Remembering the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!”

The “Chilkoot Trail” isn’t really a trail, it’s just “one big pile of &%#@ rocks after another!!!

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

Which is now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

Back in 2016, my brother, nephew and I hiked the Chilkoot Trail.  People call it “the meanest 33 miles in history,” and I found out why – the hard way.  After that adventure, my nephew – just out of the Army – headed back east to start the fall term at Penn State.  My brother and I went on to take two canoes “up” the Yukon River – paddling 440 miles in 12 days.

Once back home I posted “Naked lady on the Yukon,” on August 28, 2016.  (The events of that trip were still fresh in my mind, for one reason or another.)  I later posted Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1 and Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 2, on September 7, 2016.

I guess I’ll have to revisit “Naked lady” in more depth later on. (Deep sigh.)  But for now it’s enough  to say:

I just got back from two weeks canoeing the Yukon River…  And the “mighty Yukon” is the last place on earth I would expect to see a [naked] lady sun bathing.  But one moment, out of nowhere, there she was…

You can see the full story in the 8/28/16 post.  But for the metaphorical lead picture above left, you’ll have to imagine no sand.  “(And no ‘Bikini Bottom,’ for that matter.)”

Which brings us back to the “Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!”

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The “Chilkoot” starts in Dyea, Alaska.  And Dyea is pronounced “DIe-eeee,” maybe prophetically.  (Like, “that’s what you feel like doing once you get on the &$%# Trail!”)  It ends in Bennett, British Columbia.  That’s where you end up waiting, a long afternoon, with other hikers who’ve shared your ordeal. (Of four days or more.)  There’s only one train, at 3:15 in the afternoon, so all the footsore hikers get a chance to sit on something besides rocks, and pitch their tents to dry out.

Which brings up the fact that the number of hikers is strictly limited; you have to get a special permit to even start.  And they keep track of who gets where and when.

Like on the second afternoon – on the way to “Happy Camp,” seen in part at right.  That late afternoon I was “dragging tail” and the light started fading, so a nice lady ranger came out to help me, along with a nice husky young gent who carried my pack the rest of the way.*

That’s when I experienced the phantom pack phenomenon.  It’s not unlike the “phantom limb” sensation, but leaves you weaving and rolling like a drunken sailor.

That was one time I got to “if I could have cried I would.”  (Hey, I’m secure in my masculinity.)  

Another thing:  The nice lady ranger felt so bad for me she let us three stay in her private facility – the one above right – which meant we didn’t have to pitch our tents in the dark.  (She also gave us juice boxes, like “heaven on earth.”  I could have sworn they were raisin juice, but my older brother later said raisins are just dried-up grapes. It may have been the delirium, or the relief…)

Another excuse?  “Hiking the Chilkoot Trail is sheer torture for someone – like me – with only one good eye and and thus no depth perception.”  (For more detail see the February 2017 post, On that nail in my right eye.)  So my word of advice:  If you have only one good eye and no depth perception, take it slow and easy, and be ready to let the other hikers pass you by.

More good advice:  Anyone hiking the trail is advised that if they have to get airlifted out – like for a twisted ankle or such – the cost will be a cool $28,000.00.  Which brings up another point rangers make in the process of getting your permit to hike the trail:  Watch out for the bears!

A historical note:  The Chilkoot’s claim to fame started with the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896–99.  That “transformed the Chilkoot Trail into a mainstream transportation route to Canada’s interior.”  Also, the only other route to the gold fields was through White Pass.  (Up to 1899, when a railroad was built from Skagway to the Yukon.)   So which route was better?  Pioneer Mont Hawthorne said there wasn’t much difference:  “One’s hell.  The other’s damnation.”

13 Dead Horse GulchAnother side note:  White Pass was also called “Dead Horse Trail,” apparently renamed by Jack London:  “Nearly 3,000 pack animals died.  Drivers rushing over the pass had little concern for beasts.  Exhausted horses starved, were hurt on rough ground, became mired in mud and fell over cliffs.”

Which also gives you a feel for “hiking the Chilkoot.”

Which in turn brings up the question:  Why the hell would you do such a thing?

One answer can be seen in a post from my companion blog, On St. James, Steinbeck, and sluts.  It spoke in part of the “value of such pilgrimages in general.”  For example:

We were speaking of pilgrimages.  More to the point, of why an otherwise-relatively-sane 65-year-old [at the time] would either hike the Chilkoot Trail or spend 12 days canoeing 440 miles on the Yukon River.  That of course brings up St. James the Greater

And James is the Patron Saint of Pilgrims.  On that note, the post cited the book Passages of the Soul: Ritual Today. (James Roose-Evans.)  It said a pilgrimage – like a 12-day canoe trip on the Yukon or a “hike” on the Chilkoot &$%# Trail – “may be described as a ritual on the move.”

Further, the book said that through “the raw experience of hunger, cold, lack of sleep,” we can often find a sense of our fragility as mere human beings.  (And that’s especially true when the “majesty and permanence” of God’s creation included “all those &$%# rocks!”)

Finally, the book noted that such a pilgrimage – such ritual on the move – can be “one of the most chastening, but also one of the most liberating” of personal experiences.

I certainly felt “chastened” after we got back to Skagway from the Chilkoot Trail.  (Although the 10-of-12 beers that my nephew and I shared – of the two six-packs I bought – helped a lot too…)  But as I said in I pity the fool, “I pity the fool who doesn’t do pilgrimages and otherwise push the envelope, even at the advance stage of his life.”

Besides, my Chilkoot Trail experience made the Happy Camp “raisin juice” taste great!!!

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To repeat, the Chilkoot Trail is just “one big pile of &%#@ rocks after another!!!

(And this is one of the smooth parts…)

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The upper image is courtesy of Chilkoot Trail – Image Results.  From a post, “What the Chilkoot Trail Taught Me about Leadership – Pt. 6,” posted on , “b.”  A highlight:

We endured miserable weather throughout the day – cold, rainy and very windy…  At times, especially hiking up to and down from the summit I was quite frightened as I was afraid we would either be blown off the mountain or slip careening down the mountain.

I knew the feeling…  Also, this review-post borrowed liberally from On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1 and Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 2.  

Re:  “Up” the Yukon River.  Like the Nile River, the Yukon flows north, which makes it unusual.

Re:  “Husky young gent who carried my pack the rest of the way.”  My brother and just-out-of-the-Army nephew also took turns carrying my pack part of the way to “Happy Camp.”  

Re:  “But as I said in I pity the fool…”  There followed a loose translation of Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s saying, “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”

Re:  The book Passages of the Soul: Ritual Today.  The book also noted that a healthy sense of ritual “should pervade a healthy society, and that a big problem now is that we’ve abandoned many rituals that used to help us deal with big change and major trauma.”

Re:  The negative tone of this post.  My brother thought my post “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited was also too negative; too “complaining” in general.  So I posted “Buen Camino!” – The Good Parts.  

Some people reading “Hola! Buen Camino” might think I had a lousy time in my five weeks hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  For example, there was my comment on the first 10 days – after starting in Pamplona – being “pretty miserable.  My left foot constantly throbbed, until it blistered up and got tough…”  But there were lots of good things that happened during those 30 days on the Camino…

But “fun stuff doesn’t make for good drama.”  See What Elements Make for [Good Drama]?

If your drama doesn’t have a juicy, complex, emotional, heart-wrenching, personal, intelligent, connectable role for an actor – it’s dead in the water.  And as a side note, don’t be afraid to inject some comedy into your dramatic scenes.  Except for Schindler’s List, every single drama listed above has more than one moment of levity.  However, there is one thing that every good drama needs no matter what the story is.  It’s more than a trend – it’s the mandatory ingredient – CONFLICT.  Drama is based on conflict.  And not just any conflict, but one that is powerful, relatable, and complex enough to propel a story forward… 

And BTW:  That hike on the Camino de Santiago in Spain took place in the fall of 2017.

The lower image is courtesy of Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site – Parks Canada:  “The Chilkoot Trail is a 53 kilometre / 33 mile trip through history and one of North America’s most fabled treks. The trail crosses the international boundary between the United States and Canada and is co-operatively managed by Parks Canada and the US National Park Service.”

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 67-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”    

Anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

A review of Ric Burns’ “Pilgrims” DVD…

“The actor Roger Rees renders [William] Bradford beautifully,” in Ric Burns’  “The Pilgrims…”

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Just for a change of pace, I offer this review of a DVD I just finished watching:  American Experience: The Pilgrims, a documentary film by Ric Burns.  (Available at Amazon.com.) 

I must say that – overall – I found the tone pretty depressing.  I wrote before – in Thanksgiving 2015 for example – that of the 102 Pilgrims who landed in November 1620 at Plymouth Rock, less than half survived the first year.  (To November 1621.)  And of the 18 adult women, only four survived that first winter in the hoped-for “New World.”   (Illustrated at left.)

I just hadn’t appreciated the extent of that loss on an emotional level.  Another way of saying that – just as at Jamestown, started in 1607 – there was a whole lot of human suffering:

The major similarity between the first Jamestown settlers and the first Plymouth settlers was great human suffering…  November was too late to plant crops.  Many settlers died of scurvy and malnutrition during that horrible first winter.  Of the 102 original Mayflower passengers, only 44 survived.  Again like in Jamestown, the kindness of the local Native Americans saved them from a frosty death.

In Thanksgiving – 2016, I wrote that the “men and women who first settled America paid a high price, so that we could enjoy the privilege of stuffing ourselves into a state of stupor.”  But the Ric Burns film brought that suffering home in a way I hadn’t fully appreciated before.

And by the way, the full caption for the picture at the top of the page reads, “The actor Roger Rees renders Bradford beautifully;  it was among his last performances before his death in July,” 2015.  Which could be both prescient and ironic.  That is, while Rees died at 71 – when life expectancy today is about 78 – William Bradford lived to the ripe old age of 67, when life expectancy was about half that.

There’s more about that at the end of this post…

But what I found most fascinating was how Bradford’s journal, Of Plymouth Plantation, proved the truth of the old adage, “Everything perishes, save the written word.*”  For starters, here’s what Wikipedia said about Plymouth Colony in general:

Despite the colony’s relatively short existence, Plymouth holds a special role in American history…  The events surrounding the founding and history of Plymouth Colony have had a lasting effect on the art, traditions, mythology, and politics of the United States of America, despite its short history of fewer than 72 years.

And what gave “Plymouth” such a special place in American history was Bradford’s journal,  Of Plymouth Plantation. (Which proves again, “Everything perishes, save the written word.”) And which brings up another thing that I hadn’t realized:  That the book was almost lost to history.

That is, the original manuscript was left in the tower of the Old South Meeting House in Boston during the American Revolution.  But after British troops occupied Boston, it disappeared “for the next century.”  The missing manuscript was finally re-discovered, “in the Bishop of London‘s library at Fulham Palace,” and printed again in 1856.  It was only after much finagling – including a verdict ultimately rendered by the Consistorial and Episcopal Court of London – that the manuscript was brought back to the U.S. and given to Massachusetts in 1897.

That’s a point noted by the New York Times’ In ‘The Pilgrims,’ Ric Burns Looks at Mythmaking(Including the one about the Plymouth “Signing of the Mayflower Compact,” at left.)

Mr. Burns’s most inspired touch is to end not in the 1600s, but two centuries later, by following what happened to Bradford’s journal.  It disappeared during the Revolutionary War, then was rediscovered in the mid-1800s…  The Mayflower passengers suffered terrible hardships, and from the Indians’ point of view their arrival was ultimately a dark day.  But not on Thanksgiving.  “There’s been a tremendous amount of memory produced around the Pilgrims, but there’s also been a lot of forgetting,” the literary critic Kathleen Donegan notes, adding later: “We don’t think about the loss.  We think about the abundance.”

Or consider this, from Who Were the Pilgrims Who Celebrated the First Thanksgiving.  “The first winter, people died from dysentery, pneumonia, tuberculosis, scurvy, and exposure, at rates as high as two or three per day.  ‘It pleased God to visit us then with death daily,’ Bradford wrote.”

But the Pilgrims were “inventive enough” to conceal their losses from the Indians:  “inventive enough, as Donegan notes, to prop up sick men against trees outside the settlement, with muskets beside them, as decoys to look like sentinels to the Indians.”

The point is this:  Our “Forefathers” – and Foremothers as well – suffered greatly to come to America, and usually much more than we appreciate.  More than that, from the beginning they were “aliens in a strange land.”  Which brings up Deuteronomy 10:19, where God said to the Children of Israel:  “You are also to love the resident alien, since you were resident aliens in the land of Egypt.”  And that’s a point worth remembering these days…

But let’s close with a note of hope and cheer, at least for me.  That is, rumor has it that William Bradford was one of my long-ago ancestors.  If that’s true, I hope I inherited his longevity gene.

That earlier “Bradford” lived to a ripe old age of 67.  That was at a time when life expectancy for that time and place was about half that long.  See for example, life expectancy in American in the years 1750-1800.  That is, the life expectancy a century after Bradford’s time – he died in 1657 – was 36 years.  So if that “1.86 factor” applied to me today – with a  male U.S. life expectancy of 76 years – I should live to be 141.  (Giving me another 74 years.) 

And who knows, I might end my years with the old-age benefits of King David:

King David was old and advanced in years;  and although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm.  So his servants said to him, ‘Let a young virgin be sought for my lord the king, and let her wait on the king, and be his attendant;  let her lie in your bosom, so that my lord the king may be warm.’  So they searched for a beautiful girl throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king.  The girl was very beautiful.  She became the king’s attendant and served him, but the king did not know her…

(In the biblical sense.)   On the other hand, King David didn’t have all the “better living through chemistry” advantages we have today.  And that will no doubt increase by, say, 2080?

Something to look forward to…

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The upper image is courtesy of Review (NYT): In ‘The Pilgrims,’ Ric Burns Looks at Mythmaking.

Re:  “Everything perishes save the written word.”  The quote is from Techniques of Fiction Writing: Measure and Madness, by Leon Surmelian.  Surmelian cited Plato as saying the poet – including but not limited to the writer of fiction, and maybe of such essays as these – creates “not by science or technique, not by any conscious artistry, but by inspiration or influence of some non-rational, supernatural influence.”  Which could apply to the writers of the Bible, which Surmelian implied by saying a true writer “is the medium of some higher spirit that gets into him.  He is literally inspired.”

But – Surmelian continued – the writer needs more than mere inspiration, by and through “what mysterious power dwells within him.”  (The “madness” in the book title.)  He needs “measure:”

Through measure a story is given the structure and style that snatch it from the chaos of reality and fix it in the memory of man.  We remember through measure.  We move from the unrealized to the realized through measure.  Through measure writing resists the ravages of time.  Everything perishes save the written word, says an old eastern proverb.

From the 1969 Anchor Books paperback edition, at pages 242-44, emphasis added.

The image to the right of the paragraph ending, “Bradford lived to the ripe old age of 67, when life expectancy was about half that,” shows the “Coat of Arms of William Bradford.”

Also from (New York Times) Review: In ‘The Pilgrims,’ Ric Burns Looks at Mythmaking:

The Pilgrims and their fellow travelers weren’t terrorists, of course (despite an instance of putting the severed head of a perceived enemy on a pole), but they and those who followed certainly did effect a cultural conquest.  Some versions of their story play that down, partly because a plague resulting from earlier contact with Westerners brought widespread death to coastal Indians in the Northeast just before the Mayflower arrived. God, it seemed to some, killed off the Indians to make way for the whites, a view this program corrects.

 Here’s more from Who Were the Pilgrims Who Celebrated the First Thanksgiving:

It draws on the unique, nearly lost history, Of Plymouth Plantation, written by William Bradford, the new colony’s governor for more than 30 years, whom the late actor Roger Rees portrays from a script derived from Bradford’s book.

Right from the start, the death rate was awful. Mortality had been enormous at the Jamestown colony, where by 1620 nearly 8,000 people had arrived, although the settlement was struggling to keep its population above a thousand. Bradford’s history recalled the Pilgrims’ anticipation of “a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and wild men.” Ferrying in supplies from the ship meant wading through ice-cold water, at one point with sleet glazing their bodies with ice. The first winter, people died from dysentery, pneumonia, tuberculosis, scurvy, and exposure, at rates as high as two or three per day. “It pleased God to visit us then with death daily,” Bradford wrote…

See also PBS Documentary “The Pilgrims”: A Review.

The lower image is courtesy of King David Abishag – Image Results.  The painting may actually show Bathsheba, see Moritz Stifter Bathsheba – Image Results, and/or Bathsheba Painting – Image Results.  The “Abishag” connection was gleaned from “Interesting Green: Reflection – King David and Abishag,” from veryfatoldmanblogspot.com.  But see also Is Veryfatoldman.blogspot legit and safe?  (Review).

Donald Trump: He’s no “Virginia Gentleman”

Alexander Spotswood by Charles Bridges (Colonial Williamsburg copy).jpg

A true “virginia Gentleman” – Alexander Spotswood (1676-1740)…

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The last post I did was on December 10, 2018.  (My excuse is the rush of the holidays.)  So here goes:  The first post of 2019.

I just started reading Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, by Stephen Ambrose.  In the process I found a timely passage – relevant to today’s political scene – at the start of Chapter 2.  It described Lewis when he was a young “Virginia Planter,” from 1792 to 1794.  (“Touchstone” edition, 1997, pages 30-31.) 

Some side notes:  Lewis and his co-captain William Clark didn’t begin their famous “Corps of Discovery” expedition until May, 1804.  That came about after his career as an army officer started – and thus after his career as a Virginia planter ended – in 1794.

That “change of life” was a direct result of the Whiskey Rebellion (The “tax protest” in western Pennsylvania, from 1791 to 1794, during the presidency of George Washington.)

That is, in 1794 Meriwether Lewis joined the Virginia militia, to help put down the Rebellion.  In turn he left the family plantation in the care of his mother.  At the end of his term (1795), his mother wanted him back home to run the plantation.  Instead he joined the regular U.S. Army and – In due course – got court martialed.  (For “arguing politics” with a fellow officer.)  He was found not guilty, but had to be transferred to a different outfit.  As it turned out, he joined the “Chosen Rifle Company of elite rifleman-sharpshooters.”  The captain of that company was William Clark,* with whom he went on to explore the Louisiana Purchase.

But we digress…  The point is this:  Ambrose began Chapter 2 by describing the life of a Virginia planter in the mid-1700s.  (“Foaled, not born, Virginia planters were said to be,” in part because riding a horse “was not a matter of sport or diversion but of necessity.”)  Ambrose continued:

A Virginia gentleman was expected to be hospitable and generous, courteous in his relations with his peers, chivalrous toward women, and kind to his inferiors.  There was a high standard of politeness…  Wenching and other debauchery, heavy drinking, and similar personal vices were common enough, but as long as they did not interfere with relations between members of the gentry they were condoned.  The unpardonable sins were lying and meanness of spirit.  [E.A.]

Which led to my conclusion that – whatever else he might be – Donald Trump is not what you would call a “Virginia Gentleman.”  Another aside:  I Googled “donald trump lying” and got 49 million results.  “Donald trump lies” got over 37 million results.  “Donald trump mean spirited” got transformed into “donald trump is mean spirited.”  That got a mere 432,000 results.

Donald TrumpBut among the results from “mean spirited” was a May 2012 piece from Newsmax(The “multiplatform network focused on conservative media…  the most trafficked conservative website,” and – according to one study –  “the number one site for conservatives in the U.S., making it one of the most influential conservative news sites in the nation.”) 

The title of that 2012 article?  Donald Trump [says] Mean-Spirited GOP Won’t Win Elections.  Which made for some interesting reading.

Among the gems:  Trump said he “really doesn’t like to fire people,” a point that was confirmed by a “top aide for 26 years.”  The aide said that “there are two Donalds: the ‘outrageous’ one portrayed on television and the real one only insiders know.”  The private Donald Trump – the aide insisted – is “the dearest, most thoughtful, most loyal, most caring man,” and that “caring side inspires loyalty and is one of his secrets to success.”

But the main Trump point:  “The Republican Party will continue to lose presidential elections if it comes across as mean-spirited and unwelcoming toward people of color.”  Then too:

“The Democrats didn’t have a policy for dealing with illegal immigrants, but what they did have going for them is they weren’t mean-spirited about it,” Trump says.  “They didn’t know what the policy was, but what they were is they were kind.”

But again we digress…  Except to note that the Donald Trump of 2012 seems markedly different than the Donald Trump that we’ve seen as president the last two years…

Getting back to the internet, we’ve seen the Google-term “donald trump lying” got 49 million results, “Donald trump lies” got over 37 million results, and “donald trump is mean spirited” got almost half a million results.  So just to be fair I Googled “donald trump is hospitable,” and got just under 25,000 results.  The term “donald trump is chivalrous” got under 14,000 results.

So there you have it.  “Donald trump is mean spirited” outweighed “donald trump is chivalrous” by a margin of 35 to 1.  And “donald trump lying” outweighed “donald trump is hospitable” by a margin of 3,500 to 1.  Which proves again that – whatever else he might be – Trump is not what you would consider a “Virginia Gentleman.”  (And it’s on the internet so it must be true.)

Bonjour!!!

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The upper image is courtesy of Alexander Spotswood – Wikipedia:

[He] was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army and a noted Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.  He is noted in Virginia and American history for a number of his projects as governor, including his exploring beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains, his establishing what was perhaps the first colonial iron works, and his negotiating the Treaty of Albany with the Iroquois Nations of New York.

Other notes:  “Spotswood Hall,” at the College of William and Mary was named for him, along with “Old Spotswood, a cannon seized during the Revolutionary war,” along with the Spotswood Society.  Spotsylvania County in Virginia is also named for him:  “Spots” + “sylvania” (“woods” in Latin).  The county seat is Spotsylvania Courthouse, the sight of a Civil War battle in May 1864.

Yet another BTW:  “Virginia Gentleman” is also the name of a bourbon, a hot sauce, and a “men’s collegiate a cappella group,” the oldest such group at the University of Virginia,” founded in 1953. 

Re:  Lewis having to transfer to Clark’s rifle company because of a court-martial.  Army regulations at the time forbade officers from either using “reproachful or provoking speeches” to another officer, or challenging him to a duel.  Lewis was charged with “disturbing the peace and harmony of a Company of Officers” by arguing politics.  Not surprisingly, Lewis held “Jeffersonian” views, while the bulk of officers at the time were cherry-picked Federalists.  (Who went on to pass the Alien and Sedition Acts, arguably to quash political opposition.)  When Lewis got thrown out, he challenged the fellow officer – a Lieutenant Eliott – to a duel.  Lewis was found not guilty, in large part because the commander of the “Second Sub-Legion,” Mad Anthony Wayne, thought the regulations were – in a word – stupid:

So the partnership of Lewis and Clark, destined to become the most famous in American history, began because General Wayne preferred to have his officers fight out their differences in a duel rather than in a court-martial and therefore found for the man who had issued the challenge [Lewis] rather than the one who had followed the law and brought charges.

See the “Touchstone” edition, 1997, at pages 45-46.

Re:  The Trump image to the right of the “Newsmax, mean-spirited” graf.  Most recently I borrowed it from the November 16, 2018 post, The Bible says: Blame Trump for “his” mass shootings.

Re:  A Virginia Gentleman being “hospitable and generous, courteous in his relations with his peers, chivalrous toward women, and kind to his inferiors.  There was a high standard of politeness.”  See Cherry-pick[ing] – Idioms … Free Dictionary.  And also Turnabout is fair play – Idioms … Free Dictionary.  To be fair – for example – the term “donald trump is kind to his inferiors” got nearly 13 million results, but those results included Katy Burns:  Trump fumes, and America loses a bit more of of itself, and Donald Trump’s mother asked: ‘What kind of son have I created?’  Another note:  I started typing “donald trump is” and immediately got the primary result, “donald trump is an idiot.”

The lower image is courtesy of Internet Must Be True Bonjour – Image Results.  See the original State Farm “Bonjour” television ad at State Farm® State of Disbelief French Model – YouTube.

Some thoughts on “the Donald,” from two years ago…

An April 2016 post:  Is there a new Maverick in town,” or just another ‘what has been?'”

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called him a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

That’s now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

Nick Adams The Rebel.JPGOn November 22, 2016 – 18 days after he got elected – I posted Donald Trump – The new Johnny Yuma?  That post borrowed from the earlier, April 16, 2016 post:  “Is there a new ‘Maverick’ in town?”  Which explains the lead photo above, about mavericks in general:

Originally the term referred to “Texas lawyer Samuel Maverick, who refused to brand his cattle.  The surname Maverick is of Welsh origin, from Welsh mawr-rwyce, meaning ‘valiant hero…”  As an adjective the term applies to someone who shows “independence in thoughts or actions.”  As a noun the term means someone “who does not abide by rules.”  Either that, or someone who “creates or uses unconventional and/or controversial ideas or practices.”

That post also asked the “musical question:  ‘Can you say prescient?'”  (That question concerned a candidate for president who – in 1998 – showed “a malignant understanding of how angry words, more than real ideas, can be deployed as weapons of power.”  And it wasn’t Donald Trump.*):

[R]epetition – invoking the same foul claims over and over – can transform outrageous lies into popular understandings.  He blithely changes his facts, positions and personae because he is making it up as he goes along and assumes no one will catch up with the contradictions.  Beneath the mask of conservative idealogue is an amoral pragmatist.

So, we’re now two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, and there are some things all Americans can agree on:  First, that Trump “creates or uses unconventional and/or controversial ideas or practices.”  And second, that he “does not abide by rules.”  But the question remains whether he is a “rebel,” as the old “Johnny Yuma” TV series defined that term:

Yuma faced down intolerance, distrust, greed, confusion and revenge.  Despite his rebellious nature, Yuma respected law and order and despised abuse of power.  He stood up for the weak and downtrodden.  He traveled alone and was often forced to work alone because he was the only one willing to stand up to the bad guys. (E.A.)

It would be hard to say – with a straight face – that Trump “respects law and order,” given his continued insulting of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for example.  (I Googled “trump insults fbi” and got 2,450,000 results.)  And it could easily be said – with a straight face – that Donald Trump personifies “intolerance, distrust, greed, confusion and revenge.”

Woodstock poster.jpgBut we were talking about “thoughts from two years ago.”  And another tidbit from two years ago came in the November 30, 2016 post, “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night.”

I wrote of the irony of Trump being seen as a hero by the average blue-collar worker.  Then I imagined a future folk singer – a “dulcet-toned lass” – comparing Trump to Joe Hill, as immortalized by Joan Baez at Woodstock(“I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night…”)  The post cited a pre-election article saying if Trump lost, the “millions of Americans supporting him will feel more isolated and disillusioned than ever before.”  Which raises the question today, “Are those millions of Americans better off now that Trump got elected?”

[M]illions of Americans [have] looked to Trump to save them.  These folks … the angry, white, blue-collar workers who are outraged or terrified that America has become some topsy-turvy multi-cultural nightmare where a hard-working man cannot make a decent living … will emerge from this circus worse off than before [had Trump not been elected…]

Put another way, has Trump “stood up for the weak and downtrodden?”  Has he delivered the goods for the millions of “angry white blue-collar workers” who looked to him for salvation?

Or – instead – Is this (just)“deja vu all over again?”  (Another post from 2016.  That one noted the “brittle, bitter climate of distrust in national politics today:  the loss of civility amid endless personal accusations, the stalemates that develop on issue after issue when both sides are unable to approach the grounds where reasonable compromise can occur.”  And that was in 1998!)   

And about that name, “the Donald.”  It turns out it got started by Ivana Trump‘s “broken English,” then got a boost – from all people – a writer at The Washington Post.

I noted that nickname in a May 12, 2017 post:  “He’ll be impeached within two years:”

If Trump turns out to be as bad as people expect – based on how he presented himself, both in his campaigns and in office – fully 75% of the country could be strongly against him by the time of the mid-term elections in 2018.  Which could turn out to be a single-issue race.

Seal of the U.S. House of RepresentativesThe prediction – based on analysis by a number of pundits – hasn’t yet come to pass.  Though in some respects the 2018 mid-term elections were a single-issue race, at least for the House.

On the other hand, consider the post, Trump is like a box of chocolates,” from November 13, 2016.

It first quoted Professor Allan Lichtman, who predicted in September 2016 that Trump would win the election.  But he went on to say Trump would be impeached, but not by Democrats.  The Republicans – he said – would much rather have Mike Pence as president, as “far easier to control.”

They don’t want Trump as president, because they can’t control him.  He’s unpredictable. They’d love to have [Mike] Pence – an absolutely down-the-line, conservative, controllable Republican…  “Pence in the White House would put a more trusted establishment Republican in the job.”

That hasn’t come to pass either, but that post went on to ask:  “In light of Donald Trump’s chameleon-like shifting political positions – especially since last Tuesday – will he eventually be seen as an ‘effective elected official,’ or a funhouse showman?”

The jury’s still out on that one…

But the part I remember was the “Gump-like” surprise of the election itself, which led one well-known American icon to ask:  “Are you telling me Donald Trump just got elected president?”

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The upper image is courtesy of Maverick (TV series) – Wikipedia.  See also Donald Trump – The new Johnny Yuma (From November 22, 2016.)  And “Is there a new ‘Maverick’ in town?  (April 26, 2016.)  

Re:  The “angry words” candidate who wasn’t Donald Trump.  It was actually Newt Gingrich, as detailed in the November 12, 1998 edition of Rolling Stone magazine.  See the May 9, 2016 post, Is this “deja vu all over again?”

Re:  The November 8, 2016 post:  “He’ll be impeached within two years.”  It includes a screwed-up image to the right of the opening paragraph that I wanted to delete but couldn’t figure out how.

Other past posts from 2016 -considered for inclusion herein – included:  From September 15:  Donald Trump and the Hell’s Angel; from November 8:  ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian; and from November 22: Donald Trump – The new Johnny Yuma?

I wanted to close the post with the Calvin and Hobbes [cartoon] for July 07, 1995, but couldn’t cut and paste it.  The punch line was “enmity sells,” and it seems to have been an on-the-mark foreshadowing of Trump’s style of governing.   (Check it out yourself…)

The lower image is courtesy of Forrest Gump (1994) – IMDb, as featured in “Trump is like a box of chocolates.”  See also Forrest Gump – Wikipedia, and Life is like a box of chocolates – Wiktionary.  The latter indicated that the book “Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, first published in Japanese in 1987, and in English in 1989, has the following: ‘Just remember, life is like a box of chocolates.’”  (I.e., that quote was published some seven years before the movie.)

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 67-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”    

Anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

The Bible says: Blame Trump for “his” mass shootings

2017 featured 345 mass shootings under Trump, compared to 162 in Obama’s eight years…

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Supported by a friend, a man weeps for victims of the mass shooting just a block from the scene in Orlando, Florida, on June Remember June, 2016?  That’s when then-candidate Donald Trump said then- President Barak Obama should resign, after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S.  That is, the deadliest mass shooting up to that point?  You know, the one in Orlando?  (Just to narrow it down a bit.)

Amid reports that a gunman had killed 49 people at a gay nightclub early Sunday, Trump could only respond by bragging that he’d predicted such a thing would happen, and arguing that the attack justified his proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

In plain words, Donald Trump blamed President Obama for the shootings, linked him personally with the shooter, and implied that nothing like that would happen if he were elected president.  Not to mention saying Obama should resign after “his” mass shooting.

Which led me to recently Google “trump obama resign mass shooting.”

That led me in turn to some interesting results:  Not least of all because it led me to Google “mass shootings since trump took office.”  Briefly, there was apparently a “lull in the action” during the first few months of 2017, but then things heated up.  (And not in a good way.) 

For example, on March 18, 2017, a blogger, “Raptorman,” posted What Happened to Obama Era Of Mass Shootings Under the Trump Administration?  Early in 2017 he bragged thusly:

It had been over 253 days since Donald Trump became President of the United States of America with no crazed mass murder shootings until the Las Vegas shooting.  A much longer period of time without a big mass murder shooting than under the previous administration.

shoot4“Raptorman” then posted a chart showing how such mass shootings had burgeoned under Obama.  (From in the low 20s under previous presidents, to 162 under Obama.)  He defined a mass shooting as involving “4 or more people.”  But then came a post on April 16, 2017:  The U.S. Has Had 273 Mass Shootings in 2017 So Far (“And you likely didn’t hear about all of them.”)

That writer –  – also

The nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA) counts 29 mass shootings across the U.S. just in September[?], 255 since President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20, and 273 since the start of the year, while defining a “mass shooting” as “four or more” gunshot victims, not including the shooter.  At the current rate calculated by GVA, 2017 is on track to have more mass shootings than any other year since GVA began tracking gun violence in the U.S.

This was in response to the shooting at the “Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas, killing 50 and injuring more than 400 in the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival.”

But since Couts’ post came a mere month after “Raptorman’s,” something didn’t add up.  So, for a more accurate count I checked 2017 deemed America’s deadliest year for mass shootings, posted December 11, 2017.  It said, “According to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that continuously tracks gun-related death and injury reports based on official records, there have been 345 mass shootings in America in 2017 alone.”

So as it turned out, the estimate by Gun Violence Archive – noted by  in April 2017 – turned out to be chillingly accurate.  Which means that under Obama there were 162 mass shootings, while under Donald Trump, there were 345 mass shootings in 2017 alone.

Then came 2018, about which the New York Daily News said – last November 8, a week or so ago (the headline at left is from 1975) – that America’s averaging almost a mass shooting a day in 2018:

There have been nearly as many mass shootings in the United States in 2018 as there have been days in the year so far, according to a nonprofit organization that records gun violence data.  The horrific attack carried out in a Thousand Oaks, Calif., bar on Wednesday night was the 307th mass shooting in America this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which classifies a “mass shooting” in which at least four people are shot, not including the shooter.

So again, under Obama there were 162 mass shootings in eight years. 

Under Donald Trump there were 345 mass shootings in 2017 and 307 in 2018.  (As of November 8, 2018.)  Which adds up to a grand total – for two years, not counting the rest of November and December, 2018 – of 652 mass shootings under Trump so far.  That’s four times greater than Obama’s eight years, in one-fourth the time.  (In a mere two years, for the math-challenged.)

And incidentally, the New York Daily News has been described as “flexibly centrist,” not one of those “fake news” media types complained of by some Republicans.  For example, it endorsed George W. Bush in 2004, Barack Obama in 2008, Mitt Romney in 2012, and Hillary Clinton in 2016.  Which means that a claim of “fake news” would be hard to justify.  (To anyone except the most ardent Trump supporter, to which I would respond, “Fake news?”  Fake brain!)

But we digress.  The point?  All this calculating led me to the October 27 article, Why it’s fair to ask whether Trump is to blame.  Senior political reporter Aaron Blake gave a lengthy analysis, which included this note:  “There is a growing sense of grievance among Republicans about the narrative that Trump might have some culpability for the postal bombs that were sent to many of his high-profile political foes over the past week.”  Or for the spate of mass shootings.

But the Bible – that favorite tool of “Trump-humping evangelicals” – says otherwise.

Which is another way of saying that such a lengthy “Blake” analysis really isn’t necessary.  At least not according to the Bible.  That is, Luke 6:38 provides a much better, much shorter answer:  “The standards you use for others will be [the ones] applied to you.”  Or in a slightly different translation, “The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you.”

Which should give “the Donald” some pause for thought

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Donald Trump

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The upper image is courtesy of Mass Shooting – Image Results.  It’s linked to the article, “Las Vegas Shooting Is the 273rd Mass Shooting This Year,” which included these notes:  “The gun industry often uses mass shootings to rally sales, telling consumers that such events may lead to stricter gun laws,” and that “Gun company stocks rose following the Las Vegas mass shooting.”

Re:  Orlando mass shooting.  Somehow I got that one mixed up with the Stoneman Douglas (“Parkland”) High School shooting.  Unfortunately, and as noted, it’s been hard to keep track…

Re:  Trump blaming Obama, etc.  See also Donald Trump’s Response To The Orlando Shooting Was Downright HorrificTrump: Obama Was Maybe Involved in the Orlando Shooting, and Donald Trump Calls On Obama To Resign Over Orlando Shooting.

Re:  “Raptorman.”  He may have chosen his blog-name from a character in the film Full Metal Jacket.  I too thought the Marine photographer was “Raptorman,” but apparently it was “Rafter Man:”

In the book [The Short-Timers], “Rafter Man” got his name because during a striptease show in the mess hall, he got piss drunk and climbed into the rafters for a better view, then fell right onto a front row table of brass, spraying colonels and generals with their own beer.  The highest ranking general picked him up, then pulled up a chair and let Rafter Man sit with him, thereby impressing the other Marines.  The movie kept the nickname but didn’t bother with the back story.

See Full Metal Jacket – Meaning of the names rafterman and Animal Mother.  There is also a book Full Metal Jacket Diary, by Matthew Modine, who played “Joker” in the film.

Re:  Luke 6:38.  I used the GOD’S WORD® Translation in the main text.  Other translations:   “The measure you use for others is the one that God will use for you;”  “you’ll be evaluated by the same standard with which you evaluate others;” and in the King James Bible – the one God uses – “For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Then of course there’s also the Golden Rule, set out by Jesus in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31.  In the “negative form of the Golden Rule, or the “Silver Rule” as it is sometimes called,” the rule reads:  “Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you.”  Then too there’s Karma

Re:   “Trump-humping evangelicals.”  See “Trump-humping” – and Christians arguing with each other, in my companion blog, featuring the image at left.

The lower image is courtesy of Donald Trump – Image Results.  See also Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian.

On the THREE days of Hallowe’en…

“A graveyard outside a Lutheran church in Röke, Sweden on the feast of All Hallows…”

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Jack-o'-Lantern 2003-10-31.jpgMost people think Halloween is one day, October 31st.  But there are actually three days of “Hallowe’en.”  Or more precisely, Halloween is the first day of the Halloween “Triduum.”  (In the alternative Allhallowtide.) 

And Triduum is just a fancy Latin word for “three days.”

In turn the word “hallow” – in both “Hallowe’en” and “Allhallowtide” – came from the Old English word for “saint,” halig.  That eventually became “hallow.”  (Maybe because it was easier to say.)  Which led to November 1 now being called All Saints’ Day.  But to the Old English, “All Haligs’ Day” – November 1 – eventually became “All Hallows Day.”  Then the “eve” before that Feast Day – October 31 – became “All Hallows Evening.”  In time that shortened to “All Hallows E’en.”  And later still it shortened to “Hallowe’en,” then just plain Halloween.

Wikipedia said this three-day period is a “time to remember the dead, including martyrssaints, and all faithful departed Christians.”  The main day of the three is November 1, now called All Saints Day, but previously referred to as Hallowmas.  It was established sometime between 731 and 741 – over 1,300 years ago – “perhaps by Pope Gregory III.”

Put another way, November 1 honors “all the saints and martyrs, both known and unknown.”  In other words, special people in the Church.  (A saint is defined as having “having an exceptional degree of holiness,” while a martyr is someone “killed because of their testimony of Jesus.”)  On the other hand, November 2 – All Souls’ Day – was designed to honor “all faithful Christians … unknown in the wider fellowship of the church, especially family members and friends.’”  In other words, the rest of us poor schmucks (Those of us who have died, that is.)

So back to Halloween:  It all started with an old-time belief that evil spirits were most prevalent during the long nights of winter.  The “old-timers” also thought the “barriers between our world and the spirit world” were at their its lowest and most permeable the night of October 31:

So, those old-time people would wear masks or put on costumes in order to disguise their identities.  The idea was to keep the afterlife “hallows” – ghosts or spirits – from recognizing the people in this, the “material world.”

Another thing they did was build bonfires, literally bonefires.  (That is, “bonfires were originally fires in which bones were burned.”)  The original idea was that evil spirits had to be driven away with noise and fire.  But that evolved into this:  The “fires were thought to bring comfort to the souls in purgatory and people prayed for them as they held burning straw up high.”

There was another old-time custom, that if you had to travel on All Hallows E’en – like from 11:00 p.m. until midnight – your had to be careful.  If your candle kept burning, that was a good omen.  (The person holding the candle would be safe in the upcoming winter “season of darkness.”)  But if your candle went out, “the omen was bad indeed.”

The thought was that the candle had been blown out by witches

Then there were the pumpkins.  Apparently some other old-time people set out carved pumpkins on their windowsills, to keep “harmful spirits” out of their home.   But yet another tradition said  jack-o’-lanterns “represented Christian souls in purgatory.”  And while today jack-o’-lanterns are made from pumpkins, but were originally carved from large turnips.

In turn, both the jack-o’-lantern and Will-o’-the-wisp – at right, in a Japanese interpretation – are tied in with the strange ghostly light known as ignis fatuus.  (From the Medieval Latin for “foolish fire.”)  That refers to the “atmospheric ghost light seen by travelers at night, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes.  It resembles a flickering lamp and is said to recede if approached:”

Tradition had it that this ghostly light – seen by travelers at night and “especially over bogs, swamps or marshes – resembled a flickering lamp.  The flickering lamp then receded if you approached it, and so it “drew travelers from their safe paths,” to their doom…

Finally we get to the third of the three-day holiday – November 2 – All Souls’ Day.  The original idea was to remember the souls of “the dear departed,” illustrated by the painting below.

“Observing Christians typically remember deceased relatives” on November 2.  The custom began in the sixth century with a Benedictine custom of commemorating deceased members of a given monastery at Whitsuntide.  (Or “Whit(e) Sunday,” also known as Pentecost, held 50 days after Easter Sunday.)  That changed in the 11th century when Saint Odilo of Cluny chose the day after All Souls Day to commemorate “all the faithful departed … with alms, prayers, and sacrifices for the relief of the suffering souls in purgatory.”

So there you have it.  In closing, here’s wishing you a happy three days of Hallowe’en. 

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William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - The Day of the Dead (1859).jpg

The “Three Days of Halloween” end on November 2, with All Souls’ Day …

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The upper image is courtesy of Allhallowtide – Wikipedia, with the caption:  “A graveyard outside a Lutheran church in Röke, Sweden on the feast of All Hallows.  Flowers and lighted candles are placed by relatives on the graves of their deceased loved ones.”

The image of the jack-o’lantern is courtesy of Halloween – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “A jack-o’-lantern, one of the symbols of Halloween representing the souls of the dead.”

The lower image is courtesy of All Souls’ Day – Wikipedia.  The caption: “All Souls’ Day by William Bouguereau.”   See also Allhallowtide, and All Saints’ Day – Wikipedia.

On Billy Graham – noted “Liberal?”

 Billy Graham (at right):  To some “rightist” Christians, Graham was way too “ecumenical…”

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Graham in a suit with his fist clenchedI learned something new about Billy Graham.  I learned that some far-right preachers compared him to the Antichrist

That is, lately I’ve been listening to the book-on-CD version of The Preacher and the Presidents:  Billy Graham in the White House(Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.)  I skipped over the early parts, about Graham when he was young and full of himself.  And way more conservative than he was in later life. 

Which is another way of saying that  – as he grew in age – Billy Graham “also grew in grace.”  (See 2d Peter 3:18.)

Graham eventually grew in grace so much that he came to believe that God loves all people – even Liberals.  Which led some fundamentalist Christians to criticize him “for his ecumenism, even calling him ‘Antichrist.’”  On that note, see Deuteronomy 19:16-19.

(Deuteronomy 19:16-19 says that if you accuse someone of a crime and he’s not guilty of it, you are punished as if you committed the crime yourself.  So if you accuse someone of being “Antichrist” and he’s not, you get punished as if you were the Antichrist.)   

But we digress…

That is, on the other hand Graham started out as a Biblical literalist.  That led to an early confrontation with fellow evangelist Charles Templeton.  It’s described at pages 2-4 of the “book book,” but you can see an Oniine version at Billy Graham and Charles Templeton:  The Sad Tale of Two Evangelists (See also Heresy in the Heartland: Charles Templeton.)   

In essence, it started with Templeton telling Graham:

Billy, it’s simply not possible any longer to believe, for instance, the biblical account of creation.  The world was not created over a period of days a few thousand years ago;  it has evolved over millions of years.  It’s not a matter of speculation; it’s a demonstrable fact.

Graham responded, “I don’t accept that…  I believe the Genesis [account and] I’ve discovered something in my ministry:  When I take the Bible literally …  my preaching has power.”

Nevertheless, this was the man some Christians called “Antichrist.”  It started as early as 1957, when – after a crusade in New York – some fundamentalist Protestant Christians criticized Graham for his “ecumenism.”

40 years later he continued to express inclusivist views.

That is, he dared suggest that some people without explicit faith in Jesus can be saved.  For example, in a 1997 interview with Robert Schuller, Graham said:

I think that everybody that loves or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not, they are members of the body of Christ … [God] is calling people out of the world for his name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they have been called by God. 

In response, Iain Murray – writing from a conservative Protestant standpoint – said “Graham’s concessions are sad words from one who once spoke on the basis of biblical certainties.”

2013-02-18-Graham.King.jpgBut see Why Do Liberals Love Billy Graham(HuffPost.)  An example:  He was asked about two candidates for president, one “more learned and qualified,” the other a devout Christian.  How would he vote?

I’d pick the experienced and confident one…  I don’t think that we should vote for a person just simply because he says he’s a Christian.  I think we need confident men of integrity in places of responsibility.  We are living in a secular society.  We have a separation of church and state in this country.

Graham added that he doesn’t “play God,” saying who is saved and who isn’t.  The article concluded that Graham “managed to achieve that rare balance of fierce conviction and humane humility…  He would not condemn.  His mission was to comfort and inspire.”

Which brings us back to Ecumenism.  It’s the effort “by Christians of different Church traditions to develop closer relationships and better understandings.”  (See also Is ecumenism biblical “Gotquestsions.org.”)  Which means we could use a good dose of “Billy Graham” today.

We could use a popular preacher who “doesn’t play God.”  We could use a popular preacher with “humane humility.”  We could use a popular preacher whom does not condemn, but rather focuses exclusively on comforting and inspiring.  We could use a popular preacher who wouldn’t vote for a man “just because he says he’s a Christian.”

That is, for another – broader – view more you could check Ecumenical Synonyms … Thesaurus.com.  Synonyms for “ecumenical” include open-mindedreceptivetolerantbroad-minded, unbigoted, charitableinclusiveand/or unprejudiced.  And they are good.

Because without such principles – without, for example, developing “closer relationships and better understandings” – you could end up with something like this:

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Donald Trump

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The upper image is courtesy of Billy Graham Bill Clinton – Image Results.  The photo is in “Billy Graham: Pastor to the Presidents – True Christian or FreeMason ‘Christian.'”  (From the “Orthodox Christian Channel.”)  The gist of the article was that Graham was a Mason.  Among the quotes:  

Billy Graham called Bill and Hillary “wonderful friends” and a “great couple.”  Billy Graham also had former country and western superstar Johnny Cash, known to be a Mason, perform at his crusades on numerous occasions.  

The images in the main text are courtesy of the linked-articles in the adjacent paragraph.

The lower image is courtesy of Donald Trump – Image Results.  See also ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian, which featured the image.

Last year the Meseta, next year “Porto…”

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and nature

My brother exploring some “ruinas” on the Camino de Santiago, this time last year (10/4)…

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Image may contain: bridge, tree, outdoor, water and natureThis time last year – October 4, 2017 – my Utah brother and I were hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  Specifically, this day we managed to hike into León, for our second one-day break after 20 days of hiking.

We got to the PENSION BLANCA B&B fairly early in the afternoon, and could then start relaxing.  Or at least easing our aching feet…

The good news was that once we reached León, we had to switch from hiking to bicycling.  (We were running out of time.)  The bad news?  That change just led to “a different kind of hell.”  (From Dorothy Parker’s famous quote, “What fresh hell is this?”  In our case, it only meant a change in where we got sore…)

Just the day before – October 3 – we hiked from Reliegos to Puente Villarente – shown above right – some 7.5 miles shy of León.  (See also the blurb on the hike from El Burgos Raneros to Mansilla de las Mulas.)  I know because I wrote in my journal, “We hiked 7.5 miles today.”  So again, we got to the PENSION BLANCA in León early in the afternoon, and started relaxing.

The other good news was that we were finally done with the Meseta part of the hike.  Which brings up the picture at the top of the page.  The caption:  “Tom heading back to the Camino.  Which gives an idea of the landscape we’ve been hiking through.”  That hiking-through was on the Meseta Central plateau part of Spain – and it’s dry, dusty and hot.  In fact, it’s the part that some people recommend Camino pilgrims skip.  (If they want to be all “wussified.”)

So the Meseta part of the hike presented its own “fresh hell,” its own set of fresh challenges.  But hey, that’s what a real pilgrimage is all about.   A “journey or search of moral or spiritual significance,” as shown at left.  Or in other words, “Finding yourself.”

Anyway, by October 4th we’d already hiked from Pamplona for 20 days, and ended up in León.  We’d hiked 250 miles.  And aside from taking a day off in León, we got our rented 15-speed mountain bikes.  With them we covered the remaining 200 miles to Santiago de Compostela in seven days.  Even though neither of us had ridden a bike in 40 or so years…

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Before leaving for Spain – and the 450-mile hike-and-bike – I wrote about this pilgrimage-adventure in Training for the Camino and Going back “whence we came.”  (We started hiking from Pamplona on September 13 and got to Santiago October 12, 2017.)  Once I got back I did “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited and “Buen Camino!” – The Good Parts (The latter because my brother thought “Camino – Revisited” was too negative.)   From the latter post I said this:

This is also a good time to mention that dinners on the Camino were universally delicious.  Most of the albergues featured a three-course special, including a salad, main course and choice of desserts.  Which may explain why – even though people said I looked thinner when I got back home – I actually weighed the same 160 pounds as when I left.

Also about this time – leading up to the Leon stayover – there was a mass shooting in Las Vegas.  Bill O’Reilly posted that that latest mass murder was “the price of freedom.”  I posted in response, “No Bill, putting up with dumbasses like you is the price of freedom.”

So much for a pilgrimage making you all kumbaya and hug-your-neighbor.  But we digress…

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The start of the Meseta outside Burgos - el Camino de Santiago, Camino Frances, SpainThe point is that this time last year we were just finishing the dry, dusty Spanish Meseta part of our Camino hike.  But next year we plan something different.  We’ll go back for another hike, but this time on the Portuguese Camino, “a fantastic route for pilgrims looking for a more rural experience on the Camino de Santiago.”  And the “we” will include me, my brother and his wife.  Which means I’ll have to get my own lodging.  (So it’s time to start saving my pennies.)

I plan to fly into Lisbon, mostly because I’ve never been there but always wanted to visit.  The three of us will meet up in Porto; “gorgeous Porto with its colorful riverfront and home of Port wine.”  From there it’s a mere 161 miles to Santiago de Compostela, on a more-leisurely pace of ten miles a day, for 16 days or hiking.  (Who says you can’t can’t teach old dogs?)

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Meanwhile, back in Leon, last year.  On October 5, on the day off, I found a McDonald’s restaurant, for a “little taste of home.”  And we practice-rode our rental 15-speed bikes.  I “didn’t fall down, and shifted gears without the chain coming off.”  But from there it wasn’t all smooth sailing.  On the ride out of Leon October 6, “my right handlebar took out – smashed the heck out of – the side-view mirror of some poor slob’s nice new car.”  In a second mishap:

I literally “ran my ass into a ditch…”  We were zooming downhill one afternoon.  I tried to adjust my left pant-leg, and the next thing I knew I was laying in a ditch, bleeding like a stuck pig.  And not just any ditch.  A nice deep ditch covered with thorns and brambles on the sides and bottom.  The “stuck pig” part came when my Ray-Bans gashed the bridge of my nose, causing it to bleed profusely…

See “Buen Camino!” – Revisited.  The point is:  We covered the remaining 200 miles to Santiago de Compostela in seven days, but not without some adventure (As illustrated at left, “An exciting experience that is typically a bold, sometimes risky, undertaking.”) 

Which can be what a pilgrimage is all about.

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So anyway, this time last year we were just coming off the dry, dusty Meseta part of the Camino Frances, in our case from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela.  And who knows, maybe this time next year we’ll be finishing up our hike from Porto to Santiago.  Or somewhere in the middle, or maybe just starting out.  Which leads to this thought:

I’m sure the Portuguese Camino will have its own challenges, it’s own way of helping me “find myself.”  But considering we’ll be starting in Porto, at least the start should be happy…

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Rabelo boat, used to transport barrels of port down the River Douro,” to Porto . . .

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The upper image is my photo, taken with a “tablet” rather than a camera.  A word of advice:  Take a real camera.  It adds very little weight, while the tablet seemed to take forever to set up, meaning you really had to think ahead to get a decent picture.

The image to the right of the paragraph beginning “This time last year” is also my photo of the bridge for which Puente Villarente is named.  “Puente” means bridge and “Puente Villarente” is four miles northwest of the “Mansilla de Las Mulas” mentioned in El Burgos Raneros to Mansilla de las Mulas.  See also Camino Day 24: Puente Villarente to León 12km.  

Re:  “Different kind of hell.”  The allusion – as noted – is to Dorothy Parker‘s famously saying – whenever the door rang in her apartment – “What fresh hell is this?”  It’s also the title of Parker’s 1989 biography by Marion Meade.  See Amazon.com: Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This?  

Re:  “The part some people recommend.”  The actual title:  The Meseta – Walking the Camino de Santiago.  It says in part, “many people decide to skip this section of the Camino Frances entirely, which is a shame, because this part … has more to offer than meets the eye.”

The pilgrim image is courtesy of the Camino link at Pilgrimage – Wikipedia.

A note about the Camino Frances, in our case from Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela.  My brother opted to start at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the northern end of the “French Way,” after flying into Paris.  I opted to fly into Madrid and take a train to Pamplona, where we met up.   

The lower image is courtesy of Port wine – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “‘Rabelos,’ a type of boat traditionally used to transport barrels of port down the River Douro for storage and aging in caves at Vila Nova de Gaia near Porto.”  Also port wine is defined in pertinent part as…

… a Portuguese fortified wine produced with distilled grape spirits exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal…  Fortified wine is a wine to which a distilled spirit, usually brandy, is added.  Many different styles of fortified wine have been developed, including PortSherryMadeiraMarsala … and the aromatised wine Vermouth.

So that part should be fun…

The “Rideau Adventure” – An Overview

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I saw no naked lady on the Rideau, but there was this fetching blonde at Smiths Falls Locks

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Last Saturday evening – September 1st – I got back home from my “Rideau Adventure.”  (Which included passing through the Poonamalie lock station – at left and discussed further below.)  That adventure involved canoeing the Rideau Canal, from Kingston – on Lake Ontario – to Ottawa.

I previewed it in Next adventure: Paddling the Rideau “Canal.”  Also – from July 31 – “Naked Lady” – on the Rideau Canal?

In a nutshell, I didn’t see a naked lady on the banks of the Rideau.  I did see a fetching blonde in a power boat, explained in the notes below.  And incidentally, “Poonamalie” is the station just before the Smiths Falls three locks.  (We followed “Yvette’s” Fuego on the first two of three locks…)   

And now for the overview:  The guide books say it should take from six to ten days to make the trip.  They also say the prevailing winds are “generally” from the southwest, but to be “ready for anything.”  We ended up taking 11-and-a-half days – and 11 nights – but two of those nights we spent in relative luxury in a rustic cabin in Portland, Ontario (Nine days “actual canoeing.*”)

1534935865425That was after taking a wrong turn padding north from Colonel By Island on the morning of Wednesday, August 22.  That overnight campsite included a violent rainstorm and raccoons breaking into our plastic food containers and taking our supplies of breakfast bars, crackers and trail mix.  That in turn was preceded by us paddling through a veritable monsoon, on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 21.  That morning we made 10 miles, but in the afternoon – after leaving the Narrows (Lock 35) – we made four miles before stopping at ” Colonel By.”

But such is “the stuff of legends.”  And we digress…

Getting back to those prevailing winds.  For the first few days the prevailing winds were from the north, in our faces.  Plus we had to delay our start – by one day – because The Weather Channel predicted heavy thunderstorms on the afternoon of Friday, August 17.  That forecast wasn’t accurate, but the one for the afternoon of Tuesday, August 21, was accurate.

We got the predicted heavy rain.

Which is another way of saying the trip featured highlights and lowlights.  “Yvette” was a definite highlight.  The heavy rains of August 21-22 were lowlights, as was taking a wrong turn after leaving Colonel By Island.  But that was followed by deciding to take two nights off – resting and refitting – in beautiful Portland, Ontario – a definite highlight – on August 23 and 24.

Thereupon,” on leaving Portland our main goal was to get off “all those big-ass lakes.”  With their unpredictable winds and a constant threat of being swamped by inconsiderate big-boat drivers.  Speaking of that, on the afternoon of August 24, we were in the process of getting off Lower Rideau Lake(The last of the “big-ass lakes” in the Rideau system, which is actually further north than Upper Rideau Lake Big Rideau Lake – with Cow Island – lies in between.)  

We were heading for the Poonamalie lock station, and my brother was sitting in his canoe, minding his own business and checking our bearings on his big book of charts.  Some jerk in a big-ass boat came zooming out from the river to the north – where we were headed – making a huge wave and yelling out, “GET OFF THE F’ING CHANNEL!”  Which just goes to show that life is like a box of chocolates:  “You never know what you’re gonna get.”

1534674220192Also speaking of that:  To avoid the often-contrary prevailing winds, we started getting up at 4:00 a.m.  Which leads to the picture at left, of one of the benefits of getting up at 4:00 a.m. and stumbling around in the dark while breaking camp.  Aside from the water being much smoother – which was especially important on those “big-ass lakes” during the first half of the trip – you also get to see some beautiful sunrises.  (As seen at left.)

So all in all we spent 11-and-a-half days on the trip, but that included two nights in a nice cabin in Portland Ontario.  And aside from primitive camping the first two nights – “dig a hole and squat” – most of the rest of the nights we camped at the lock stations themselves.  They featured nice level lawns, hot and cold running water in the nearby “washrooms,” and every once in a while a nearby pub or restaurant with hot food and cold beer.

Which led to my conclusion that this Rideau trip was “more of a Camino than the Camino.”  That is, last September and October – on Spain’s 450 miles of the Camino de Santiago* – my brother and I kept meeting up with flocks of fellow pilgrims, all or most greeting us with “Buen Camino.”  In other words, the Rideau trip was more of a pilgrimage, in the truest sense.  That is, a “journey or search of moral or spiritual significance.”  Or consider the words of John Steinbeck in Travels with CharleySpeaking of long-distance driving – at least in 1962 – he wrote:

If one has driven a car over many years [one] does not have to think about what to do.  Nearly all the driving technique is deeply buried in the machine-like unconscious.  This being so, a large area of the conscious mind is left free for thinking…  [T]here is left, particularly on very long trips, a large area for day-dreaming or even, God help us, for thought.

Unfortunately, there was precious little of that on the Camino.  (Or for that matter, on any modern long-distance driving trip, what with Sirius, GPS, iPod Shuffles or the new “Sandisks,” not to mention “books on CD,” none of which were available in 1962.)  On the other hand, there was plenty of time – paddling up the Rideau river system – for “God help us, thought.

In my case, on the Rideau I spent plenty of time – along with Steinbeck – thinking about the past:  “And how about the areas of regrets?  If only I had done so-and-so, or had not said such-and-such – my God, the damn thing might not have happened.”

Which is another way of saying there weren’t that many other canoeists or kayakers on the Rideau.  In fact I can only remember one, the lady kayaker shown below, portaging – carrying her kayak – at the  Burritts Rapids lock station.  Whereas my brother and I paid extra to take our canoes through the locks, this younger lady chose to do it the “other way.”  She’d carry her kayak on one trip – from one end of the lock station to the other – then go back and get all her gear, stacked what seemed to a mile high on her backpack.

The point being – in case I’m being too subtle – that the dearth of fellow paddlers meant there was plenty of time “for day-dreaming or even, God help us, for thought.”

Which seems to be what makes a pilgrimage a pilgrimage(Though it helped to find the Lock 17 Bistro, a short walk from Burritts Rapids, where we camped the night of Sunday, August 26.)

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The upper image:  My photo from our passage through the first two of three locks at Smiths Falls, Ontario.  I wrote that we got to the lock at 8:30 and they didn’t open til 9:00 a.m., so my brother walked to a close-by convenience store and got some REAL coffee and a chocolate-chip cookie.  Then the lady in question – I’d like to think her name was Yvette – “and her old-guy SO” – whatever that meant – “went off into the Rideau.”  I also journaled: “The point being:  This trip has been mainly pleasant.  Early stops, lots of breaks, a two-night stay in Portland…”  (Portland Ontario that is.)

Re:  My not seeing “a naked lady strolling the banks of the Rideau Canal.”  The reference goes back to the August 2016 post, “Naked lady on the Yukon.”  (Where the “mighty Yukon River” was the last place on earth I expected to see a lady sun bathing, “In the altogether” as it were.) 

Re:  Portland, Ontario:  “The Landing on Big Rideau Lake, which is now the community of Portland, lies at the heart of the Rideau Canal System and is central to the history of the canal and to the early development of Canada.  Portland is on Highway 15, midway between Ottawa and Kingston, Ontario.”  See also Portland, Ontario – Wikipedia.

Re:  Distances on the canal system.  Using the figures from Rideau Canal – Distances between Lockstations, it is 125.6 miles from the Lasalle Causeway in Kingston to Ottawa proper and the last several lock stations leading to the Ottawa River.  But we stopped at Hartwells lock station, 4.9 miles short of the Ottawa River, for reasons including there was no apparent take-out available, at which my brother could park his car and trailer, and we could unload the canoes.  Moreover, we put in at the small but better-suited “Elliott Avenue Parkett” – at the water’s end of John Counter Boulevard – some two miles north of the Lasalle Causeway.  Thus we arguably covered some 118.7 miles on the trip.  On that note, in an email post-mortem dated September 4, my brother noted this:   

…to set the record straight, the entire Rideau is 125 nm (nautical miles), of which we did 120 nm.  That works out to 138 statute miles.  And, we started Saturday, August 18]. around 11 am and finished at about the same time on Wed[nesday, August 29]., 11 days total, two of which were, going backwards to Portland and a day spent in Portland.  So 9 days total actually canoeing. 

Re:  “Our’ 450 miles of the Camino de Santiago.”  For more on that pilgrimage see “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited and/or “Buen Camino!” – The Good Parts.

Another note:  For the next canoe trip I’m getting a bigger tent and a cot.  (No more sleeping on the ground for me.)  But that trip won’t happen until at least 2020, as next summer my brother, his wife and I plan to hike the Portuguese Camino.  That hike will involve a “mere” 150 miles, from Porto to Santiago de Compostela.  This route is said to be a “fantastic route for pilgrims looking for a more rural experience on the Camino de Santiago.”

The quotes from Travels with Charley are from the 1962 Penguin Books edition, at pages 94-95.

The lower image:  My photo of a lady kayaker, portaging – carrying her kayak – at the Burritt’s Rapids lock station. My brother and I paid extra to take our canoes through the locks – resulting in the previous picture of “Yvette,” bending and stretching, but this lady chose to do it the “other way…”  (“Oh  to be young again!”  Or not, once was enough…)

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Also of note:  In Geezer’s guide to supplements – Part II, I wrote of supplements for “men my age,” that is, 67.  One of the recommended supplements was Selenium:  “No other single nutrient appears to prevent cancer more effectively…  It basically forces cancer cells to self-destruct.”  The good news was that “Nature’s selenium supplement is the Brazil Nut, which measures 100 mcg per nut.   So you get your daily dose by eating two Brazil nuts.”  But that presented a problem in accounting:

I bought a 9.5 ounce container at the local Fresh Market for $12.95 on July 15.  I’ll update this post when they’re gone – at the rate of two or three a day – but … it’ll be awhile.

For the record, I had my last two Brazil nuts from that batch on September 7, 2018, less than a week after I got back from the aforementioned Rideau Adventure.  I took the supplement from July 15 to August 17, for a total of 63 days.  I didn’t take the supplement while on the Rideau, from the 18th to August 30, when I left for home.  I then took it from August 31 to September 7, eight more days, or 71 total.  Thus the cost of this supplement rounds up to about 19 cents a day.     

“Naked Lady” – on the Rideau Canal?

I’m more likely to see a “Lady with a Parasol,” strolling the banks of the Rideau Canal

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As noted in Paddling the Rideau Canal:  This August my Utah-brother and I will be canoeing – some six to 10 days – up the Rideau Canal, from Kingston to Ottawa, Ontario.

Which brings up the fact that two years ago this August, we spent two weeks canoeing the Mighty Yukon River(Also in Canada.)  We paddled 440 miles – from Whitehorse  to Dawson City – in 12 days.  (Not counting the one day  we took off from paddling – Sunday, August 14 – in beautiful Carmacks, Yukon Territory.  The idea was to rest, refit and enjoy an ice-cold Yukon Gold.)

One result of that trip was a post on August 28, 2016, “Naked lady on the Yukon.”  As noted in the post, the Yukon River was “the last place on earth I would expect to see a lady sun bathing.”  (In the altogether, as it were.)  But I could probably say the same thing about the Rideau Canal.

You can read the full story in the Naked lady post, but here’s a short version:

It was Friday, August 12.  We were a day away from Carmacks, and had been on the river five days already…  About 4:00 my brother was way ahead of me, when he went around a right-hand bend and looked like he was heading to shore, for a break.  There followed one lo-o-o-o-o-o-o-ng right-hand curve in the Yukon, that seemed to last forever.  It was getting late and we were looking for the “good camp” listed in the guidebook.  When I finally got to the end of the long right-hand curve, I could see something, way off, a half-mile or so ahead.

That “something way off” turned out to be one of two canoeists (one canoe), who’d passed us at the north end of Lake Laberge (The other person “in the shadows” was her husband, methinks).  So anyway, the point is:  There – where we’d wanted to camp – lay a lovely young lady, face down aside her “grounded” canoe – in her birthday suit – “for all the world to see.”

Which brings up the strong current in the Yukon River.  It ranges from four to seven miles an hour, which is one reason you can cover 440 miles in 12 paddling days.  That averages out to over 36 miles a day, which is usually good.  However, when there’s something you don’t expect but would like to linger over, that presents a problem:  “By the time I recognized the naked lady as a naked lady, the current was already pushing me farther down-river.”

Again, you can read a fuller version of this tantalizing tale in “Naked lady on the Yukon.”  That’s along with references to a hike we did on that same trip, four days on the Chilkoot Trail.  (The “meanest 33 miles in history,” as seen at right.)  But for now, let’s get back to the upcoming Rideau trip…

For starters, only 12 of the 125 miles are actual “canal.”  The rest are woodland rivers and lakes, including Big Rideau Lake, 20 miles long and over three miles wide.  But this water route has one thing the Yukon River didn’t:  Plenty of places to stop for the night and shower, along with a goodly number of bed and breakfasts along the way.

So here let me try a bit of prognostication – or guesswork – for the first two days of canoeing.

Our plan is to average 15 miles a day, and thus cover the 125 miles in eight days.  (That’s not counting the total 677 miles of shoreline along the way, full of nooks and crannies we may choose to explore.)  And according to Google Maps, it’s roughly 17 miles from the Doug Fluhrer Park in Kingston, to the Rideau Rendezvous Bed and Breakfast, also listed as Kingston.  Or it’s a mere 14.5 miles if we start out at the Belle Island (Cataraqui Park) location.

Chaffeys LockThen – if we make the Rendezvous that first day – the next “pleasurable” stop up could be Chaffeys Lock (37).  That was the location of Chaffey’s Rapids, “333 yards (304 m) in length, descending about 13 feet … where Indian Lake flowed into Opinicon Lake.”

And as such it used to mean a 1,500-yard portage, which would have required unloading both our canoes, carrying them and all our baggage those 1,500 yards, then packing up and setting out again.

Of course if you really want to you can still do that.  However, we’ll pay the small fee…

But once again there are some comfy lodgings there too.  (For a full list see Rideau Campgrounds, Cottages & Lodges – rideau-info.com.)  And according to the Rideau Canal map in Wikipedia, it’s 28 miles from the starting point in Kingston to Chaffey’s Lock.  Which should be a do-able enough starting-out pace for two old guys, aged 67 and 72.  Now, whether we see a young lady sunbathing In the altogether those first two days is another question entirely… 

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bowdlerized version of what I saw one day on the Yukon River

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The upper image is courtesy of the Wikipedia article on sun bathing.  The full caption:  “‘La promenade’ (1875) by Claude Monet.  At that time in the West, the upper social class used parasols, long sleeves and hats to avoid sun tanning effects.”  (More’s the pity.)  See also Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son – Wikipedia.

Re:  The Chilkoot Trail.  See my posts, On the Chilkoot &^%$# TrailPart 1 and Part 2.

The lower image is courtesy of Sun tanning – Wikipedia The caption:  “A woman sun tanning on a Portuguese beach.”