Category Archives: Road Trips

Trump backfire

Backfire. Like what happens when you tightly plug the barrel of a gun and pull the trigger. Like what is going to happen to the current Republican administration after it tries to cripple the Environmental Protection Agency, eviscerate the Endangered Species Act (it is now legal to shoot wolf pups and bear cubs in their den), and eliminate or fracture existing national monuments. Most of us Americans are against these shenanigans. A big backfire in favor of conservation is imminent.

I keep telling myself to spend more time reading the stack of print magazines I subscribe to and to spend less time online. So on a trip this week to Seattle (destination Whidby Island) I grabbed an Economist, Harper’s and The Atlantic Magazine for the plane. I like Harper’s in particular because of the longevity of the “Easy Chair” column. The West’s Bernard DeVoto first wrote in the “Easy Chair” in 1935 about many of the same issues that remain today, like ranchers and other businesses trying to take and use up public land. In the August issue writer Richard Manning has an optimistic essay (here) that the political fortunes of environmentalists are already on the rise. In this seemingly dark hour of losses on many conservation fronts, I recommend reading it.

Ranier

The public lands of Mt. Rainier, seen from the plane.

One would be excused if while traveling across the vast open spaces of the West, crisscrossed with barbed wire and with cows everywhere, one concluded that ranching and farming were a big part of the economy. They are not. Continue reading

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“America is wasted on a lot of Americans.”

Earlier this week Kirsten and I were on our way from Cooke City, MT to Red Lodge via the incomparable Bear Tooth highway. A cold front had come through several days before and clouds were still hanging low and cold over the peaks. For two days, in the second week in June, the just opened high mountain road was closed again for blowing snow and ice.

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Sudden drop from the top

I was in line waiting to use a Forest Service restroom when I asked a woman waiting in line with me if she had come from over the summit. With abundant animation she replied in the affirmative. “I am from Manitoba where it is so flat you can watch your dog run away from home for three days,” she said. “I know flat and let me tell you, this place is NOT flat! Add to that you can’t see twenty feet in the fog up there and I mean it when I tell you I need to use a rest room.” Continue reading

Have chairs will travel

zero-gravity-massage-chair-4Except I left the chairs home. We have some great Zero Gravity camp chairs and I left them in the garage on our trip to the west desert and Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge yesterday. Kirsten and I want to take the chairs to some of the iconic view sheds in the West and hang for awhile. We have never gone outside less often than now that we are running a land oriented publishing house. We want to remedy that. Utah sits at a triangular apex of the best scenery there is, the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin. Next time we will take the chairs.

Yesterday was in the Great Basin. I have heard a number of times that only two percent of charitable giving goes to conservation. Yet here we live in a state that can easily be described as 98 percent scenic landscape. The disconnect from urban to open scene is sudden. Just south of Point of the Mountain on I-15 while still in the midst of the Wasatch Front urban corridor, turn west, go through a slight pass into Cedar Valley and the population density drops 90 percent. Ten more miles west of that and the population density is zero. Continue reading

Napa and Point Reyes

Kirsten and drove the A6 to Truckee and then on to Napa and Pt. Reyes leaving Saturday March 28 and back to Salt Lake the next Friday. Kirsten was meeting with our latest author, Sasha Paulsen for an editing session on Dancing on the Spider’s Web. Now back in SLC I notice that I did not take many photos and did not take any notes. Thinking about it I decided to combine this blog with my previous entries from THP Green Adventures and change the site title here to Notes and Shots. I will use it both as a travel and conservation journal in the  blog and a place to keep my best photos in the galleries.  That way I can feel more free to take notes and shots without thinking they need to be interesting and good enough for National Geographic.  Even though I will make the site available to the public I think of the audience as my kids, Kristen and Nick, my uncle, Ted Kehl, and maybe my grand-kids some day. Hi guys.

View from our room

View of tidal Napa River from our room

Truckee was conspicuous with the absence of snow. No shots, but resorts that look like they should be closed with mostly dirt showing still have skiers working their way down presumably man made snow ribbons.  California’s Gov. Brown ordered mandatory water use reductions for the first time in the state’s history while we were there. Residents are required to cut back, but big farms, which use 80% of the water, are only required to write reports — but that may be another blog.

In Napa we continued with my suggestion that Kirsten find us nice places to stay and not tell me what they cost. Works in the short run, time will tell about the finances. We had dinner that night with Sasha and her adult daughter Ariel at an equally elegant place nearby. The food in Marin county is nonstop amazing. I was thinking that I would throttle back while away from the fridge, but not-so-much.

On Monday we met up  in Petaluma with Lise Soloman, our Torrey House Consortium sales rep with Karel/Dutton Group, and drove up to Sebastopol to have lunch with Sheryl Cotleur, the adult book buyer for Copperfield’s Books. Both women are a forces in books sales. Lise is credited by author Paul Harding as the impetus behind his winning a Pulitzer for his debut novel Tinkers. Tinkers was published by a sister publisher at Consortium, Bellevue Literary Press.  Kirsten and I always say the best thing about publishing is the people and with women like these two out there we will keep saying it. At one point during lunch I told Sheryl about how our author Mary Sojourner feels no hope about the West and conservation. Mary gave that response when asked about Stegner’s phrase, “The geography of hope.” I told Sheryl how Mary thinks writing about nature and the West is dead and wondered if she agreed. Sheryl sat back and said she “100 percent” did not agree. She encouraged us to keep going and started telling us we needed to meet Steve Costa and Kate Levinson, owners of Pt. Reyes Books and asked if we had ever been there. In fact, that is where we were going next anyway.

Our B&B in Pt. Reyes

Our B&B in Pt. Reyes

Kirsten had already made another excellent arrangement at a B&B in the small town of Inverness in Pt. Reyes. We poked our heads in the bookstore but Steve and Kate were out. Fabulously, Sheryl and Lise had forewarned them we were heading their way. Kirsten left a card at the bookstore and Steve and Kate got back to her asking us to please come by. When we showed up the next day they interrupted some poor sales rep’s pitch to say hello, suggested that we should have dinner together, and even insisted that we should do so at their home and stay with them. There goes those great publishing people again. The Bailey in me was appalled at the imposition, but of course it all turned out great. I hope somehow we can return the favor with a stay in Torrey.

At dinner with Kate and Steve we asked them a lot of questions about their biannual conference. It seemed natural that Terry Tempest Williams had been involved in the area for some time including with the conference.  The most recent called The 2015 Geography of Hope Conference after Wallace Stegner’s phrase in his Wilderness Letter — major sections of which were read at Kirsten’s and my wedding.  Kate and Steve were our kind of nice, smart people but way, way ahead of us in the world of connections and conferences. Kate encouraged us to stay regional if we try a conference and perhaps to consider starting with just the LDS enviro authors we are interested in supporting.

K's smart phone shot of Shell Beach

K’s smart phone shot of Shell Beach

Point Reyes was astonishing. On the last morning, April 2, a day before my brother’s would be birthday, at sunrise on Shell Beach near Steven and Kate’s place I was overwhelmed by the beauty and the loss of Mike. Mike, the world is beautiful, it is worth protecting, and I wish you were here to help.