Monday, September 28, 2009

Ladder Canyon

My good friend, Jake Olmstead, will soon be taking a five week course to prepare for the LSAT exam. He has proclaimed that we will not see him during this stretch as he focuses upon his studies. As such, I thought it would be nice to get one more camping trip in before he disappears. So I asked Jake where he would like to go. . . he chose Ladder Canyon. I was trying to convince him of some mountain location where it would be cooler but Jake was adamant on Ladder Canyon, so I set it up. I invited only a handful of people for this event (the criteria for the invitation was two-fold: people I thought would enjoy such a trip and people that I thought were in good enough condition to make such a trip. If you received an invitation, you should feel honored that you made the short list; if you did not receive an invitation, do not be offended--honest reflection will reveal that one of the two criteria does not match). Keep in mind, this location has no campsites, no bathrooms, no amenities. It is backpacking through a canyon and finding some random place that looks suitable to throw down one's sleeping bags and call it a night.
The trip began later than anticipated and consisted of four guys--Jake Olmstead, Tony Aguilar, Ryan Morgan, and myself. We were hoping to leave by 3:30 but did not depart until 5:30. After taking the long route to get to the trailhead (sorry guys--I forgot that there are two separate exits to hwy 111 from the 10 fwy) we arrived and began backpacking sometime around 9 p.m.
It was nice hiking through the slot canyon in the dark--it made it more mysterious and adventuresome for those who had not been before. It was still hot and we had to consume a lot of water to stay hydrated. Tony had a sudden epiphany when we came upon the first ladder used to ascend a precipice. It was humorous to see his reaction as he finally put two and two together--the name of the canyon and the reality of ladders being used throughout the canyon. We met a nice little bat who was clinging to the canyon wall upon our ascent--he was chillin' and didn't seem too bothered by our presence, allowing me to take a few pictures before we continued on our way.
Once we were atop the plateau we hiked until we discovered a relatively flat location with as few rocks as possible to make camp. We ended up playing cards and talking for several hours before discussing the constellations. Ryan actually knows a bit about the stars and pointed out several celestial sights. Once he was done imparting his knowledge I picked up with my own "constellations" (nothing real, just what particular groupings of stars look like to me) and the others joined in as we created some fantastical images in the heavens.
We finally attempted to sleep, having no tent and spread out where ever we chose to throw our sleeping bags down. It was sometime around 3 a.m. when we made the attempt: Jake and Tony continued their discussion for another hour or so. One might imagine my surprise when the two finally fell silent--at last, I might actually get some sleep! But no, fifteen minutes after it fell silent I heard Tony exclaim: "What size football should I get?" Are you kidding me, Tony! At last I thought I would be able to sleep and I am denied with talk of what size football you want! This started off a whole new round of discussion between the two. Needless to say, I would chime in with some whimsical comment or other when they left the door open for such during the conversation. When the talking did cease I was interrupted by someone's brief snoring. Fortunately, that did not last long and I was able to get about an hour of rest in before the sun rose and made sleeping impossible with its hellish combination of light and heat. We decided it best to get out of there as soon as possible as we did not want to be hiking in the desert in the midday sun.
Once we had arrived back at the car we drove to the North Shore of the Salton Sea. We were disappointed with the fact that they have demolished the old abandoned motel and seem to be renovating the old club building on the shore. Beforehand it seemed as if this location was a vision of a nuclear holocaust--erie in its decrepit and lonesome state, but now that effect was gone with the vanishing of the abandoned buildings (that we would explore in the past) and the fact that people were actually at this location doing some fishing (I don't know what the world one would expect to catch in the Salton Sea, but whatever it may be, there is no way that I would eat it--that lake has the smell of death and decay and is downright nasty). The playground that is half buried in the sand is still there and the abandoned marina still exists but even that has had parts removed. It just is not like the empty, erie feeling that it conveyed the first time I had been there years ago when James Morris and I went down to explore and do some photography.
At last we arrived home and before they departed, Tony and Jake wanted to play some video games. Jake was checking his facebook account before playing and remained logged in when he was distracted by the game, giving me perfect opportunity to get some paybacks. About a month ago, Jake and I were at the gym when I received a text. I was lifting some weights at the time so jake grabbed the phone and responded to it. Without the person on the receiving end knowing that it was Jake replying, he sent some texts that made it sound like I had a man-crush on Jake. Fortunately, the girl on the receiving end understood when I later had to make some clarifications as to what had happened and that it was not me sending these homo-erotic messages. Needless to say, payback was sweet! I left a nice little message on Jake's homepage about how he had returned from camping with an epiphany that Tony is a sexy man. . . that he realized this when the two were looking at the stars and gazing into one another's eyes, and that sharing a sleeping bag together produced a conflict between his body and mind. . . "My mind was telling me no, but my body. . . MY BODY. . ." Needless to say, it took a few hours with friends commenting on his post before he discovered the prank. Jake has since removed the content from his facebook page and has vowed to get vengeance! Bring it on, Jake. Bring it on!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

In Honor of Keats

So, I was reading through various friends' blogs when I came upon the trailer for "Bright Star" (thanks for posting this Liz). I'm not often drawn to films of romance (though some are good and worth watching) but this film is about one of my favorite poets of all time: John Keats (in truth, he is second only to Wordsworth and had Keats lived longer to write more verse he very well may have eclipsed Wordsworth). Hence, I must see it!

Needless to say, I should like to post a few poems written by John Keats in his honor (keep in mind he only lived to the age of 24--amazing work for such a young man).


To one who has been long in city pent,
'Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven--to breath a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.
Who is more happy, when, with heart's content,
Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair
Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair
And gentle tale of love and languishment?
Returning home at evening, with an ear
Catching the notes of Philomel--an eye
Watching the sailing cloudlet's bright career,
He mourns that day so soon has glided by:
E'en like the passage of an angel's tear
That falls through the clear ether silently.


Bright star! Would I were steadfast as thou art--
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillowed upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft swell and fall,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death.


When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripened grain;
When I behold upon the night's starred face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love!-then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.


You say you love; but with a voice
Chaster than a nun's, who singeth
The soft Vespers to herself
While the chime-bell ringeth--
O love me truly!

You say you love; but with a smile
Cold as sunrise in September,
As you were Saint Cupid's nun,
And kept his weeks of Ember.
O love me truly!

You say you love--but then your lips
Coral tinted teach no blisses,
More than coral in the sea--
They never pout for kisses--
O love me truly!

You say you love; but then your hand
No soft squeeze for squeeze returneth,
It is like a statue's dead--
While mine to passion burneth--
O love me truly!

O breathe a word or two of fire!
Smile, as if those words should burn me,
Squeeze as lovers should--O kiss
And in my heart inurn me!
O love me truly!


A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. . .

And there are so many more poems that are just breathtakingly awesome! Keats' Odes are amazing (you really must read them--they are just to long for me to type them all up, especially at this late hour when I should be dreaming. Let me know which of Keats' poems is among your favorite, and do yourself a favor and go see this movie (I hope it is good--I will be sorely disappointed if they screw Keats up).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Should it Stay or Should it Go?

My hair is officially the longest that it has ever been and I have been getting mixed commentary about it. Some people absolutely love it while others utterly detest it. I figured that I would grow out the beard as well, just to make myself look completely different. Honestly, I feel like I am ready cut my hair and go clean shaven, but a part of me wants to keep growing it out just to see how bad it can get. What do you think? (and don't worry, I am not easily offended so feel free to be candid).