Saturday, June 20, 2009

Random Photos, Random Thoughts

I was doing some housecleaning on my photo files and found some interesting (well, at least to me) shots from my past.

The one below was taken in 1986, and shows me in front of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow's Red Square. This was on a tour of the USSR that included Moscow, Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), and Kiev. This photo was taken on April 26, and the next day we flew from Moscow to Kiev. We had no idea that a catastrophic accident had taken place during the night at a nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, located about 30 miles from Kiev. And we were in Kiev for three days before we learned what had happened, and that was via the BBC and Voice of America-----I had packed along a Sony portable shortwave radio. I have often wondered if my cancer is the result of exposure to the radioactive particles vented by the Chernobyl reactor; thankfully, my then-wife Tina is still in good health. Regardless, it's a hoot to consider that I visited a country----the Soviet Union-----that no longer exists.

Here's me preening next to the summit marker atop Sugarloaf Mountain, 9980 feet, in the San Bernardino mountains of southern California. When I lived in San Diego, I loved doing these single-day climbs; I'd hit Interstate 15 around sunrise and be back home by sunset. The photo is how I want people to remember me: Strong! Vigorous! Goofy!

The highest mountain in southern California is San Gorgonio at 11,499 feet. I did this as a single-day climb, and believe me that was one of the longest days of my life! Timberline in southern California is about 10,000 feet, and as a result the upper reaches of San Gorgonio are like the Sierras-----boulders, talus, and scree. Here I am celebrating my ascent; that's a can of Diet Cheerwine that I'm swigging:

The photo below shows me atop Humphrey's Peak, the highest mountain in Arizona at 12,666 feet. It is an extinct volcano and gives spectacular views of the Grand Canyon and Painted Desert from the summit. Northern Arizona is a very different world from Tucson and Phoenix; there are pine trees, cool breezes, grassy fields, etc. I look exhausted in this photo, and it's because I was; the last few hundred feet up to the summit are steep and scrambling over several boulders is necessary:

Finally, here's a photo of a borrego ram that I saw in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park east of San Diego. This fellow jumped atop the boulder and spent the next several minutes eyeballing me and my hiking companions (including my business partners Carol and Jack Lewis). Eventually he moved away and we reported our sighting to park rangers; these animals are considered an endangered species and sightings of them are very rare. We were very lucky to spot this guy!

Photos like these are why I say I want no one to feel sympathy or pity for me; instead, feel sympathy or pity for those who haven't seen, done, or experienced the things I have. It's been a great life, compadres!