The Monster Awakens

Be free, but be clean. Take it one step further than the previous jokers. Use drugs, but own the effects. Live large and long, but not too rough.

For everything that is green and good there is a black snake pit full of death and despair waiting to take it down. Don’t trust the others. Make choices, make room, make love.

It’s raining outside and the wind is moving anywhere from a dead calm to a riotous torrent.

Three men walk buy ridiculously over prepared for a night time hike up a 1500 foot face. They have thick modern hiking boots with plenty of “support”. Their pants have horizontal zippers half-way up the legging to convert into a goofy pair of shorts. They have external framed packs full of senseless garbage and useless recreational shwag, which can only ever possibly be used by that gorgeous climber girl accompanied by a Ken-doll additive in the REI advert.

Her, now, at dusk, It’s too dark to tell but they might even have walking sticks to help them navigate the technical terrain offered by the rocky truck road that they are attempting to climb. Freeze dried food and goofy looking hats with expensive bug dope and sunglasses. All topped with plain, white, cotton T-shirts – the icing on the cake. These guys were ready for anything.

Inside the vehicle it’s quiet and dry, and there’s no light other than the dim buzz from a typing machine and a rapid clickety clack of the keys.

That anyone can learn to use a device like that at such speed is astounding. To some, it’s a gateway into the rest of the world. They’d lost interest in the intimate vulnerability of one-on-one human contact, and had resigned to pushing the limits of modern communication over a massive and magical series of tubes called the internets. Ahh yes, the etherial bliss of turning your life into an inane pile of attention defecation disorder. Why talk when you can type? Why call when you can text? Why chit-chat when you can tweet? What the hell does it all mean?

This poor average white kid renounced everything he knew for what he understood to be a conventional life of poverty. Rainy mountains outside, gusts of wind, not a sound from a man-made machine to be heard. The taste of rebellion was almost overwhelming. But what is rebellion other than doing something strictly because you aren’t supposed to? Good god, what if it acutally starts to feel like the right thing to do?

Headline: “Rebellious van boy turns realist.”

Another gust of wind, more rain.

Removing all the traditional elements of homyness from your life instantly forces you to notice everything around you. A tent camping trip puts you in this same place – where you suddenly emerge through the floor to stand inside the world, instead of the world standing inside of you.

If you are the kind of person that’s trying to observe the world, this kind of perspective is absolutely essential. A parking lot is nothing more than a place to leave your car while you bound off into the park. It watches the car for you until you come back, when you thoughtlessly open the door and drive away.

On another occasion, you may decide to sit in your drivers seat all night to get a grip on the idea of the parking lot as a place with purpose. After no more than 10 minutes the reality of the place starts to creep into your consciousness like an unseen enemy. Other people come and go. Birds chirp. Dogs walk. Nothing happens, except silence.

The best removal I’ve experienced in a familiar place was while staying a night in a friend’s driveway in the mountains above town. The owners of the house were on a rafting trip and I decided to poach their power and real estate for a peaceful night in the boonies, just so I could have an opportunity to watch “Cocktail” with Tom Cruise in my neo-hippy van.

Half way through the movie the motion activated porch light clicked on and I felt a tingle in my spine. Swinging around, I saw a relatively small (it was about 36 inches long) cat-like animal meandering up the gravel driveway. It paid no attention to the light and walked slowly off the property and into the woods.

I’d never seen a lynx outside the zoo, and had never seen a wild animal at a friends house. I was astounded.

With a click, the cabin light is on. I installed 10W warm-white bulbs in the light near the back of the cabin, and 10W cold-white bulbs in the front. The warm light gives a homier feeling when reading, and the cold-white makes it a little better to see when cooking or dealing with other things in the cabin.

The light changes the mood. It’s serious now. I’m actually living here. This spot is my place, or at least the closest thing that I have to one. The gate on the road below ensures that no one will drive up this far, and anyone that has a mind to hit the trails this far up in the mountains in the middle of the night is alright by me.

Without the dark and the rain and the wind, I was in the world. But now, with the simple flip of a switch, I’ve crossed the line and now the world is in me. It is what I’ve made it, a small, grey, rectangular room with a bed and some pictures. There’s plastic everywhere, and the faint hum of propane keeping the food cool.

Deep below, the urban jungle sits and waits with it’s twinkling lights and vast expanse. It doesn’t belong within it’s surroundings, but as far as we’re concerned it will be there forever. All it stands for at this moment is a reminder that I can see it and therefore I’m not in it, which is good enough for me.

An hour later the monster has arrived, it’s essence is numbing. The parked vehicle rolls and shakes with incredible rage as sand and gravel hit the walls with force. Something has happened and the beast is outside, and angry. “Get out, get out of my house,” it howls.

The gusts come at random intervals and without warning. They are incredibly strong and the van’s suspension works while the coach lists from left to right. The wind is perfectly square with the broad side of the vehicle and it’s full force is felt on it.

I lost my wits over a couple of late weekend nights marked by the consumption of an inhuman amount of alcohol. Some times I wonder if the car will be pushed off into into the ravine patiently waiting only 6 feet away. How much force does it take to overturn a one and a half ton metal monster? If the car stays under control while pushing 80 down the freeway then surely there’s no danger in parking a car in winds of up to 100 miles per hour…

The wind regularly reaches hurricane speeds at these altitudes within the city limits, but regularly goes unreported. Those who chose to build houses up here are considered crazy outsiders, so the typical weather monitoring stations and evacuation warnings seem unnecessary.

Tonight the harsh reality of being out here sets in at a primal level. Fortunately for the hungry monster outside, I’m locked on the wrong side of a gate that restricts access to the expanse of the Chugach State Park. But inside the van with the reading light on and the down comforter out, I am not in the world – the world is still inside me. As long as my ski box stays on the roof of the car I’ll be able to get some sleep.

The next morning the mountains were as calm as sleeping babies. The dirt road was dry, the wind was gone.

This climate here is bigger than us – it’s truly unforgiving.

When normal places get a low pressure system you’ll see a scattered blanket of green precipitation pixels covering the area. The system may be a few hundred miles long – roughly the size of Teton County in Wyoming – and may include sporadic fits of water and sun.

But when weather comes in up here in Alaska, it comes in blocks that last for days. Clouds of precipitation here look more like more like a giant green amoeba, and can include the entire state of Wyoming itself.

Last night the wind began about 9:30, when I drove up the pullout at dusk. By 11 it was gusting to incredible speed and blowing debris all over the side of my van. By 3am the gusts had become steady hurricane-force hammering and there was no sign of it letting up.

My hangover from the night before would have afforded my body about 10 hours of deep, deep sleep, but the last time I looked at the clock it showed 5 am, the wind still screaming “This is my HOUSE!” Desperate for sleep, I slept in until 11 am and woke to this picture-perfect episode of beach life. I could have easily lit a candle in front of the car. A burning incense ember would have smoked straight up with beautiful designs of homeostasis delight.


By | 2009-07-23T21:13:00+00:00 July 23rd, 2009|Uncategorized|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Patricio July 23, 2009 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    The picture from my previous post is of the spot where the pissed-off hurricane winds hit. The picture was taken on more of a calm day…

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