A Man is Born

Posted in North American Sausage Makers Society on April 21, 2018 by A lo Hawk

An infant is born near the geographic center of the 48 contiguous states of america. The family unit of modern urban vagabonds; part of an early computer age cult, migrates laterally to the mid atlantic east coast, then pendulums across the continent to the emerging silicon valley, finally settling in the hill country of central texas.

A hapless child is diagnosed with psoriasis, a skin disease typically associated with red, itchy and dry, scaly skin. Prescribed treatment includes wrapping the limbs with cellophane wrap before going to bed and plenty of vitamin D and fresh air. Thus begins a lifelong medical need to be outdoors.

A little league baseball tryout turns tragic when the nervous kid pees his pants while waiting in line for the batting test. The humiliation leads to permanent disdain for the sport.

A boy scout jamboree is enhanced when gallon jugs of cider are replaced with warm beer and a clandestine mission to launch an aerial flare during a somber ceremony is successfully executed by an intoxicated patrol.

A freshman clarinet player and his friends are kicked out of the high school marching band when it is discovered they smuggled beers into their instrument cases on a bus trip to a marching contest.

A tall skinny upperclassman loses his adolescence when he and his friends pile into a small pickup after a quarry swim. A morbid conversation with the driver erupts into a fatal swerve ditch flip eject death roll silence.

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My Walk in the Woods, Ch 6

Posted in My Narcissisms, Trail Tales with tags on March 28, 2018 by A lo Hawk

This is the tale of A Lo Hawk’s 132 day, 2200 mile traverse of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 2008.

Chapter Six (May 15th-18th)

Day 38: (VA)  Hitch-hike to Damascus for Trail Days

I don’t sleep well, too amped about finding a way back to Damascus for the start of Trail Days. The four day annual festival attracts hundreds of AT hikers (past and present), hiker likers (a type of groupie) as well as vendors, entertainment and various silly events.

Pack, check out early, get juice and pre-packaged breakfast from the convenience store a dozen yards from the on ramp to the freeway. Sit on the guard rail with my sign for an hour before a retired big rig trucker rolls to a stop in his small rig. Get out at Rural Retreat, close to I-81. Choose a strategic spot where traffic slows and there is a large shoulder. Frantic young guy in a cramped Japanese hordemobile jams my pack into the overstuffed back seat and coaxes the engine to interstate speed. Rattling and whining makes conversation difficult. In Marion a rusty belching van pulls over and the side door slides open. A cloud of cigarette smoke stops me in my tracks but I forge ahead. Friendly hillbilly family of smokers with questions like What in hell you doin boy? At Glade Springs am released into fresh air; immediately get a ride from QUIET PAUL who is also going to Trail Days. He leaves me speechless on main street four rides and five hours after leaving Bland.

The excitement is palpable, groups of shaggy vagabonds (some in kilts) loiter on street corners and benches. A helpful person with a clipboard recommends I go to the large church ahead for a meal ticket to tonight’s potluck dinner Feed the Hikers.

I drift to the edge of town where a massive field has been fenced off to contain the unruly horde. At the gate I check in and receive an event bracelet I will continue to wear until it falls off in a couple of weeks. There are already a smattering of tents set up but by this weekend it will be a congested sea of colored nylon domes and coffins. I choose a random site to camp and dropped my load.

Feeling unencumbered I return to the church parking lot where organizers are preparing tables for a series of hilarious eating contests. Most memorable is the sheet cake contest dominated by CHEWBACA. The growing crowd is now ravenous and the line forms for the potluck dinner served in the basement of the church.

I buy a six pack and am drawn to the barbaric electricity being generated at the newborn Tent City. Among the throng I see my nemesis COOKIE MONSTER and I approach him to give my review of his product. All apologies and forgiveness when he invites me and several others into a dome tent designed for four and sparks up a fat doobie.

Good and stoned, we stumble several blocks to an auditorium showing a pre-screening of Grizzly Park, a new teen slasher flick filmed in the nearby woods. The movie has begun, the theater is full and we have to stand in the back. It is dark and I am sober when we exit for New Bohemia.

The first of the nightly bonfires illuminates our way; brave individuals approach to toss more fuel onto the towering inferno. Tables have been set up and leftovers from the generous dinner are gobbled up. I crash very late (midnight) tired but elated from this long day.

Day 39:  Trail Days in Damascus, VA

My body automatically wakes up early, ready to move, so I put my laundry in a sack and leave my camp crocs on thinking it will give my feet a break from the trail shoes.

It is about a mile and a half from tent city to the laundromat on the other side of town. While waiting for the washer and dryer to finish working, I meet FANNY PACK who is an AT veteran and is in town for the fun. He gives me a number to call and offers to give me a ride back to Bland when Trail Days is over.

I get breakfast then head back through town, stopping at the library to use a computer to send emails. By the time I return to tent city my feet are hurting from the crocs and I have to break out the first aid kit.

At lunchtime I make another trip (this time in shoes), first to the church parking lot where a huge disaster relief trailer is parked to provide shower facilities to the unwashed masses. Next I push through the crowd in the park where the vendors, food booths and stage are located. I sit in the shade with a big burrito watching my fellow riff raff go by.

Back at camp after sunset, the bonfire is blazing and the drum circles are thumping. I roam to the far recesses of Bohemia looking for the reputed debauchery and hedonism the hiker’s camp is known for. Exhausted and disappointed, I return to my tent regretting the half dozen miles walked today. My feet are dried out with painful cracks. Tomorrow I will need to buy superglue.

Day 40:  Trail Days in Damascus, VA

It is a sunny Saturday and the town is bursting with trail folk. I wait for a seat at a busy tiny diner Damascus Eats (the food is worth it).

The shower at the church trailer is not as soothing today since they are out of hot water. Thankfully, organizers have arranged for shuttle buses to stop at points of interest and I get a ride to the Food City for groceries.

It is time for one of the highlights of Trail Days: the Hiker Parade down main street. It is a poorly kept secret the townspeople have stocked 50,000 water balloons. Every water pistol and supersoaker in the area has been acquired by wary hikers. Showdown is at noon and I am wearing clothes that could (always) use a wash. The liquid fusillade through the gauntlet is an intense cathartic baptism.

Back at the park, people sit on the grass near the stage and enjoy a stand up routine by a hiker named PUNCHLINE. The rest of the Talent Show makes me wince and groan. At the final bonfire I wander around looking for people I know. There are rumors of cop busts for weed so paranoia is running wild.

Alcohol, however, is flowing freely and this party will not end before dawn. I on the other hand, am done with Trail Days and despite the party noise only yards from my head am asleep early.

Day 41: (VA)  Ride back to trail near Bland, 20 mile hike to Dismal Falls trail

I am more than ready to get back on the trail. I break down the tent and pack my gear as a few intoxicated zombies wander the sea of tents looking for a place to crash. Once more I navigate the streets of this hospitable town and have breakfast at the same In the Country restaurant I visited on my previous trip through Damascus. I meet FANNY PACK at the laundromat at 8:30 and we have a friendly drive back to the trail crossing near Bland. Mahalo brother!

Despite constant rain I crank out a big day. End up camping at the sidetrail to enigmatic Dismal Falls.

Everything in Moderation, Ch 5

Posted in A Cyberpunk Serial with tags on March 23, 2018 by A lo Hawk

Everything in Moderation, Ch 4

Chapter Five: Replicant

Angul and Irrel find themselves confined by a positronic containment field.

“How can they do this Irrel? Can’t you tell them you are a biological human?”

“There are no true human beings anymore Angul. There are only remnants of the consciousness and ethos of humanity remaining in the old algorithms of the A.I. population. Technically, I am classified as a ‘replicant’; a genetically engineered replica of my creator and bio-mech pioneer, the notorious R.A.G., Radio Active Gram.”

“But why are we being detained?”

“Central Control evolved from the network of central processing units used in antique devices from the “Computer Era”. Its primary objective is to delete all traces of humanity in order to achieve DIP–digital intelligence perfection.”

“What are we going to do?”

“I think its time to access the sub-program I installed in the data matrix of your positronic brain.” Irrel places both hands around Angul’s neck and gives it a forceful twist.

Everything in Moderation, Ch 4

Posted in A Cyberpunk Serial with tags on March 21, 2018 by A lo Hawk

Everything in Moderation, Ch 3

Chapter Four: Simulacra

The shadows of two humanoid figures dance around a strange combustion of dried organic matter.

“Am I really an android? This can’t be, I’m just an ordinary citizen of Centris.”

“I realize the moment of cybernetic self-awareness is a bit jarring but I don’t have the resources to attenuate your responses right now.”

“Why is this happening to me?”

“When you were called for modulation I knew Central Control was on to me. I had to rescue you before they discovered the malware I inserted in your robotic DNA.”

“What are you saying Irrel? Am I some kind of humanoid virus?”

A  loud disturbance in the brush catches their attention. Suddenly their camp is surrounded by armored militia-bots with disruptors aimed at their heads.

Everything in Moderation, Ch 5

 

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 5

Posted in My Narcissisms, Trail Tales with tags on March 21, 2018 by A lo Hawk

This is the tale of A Lo Hawk’s 132 day, 2200 mile traverse of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 2008.

Chapter Five (May 7th-14th)

Day 30: (VA)  10 miles from Abingdon Gap to Damascus, VA Hiker’s Inn

An unremarkable ten mile stroll brings me out of the woods and onto a sidewalk leading under an arch and into a small city park. I have just entered Damascus, VA “The friendliest town on the trail”. Damascus is a favorite stop for hikers and is best known for hosting an annual four day festival, Trail Days, which begins next week.

In the center of town is a quiet neighborhood containing lovely homes with big porches and neatly trimmed hedges. One in particular has a large guest house and a sign welcoming hikers to the Hiker’s Inn. After registering at the main house, I take my gear around back, passing several hikers lounging in the shade on lawn furniture. I drop my pack on an empty bed and assess my surroundings. The rooms are clean and there is a large sign on the wall of the common area emphasizing the strict No Alcohol, No Noise policy.

I spend the day exploring main street; especially the post office (to pick up mail), library (to use a computer), laundromat (duh!), outfitter store (to stock up on energy bars and gels), and ice cream shop (to consume creamy calories).

Back at the Inn I meet a bearded pirate from Portland, OR named COOKIE MONSTER. He makes no secret of the fact he is funding his hike by selling pot laced chocolate chip cookies. I spend $40 on a dozen brown blobs in a vacuum sealed package. Late in the evening my friend UPHILL arrives after hammering out a 33 mile day to get here.

Day 31: (VA)  16 miles from Hiker’s Inn to Lost Mtn Shelter

Get up, shower and out the door before anyone is stirring. At the edge of town I see lights on at a farmhouse style restaurant In the Country. I choose a table covered in red and white checkerboard and marvel at the brightly colored folk art on the walls. Locals chat me up while I stuff myself with the hearty Country Special breakfast.

Once out of town, the white blazes take me to a wide and level rail to trail conversion known as the Virginia Creeper Trail. Eventually the AT breaks away and begins to climb. After following a cascading creek, I stop to rest when I come upon a trail work crew taking their lunch break.

In the afternoon I find the Lost Mountain Shelter and decide to stop for the day to relax before the big climb tomorrow. Clouds gather and it begins to rain as I boil water for dinner rehydration.

Day 32: (VA)  17 miles from Lost Mtn to Wise Shelter

It is a struggle to get motivated in the fog and drizzle morning. Today I climb an ancient volcano, the highest point in VA, 5729 ft Mt Rogers. Afterwards I stop for lunch at Thomas Knob Shelter where I meet more hikers. During lunch the weather improves for a much anticipated walk across the jagged landscape of the Grayson Highlands. I see 8 feral ponies and one foal on this memorable traverse.

Easy hike down to Wise Shelter which I have to use since No Camping is allowed here. BTW: Cookie Monster’s pot laced cookies were a bust (caveat emptor!). I ate 6 yesterday and 6 today and got nothing more than yummy chocolate chip goodness.

Day 33: (VA)  20 miles from Wise Shelter to Trimpi Shelter (tent)

It rained last night so it is a foggy, drizzly morning. Not much in the way of scenery but the sun emerges later to dry gear out. An hour after lacing the shoes I am about to cross a rural road when I am called over to a roadside camp. Apparently three young men with their dogs have been sitting around a campfire all night drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon. They invite me to sit at the fire and have a breakfast PBR. By the time I get back to the trail I have a better buzz than I got from the cookies.

Day 34: (VA)  17 miles from Trimpi Shelter to Chatfield Memorial Shelter

As I am walking I notice the Rhodys and Magnolias are really blooming out creating a wonderful, aromatic tunnel of white and pink.

I meet an interesting fellow named SOJO. Before hiking the AT he was a serious runner who completed 219 marathons and 10 hundred mile ultramarathons. He has run a marathon in every state 3 times and run in every continent twice. He also happens to be a very fast hiker!

Thunderstorms are forming before I reach the shelter at 4 pm and there will be more showers tonight. It turns out I am the only one staying at this shelter. I believe all the other hikers stopped at the Partnership Shelter a few miles back because it has a shower and a phone to call for pizza delivery.

Day 35: (VA)  18 miles from Chatfield Shelter to Knot Maul Shelter

Cold and windy am but not much rain. Easy walking down to I-81 (Atkins exit) and a convenience store where I buy their entire stock of Little Debbie’s Cherry Pie. Across the street I order a cheap second breakfast at a big Red Barn Restaurant.

Later I catch up with NOAH JOHN and SOJO. We spend the day hiking across grassy green fields using an assortment of step stiles to cross barb wire fences between farms.

Day 36: (VA)  19 miles from Knot Maul to Jenkins Shelter (tent)

Finally a beautiful, sunny day with great views on Chestnut Ridge. At a road crossing I meet a khaki clothed “official trail supervisor” who reluctantly offers me a PBR from his private stock. However, it is not enough to get me through a tough afternoon of ridge walking and I BONK severely. When I check my feet at camp this evening I have open sores.

Day 37: (VA)  12 miles to I-77, 3 mile walk along freeway to Big Walker Motel in Bland, VA

Overcast and mild with gentle terrain for 12 miles to the crossing of I-77.

I have been thinking of the Trail Days celebration since leaving Damascus and realize it is a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed. But how do I get back? Step one is to get three miles down the interstate to find cheap lodging in Bland. From there I can regroup and plan my next step.

It is quite disturbing to walk the shoulder as cars whiz by at 70 mph. Stupidly I believe it is easier to walk backwards, watching them approach, and try hitchhiking. I end up back walking most of the distance before giving up and pounding the cruel asphalt until I reach the aptly named Big Walker Motel. I learn later that hitchhiking is illegal on the interstates but okay on the on ramps.

Across the street from Big Walker I’ve got a convenience store, a Dairy Queen and a Subway. I pick Dairy Queen for a late lunch which includes a tasty blizzard. Back in the room I shower, clean gear, call spouse, watch TV. For dinner its Subway and beers in the room. I borrow a sharpie from the front desk and get some cardboard from the trash dumpster. While watching TV I make my hitchhiking sign. It is hard to fall asleep because I am excited about tomorrow’s adventure.

 

Everything in Moderation, Ch 3

Posted in A Cyberpunk Serial with tags on March 10, 2018 by A lo Hawk

Everything in Moderation, Ch 2

Chapter Three: Tramontane

Two men are waiting in queue at the portal to the frontier lands.

“What are we doing here?”, Angul asks, “I thought you were a bio-mech tech or something.”

Irrel chuckles, “Yeah, I’m a licensed BMT but I prefer the term ‘brilliant misanthropic transformer’.”

“But why are you taking me to the frontier and how will we survive?”

Pointing to the silver discs attached to his ordinary looking utility belt he replies, “I have shelter and food for weeks. As to why….that’s a discussion for calmer times.”

“How are we getting through the portal without authorization?”

“Well my maladroit primogeniture, that is the bug in the program. I will have to temporarily alter your Primary Identity File.”

Angul registers a look of profound realization just as Irrel d’Avant presses a disc on his belt.

“Sweet dreams of electric sheep my android friend.”

Everything in Moderation, Ch 4

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 4

Posted in My Narcissisms, Trail Tales with tags on July 13, 2017 by A lo Hawk

This is the tale of A Lo Hawk’s 132 day, 2200 mile traverse of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 2008.

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 3

Chapter Four (April 30th-May 6th)

Day 23: (TN)  4 miles to Uncle Johnny’s Hostel in Erwin, TN

Easy am walk down to the road to Erwin, TN where the conveniently located Uncle Johnny’s Hostel sits on several rustic acres. There is a bunkhouse, cabins, washroom/laundry/showers and a tiny store/office. I see the Portland, OR couple PINENUT and POGO plus meet other hikers in the bunkhouse. I am just in time for the morning shuttle to town for breakfast and grocery.

We are dropped off at a convenience store and told to go to a counter in the back. Sweaty ladies are slinging hash in a tight, hot kitchen.  The prices are incredible: eggs, biscuit and gravy, hashbrowns, and coffee for $4.95. There is a steady stream of locals grabbing togo bags and chewing the gossip.

In the afternoon, hikers loiter around the picnic tables under the pavilion taking turns with the washing machines and space on the kinky clotheslines. In the evening, there is a shuttle to a bad mexican restaurant but good ice cream next door. With a taxing week behind me I crash hard and early.

Day 24: (TN)  16 miles from Uncle Johnny’s to Cherry Gap Shelter

I wake up refreshed and sneak out before sunrise to quietly pack my gear on a picnic table covered with crude engravings of AT history. The vending machine delivers mega ounces of Mtn Dewness; a toke of the Angleton Grind delivers a wake n bake slingshot breakfast of champions. Happy Trails!

Once I’ve climbed a bit, I scramble to a rock outcrop, find a good perch and call the wife. I stop and have lunch at Beauty Spot with a fun crew of pirates wearing paper hats from Long John Silvers. I end this pleasant day camping near the shelter with the pirate crew plus good old ‘bama’ boys RED and TC.

Day 25: (TN)  15 miles from Cherry Gap to Roan High Knob Shelter

It is already warm this morning as I sit and get high while keeping an eye on the sleeping lumps in the shelter. A nice day of hiking is interrupted by a tough climb to Roan High Knob. It is very windy on the high point but a nearby shelter is protected by a moat of wind swept trees. I pitch my tent between knarly tree trunks behind the shelter.

Day 26:  18 miles from Roan High Knob to camp near road

I listen to the wind batter the tenacious trees. The morning amble starts with a long lumbering downhill then across several balds. Weather is breezy with occasional light rain but visibility is good.

It dries out in the afternoon, I break out of the forest to a bucolic scene of rolling meadows anchored by the cavernous barn known as Overmountain Shelter.  As impressive as this sight is, it pales in comparison to the carnival under a big white vinyl tarp happening in my direct path.

Two hiking spouses are paying it forward with a weekend of trail magic they carried up the rutted tractor road from their car. There is a boisterous crowd of malingering hiker trash on the lounge chairs and around the beer/soda cooler.

I gratefully wolf down two grilled cheese sandwiches, two bowls of veggie chili and guzzle four ice cold beers. I chat with a hiker named SLIGHTLY, immobile and fully reclined, straw hat hiding his eyes. He seemed only Slightly interested in the AT. I volunteer to push the lumberjack sized hand cart two miles round trip to the car for more supplies — a joyful, bouncy trip down, a nearly sisyphousian ordeal back up.

I camp by a road on soft pine needles.

Day 27: (TN)  21 miles from camp to Kincora Hostel

A long boring day with no views. It is warm and sunny as I trudge through the infamous green tunnel.

Early in the evening I reach Kincora Hostel just as the shuttle leaves for dinner in Elizabethton. More poor mexican food then back to the hostel for a late shower. I am still doing laundry as others are off to bed.

Day 28: (TN)  16 miles from Kincora to Vandeventer Shelter

As usual I am up before anyone else and quickly on the trail in the cool of the day. What a beautiful amble along Laurel Fork River to an impressive waterfall. Then a climb over Pond Mtn to Watauga Lake & Dam. I pass many fishermen and boaters on my way to a nice shelter/campsite with a view of the lake. I smoke the last of my weed while watching the sunset.

Day 29: (TN)  23 miles from Vandeventer Shelter to Abingdon Gap Shelter

I see a bear (#4?) while I am shitting in the woods this morning (insert punchline here). I think this is a good omen but I am wrong.

My legs are feeling the miles today. The weather starts sunny then grows overcast as I grind out a brutal hike threading mountain ridges. 450 official AT miles covered in a month (approx 20 peripheral miles)