toss the base a bone: an amendment stating that marriage be defined as between a man and a woman. ("OK, chew on this for awhile. And shut up about immigration.") But this has been for ten years now overwhelmingly approved by Americans and the Congress. And what has been done? Why, nothing.

A real Texan would have punched Kennedy---and Kerry and Durban and Murtha---in the choppers for insulting our nation and her armed forces. And what did Bush do? Why, nothing.

What has been done to drill for oil in our own nation? Why, nothing. 

What has been done to end the intrusion of government into the lives of Americans? Why, nothing.

What has been done to defend the honor and integrity of the US military from the manifestly false charges concerning Ishaqi and Haditha? Why, nothing.

What has been done to publicly condemn the media for its lies and treason? Why, nothing.

Just what does Bush do all day? Oh yes, he tries to force us to give amnesty to 12,000,000 illegals. After checking with Vicente Fox for permission, of course.

So let us vote Republican in November! But why? Because the Democrats would be worse. Lamentable but true. So I will vote Republican even though I have lost my faith in the party. Because I retain my reason I would never vote Democrat.

So there it is: the end of democracy American style and the beginning of democracy Athenian style.

Conservatives will not vote Democrat. And they are told that unless they vote Republican bad stuff will happen. Which means that the false Republicans---RHINOs---effectively control the party. ("Vote for us or else!")

Is there anyone out there who sees a looming civil war in the US? And would welcome it?

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